Player Retention Mistakes and How To Fix Them

February 5, 2024
February 5, 2024

According to a recent report, the cost of acquiring a new player ranges from a few cents to a few dollars, depending on genre and platform. That may not seem like much, but with costs expected to rise in 2024, developers are looking for ways to save money.

One way you can generate revenue without spending money on user acquisition is to retain more of the players you already have. Avoiding these player retention mistakes is a good place to start.

Key Takeaways:

  • With the cost of acquiring players on the rise, player retention is more important than ever.
  • A poorly implemented player retention strategy can backfire. Knowing how to avoid or fix common retention mistakes can help you stay on track.
  • To improve your retention rate, you must understand and respond to players, demonstrate your game’s value proposition, stand out from the competition, continually offer fresh, innovative content, and surprise and delight players.

Common Player Retention Mistakes

High retention rates correlate with high user loyalty, sustained revenue, higher average lifetime value, more referral downloads, and lower player acquisition costs. Unfortunately, most games have low retention rates. If you are struggling to improve retention, you may be making one of these common mistakes.

Not Understanding Your Players

Sometimes, developers put a lot of time, effort, and money into retention campaigns that don’t get results because they don’t understand what their players want. To effectively improve retention, you must understand the needs, behavior, motivation, and preferences of your players.

The most direct way to find out what your players want is to ask them through surveys, e-mails, feedback forms, or forum and social media posts. You can also find out what players are thinking by reading reviews, forums, and social media comments. Additionally, you can make use of the large amounts of data your players generate every day by using data analysis techniques to gain insights into player behavior.

Failing To Demonstrate Your Value Proposition

Your games are competing against not only thousands of other games but other forms of entertainment, such as movies and streaming content. If you want to improve player retention, you must convince players that your game offers something they can’t get anywhere else.

Make sure your game offers an immersive and compelling gameplay experience that is well-balanced. Only release content that is high-quality and bug-free. Empower players to make meaningful choices that impact the game world or story.

Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn. Tell players exactly what makes your game unique and why they should play it instead of something else.

Offering Too Little Variety

No matter how compelling the core mechanic of your game is, players will get tired of it if it never changes and there is nothing else to do. Continually refresh your game with new content, features, events, expansions, challenges, items, and achievements.

Stay active on social media and other forums so that players know you are engaging with the game and provide updates and teasers for what is coming next. Retention numbers may drop off if players have the perception that you have moved on to the next project and nothing new will come out for the game they are currently playing.

Screenshot from “Clash of Clans” showing new content players can unlock

Designing a Clunky Onboarding Process

Most games lose the majority of their players in the first three days after installation. Your game must immediately grab players' attention and get them into engaging gameplay as quickly as possible to improve player retention.

Avoid overly long onboarding mechanics. Don’t force players to go through a lot of sign-up screens or sit through lengthy tutorials. Design a user interface that is easy to use.

Make tutorials engaging, short, and skippable. Allow players to try the game out as guests before asking them to create an account. Don’t interrupt early gameplay with ads or sales pitches.

Keep downloads short and include a progress indicator so players know the game hasn’t just stopped working. Provide players with easy access to hints and other resources so they don’t leave if they get confused about what to do next.

Breaking Trust With Players

Once you lose players’ trust, it can be hard to get it back. Communicate with players regularly, particularly about issues that may affect their gameplay experience, such as price increases, changes to gameplay, and bugs or other technical problems.

Encourage a respectful game environment by setting and enforcing rules about player behavior. This is particularly important for games that rely on multiplayer modes where cheating, harassment, and other issues can severely impact retention rates.

Listen and respond to player feedback. Provide excellent customer service and fix bugs and other issues quickly. Protect players’ data and privacy.

Implementing a Bad Monetization Strategy

Players understand that monetization features are necessary for free-to-play games to exist. However, poor implementation of these features can negatively affect player retention.

Avoid creating a perception that players must buy something to finish your game. Be careful about allowing players to purchase gameplay advantages.

Be transparent about monetization features in your game and include safeguards to prevent unauthorized purchases. If you include ads, make sure they are not too frequent or disruptive.

Not Exceeding Expectations

If you aren’t wowing your customers consistently, they may leave when a new game comes along. Strive to provide more value than players expect to receive for the price they are paying.

Surprise players with bonuses and gifts and reward long-term players for their loyalty. Celebrate your players’ milestones and achievements with in-game events, messages, and forum or social media posts.

Screenshot of a reward screen from the game “Candy Crush”

Resting on Your Laurels

New technology and trends constantly affect what players want out of games. To retain players long-term, you need to stay on top of the latest technology and be in touch with up-and-coming trends.

Challenge and surprise players with innovative new gameplay modes and features. No matter how successful your game is, continuously work to make it better.

Player Retention Services That Work

Whether you’ve already made some player retention mistakes you need to fix or you’re trying to avoid them, Sonamine offers engagement and retention services that can help you reach your goals. Let our experts help you find ways to delight your players and keep them coming back for more. Contact us today to get started.

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