In this LevelUp episode, Melissa sits down with Emory Irpan and Nathan TenBoer, Director of Operations, Consultancy, and Insights and Lead Partner Manager and Insights at Unity respectively - two of the minds behind the Unity Gaming Report. Together, they get into the data behind the gaming industry, what didn't make the cut, why 2D games are making a comeback, and the value of pretty charts.

Tune in or read the highlights here:

What is the Unity Gaming Report

At a high level, the Unity Gaming report is kind of the culmination of all the data that Unity has as one of the world's top game engines and gaming services platforms. We probably have petabytes of data from games made in the Unity engine and live games operating our Unity gaming services. And then from the thousands of games that actually monetize with in-app ads and IAP through our monetization platform. And for a long time, we really only utilized this data to aid our biggest game developers with database insights and analysis.

But we realized if we really want to democratize game creation, we should also find a way to get that information out to every game. So from this idea, the first gaming report was born in 2019. And we're aiming to cover all aspects of the gaming industry from PC console, mobile, hyper causal, to core games. 

What kind of research goes into creating it

Nathan and I are both people who love and are very nosy about data. So we do frequent explorations of our data while we're working with our developer partners to really help them understand trends in their game's performance. And individually, when we kind of do that research, we start to get glimpses into the overall industry.

And as we work with individual developers over the course of a year, we start to really figure out, okay, well here's what a lot of people are asking about. Here's what a lot of people are talking about, which gives us a little bit of direction, as we sift through those petabytes of data that we talked about.

The impactful stuff is what makes the cut

We want the report to represent the insights and trends that are impactful and exciting. There are always hot topics every year, right? In previous years, it was crypto and then now it's generative AI. And then before that, it was virtual reality and augmented reality. So we really want the report to represent what's being talked about.

Frankly, if I'm looking at it from my perspective, I want as many people to read this as possible. You've got to report on things that are also interesting and relevant at the time. But because we want to make an impact, we also wanna deliver information to developers that helps them make decisions that they might not otherwise have access to.

Advise to studios for surviving tough economic times

What we've seen is players are still interested in games, and mobile games in particular. But they're either less interested or able to purchase content. And if you think about it from a very macroeconomic perspective, players and just people in general, they want to get the most bang for their buck when they buy their entertainment. And games in particular actually have probably the best ROI.

A mobile game that is engaging, you can play for hours, days, weeks, months, and sometimes you don't have to spend a thing at all if you don't have to, you can still play. You gotta still progress at a slower rate, but you'll still be entertained as you play through it. And if you wanna spend $5 to buy that battle pass or that start pack in that game, you can get a really good ROI on your entertainment dollars, so to say.

It’s harder to get conversion now, but we'd recommend studios to focus on maximizing their player retention. Players who are retained long term or play for a while could eventually convert. And when times get better, those players will convert to a higher frequency.

And this really can be done through a lot of different tools and strategies. There's not one size fits all strategy, but we'd encourage every studio to look at their player bases, segment them properly, and make sure that yours is optimized

The techniques that are often overlooked

I'd love to mention Offerwall. It’s the monetization tool strategy that wasn't really on my radar until last year. It’s a feature where players can complete offers, such as signing up for Dollar Shave Club, donating to the American Cancer Society, or downloading and reaching level five in a game.

Once they complete this task or offer, they're then rewarded in their original game with premium currency. So like watching an ad or purchasing currency except, through an avenue that they're more interested in or maybe actually already spending on. 

And I will say with the recent privacy changes, advertisers are ultimately not looking just to acquire a user. They're looking to acquire and engage. 

So in the case of somebody who has got to level five in my game, they're willing to pay much more for that user. So Offerwall offers are actually a very direct channel to get an engaged user for the advertiser, which translates to really, really great payouts for the publisher.

Find the full report here: create.unity.com/gaming-report

Contact Emory or Nathan here to learn how the team could help you: emory.tirpan@unity3d.com or nathan.tenboer@unity3d.com

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