Socialgamesobserver

The Latest News on the Social Games Market in Europe and Emerging Markets

14May/10

Success Factors of wooga’s Bubble Island

By Sebastian Sujka

Bubble Island is wooga’s second game and one of the most popular games ever produced in Europe. It is a classic arcade game in which the player pops bubbles to reach the next level and to explore the island. Although tons of arcade games are available on Facebook Bubble Island sticks out from the pack and attracts almost a million daily active users and more than five million monthly active users. We looked into the key success factors of the game:

Emotional Attachment
Most social games create engagement through emotional bonding. The user is engaged because he cares about the looks of his farm or the well-being of his pet. This concept is hard to transfer on an arcade game. A solution for this problem is emotional attachment to involved characters. In Bubble Island the user is accompanied by a raccoon whatever he does. Especially in the game where the user shoots bubbles the raccoon is highly involved. He responds directly to what the user does and to what happens in the game. The raccoon reloads the shooter, gets excited when a bonus is scored and sweats when the player is about to lose. He translates gameplay action into emotions and displays it to the player.

Established Game Concept
Like all successful social games Bubble Island has a very low barrier of entry. The game is started and the user knows immediately what to do. In Bubble Island’s case gameplay is intuitive as the game takes one of the best-known match-three arcade game concepts and transfers it into a social game. In its core Bubble Island is a classic arcade match-three bubble shooting game on a high polishing level.

User Involvement through Content
What also differentiates Bubble Island from most other arcade style games on Facebook is the adaption of gaming content for social networks. Users are not playing a couple of identical levels but 70 very different levels in which skills can be diversified. The result is high engagement: users want to finish each area on the Island and, as the data shows us, they come back on a regular basis.

Usage of the Social Graph
Like in most successful social games players benefit from having many friends that are actively playing the game. Cooperative gameplay is rare in arcade games though. In Bubble Island friends can help each other to advance on the island. The game is constructed to create a win-win situation for the users’ entire Bubble Island-network. The more levels the users and their friends have played in total the more lives they get to retry a level if they fail. This element enhances conversation about Bubble Island outside the game which attracts new players to join.

With Bubble Island’s game design wooga found a way to cultivate a user attracting dialogue in the social network. Consequently, Bubble Island was not affected by the ban of Facebook notifications. Bubble Island will soon be launched on other social networks like on the German VZ Networks on which wooga’s first game Brain Buddies was top of the charts till recently. Next week we will cover wooga’s new game Monster World which was recently launched on Facebook.

12Apr/10

User Retention – How To Keep Your Customers

By Thorsten Bleich

A successful online gaming platform is like a well-oiled machine, with everything working in synergy. The design of your product needs to appeal to your audience; your marketing efforts need to be targeted, and your IT needs to be one step ahead of the bugs that inevitably crop up. But none of this matters if you can’t retain your users.

The importance of user retention is often overlooked, as many marketers don’t look past the almighty registration process. However, following a click through to a conversion is not the end of the process. To evaluate whether that click was worth it, you need to track that user’s lifetime value to see if they actually monetize, or if they just log-out and become another wasted statistic. Retaining users is much like filling a swimming pool. Now, imagine trying to  fill that swimming pool with a leaky bucket. As you fill up your bucket, the same amount of water is leaking out the bottom. In short, it’s not very effective.

monetize your social gameRunning an online gaming website without a strong focus on retaining users is essentially the same thing. Your site might get 1000 new registrations per day, but if those users don’t return, you’re constantly wasting your marketing resources to get new ones. You need to focus on the ‘value’ of your users. When there is a high return rate, the value per user increases and should balance out your acquisition costs. When a user pays more, you can pay more for  other users – and target quality non-incentivized traffic that has a higher potential to convert into paying users. When your users don’t return to your site, and they don’t monetize – you have to settle for cheap, irrelevant, incentivized traffic that probably won’t monetize very well either (essentially, you’re  picking up that leaky bucket again). We have summarized a few techniques and ideas that will help you retain your uses and get the most value from them:

  1. Convincing product. Your product is the most powerful tool you have to retain your users. You need to ensure that it looks amazing and has unique, interesting content to keep the  user engaged. Remember, the minute your users get bored, is the minute they start tuning out!
  2. Communication. Ensure that the communication channel between your product and your users is constantly flowing – but be smart about the way you contact them. Once upon a time, you’d simply send out a newsletter and that would be it. But today’s users are spamsavvy and these emails often end up in the junk mail folder. Try to incorporate direct communication into your product through messages and notifications. You should also send relevant discounts and special offers directly to their email inbox, but be careful not to spam them.
  3. giveawaysGiveaways. One of the beautiful things about online gaming is that once an object is produced, it costs nothing to reproduce over and over again. So share the love, and show your users how much you value them by sending regular gifts.
  4. Friend updates. Tuning into the community needs of your users awakens their interest and gives them a reason to be engaged with your product. Keep them updated on their friend’s activities and suggest how they can grow their network.
  5. Facebook. Apps are set to rule the internet, so to increase your relevance with your users – get integrated! Enable updates to be seen on Facebook newsfeeds so that your product is exposed to an extended audience as well. This will help you to drive in new traffic, while keeping your existing users engaged with your product.