Posts Tagged ‘mobile games’

Sony Online Entertainment leverages Sonamine Predictive Player Scores

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013 by Nick

Happy new year everyone!

There is a lot of industry interest in using data analytics in games.  Looking at the gamasutra or linkedin job board today, I see that Ubisoft, 2K games, MachineZone, Ngmoco, Microsoft, Z2live, Activision etc are all looking for data analysts.  Especially after it was revealed that the Democrats used a predictive scoring algorithm to allocate scare volunteer resources to get-out-the-vote, interest in using predictive analytics has never been higher, or more hyped.

But really, how do you actually use predictive scores in a day-to-day productionized manner to increase revenues and retention?  Well, one of Sonamine’s customer is Sony Online Entertainment, an industry leading MMO developer.  They have successfully integrated Sonamine predictive player scores into a full fledged player relationship management program that encompasses different player touch points, a communications calendar and different offers.  SOE presented their story at GDC Online in Austin.  (skip to link at bottom to get presentation).  Here are some of their lessons:

  • Develop a player relationship management program, with calendar of communications and offers.
  • Have a system that allows targeting to different sub-segments of players with appropriate messages.
  • Use Sonamine predictive scores to create different player segments.
  • Take the long view, it is a journey.
  • Do not underestimate the resources needed to pull this off.

Fill in a short form and download the Sony GDC presentation here.

Showing promotions to mobile game players

Monday, February 6th, 2012 by Nick

When a player is in your game and ready to purchase something with real money for the first time, how do you show a promotion to her?  After having spoken to dozens and dozens of developers, we are convinced that this capability must be baked into the game design, and also budgeted up front.  In this post, we cover some of the considerations.


Why do you need a promotion system?  Economics.  In the free to play world, you need to use promotional messages to improve the conversion rate.  Email marketing might work, but the response rates are abysmal and most games do not collect emails.  This is not a cure all for badly designed games, but a complementary facet of the game business.


The person using this could be a marketing promotions manager, a revenue optimization or monetization analyst.  In all cases, they want to improve monetization by pushing specific offers and content to specific users.  The key is to give these users a simple UI to manage the promotions and which users to target them to (see targeting below).


Promotions is a well understood tool in many direct-to-consumer industries like mobile phone service companies or financial services.  Even retail businesses are getting into promotions and offers.  A promotion calendar is usually drawn up at the beginning of each year / quarter.  There could be festival oriented promotions (eg. Valentines day) or just regular weekly conversion promotions.  The key is to avoid spamming your user base, and you do that by cleverly managing who you show promotions to (see Sonamine offerings) and when.


Mobile games, especially native OS games, face a particularly tough situation with promotions.  Not only must the game retrieve live dynamic promotions, but the click-through action must be to a section of the game that is appropriate for the promotion.  For example, if the promotion is to get 50% discount off a virtual item, the click through must be through to the buy page for that item, with discount applied.  Since every game is unique with different set up, it is not possible to use a generic mobile advertising system to insert “interstitial” ads into the game, especially since most interstitial ads are either video oriented or open up a browser, both terrible user experiences.

Target players for promotion

Another reason why you cannot easily use a mobile ad provider to insert “interstitial” or “banner” ads into the game and apply “house ads” is that these systems do not allow you to target individual users differently for different promotions.  In practice what you want is a way to link different player lists to specific promotions.  Again another reason why a better option may be to build this inhouse.  One simple option is to create a user_promotions data structure (hash_map, key value store or what ever suits you) with user_id and promo_id.  Then your game can access this and retrieve the promo as needed.

Click through action

Finally, in the mobile game architecture, it is best to ensure that promos can easily have a deep-link into separate parts of the games, passing along appropriate parameters associated with the promos.   For example, the product purchase page might take parameters to filter out the virtual item list.

Some example promos placements

Common places to show promos : splash screen, level up screens, the buy-pages of course.

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