Increasing application use is essential to a thriving app business. Studies show that it costs five times more to attract new customers than it does to get repeat customers and less acquisition costs equate to higher profits. One reason is that current customers are easier to convert as they gain trust and experience the value of the app. To measure success, a game developer uses this rule of thumb: more than 50 percent of total revenue should be from repeat players, and second purchases should be 30 to 40 percent of sales, according to Lisa Marino, chief revenue officer at RockYou.
Here are some ways to increase application use and safeguard an app business used by game developers:
In Bookworm, basic rules are presented to the player prior to the start of app play.
Apps like Resident Evil 5, Unreal Tournament III, Guitar Hero/Band Hero, and Mercenaries have features where the user gets a friend to join as they play through the normal game mode. This fosters community by encouraging play with others (regardless of their location or progress within the game). Facebook is a great place to start a community and then promote the app profile in the app to increase friends.
Many games, like Bejeweled, have started Facebook pages for passionate app users.
Games like LittleBigPlanet encourage players to collect as many items as possible. Some of these items improve the user's status by changing the way the character looks. Players who have obtained items difficult to acquire will generally flaunt their success by dressing their avatars with these items.
The best game to demonstrate this is Nintendo’s Pokémon games. Each player is allocated only a certain number of items (in this case, Pokémon). In order to collect them all, the user must trade with other players. Some Pokémon will change forms while being traded, while others are simply not available unless traded. This also fosters community by forcing trades between players.
Customization is a game marketer’s friend. The Sims is a good example; games have slowly integrated the ability to create a custom character or shape experience to preferences. Games like Guitar Hero allow players to create a custom star. Customization gets as detailed as settings for four points on the cheek and three points on the chin for each character. Playing with the customization, players have recreated their favorite heroes/villains as well as creating self portraits to immerse themselves further in gameplay.
PlayStation and Xbox use a trophy/achievement system to encourage users to compete against friends to see who can score higher or complete more objectives.
Console apps use messaging systems for players to keep in touch and send app invites. For example, while playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time, the user can send a message to other friends requesting they join them in play. When friends are offline, messages can be sent through the app system similar to e-mail. In many cases, players on the friends' list are more apt to check their gaming message box over their traditional e-mail box. For example, the app’s messaging box is used as a means to set up times to play apps with friends at a later point.
Many apps are syndicated. If you grew up in the 1980s, you’ll recognize Mario and Sonic. Both mascots are still heroes to the current generation. Mario was a villain (Donkey Kong Jr.), a Plumber, a Doctor (Dr. Mario), a racer (Mario Kart), and more. While Sonic’s resume isn’t nearly as impressive, Sega managed to slap Sonic in more titles than most people realize. In the Dreamcast Title Shenmue, players collected Sonic the Hedgehog action figures. Keeping this brand recognition, both Sega and Nintendo have managed to chain games together around a character. When players hear the names Mario or Sonic, sales are guaranteed.
Now that you have a checklist and some examples, build features to increase application use into the app design or add them as the app gets more traffic; and they become the foundation to a thriving app business. As revenue increases, you may want to buy traffic for your app.
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Rob Weber co-founded W3i in 2000, growing W3i to be a leader in app user acquisition and monetization. For 42 consecutive quarters the company continues to be profitable and has grown to over 120 employees. For more than a decade, Rob worked to create solutions to increase distribution, drive revenue, and heighten engagement for app developers, such as DeNA, Gree, Kabam, PocketGems, and many other indie and public developers. Under Rob's leadership, W3i recently launched a mobile offer exchange that includes partnerships with leading offer providers.
Rob's business philosophy is to provide a collaborative environment developing solutions that provide value to app developers, advertisers, agencies, and ad networks.
In addition, Rob shares his passion for apps, digital media, and entrepreneurship by serving on the board of several tech companies. Rob recently presented at MobileBeat, GamesBeat, GDC, GDC Online, APPNATION, iPhone/iPad App DevCon, and also judged Start-Up Weekends.
Rob is an angel investor in a number of game, social media, music, video, and mobile app start-ups.
December 12, 2013
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