P4RC's Jason Seldon ponders: Is it best to incentivise marketing actions or gameplay?

All in the quest to maximise retention

P4RC's Jason Seldon ponders: Is it best to incentivise marketing actions or gameplay?
Jason Seldon is the founder and CEO of P4RC, a player engagement platform for mobile games.

Over the past couple of years, a number of companies have brought to market real-world rewards systems to incentivise different actions in games.

As the space has evolved, two different types of providers have emerged - those that incentivise marketing actions and those that incentivise gaming actions.

This way...

When thinking about incentivising marketing actions - such as having players watch videos, view ads, or accept product samples or coupons from brands - it is important to separate the reality from the spin.

Here's a hint... If you need to give away your in-app currency to incentivise a player to accept a real-world reward, then it isn't a reward, it's an ad.

That's not a bad thing.

When incentivised, players may find such forms of advertising to be less intrusive, and they may respond more favorably as they are getting something for the interruption to their gaming experience.

However, this is not the same as driving player engagement with the game itself.

And that...

Systems that reward gaming actions provide a very different use case for real-world rewards. These systems can have a dramatic impact on player retention, frequency and duration of gaming sessions.

It is important to note, however, that incentivizing players with rewards just for opening an app (as some providers do) is not the same as incentivizing players with rewards for actually playing, which is a far more effective way to drive player engagement.

In any game, there is something players are seeking to achieve, and the game informs them as they achieve it. This can be something as simple as the score or it can involve far more complex forms of achievement.

Regardless of the achievement mechanism, the constant feedback to the player of their progress within the game is a key element of what makes games fun.

At P4RC, we believe reward points can serve as an additional measure of success for players that can increase that level of fun.

By giving reward points to players (on top of existing achievement measures in a game), you provide the same type of feedback to players as seen in real-world redemption games - like Skeeball - where players are awarded tickets that can be redeemed for prizes.

The result is far more time and money spent on the games.

Proof of the pudding

By dishing out reward points for gaming success, P4RC incentivises players to play games longer and to play them with friends. These reward points can then be exchanged for real prizes (such as digital gift cards from top brands like Amazon, Apple, Starbucks, and more) right inside the game.

The resulting increase in player retention has been impressive.

For example, we recently conducted a study of the retention uplift resulting from adding P4RC to Slightly Social's chart-topping iOS game Rocka Bowling.

The study was conducted over a 7-day period immediately following the release of an update to add P4RC to the game. Players who downloaded the updated version were separated into two groups based on whether or not they opted-in to earn P4RC rewards.

The uplift for those that opted-in to P4RC was substantial - among P4RC players, the percentage that played for two of the 7 days was twice as high and the percentage that played for three of the 7 days was three times as high as the corresponding percentages for players that did not opt in.

We have seen similar results in other titles, with uplift as high as 400 percent observed.

Doubling up

Looking at both types of reward providers, it is clear that each provides a different type of benefit for developers: one maximizes player engagement with the game, the other engagement with the in-game advertising.

When deciding what to implement, keep in mind that the two types of reward systems are not mutually exclusive. At P4RC, we have started to see some of our partners employing both types of systems within a single title.

If our player engagement platform can keep players in the game longer, they will have greater exposure to the incentivised ads from another provider.

So, the two systems can work well together to help maximize revenues.

For more information on P4RC, please visit www.p4rc.com or download the official iOS app at www.p4rcapp.com.

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