Last update: May 2021

6 mins to read - 2020/02/10

Optimize Your Mobile Game LiveOps With Push Notifications

Mobile games make up one of the most robust markets in the world, making up 60% of the revenue of the global video game market in 2019. By necessity, mobile games are a dynamic and rapidly evolving medium. To stay at the peak of the market, a gaming app needs to create an engaging, interactive relationship with users. They need to be able to optimize the game at short notice to suit various different needs. With such a glut of mobile games on the market, it’s key to constantly enhance gameplay in order to maximize player retention, regain lost players, and boost the amount of time spent on your app. These real-time enhancements to gameplay are LiveOps, and push notifications can be one their most effective vehicles.

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What Are LiveOps?

Becky Jowsey, writing for Pocket Gamer, provides the following analogy to describe LiveOps:

“[they are] about introducing features as chocolates in a box, each a new, small delight that keeps you coming back for more.”

Essentially, LiveOps are every small tweak or improvement you can make to a game, short of an actual update to the code. It is an umbrella term for any minor change enacted on a game once it goes live. This can include special events, a paid user acquisition campaign, bonus features players can purchase, etc.

Jowsey describes 6 different categories that LiveOps can fall into:

  • events
  • promotions
  • new content/features
  • developer Q & As
  • community management
  • problem management

Far from acting as troubleshooting, LiveOps improve user experience during actual gameplay as well as in the game community. For example, it can encompass taking real-time feedback from players who identify bugs in the game. Or it can involve a manager personally dealing with a troublesome individual who is ruining the gaming experience for other players. LiveOps are particularly important if your app is a free-to-play (F2P) game, as monetization only comes from user engagement post-download. Think of them as a continuous, ever-changing process that span the life cycle of the game.

How Can LiveOps Be Implemented?

LiveOps enable your mobile game to roll with the punches once it is deployed. As such, they should be built into the design of your game from the very beginning. This means you need to be working with business intelligence and game analytics on an ongoing basis.

Key metrics to take into account as you assess your LiveOps campaign should deal with basic player behavior. How has an individual player’s behavior changed over time? In what ways do groups of players behave? How can this data be used to interact with them in real-time with personalized, reliable modifications to gameplay? How do they react to the prices of different microtransactions? Have you received any direct feedback or advice from players, say on social media?

Since LiveOps essentially consist of ways to forge better connections with your users, there is a wide scope for thinking outside the box. For example, a solution to boost user engagement can be as simple as offering a custom-made weapon or suit of armor as an in-game purchase. Or it can be more large-scale, such as a dual promotion campaign with another game. By offering tweaks and changes on a rolling basis, LiveOps keep your mobile game relevant with the changing times.

Image Source: Azure PlayFab, The PlayFab Guide to LiveOps

Ongoing LiveOps Strategies

Metrics are the key when it comes to an effective LiveOps campaign. And this means not only short-term metrics, such as daily or even hourly. Keeping an eye on monthly and yearly patterns in user activity can also help you identify where your app’s strengths lie.

Another helpful tracking method you can implement is a LiveOps events calendar that measures KPI. KPIs, or key performance indicators such as growth or user retention rate, can be tracked alongside events (e.g. a limited-time offer for advanced weapons for a shooter game) to see what works and what doesn’t. This is where you can really get creative with events such as:

  • teaming up with other players to go on raids
  • unlocking a new level of gameplay for VIP players
  • special puzzles or side quests where players can earn extra XP
  • polls or showcases where players can vote on each other’s costumes or avatars
  • lotteries or auctions where players can win prizes

For F2P gaming apps, these extra touches and bonus material are crucial for monetization. Put on your eCommerce hat by offering extra features with bundled, discounted, or limited-time offers. It is also worth setting up a calendar to assess how different times of the year affect user engagement. For example, are users more active with your gaming app during the week or at weekends? At what times of day? Do holidays, seasons, or current events affect app activity?

Most important, according to monetization manager Grazyna Domanska of Kobojo, is to remember you want to engage users long-term. This means pacing yourself. Spread out your LiveOps to keep users coming back for more:

“The people who are most engaged will consume your content quickest, and they’ll get to the end first, but for a F2P game, if a player completes your game, that’s the end of your product, that’s the end of your revenue, and you can’t ever allow that to happen.”

How Can You Maximize LiveOps With Push Notifications?

LiveOps are a way of viewing your players not just as a mass on the other end of the app, but as a community. And, more than that, as individuals. This personalized approach to optimizing your game to fit user needs requires a fine-toothed approach to data leverage. This is where the implementation of dynamic push notifications excels.

In any methodology that aims to boost community engagement or communication between the app and its users, push notifications by definition must be a key aspect of this strategy. When it comes to liveops, push notifications are already built on the technology required to leverage data from mobile devices and respond to them in real-time. And machine-learning algorithms allow developers to segment their user base according to various demographics. These can include age, interests, activities completed on the app, etc. Most importantly, push notifications are a time-honored strategy for driving users back to your app.

Lapsed users in particular are a goldmine of untapped monetary potential. Drive players back to your app by reminding them of the relationship they once had with the gaming community and the app itself. LiveOps keeps users excited, and push notifications can offer them benefits on a sliding scale. For example, offer bonus content to start off. If that doesn’t yield results you can up the ante with promotions, discounted cosmetic items, etc.

OpenBack in particular is well suited to structuring this sort of conversation between app and user, and invigorating your gaming app. With our set of 40+ data triggers, OpenBack provides unique insights into user behavior. We also offer highly customizable real-time deliverability, meaning our notifications arrive at the moment they’re intended to. You won’t be interrupting your user when they’re at work, or in the shower, or commuting. Your message inviting them to come back to the app will be reliably delivered at the moment when they’re most likely to re-enter the game. What’s more, OpenBack offers real-time analytics so you can track what type of engagement works best with different segments of users.

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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