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Retention lessons from F2P

| By iGB Editorial Team

Mark Robinson of DeltaDNA looks at how the gambling sector can apply the techniques used by free-yo-play (F2P) game developers to maximise the value of each and every player.

When you give your game away for free, engagement is key. Consequently, those at the leading edge of F2P have quickly established approaches that optimise the user experience in order to maximise the value of each player.

They have learned that every player is different, requiring responsive games to ensure the best possible experiences are being delivered to each and every player.

The following are a list of considerations high in the minds of F2P designers, which will resonate with those in charge of real-money games.

Make a good first impression
Quite simply, in F2P, games that are good at on-boarding are much more likely to make money. They can expect to see a 300%+ retention uplift over those who don’t. In gambling, on-boarding tutorials are essential to introduce gameplay mechanics. 

Just because the rules of the game are well known, users still need to become familiar with your game set-up as the first step to building enjoyment of your betting experience. First time user experience (FTUE) funnel analysis is an essential tool for analysing its effectiveness, and a typical approach involves packing your FTUE with a high density of events that can be measured.

Getting the balance right in on-boarding is essential. If your approach is too restrictive, then Day 1 retention can look good, but Day 7 can fall off a cliff as players aren’t fully prepared for the live experience. Conversely, Day 1 retention can be adversely affected if the game controls and the highlights of the game experience aren’t demonstrated early enough.

Give something away
Rewards are often used in F2P. In the FTUE, this can ensure punters maintain enough resources to experience all that the gameplay has to offer, which can mean overcoming early losses. If a player loses money early on, they should be immediately rewarded with additional credit to keep playing.

Gifting free bets is also a great way to entice your customers to try something new. Boredom and anxiety are the biggest reasons why players move on. They are either no longer interested in the game, or they are losing too often and maybe find the UI difficult to master.

Rewarding customers is the ideal way to move them from a potentially bad situation to a good one, and part of the art is using your app data to know when and where you need to apply it. A great example is instantly rewarding your VIPs when they have experienced a big loss, or helping them to celebrate when they win.

Keeping on top of your in-app economy is essential in gaming. You need to know when customers step-up their betting, when they are running low on cash and the triggers in your game that spark depositing.

Time of day and day of the week can be very influential on behaviour, so it can be beneficial to make gifts at times when players are most likely to leave, but make offers when they are more likely to make payments.

One other type of reward used in F2P is appointment setting, using push notifications outside the game to promote daily rewarding of returning customers. This encourages consecutive repeat play and can be extremely effective.

VIP management is obviously essential, but other players can also contribute to success, even if their stakes are low. Understanding the pathways taken by customers is crucial.

Segmenting users based on their approach to risk, stakes, the games they play, their speed of gameplay and whether they are new, provides insight into the performance of your game that just isn’t available from general KPIs and funnel analysis.

Segmentation tells you where you need to make adjustments in your marketing, messaging and gameplay, to optimise retention. Live segmentation can be employed using your CRM to make offers based on archetypal player behaviours.

Game management
Successful F2P games are persistent users of A/B testing to mitigate risk when looking to make adjustments to game parameters. In a real-money environment, A/B testing should be used to evaluate CRM campaigns, offers to punters, bet limits and changes to the user experience.

In conclusion, the secret to better retention in F2P and gambling is using your CRM and data to deliver real time personalisation. It is essential to provide customer pathways that keep users between the thresholds of boredom and anxiety, particularly during on-boarding, to unlock higher lifetime values.


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