Gaming suffers from the high cost of user acquisition and, like any online service, it's harder to get people to come back than to keep them in. Thus, lowering churn is something that keeps game execs up at night, and remains a hot topic in the gaming world.
Today, most games vendors can accurately identify when a player stops playing and activate an outreach campaign to attempt to lure them back.
However, this is essentially the digital equivalent of closing the barn door after the cows have left. Because the what of churn is the easy part: the player left. What needs to be addressed is the why of churn.
The trick - as companies like Yokozuna Data have figured out - is to be able to leverage big data to effectively predict churn in order to proactively prevent it.
Data scientists are already working on ways to leverage historical data to create a model for prediction of when a player will stop playing.
A simple example of how this could work? If game-monitoring tools noticed that a new player was racking up a lot of deaths, and was thus potentially getting frustrated, a well-tuned predictive analytics algorithm could proactively offer tips for staying alive or maybe even a free premium upgrade of some relevant parameter that would help ensure continued engagement.
The bottom line
Gaming is uniquely user experience-centric, with a fiercely loyal player base. But it’s also a space in which many players are surprisingly fickle, churn frequently and are not afraid to express their negative opinions.
It’s a revenue monster, with over $36 billion in revenue last year alone, in which it still costs games makers more than $4 to acquire a user, over $50 to convert a player into a first-time purchaser - and in which only eight per cent will ever spend any money at all.
An effective application of machine learning to big data can help quickly identify the changes in playing trends and user behaviour that affect the overall experience – and ultimately translate into revenues.
The insights are right there, in the data. The question is, how well are games vendors responding to them?