Mark Robinson is co-founder and CEO of deltaDNA - the games industry's dedicated game personalization and player insight platform.
The always-on nature of mobile means each and every game is a veritable treasure trove of real-time data about the people playing them.
Not whether they are female, 25 years-old, or playing on a train while they 'snack on mobile content', but real useful and actionable data about how your players are engaging (or not) with your game.
This player data can be collected, analyzed and used to create personalized gaming experiences which make environments more fun, boost player engagement and drive revenues.
The key to this is identifying the different types of players in your game. Only by identifying and segmenting the various player behaviours can you begin to unlock the potential in the data and personalize the game experience.
Of course mobile player segments vary from game to game, but having analyzed and segmented the player base across many titles and genres, we have identified five typical in-game behaviours.
1. First Session Abandoners
These guys are looking for instant gratification or some kind of special treatment.
They need a specific reason to return to the game. Offering gifts and rewards can be a great way of engaging this type of player. It's important to be generous with your resources. The bottom line - if a player doesn't become engaged then they won't spend. Ever.
Gumi Inc's Brave Frontier RPG is one game which does this really well, giving players a daily bonus, as well as gifts for a host of things like when the game was downloaded one million times.
2. Persistent Grinders
Persistent Grinders are already very engaged players; they love the challenge of the game and want to work hard for their progress.
However, they still need some kind of reward and incentive to keep them playing. They don't want a buy into a higher level or free resources which is going to give them and unfair advantage.
Exclusive videos work really well for these guys. It also avoids unbalancing the in-game economy the way gifting premium currency would.
NaturalMotion use this mechanic well in CSR Classics, where players get the chance to watch a video in return for energy which is used to enter races.
3. The Frustrated Ones
Sometimes engaged players can hit a difficultly wall which can block their progress.
This is where A/B testing plays an invaluable role in establishing which solutions work best and what changes can deliver the best and often immediate impact to help this segment of players and have a positive impact on both retention and monetization.
For example, is 50 gems the right level of gifting at the start of mission 4 so that players make it through the mission but where future revenues are not cannibalized? Or 100? Or 25? Trying different scenarios in A/B testing will ensure that the game economy is well balanced.
Supercell's Boom Beach is far more balanced with a better difficulty curve than Clash Of Clans which actually had a major jump between levels.
4. The Loyal Guys
These players love your game. Unlike the Persistent Grinders, they are quite happy to purchase or be gifted upgrades and resources that will make their progress through the game more enjoyable.
They're up for spending money so you need to give them the opportunity. This isn't about $50 worth of gems, but rather offering a VIP scheme where their loyalty and love of the game can be truly rewarded and indulged.
Giving players exclusivity to access areas of the game or in-game items which aren't ever available to players who do not sign-up perpetuates loyalty.
However, it's important to get the cost/benefit balance of your VIP offering right, something that Codemasters' Boom! Tanks does really well. Its VIP club offers players a host of extras like bonus supplies and a new tank when you buy any single item.
5. Bolted Horses
You can't please all of the people all of the time and there's always going to be some players coming into your game who leave quickly because the game wasn't really what they were expecting.
The trick here of course is having a better user acquisition strategy in place to avoid getting these players in the first place.
It's essential mobile developers understand these and other game-specific player segments in order to begin to truly drive player engagement.
Segmentation is the foundation on which you can personalize - and therefore enhance - the gaming experience and as part of an effective Player Relationship Management strategy helps improve player satisfaction and lifetime value.