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Last update: May 2021

5 mins to read - 2021/02/05

How Are Mobile Game Push Notification Strategies Affected by Genre?

We’ve looked at different types of games – hyper-casual, casual and midcore – and how developers who focus on these types of games use push notifications to drive traffic and monetization. But does a mobile game’s genre also affect its push notification strategy? Should an RPG handle push notifications differently than a puzzle game? Is a simulation game looking for different levels of engagement than an arcade game? It should be no surprise that the answer to all of these questions is: Yes!

Of course, the complete answer is a little more complicated than that. You will need to take into account the concept of your game, the style of gameplay and your core game loop, how it is monetized, and who plays it. All of these will come into play when you are deciding how to design your push campaign.

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mobile game push notifications

Are Push Notifications Integral to Your Mobile Game’s Gameplay?

It’s no secret that a lot of people see push notifications as a nuisance. And for some games they can be… Players of mid-core games, and even hardcore games – which are becoming more common on mobile, as devices become more sophisticated – often have limited patience for push notifications, which they may see as interrupting narrative or gameplay.

But for other sorts of games, push notifications can complement and even improve gameplay. For example, in word games such as Word With Friends, or games where you’re taking turns with other players, push notifications are the perfect way of alerting players when it’s their turn. Similarly, any game that involves connecting with other players in real-time – for example, battling Pokemon with another trainer in Pokemon GO, or joining a raid in Fortnite – will rely on real-time push notifications to provide optimal UX.

In these cases, it’s fine to send notifications on an as-situations-arise basis. However, for games where they’re more of a tool to spur monetization or engagement, it pays to be more strategic about how and when you send them. But what does genre have to do with how you design your push campaign?

Push Notifications for Mobile Game RPGs

According to SensorTower, revenues in mobile RPGs rose around 33% in 2020, hitting $2 billion from 115 million downloads in the first 8 months. Clearly, there is a lot of energy here. And as gameplay in RPGs tends to be more character and narrative-driven, there is a lot of potential for crafting creative push notifications to complement gameplay, or even act as extensions of the game itself.

And developers of RPGs know this. According to a study by Iterable, RPGs sent 61% of all mobile game push notifications, with an average of 32.5 push notifications sent per two-week period. Interestingly, the study noted that delivery of push notifications over the two weeks was erratic, with numbers spiking on day 6 before a steep drop on day 8.

mobile games genre push notifications
Image Source: https://iterable.com/blog/notorious-rpg-how-mobile-game-genre-influences-push-notification-strategy/

Much of this variability was the result of poor deliverability in push notifications. Push notifications were not arriving to players’ devices at the moment designated by the developers. In fact, the spike on day 6 was largely a result of two games – presumably run by the same developer – accidentally sending a notification alerting users that they’d won a prize…. 50 times in a row. (Without a doubt, that would be a contender for our Top 10 Scariest Push Notification Fails!)

Other games threw off the curve by sending a notification every two hours. And while this method can work for games where the user needs to stay actively engaged in real-time, the notifications in question were generic and repetitive. A surefire way to alienate your users!

arcade game pacman

Push Notifications for Sports/Arcade Mobile Games

Sports and arcade games are casual and hyper-casual games with highly repetitive core loops. They tend to be skills-based, and low on narrative. This calls for a different touch than RPGs, where you can send personalized notifications based on where players are in the game, according to their level, in-game interactions, preferred style of playing, etc. While you should always send push notifications at the most convenient moment for the end user, their content will usually be more generic for sports or arcade games.

For example, a strategy that works for sports/arcade games is an invitation to come back and play, sent at the same time every day. When done correctly – and when delivery is reliable – it can reinforce the habit for the user to click on your app and play a session at X hour every day. Obviously, X needs to be tailored according to what’s most convenient for the user. A college student probably has more free time during the day than a 25-year-old professional working a 9-to-5 job. Someone working from home may also have more flexible leisure time than a user who is in school all day.

tetris mobile game

Push Notifications for Puzzle Mobile Games

Gamification is the name of the game when it comes to puzzle games. Whether it’s old favorites, such as Tetris, or newer games that debuted on mobile platforms, such as Candy Crush, every free puzzle game has honed their freemium monetizing tacts to an artform.

We have explored the standard verisons of these in our running series of push notification teardowns of popular mobile games, such as Gardenscapes and My Tamagotchi Forever. Players usually run into a time barrier, which they can overcome by trading a certain amount of in-game currency. (Which players can obtain via in-app purchase.) Push notifications are an effective method of steering your user toward making purchases. Even if your app relies on other means of monetization – such as video and interstitial ads – notifications are a means of boosting engagement with your game, and as a result boosting ad views. So even if players aren’t making any purchases, they’re still earning you revenues just by being in the app.

Push notifications can also invite users to use discount codes, open loot boxes, or take advantage of other rewards which the player may not have been aware of.

When it comes to user engagement for mobile games, push notifications are your most powerful tool to bring players back into your app and drive revenues. For more tips on how to keep users active and engaged, take a look at our blog post: Mobile Game Retention: All You Need To Know.

Or for more specific questions about how OpenBack can help you turbo-charge your push notification game, with 50+% increase rate on click-through rate, get in touch with one of our experts.

To read more about how to use OpenBack to boost player retention and maximize revenues, download our Case Study: Dreamworks How To Train Your Dragon App, School of Dragons

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