How to create seasonal game promotions your players will love

Gamerefinery's Kalle Heikkinen discusses perfect festive additions

How to create seasonal game promotions your players will love

Kalle Heikkinen is the Chief Game Analyst at mobile game and market analysis company GameRefinery.

In the world of mobile games, we can be sure of many things, one of which is that a large number of titles will launch a series of seasonal promotions throughout the year. Whatever the occasion, be it Halloween, Christmas or Valentine's Day, seasonal promotions provide a perfect excuse to find new and exciting ways to drive customer engagement.

With Christmas/The Holidays fast approaching, we’ve taken a closer look at some Christmas promotions in popular games to identify the key features they have in common. So, if you’re about to embark on creating some Holiday content or even thinking ahead to next year’s events, here are some seasonal game features that will work throughout the year (and not just at Christmas) to delight your users as well as drive up your revenues.

Hot tips for a cold season

Think about your target countries and audience: It’s important to remember that not all seasonal promotions are created equal. Some events that are important to you may not be culturally relevant to all your target countries. This is especially the case with looking at the US and China where Halloween and Christmas will be much more significant to a US audience compared to New Year for a Chinese audience.

Create a sense of FOMO (Fear of missing out). Seasonal promotions are a great time to create exclusive content that can only be acquired by logging in and playing through events in that period. Free items can be effective at drawing lapsed players back into your game and keeping them there for a focused period with daily visits. This exclusive content can be things such as character vanity items. Adding unique exclusive versions of characters can be a great way to create compelling reasons for players to come back, such as a Christmas Pikachu in Pokemon Go.

Go on, say no to festive Pikachu.

Run seasonal events: Events are an excellent opportunity to double-down on price segmentation: think of event-specific pricing as well as event discounts and event bundles.

Combine your gachas with seasonal events: Gachas can be easily combined with different kind of events, and it’s also possible to add special gacha mechanics to spice up your event gacha and make it truly special.

Add a unique live event currency: This can be an effective way to temporarily increase sinks (places where resources are expended/destroyed/spent) in your game’s economy. Live event currencies can be combined easily with limited-time shops, gachas and content to create a seasonal boost to your game’s economy. By rewarding players with some of this unique currency within the promotional period for something such as daily log-ins, you can be sure that players will keep coming back for more.

Create unique limited-time seasonal game modes: Yet another very effective way to enhance engagement between your game and your players

Roll your event out gradually: Don’t open the kimono on day one. It’s often wise to roll out your event slowly, e.g. release 25 per cent of your Christmas event content in week 1, 50 per cent in week 2 and 25 per cent in week 3. This drip-feed will help ensure that the effect of your live event lasts longer.

Run a collaboration/crossover event: We’re seeing a lot more collaboration and crossover events across all markets. While they are often implemented in standalone events, a potentially powerful combination could be a good collaboration and a seasonal event. A recent example of this is AFK Arena introducing Anime Overlord characters Ainz Ooal Gown and Albedo to headline its month-long “Horror and Beauty from Another World.” Halloween event.

Successful festive promotions 

Let’s take a look at how some of these promotional features have been implemented in some of the most popular games.

Last Day on Earth Christmas Event

Last Day on Earth cleverly bundled its Christmas event with its newest battle pass season. In the event, a unique location called Nick Santy’s house was added to the game. Players needed to locate the house and decorate a Christmas tree inside with different kinds of ornaments. The more fabulously decorated your Christmas tree was, the higher the ranking, and naturally, the better the rewards.

Many of the battle pass tasks took advantage of the Holiday-theme and integrated it to the survival gameplay of Last Day on Earth. This included activities such as having to cook five roast turkeys. In another task, an NPC in Santa attire gave you a mission to hunt down a zombie deer!

The battle pass rewards for the season were also compelling including a “model gingerbread” skin for your Chopper bike.

All in all, Last Day on Earth’s Christmas event was a fine example of how to combine a seasonal event with your game’s theme, genre and existing event framework (in this case, the battle pass).

The game also saw a positive revenue impact from the seasonal promotion over time as follows:

  • 7 days after the event release: +121 per cent revenues
  • 14 days after the event release: +87 per cent revenues
  • 30 days after the event release: +13 per cent revenues

Last Day on Earth's festive inventory

World of Tanks Blitz

The inventor and jolly fellow Chris Dev invited gamers to his special Holiday Shop. When they entered the shop, the game gifted players with a tank and a promise that Chris would pour them some nice premium account time. Players also could unwrap presents from containers and the Lucky Draw and win the new top tier tank in a Legendary camouflage.

All I want for Christmas is a legendary tank

Hero Wars - Fight the Monsters

Hero Wars has introduced its 14 day ‘Holiday every Day’ promotion to the Dominion for the last couple of years with a range of seasonal rewards. This has included a new Hero, new winter skins as well as the ability to fight bosses, go on event quests, decorate your Guild’s tree, earn Holiday Coins and spend them at the Holiday Shop.

It's Christmas every day in Hero Wars

SimCity Buildit

The Holidays update for SimCity Buildit introduced many of the features that we’ve highlighted above. This included limited-time Snowflake currency and the Mayor's Gift Game, where players could unlock holiday-themed buildings and other rewards. SimCity Buildit also introduced weekly rewards with a new reward theme made available in the Mayor's Gift Game each week of the five-week holiday celebration.

In summary, introducing seasonally themed events to your game can deliver significant benefits as has been seen in a multitude of titles across all the genres. By implementing a combination of features including event-specific currency, seasonal gachas, unique game modes and collaborations, you’ll be significantly increasing your chances of growing revenues and even re-engaging lapsed users looking for fresh content and brand new challenges.

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