Beating the back-to-school blues
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.
According to a 2015 Pew Research poll, 92% of teens go online daily thanks to smartphone growth, and 24% of those teens say that they are online “almost constantly.” But when school starts back up, a decrease in players is inevitable. As schools across the country have already started to begin the academic year, you may have noticed your DAUs steadily dipping.
So when kids go back to school, how should game devs deal with the slump? Here are several ways to re-engage existing players and bring new ones to your game.
Give players a reason to come back. Offer daily bonuses or game item collection as incentive to return to your game. Push notifications are a great way to let your players know about these incentives. Rewarded video and in-game events like challenges and tournaments can increase IAP, and are great ways to re-engage your players and ultimately increase LTV.
Be social. In order to gain new players, don’t discount the importance of social media marketing and social features in your game. It is a good idea to have a designated social media manager or someone who manages it as part of their job to keep up with what your players are saying on outlets like Twitter and Facebook. Social media not only allows you to create a community around your game, but it is also a good way to find out about and respond to user issues and questions. Create social sharing mechanisms so players can share high scores, screenshots or other assets on social media to create awareness around your game.
Update your marketing strategy. Additional marketing spend with top partners can compensate for the back-to-school slump and get your game to a good rank heading into the holiday season. The truth is it might mean allocating more to make more. As always, look at ROI as you spend because it allows you to attribute each dollar spent. That way you have insight for future budget decisions. Make sure that you test and then invest in the top-performing strategies to increase your LTV.
Think globally. Translating your game into a foreign language may not always be in the cards, but you should at least make sure your game is live and promoted in other countries where English is widely spoken, like Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand. This should be a no-brainer, yet I’m shocked at how many devs I talk to who say that launching in these countries is something that they’ve been “meaning to do at some point” down the road. This is an absolute layup, and there’s no reason not to do it today. And when you’re ready, there is no shortage of localization companies just waiting in the wings to take your game to APAC, LATAM, and beyond. It may be a significant upfront cost, but one that will likely payoff.
Take reviews seriously. Make it a goal to eliminate any reasons why your players don’t want to return to your game. Fix bugs and respond to requests from players that come up in your game’s reviews. When you update, use the opportunity to let your players know that you listened and responded to their requests.
There’s no reason back-to-school time should be a poor period for your game. Use the time to give back to your users and invest in your game with product and marketing. If you follow these tips and pay attention to your marketing strategy while offering opportunities to new and existing players, you can beat the back-to-school blues.