Games are linear experiences.
Just like stories, they have a beginning, middle , and end. Players start with the content at the beginning and progress until either they complete what’s available, or more content is added. This is most evident in games like Candy Crush where the different puzzle levels are laid out over a literal line that the player moves along. There may be unique variations on this concept where players can move back and forth or take alternate paths, but most player progress can be mapped in a linear fashion.
Measuring the progress of your players should be at the core of your monetization strategy. An intimate knowledge of the content and how it changes throughout progression allows designers and product managers to anticipate the needs of their players and deliver appropriate offers. We covered this briefly in our Beginner’s Guide to Player Segmentation, but we’ve put together a few specific examples of common progression metrics in mobile F2P games to help steer your strategy.
1. Level (Player)
Assigning a numeric value to a player’s avatar, character, clan, etc… is one of the oldest and most common progression mechanics. Measuring a player’s experience level, or its equivalent, is an excellent index of tracking progress and can offer actionable insights at a very low time cost. This type of metric is most common in RPGs or mobile strategy games and often directly gates what content players have access to, making it absolutely vital for effective segmentation.
2. Level (Progress)
Games that feature prearranged, challenge-based content benefit from tracking players as they complete each of level and move towards the endgame. This type of progress is common in puzzle and tower-defense games, which will often have “pinch points” where difficulty spikes in order to monetize players more effectively. Knowing how many players are at each pinch point can provide valuable insights for your offer strategies.
3. Characters/Items Collected
As more publishers try to emulate the success of super-casuals like Flappy Bird and Crossy Road, fewer mechanically significant IAPs are being offered in favor of superficial ones. These often include different characters or items that change the game’s appearance, though not the gameplay. Though it might not be made explicit, for a few determined players, the goal of these games becomes to collect every character or item available. By tracking how many items each player has acquired, you can identify these “collectors” and deliver appropriate offers that can provide them with an even greater experience and ultimately turn them in to some of your most vocal evangelists.
4. High Score
For games that don’t feature linear content or character progression, tracking each individual player’s high score is extremely useful for designers in the development of difficulty curves. Cognitive flow is especially important for action games and can be difficult to measure without large amounts of play-testing data. Charting score distribution gets designers closer to knowing how players are interacting with their game and what tuning changes should be made, if any, in their next update.
– Flappy Bird
What other progress metrics have you found it useful to track? Let us know either in the comments below, or on Twitter – @FusePowered.