The billion-dollar video game industry is expected to reach $295 billion by 2026, with more than 2.5 billion global players predicted to spend $4.5 billion on immersive games. Video game marketing is a crucial piece in realizing these growth predictions.
Data empowers every modern industry, and the same is true for gaming. Video game marketing relies on data-driven marketing methods to accurately run successful campaigns that generate desired results. Without data, developers won’t know which game features to add and improve, and marketers won’t understand what drives players interest.
In this article, we explore the role of data analytics in video game marketing. We’ll discuss how it can help reach the right gamers and look at the correct data you need to use. We’ll also share valuable resources and tools to get you started in the right direction.
Creating an exciting product is no longer enough in today's gaming world. Video game marketing is crucial to reaching highly targeted player groups. Programmers, designers, scenarists, musicians, and marketers must collaborate and share information to make a game successful. This is where data-driven marketing using gamer data comes in.
The gaming industry uses data, analytics, and visualizations to understand customer behavior and player motivations better. For marketers, analyzing customer segments using demographic data is no longer sufficient. Companies are now investigating micro-segments beyond the traditional age and location. To better understand customer preferences such as favorite games, preferred levels of difficulty, or game genres, marketers must look at a deeper subset of video game data that reveals behaviors, interests, and trigger points.
Companies can then use this behavioral data in marketing campaigns to target new gamers or entice existing gamers to upgrade to premium levels. They can run relevant in-game ads that boost user engagement, encourage advertisers and help increase revenues. With the help of data, video game publishers can segment their audience and provide exciting incentives to boost loyalty and get players to spend more on the game.
With the abundance of gaming data, marketers need to understand which data is relevant and which is simply noise. Focusing on the correct data sets will lead to better decisions and, ultimately, better performing video game marketing campaigns. The desired results are achieved when the right data is measured and utilized.
Player activity analytics measures how often and for how long new and existing users play the game. These metrics are essential to gauge if the game interests players and predict the possibility that they will become paying users.
DAU stands for Daily Active User, the unique number of players who played the game within 24 hours. WAU, which stands for Weekly Active Users, measures the unique number of players who played in 7 days, while MAU (Monthly Active Users) measures the same data in 30 days.
Understanding DAU, WAU, and MAU can help you determine how popular the game is and how effective some specific in-game event or marketing campaign was.
A session refers to every instance a player visits the game. Average Session Length is the ratio of the total session length over the number of sessions. Your goal is to keep players engaged for as long as possible.
Metrics like average session length are insightful in comparison against previous period or industry benchmarks. For example, the average mobile user spends about five minutes on a given app.
Retention measures the number of users who have logged in for the first time and have chosen to stay with the game. Three types of retention are commonly measured:
Understanding user retention is essential for your user acquisition strategy. Driving the right audience with the right message will result in higher retention rates. On the other hand, misleading or poorly targeted advertising may get you a lot of installs, but will harm your game’s retention rates.
Lifetime measures sustained interest in a game by indicating the time from when the player first launched the game until the last launch. The longer the player is with you, the more loyal they become and the higher the probability that they’d become paying users.
Every game’s goal is to earn money. Ultimately, even if you have a free game, you want to convert players into paying customers. Here are the metrics that tell how successful you are in this objective.
Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) is the sum of payments for a period divided by the number of unique players. ARPU for new users will be significantly lower than the ARPU for core users, indicating how important it is to convert new users to paying players.
Average Revenue Per Paying User (AARPU) is the revenue generated from every paying player ignoring the number of free and trial players. The metric helps show how different pricing levels influence paying customers.
Lifetime Value (LTV) indicates how much money a user has spent for the entire duration of playing the game. It’s used to determine the acquisition price per player. LTV is the key metric of a successful marketing or UA campaign. For a game to be a wise business investment, the Lifetime Value must be higher than the acquisition cost.
Depending on the game genre, you’d also want to measure specific metrics to understand how players behave within the game and if they are doing what you expect. These metrics, called user metrics, can help show their enthusiasm for a game which would affect the playing activity and paying behavior metrics.
User metrics can either be:
Some examples of genre-specific metrics are:
These games focus on quick reflexes and accuracy, making any data relating to a reflex-based mechanism, like weapon use and object activation for First-Person Shooting (FPS) or FPS + camera angle for Third-Person Shooting (TPS) useful.
These games focus on puzzles and exploration with some light combat. Standard metrics include story progression, NPC interaction, and puzzle completion.
RPGs are incredibly varied but usually involve developing an avatar or character. Useful game metrics are character progression, quest completion, and quest time to complete.
These can be any game that focuses on sports activities. Valuable data are match types, win/loss ratio, and team selection.
These games have simple mechanics and are fast-paced. Useful metrics are session length, stages completed, and points reached.
These are just some of the game types with sample metrics. Games gather various data points, since every player interaction can be treated as a data entry. Some games, like simulation games, vary in their actual gameplay, which makes setting an exact data parameter challenging.
Now that you understand the data metrics to look for, you can use them to target players who will resonate with your game and become avid followers instead of casual players. There are various ways to use data to target gamers, and below are just several ideas.
