Rounding off the first day of Casual Connect Europe 2016, Chillingo's Andy Needham and Matt Dixon, (Head of Studio and Director of Sales & Business Development respectively), gave a talk on operating a live service.
As a reference point for their talk, they used Chillingo's Iron Force, a game that has over 30 million downloads and has been translated into 10 different languages.
"Let the player drive your game", said Needham on the topic of retention, and suggested asking what players actually want from the game.
This leads to social media engagement, by holding competitions for naming maps, and having votes on what kind of tank players want, for example.
Think it through
Dixon suggested that, as well as running events based on large seasonal events, like Christmas and Lunar New Year, you can run events at smaller points, such as weekends or evenings, to improve retention.
But he warned that "anything you do, you really have to have thought through", as any events you hold can affect later plans in production and potentially harm your overall revenue and throw your schedule off.
Needham added that, because you're likely to be running a game for years, it's important to keep everything, no matter how small, fresh and interesting, such as by changing the interface on a regular basis to match current trends.
Make it worth their while
Regarding UA, Dixon advised that "You should be spending money on user acquisition every single month," adding that you've got to be spending "six figures every single month" to remain in the charts.
He also said that "a client update should be worthwhile", saying that every update you release needs to come with new assets, content, app store improvements, and so on.
You've got to be spending six figures every single month to remain in the charts.Matt Dixon
Dixon also advised presenting your game or update to the store operators as early as three months before it is released, comparing the app stores to retail stores as they both need to "stock their shelves" and plan ahead as to what to promote the most.
Make them pay
Moving on to converting players to spenders, Needham said that "players want to be monetised", and spoke about how a player should feel like their purchase has improved their experience significantly.
Promotions can be used to convert non-paying players, but Needham warns not to run too many, as players don't want to feel like they're being aggressively marketed to and instead want to feel like they've spotted a good deal themselves.
He also suggested paying close attention to your analytics, advising that you should "get into the mind of the players", and work out what it is they actually want to buy, rather than attempting to sell what you want them to buy.
A helping hand
Finally, the two talked about supporting your players, not only as customer support but also by supporting the game.
Dixon warned not to "dictate what people are saying" on social media, advising to never delete negative comments, and instead provide feedback.
Needham spoke about the "closed communities" of Iron Force, which invites their best players into a forum intended only for them, treating them as VIPs and keeping them interested in the game.
He also recommended that, when you have to reply to a direct complaint or problem from a player, that you should "respond as a player talking to another player" to build a level of trust with the players.