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Analyzing game economy performance
Now that we’ve gone over setting up your game economy, in this last class with Guy Bar Sade, CEO at Simpool, we go full circle and dive into the data. We’ll explore how to analyze and optimize your game economy to keep improving performance.
Hey there. Welcome to episode three of this series about the game economy. I’m Guy, CEO of Simpool, and in the past two episodes we discussed the foundations of the economy and core game loop. We’ve also gone over how to configure and optimize an economy for your game.
In this episode, we’re talking all things data. To prove your game economy is properly supporting your game’s performance, you need to look at certain KPIs. It’s also important to prioritize the right ones so you don’t get bogged down with too many metrics.
We’ll start by discussing the objectives of data collection for your game economy. Here’s what you should be aiming to accomplish with the KPIs you set early on.
Early day data
From day 1, your focus should be on checking that your game is a product-market fit. This means creating a solid core game loop that addresses the expectations, experiences, and emotions you’re trying to get your users to feel.
Basically, it’s a balance of providing resources and value that keep users playing. And a proper data strategy is key to achieving this balance. Here are 5 points to keep in mind as you design your data strategy.
1. Decide which KPIs are the most critical – I’ll suggest a few key ones in a bit
2. Define your data events… That might sound weird right now but hold on, we’ll dive into this more in our next section about building a data structure
3. Make sure the right teams have access to the right data
4. Make the key data accessible.
5. The rest of your data is extra. You can always get it as you need it.
Now you’ve got an idea of what data should be doing for your business. The next step is to confirm it’s actually effective. The best way to do this is to build a data structure. But creating this at the same time you’re building your game can be tricky – especially early on. So let’s explore how to do this.
Building a data structure
A data structure checks that your data strategy is working as it should. We’ll get into some other KPIs worth tracking in a moment, but first there’s one metric that rules them all: retention. From the start, retention is king – and it’s directly related to game design. The better your design, usually the higher your retention rate.
Once you start monetizing users, retention is still the key metric. That’s because the longer users spend in your game, the more opportunities you have to show them ads or encourage them to make in-app purchases. Basically, it directly correlates to boosting LTV. So from the very beginning you should build your data structure around retention.
The rest of your structure can be built around six events and features in your game. These are sessions, payments, bonuses, games, exchange, and user balance. Each of these has their own critical KPIs. As you optimize your data structure, look at the impact of these changes on the key metrics.
First let’s talk about sessions, which are how many times users logged into your game. The main metrics of note here are retention and APD. APD means actual playing days. APD represents how many times a user logged into your game over a given period of time. For example, 3 actual playing days means the user logged in 3 times within let’s say a week. Meanwhile, day 3 retention means that the user logged in on the third day.
Payments refers to when users pay in the game, like making in-app purchases. The critical KPIs naturally are around revenue, like ARPDAU and ARPU.
Bonuses are basically free resources. first, it’s important to track bonus ratio, which compares bonuses given to currency consumed – for example if you’re consuming 1000 coins and the free bonus is just 50 coins, the bonus ratio is 5%. second, bonus value, which is how much an offer is worth compared to 1 US dollar. It’s a way to standardize the currencies into a real one. For example, for the shop configuration – for 1$ the user will receive 100 coins, and for 2$ they’ll receive 150, the value for money for $1 is 1:50 but for 2$ it’s 1:75. last, bonus grinders, which are users who only log in to collect bonuses.
Games are an essential part of the core game loop. They may look like pulling a slot machine, getting through a level of a bubble shooter game, or playing a hand of cards. Look at metrics like daily games, average cost of the game per user, win ratio, and reward ratio.
Exchange refers to users exchanging in-game resources. This is only applicable for games with multiple currencies. It could look like the trading of hard for soft currency or exchanging in-game currency for boosters. The data you look at should show how users consume the currency and at what pace. Then the trick is to combine these two elements into a single metric for comparison: the value for every one US dollar.
The last event we’re focusing on is user balance. Monitor user balance by looking at KPIs like consumption rate and daily economy wealth. These will tell you if you’re achieving the sweet spot of giving just the right amount of resources to keep users playing.
so, great! You’ve got your basic structure down for monitoring and analyzing the economy’s performance. Up until now, we’ve only talked about the data. And while that’s important, it’s just as crucial that you don’t lose sight of the game itself. Make sure the data is working for you as you refine the core concept. How to do just that is what we’re talking about next.
Focus on your core business
It’s easy to think you should be generating tons of performance reports and tracking as many metrics as possible. But you need to get out of this mindset – it can be time-consuming and cost you unnecessary resources. Instead, prioritize the data that has a direct impact on your business results. Aka what we just went over.
A data platform should support your business – not the other way around. You shouldn’t need to organize your business to make the data work for you.
I know because once upon a time, I made this exact mistake. I had just joined a new startup and was super ambitious. Without even considering the business needs, I just wanted to build the best data platform ever. So we built everything from scratch because we wanted to be super flexible, data resilient, and to embody ‘big data’ from day one – even when we didn’t have any data at all. At some point, I realized we were going about this the entirely wrong way. Our entire stack was overly complicated and wasn’t giving us any important insights when we needed them. I had to scrap the entire thing and start again.
I’ve learned from my mistakes and so can you. Think about the six objects we just went over, the KPIs. These are going to be your core data points that let you focus on the game economy and propel your business forward. All without getting lost in too much information.
That just about wraps things up. We’ve discussed all sides of the game economy, from its foundations to building a data structure. You now have the knowledge to go build, analyze, and optimize your own game economy. With this toolkit, you’re one step closer to maximizing both retention and revenue.
Thanks for joining me in this course. If you missed any of the episodes or want to brush up on what we’ve learned, you can go back whenever you want and access the other sessions in this series.