Nothing makes gamers leave more than being served with ads they don’t care about. However, for most games, ads are a great revenue source. Strike the balance by using data to determine the precise instances when you can serve ads without disrupting gameplay. Serve personalized ads that players would want to see to decrease chances of them leaving or skipping. Data helps marketers understand players’ interests so they can match them with the right messaging.
Understanding when players lose interest will help you promote exciting events or upgrades at the right moment. Players turn to games for different reasons, and while most will not call themselves avid gamers, the vast majority of the gaming population are more than just casual players. It’s just a matter of introducing them to the suitable game and getting them to play for a longer time.
Influencers are great at encouraging millions of new users to try a game. However, using the wrong ones just because they are popular is not a sustainable practice. With data-driven marketing, you can learn about the preferences of your target market and which influencers they follow.
Once you learn how current players make in-game purchases, you can use the data to tweak your pricing structure further and convert a larger chunk of your free or trial population to a paid customer. Data will also help you determine the right price for in-game items and upgrades so it feels natural for players to spend money.
Let’s look at some of the most useful tools to help you implement data-driven video game marketing campaigns.
The following tools are helpful for games developed for desktop applications.
GameAnalytics helps you dive into the robust data your game generates. Just connect your game using an SDK and access key metrics like DAU, sessions, and retention. It also allows you to obtain hardcore data like level progression, errors, and customer events.
Looker is a Google Cloud gaming analytics platform that leverages mobile and video game analytics to understand player behavior and experiences. The tool helps you scale your monetization strategy by combining marketing and behavioral data so you can increase player retention and gain new users.
Vertica is the fastest, most advanced SQL analytics database that powers the worldwide gaming industry. It’s delivered via one unified platform and available on different channels such as on-premise, Hadoop, and multiple cloud software. It’s highly scalable and has in-database machine learning that improves engagement and monetization strategies.
Unity aids you in having a better grasp of your game so you can better engage your players. The tool allows you to build and visualize data and create visual funnels to help you understand how players progress in your game. You can start using it for free and pay only as your game grows.
These tools are helpful for games developed as mobile applications.
Firebase is a Google platform built for mobile app and game development. It's fully managed backend infrastructure helps you build apps you can release confidently. It’s integrated with other Google tools like Google Analytics so you can measure performance. The app also enables you to boost user engagement using rich analytics, messaging campaigns, and A/B tests.
Flurry is a time-tested app analytics solution that has been around since 2008. They have helped numerous apps unlock the potential of user data letting marketers execute data-driven marketing strategies to boost user acquisition and retention. It has a lightweight SDK that loads out-of-the-box metrics in less than 5 minutes. Flurry is also completely free, making it a good choice for startups new to video game marketing.
App Analytics is Apple’s built-in app analytics platform that lets you gather key metrics about your iOS mobile game app. Although it won’t provide in-depth game analytics, it covers the basics like app store performance, engagement, and paying users. The app also helps you measure marketing analytics across various platforms, making it an excellent tool for understanding the performance of your video game marketing strategies.
Data.ai provides mobile data analytics tools that help app developers understand the digital landscape using consumer and market data fueled by artificial intelligence. They work with various verticals, including gaming, where they help gaming apps generate more value per player by identifying features that drive monetization. They also provide video game marketing data such as ad conversions assisting marketers in identifying the campaigns that are working.
Data.ai also helps uncover opportunities for further growth through cross-genre analysis, which shows where players spend most of their time. For the strategic marketer who wishes to explore other partnerships, Data.ai provides data on the best genre and country where the next top game could emanate.
We rounded up these useful resources to help bring your video game marketing strategies to the next level.
Mobile Dev Memo is a mobile advertising and freemium monetization trade blog founded by Eric Benjamin Seufert, a media strategist and quantitative marketer with vast experience working with several tech companies, including Rovio, the developer of Angry Birds. As an accomplished author, he created Mobile Dev Memo to help developers and marketers make better mobile apps and create data-driven marketing campaigns.
Learn about the latest trends in mobile gaming and market data through the Data.ai blog. As a mobile app data analytics leader, Data.ai regularly writes about gaming trends and industry developments. Their insights help give direction and context to strategic video game marketing activities.
Game Developer is a blog site dedicated to helping game developers improve their craft and, along the way, giving video game marketer's insights on how to best target users. The blog provides updates on the latest trends and notable events in the gaming industry and the latest games from big and indie developers who are capturing the market. This site is an excellent resource for developing a deeper appreciation of the ins and outs of the gaming industry.
With nearly half of the world’s population exposed to mobile and video games, the battle to win their attention is fierce, making gaming a highly competitive industry. To acquire new customers and retain existing ones, developers and marketers must rely on game data and analytics for direction on the right tactics and strategies.
Video game marketing is crucial to ensure the success of any game’s launch. It encompasses various paid and organic channels and utilizes multiple platforms. But before marketers can proceed with their campaigns, they need to ensure everything is based on user data. Data-driven marketing will increase the likelihood of success while reducing costly mistakes.
With the information we’ve shared in this article, we hope that you always let data guide your marketing initiatives. Never forsake the importance of actionable data analytics.
Cloutboost is an experienced, data-driven, full-service agency with expertise in PR, paid media, and influencer marketing. Get in touch to learn how we can propel your gaming brand to success.