The KPIs we measure are determined by the kind of game you are looking at, which tells us how a game is doing. Those specific KPIs will tell you whether or not the game community is responding in a positive way.
How do you pick the KPIs you should pay attention to? You should choose the ones that will tell you as much as possible about the state of your game. If the game in question is an adventure one then it would make sense to track the session length, and session per day; this is because a longer session length implies that players are engaging with the game and completing levels/quests. If players are completing levels, which requires time, then long sessions and multiple sessions per day would lead to the conclusion that the game has popularity and it is enjoyed. After all, isn’t it the goal of a game company to create a game that leads to hours of gameplay and enjoyment?
Another example of which KPIs to use is that of puzzle-based games. A good choice would be monthly active users, because it shows the staying power of the game in player’s lives. In this case, the KPI lets you know if the puzzle game has enough for players to continue playing for longer periods of time; in this case session length would help in understanding how challenging the game is, and from that hypothesize how long each level takes to complete.
Of course, you can keep track of several KPIs at once, and so have a better image of how players are interacting with the game; in case you were wondering there are services to help you in this, so no need to be thinking “How will I make those graphs, and update them constantly?” Back to the Koukoi game “Crashing Season”, the reason for those specific KPIs (retention, stickiness, lifetime value, and cost per acquisition) are that they tell the story of how engaging the game has being to the players by giving numerical values to:
- The ratio of daily users to monthly users; which is “stickiness”.
- How many users continue playing after 7 days, or 30 days (for “retention”).
- The value a player brings over their lifetime in the game (that is lifetime value, LTV).
- The value for “cost per acquisition” tells you how much it costs the company on average to get a new player.
These KPIs let us know that the game was proving to be difficult, that players were only using a single animal throughout the levels. Having such information, allowed us to make changes to the game. In the case of overt difficulty in the game, the solution was to not die in the game after crashing into a wall (as explained in another previous post). As for the animals used in the game, it turns out that the players did not know that each animal had different abilities; if they knew, the gameplay experience could have been improved. Learning about these shortcomings meant us being able to improve the game.
Attaching values to those KPIs can tell the game company over time whether or not there is a return on investment (ROI), how much staying power the game has, and if the costs attached to attracting new players has decreased over time (this would be ideal since it implies that there are increasingly more players, and so cost per-player has gone down).
Even if a game doesn’t do great, having the data on the relevant KPIs has value to it. The reason is that the KPIs give you a glimpse on what works, which dates are the best for attracting players, and which demographic group is more likely to play your game. This in turn allows for informed decisions to be made in future productions, leading to better games!