PGConnects London January 20-21 Was a Smash Hit
Over the past weekend, the OpenBack team headed to London for the long-awaited PGConnects global mobile game conference. It was hosted by Pocket Gamer, the #1 website for all news mobile gaming. We had a fantastic time immersing ourselves in the world of mobile gaming. Gaming is an industry where push notifications have a lot of potential to streamline and optimize user engagement, and OpenBack made some great connections among gaming platforms we met.
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The venue for the conference was an 18th-century brewery right in the heart of London, so it was a great atmosphere for a gathering of indie gaming platforms and creative partnerships. The two-day itinerary was filled with great events and informative keynotes, especially for us at OpenBack being newcomers to the gaming industry.
Of special note was the Superstar Session by App Annie’s Paul Barnes about key market insights for the gaming industry in 2020. In his speech, Barnes laid out the stats on upcoming marketing trends for mobile games, including brand awareness and lead generation. Push notifications were mentioned in boosting engagement with your gaming app, but as we know push notifications as a marketing strategy merit their own keynote speech entirely!
Monetization was also a strong theme at PGConnects London. There were talks around how to monetize your app, how to sell your mobile game, and how to apply for funding opportunities — including crowdfunding. There was also a lot of focus on how to identify trends and use them to your advantage.
DeltaDNA at PGConnects
One talk in particular we had a lot of insightful takeaway from was from DeltaDNA, a game analytics specialist company. Much like OpenBack, their aim is to leverage user data to help build long-term, personalized engagement between games and their users. Their platform consists of:
- Deep Analytics
- In-Game Messaging (though not necessarily push notifications)
First off, they looked at revenue in the gaming industry, which has seen a 90% growth recently. A large part of this is due to ads, which are now part of the game mechanics and encourage more gameplay. While there isn’t much movement in the top games, it’s now possible to make money outside of the top 100 games. This isn’t because user acquisition is cheaper, but because LTVs are going up.
LiveOps are also a driving aspect to mobile gaming, which are hard coded into the game itself to customize the gameplay to individual users according to their skills and what they want. Games are seeing a need to respond to players on an individual basis in real-time, and in-game messaging is a huge part of that. This works as an anti-churn device and helps top-level metrics.
DeltaDNA’s next cycle of development will involve default campaigns, more player segments, and more sharing of best practices so everyone benefits from what they have learned. With regard to push technology, DeltaDNA view it as a good tool for preventing user churn, but they prefer to do it from within the game. Rather than entice the player back again, they would rather give them reasons not to leave in the first place.
All in all DeltaDNA are very community focused. They intend to share all of their findings with the games community, and provide key product updates on templates. They are ahead of the game with their view on applying machine learning to unlocking data. Machine learning allows them to unlock data for use by their consulting team without the use of data scientists.
Mobile Gaming Benchmarks
We also spoke with GameAnalytics, a KidSafe-certified and COPPA-compliant network that offers a features-rich, universal analytics tool for games publishers. Essentially, they offer games platforms data that does a deep dive into the aggregated data of 1.2 billion players, with the goal of improving game UX.
In addition to data, they also offer practical metrics to know if a platform is hitting its user retention targets. The benchmark during your game’s first week should be 35% retention after Day 1, and 11% retention after Day 7. By Day 28, if you still have 4% user retention, you can consider that a win for your game. (An interesting note: user retention drops off around winter and summer holidays.) But if you succeed at keeping a user past the 28-day mark, you can consider them truly engaged.
Median session length for how long a user will play a game is around 4-5 minutes, with top 25% of games seeing 7-8 minutes. However, when it comes to classic card and casino games, sessions can last up to 22 minutes.
GameAnalytics also look at the stats for Average Revenue Per Paying User (ARPPU) for various different segments of games. ARPPU generally results from in-app purchases. Say, a new suit of armor for your avatar, or a key to unlock a bonus level. Overall, yearly ARPPU for 2019 is slightly lower than the year before. This suggests that games developers are starting to focus more on ad-based monetization. The highest-performing genres of game in terms of ARPPU, with up to $25 per player, include role-playing, multiplayer, and strategy. This makes sense. These are games with immersive worlds where developers have huge creative leeway to monetize bonus materials. However, GameAnalytics makes sure to note that quality of gameplay should always come first:
“After all, people can’t spend money if they aren’t playing that game.”