Putting Players First: Tips for Maximizing ARPDAU

By Dennis Heizmann

View this blog on the Tilting Point website

Like most free-to-play game companies, the team at Tilting Point spends a lot of time thinking about our average revenue per daily active user (ARPDAU) and its impact on the overall lifetime value (LTV) of our players. When managed properly, ARPDAU is a balance of delivering compelling value that players want, while maximizing revenue for a studio.

Over the past several months, my team has been optimizing our casual puzzle game Languinis to increase our ARPDAU, and we wanted to share a few lessons we’ve learned along the way. In this blog, we’ll take a look at two specific ways developers can listen to their players and lean into their behavior to improve a game’s bottom line.

Creating Systems to Drive Conversion

When we set out to increase our ARPDAU, we started by diving deep with our customer experience. Our initial thought was to try and increase the size of players’ average transactions. Bigger purchases surely was the path to more revenue, but as we dug into player behavior we found that wasn’t necessarily the case.

We found that our players prefer to make small, frequent purchases when they’re at risk of failing a level, buying just what they need in the moment. Larger, less frequent purchases didn’t line up with our game. As a result, we took a hard look at what players were already doing.

When we ran the numbers, we found that 80 percent of the game’s revenue comes from end game purchases, or EGP. We also learned that 15 percent of the purchases made were for only one dollar, and happened when they were at risk of failing a level. Players were only buying what they needed, at the moment they needed it. So the team embraced what players were telling us, and focused on more ways to incentivize players to buy EGP more often.

One of the most effective things the team did to encourage EGP was to add a win streak mechanic to the game. The more players win, the more buffs they have in the game, and they receive more lucrative rewards. As soon as a player breaks their winning streak, they have to start over. The idea of win streaks has evolved from simple limited time events to a permanent, integral part of the core loop in many successful new games like Hayday Pop and Harry Potter Puzzles and Spells.

It’s a fun mechanic that adds excitement to the game as the stakes get higher with each match. It’s also a powerful motivator to drive EGP sales since players have even more reasons not to fail a level.

We also learned that players are most likely to buy EGP the first time they try a level, rather than on their fourth or fifth attempt. Players get into the habit of winning, and don’t want to break that chain, so we also looked at how we presented the offer to reinforce this motivation.

We implemented a special EGP offer screen when players were about to fail. We added a character to the screen to add emotion to the moment. We also reminded them of the extra powers and rewards they were losing as a result of breaking the win streak. And, lastly, we put a final prompt asking players if they were sure they wanted to pass on the offer if they initially declined. In many ways, this became the most important screen in the whole game, and we continue to explore things like live events, first-attempt rewards, and other systems to feed into this player behavior.

And the results spoke for themselves as the win streak and new player prompts increased our EGP purchases by 15 percent.

Crew Events

Since beating a level on the first try is exceptionally valuable for players, we started to explore other ways to reinforce this behavior. The team started by going straight to players with a survey that helped us better understand their motivations, which led to some unexpected results.

We thought players would love the competition with the community and vying for the highest scores. But players told us they actually loved collaborating with others and being altruistic. It was a great insight we may not have uncovered without reaching out directly to players for their feedback.

The result was what we call Crew Events. In Crew Events, players join a group of other gamers who share rewards when they achieve team-based goals, including solving puzzles on the first try. Players can also give badges to their teammates, which unlocks additional rewards for players who collect enough badges.

Crew Events have proven to be one of the most popular things we’ve added to the game. Average session length increased by more than 10 percent after introducing the feature and over 80 percent of our users regularly engage with the altruistic badge mechanic.

The success of the events and our conversion system prove that players will always tell you what they’re looking for if you take the time to listen.

Team Up with Tilting Point

There are many ways to improve the performance of a game. And We hope these learnings from the team at Tilting Point have helped inspire new ideas that your team can put into practice.

If you’re looking for a publishing partner to help on maximizing your ARPDAU, or any other aspect of your game, we’re here to help, and would love to hear from you. Say hello at hello@tiltingpoint.com

As Game Manager at Tilting Point, Dennis Heizmann is leading the internal development studio and is responsible for the continuous improvement of Languinis, the company’s first acquired title, while also kick-starting new co-development titles based out of the Barcelona office. Prior to Tilting Point, Dennis worked as a Product Manager for flaregames, running LiveOps for various titles as well as creating forecasting methodologies and spear-heading product analytics.

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