Last update: May 2021

4 mins to read - 2020/10/12

Push Notification Strategies for Role-Playing Games (RPGs)

In 2020, mobile games are having their moment. As a gaming medium, it’s moving from the fringe towards the mainstream. As such, gaming industry experts are going to lengths to classify different genres of mobile games. Tracking what types of players play what types of games – and how they play – can help developers better understand how to better engage those players. In the case of role-playing games – commonly known as RPGs – push notifications have a huge potential for expanding gameplay and boosting user retention. Here’s how.

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role-playing game rpg push notification

What Is an RPG? 

The term “RPG” may bring to mind images of Dungeon and Dragons, or LARPing. And in a way, RPGs are basically the multimedia version of more old-school, analog role-playing games.

The way the mobile games industry classifies it, RPGs are a subgenre of mid-core games, where the player controls a character in a fictional world. Gameplay is driven by a cohesive storyline, and the main character grows stronger – or “levels up” – as the game progresses. Gameplay often involves a certain amount of strategizing and puzzles. As they often take place within a fantasy or sci-fi setting, many involve combat scenarios, and allow the player to make choices that affect the outcome of the game.

According to GameRefinery, RPGs are the 5th biggest genre in the US iOS mobile games market, making up nearly 10% of revenues. In the US, UK, and Japan, more than 60% of RPG players are men, most of them between the ages of 18-44.

RPGs are especially popular in the Japan and South Korea markets, which has led to JRPG, an entire subgenre of RPG based in fantastical or medieval Japanese settings. These include franchises such as the Final Fantasy games.

Monetization Tactics for RPGs

While some RPGs involve paying a one-time fee to install, more of them are taking the free-to-play (F2P) route. In this case, in-app purchases are one of the most common methods of monetization. (For some examples, read our blog post on the recent mobile gacha game Raid: Shadow Legends.) Many mobile RPGs include in-game ads for the player to watch, as well as well continuous gameplay or bonus characters that players can access for a fee.

However developers intend to combine these strategies, it’s important to know how your targeted user plays, and what they consider a deal-breaker. According to a report by Udonis, players in the US seem to be more tolerant of in-app purchases and ad viewing in their games than those in South Korea and Japan. However, it’s crucial that you make UX your priority. If ads become too disruptive of the storyline, or in-app purchases become too aggressive, that will drive players away from your game. Players have also cited a game being too boring or repetitive as reasons for churning.

There are many ways to keep players interested in your RPG, but in a mobile-first world, your primary tool for engagement should be push notifications.

Boost Engagement in Your RPG With Push Notifications

Push notifications are a must-have across the board when it comes to engagement. However, different target audiences for different game genres can have different push notification preferences. Since RPGs often involve real-time strategizing in gameplay, notifications are crucial for inviting players back into the game. Because of this, many RPGs send notifications as frequently as every couple of hours. But of course make sure you A/B test different cohorts of users for your own app.

When it comes to mapping out your push strategy, a convincing pre-permission notification for iOS devices is the best place to begin. Make sure you convey to the player why notifications will add to the gaming experience. And if you can add a bit of flair, or make it look like part of the game, all the better.

Notifications can be great reminders for the player to enter your app and start playing again. Try sending them at the same time each day – preferably a time when your user has the leisure time to sit down and play a session – to reinforce the habit of opening your app.

For more mobile game retention strategies using push notifications, check out our blog post: Mobile Game Retention: Everything You Need to Know

Push Notifications and In-App Purchases

Since IAPs are the primary monetization tactic for RPGs, that’s where the brunt of your push strategy should focus. There are plenty of different ways to approach this, but the most popular IAP methods in F2P games include:

  • equipment items (such as armor, weaponry, cosmetics, etc.)
  • paying to skip waiting times
  • limited-time IAP and bundled items
  • loot boxes or gachas
  • consumable items, such as power boosts
  • access to higher-tier gaming status
  • battle pass-type subscriptions

Push notifications are the perfect vehicle for pointing a player’s attention towards available purchases. Ping players to let them know of a limited-time sale, or send a discount code to their app inbox. If you are tracking a player’s progress through the game, and if they are having trouble beating a particular level, you can send them a personalized notification offering them a consumable or power boost as a micropurchase that would help them advance in the game.

(A word of warning: most mobile RPG players have come to expect a certain amount of this in F2P games. However, if you skew progression through the game too heavily towards in-app purchases, players will get frustrated and you run the risk of losing them. Make sure you have a healthy balance of natural gameplay versus purchasable fast-tracking.)

OpenBack Can Boost Engagement With Your RPG

Push notifications are invaluable when used properly. They can be personalized on a user-by-user basis, and send in real-time. However, deliverability issues can result in delays and poor timing. (No one wants to wake up at 1 am to an alert telling them to join a raid!)

OpenBack’s innovative mobile engagement solution cuts out the third-party cloud server that can result in unreliable delivery results. This means push notifications reach your user when you intend them to. And this allows for real-time communication and much more creative, personalized touches to bring your users back into the game.

Want to learn more? 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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