Interview

Swrve: Personalisation the 'next big thing in game design'

Swrve: Personalisation the 'next big thing in game design'
Last week, San Francisco-based app analytics and optimisation platform Swrve raised $6.25 million in its latest funding round.

In order to find out how such a sizeable sum is going to be put to use, we caught up with Swrve's CEO Hugh Reynolds.

While we were at it, we also found out more about the platform's featureset, the benefits of A/B testing and the company's newly launched campaign tracker.

Pocket Gamer: Swrve has just raised $6.25 million in funding. How will that money be put to use?

Hugh Reynolds: Our success to date with some of the world's largest games publishers tells us that there is a huge – and growing – market for mobile app analytics and testing services. On that basis, we're ready to push on to the next level.

That means increased engineering effort to deliver a comprehensive optimisation platform, plus a significant investment in sales and marketing to bring our story to the world.

How does Swrve differ from a typical app analytics platform?

Typical analytics only goes so far. We find that while it can help report on success and failure, it doesn't do much to help improve the situation.

If I see retention is down – what can I do about it? 'Dumb' analytics leaves me in the dark attempting to guess a solution and hope that it fixes the problem.

Swrve is about turning analytics into action. After identifying issues and opportunities based on clear understanding of player behaviour, we enable our users to A/B test alternative scenarios or touch very targeted groups of players directly.

By doing so our customers can know what works and does not rather than simply guessing. By optimizing over a period of time, we help them drive acquisition, retention and of course monetisation.

Can you give us an example of how a game developer might use Swrve's features such as A/B testing to improve their game's monetisation mechanics or user engagement?

Let's take an obvious example – the pricing of in-app purchases (IAPs).

Conventionally, a developer might have to make a best guess as to what price point will maximise revenue – and chances are that across an entire game they are leaving a lot of money on the table.

A/B testing enables different price points to be tested live in the game - no update needed - and with segments automatically created for players exposed to the control and variant prices, Swrve users can see which price delivers best in terms of total revenue, retention – or any other KPI you can think of.

Swrve can also help identify when a price may be 'incorrect'. By identifying IAPs that perform strongly in terms of unit sales, but poorly in terms of total revenue, we can see which prices might have scope to be increased - and vice versa.

Swrve's latest feature is its Campaign Tracker. Can you explain what this is and how it works?

At the heart of Campaign Tracker is segmentation of users by acquisition source, and specifically the ability to 'back-date' iOS acquisition.

On iOS, IDs for players acquired by a partner are traditionally supplied after the event as a batch file, with no associated data for the period between acquisition and the supply of that file.

Swrve Campaign Tracker enables all prior revenue events to be correctly attributed to each user ID and correctly time-stamped – for the first time enabling accurate revenue information to be applied to iOS acquisition.

Data by acquisition source is then displayed in date-installed cohorts, with the ability to display a range of metrics - revenue, ARPDAU, retention, etc - in this format. Thus acquisition sources and campaigns can be both compared with each other, and over time.

That provides a fast, clear way to establish what is working, and what isn't – which in turn means the ability to invest more in channels that are delivering ROI, and reducing spend in those that do not.

How might Swrve be used to tailor gameplay experiences for different player segments?

Personalisation is the next big thing in game design.

The fact is that there is no reason why each player should experience the game in the same way – just as those of us reading a newspaper or using amazon.com on our mobile can enjoy personalized experiences.

Swrve enables our users to target players behaviourally and demographically, and in turn both test specific solutions to specific target groups, and roll out 'winners' to those players only.

Similarly, our Messager technology allows tutorials, help and sales messages to be shown only to those players who might benefit from them - meaning all of the benefit and none of the cost for our customers.

Swrve's pricing may rule it out as an option for many smaller or medium-sized mobile developers. Do you have any plans to release a product or pricing tier for these studios?

Our lowest pricing tier is affordable for small and medium sized developers, particularly as costs only increase with MAU – so your success is our success.

We make no apologies for Swrve not being a free product – for our customers the features we provide have a significant impact on the bottom line - in contrast to conventional analytics.

We have a number of small studios as customers, and we'd encourage anyone thinking of adopting Swrve to give us a call. They might be pleasantly surprised.
Thanks to Hugh for his time.
Staff Writer

PocketGamer.biz's news editor 2012-2013

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