Social game analyst Playnomics has conducted a study which looks at the issue of player churn in social games, the name given to the problem of retaining players for any length of time. The firm looked at US player acquisitions by companies using its PlayRM platform from July to September this year, and found that 85 per cent of the millions counted left after just 24 hours.
Further than that, 95 per cent of all US players acquired in early July were inactive by the end of September – though most of those who stayed beyond the initial 24 hour period turned their attention elsewhere within three days.
The report also found that the playtime of players who were retained for seven days would increase dramatically, while those players who did stay showed greater early engagement. Based on these findings, Playnomics concludes that a focus on early retention campaigns is imperative. Though we’d suggest making a game that’s worth playing for more than a single session should also be considered before blowing the budget on scattershot special offers.
Planomics’ report also highlights some curious numbers. The most money is spent on free-to-play games during Friday and Saturday, for example, despite these being the days during which people play engage for the least amount of time. Conversely, games are played for the longest on Monday and Tuesday, yet the least amount of money is spent. While US women tend to churn at higher rates than men, but give games a longer shot before doing so.
Clearly, in a culture of such abundant choice, ‘channel hopping’ will be prevalent among users who are free to dip into games without the sense of commitment that comes about from, for example, paying up front for a game. But it could also be argued that the continued widespread focus on superficial hooks such as basic social engagement and drip-fed content, rather than deeper experiences, means those churning figures will remain alarmingly high.