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Core Games, Real Numbers: Asian & Western Games

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Kongregate is a distributor of more than 200 virtual-goods games developed by developers small and large, Eastern and Western, casual and hardcore. As such, it has a unique perspective on what types of mechanics and characteristics of games have the most success monetizing. This talk will focus on similarities and differences in performance between Asian & Western games, look at site-wide trends and dig into specific game metrics and mechanics to understand what makes games succeed & fail with Western audiences. This talk was given at GDC China 2012

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Core Games, Real Numbers: Asian & Western Games

  1. 1. Core Games, Real NumbersComparative Stats for Asian & Western Games Emily Greer November 2012
  2. 2. What is Kongregate?• Open platform for browser-based games – Flash, Unity, HTML5, Java, etc.• 60,000 games, 1300 uploaded monthly• ~200 games selling virtual goods• Revenue from virtual goods (70%) & ads (30%)• 15M monthly uniques, core gamers• Traffic is 40% US, 40% Europe, 10% Asia• Acquired by GameStop July 2010
  3. 3. Select Developers
  4. 4. Background• All stats are lifetime• ARPU: average revenue per user• ARPPU: average rev per paying user• User = Player: a registered user who loaded the game at least once• Games included have all been on Kongregate at least 6 weeks• Bubbles on charts represent size of total revenue
  5. 5. ARPU & ARPPU• ARPPUs for single-player games cluster around $5-$10• Multiplayer games range $20-$230• Average ARPPU for a game from Asia: $118• Average for Western multiplayer game: $40• ARPPU is the main factor in high ARPU for Asian game, important factor for all games
  6. 6. ARPU & % Buyer• % Buyer ranges from 0.05% - 3.6%, much larger range than ARPPU, average is 0.63%• Single-player average 0.9%• Multiplayer game average 0.57%, slightly higher in Western games, slightly lower in Asian games• Much greater range from top to bottom in % buyer in Western games• High revenue multiplayer games 1.5% or higher
  7. 7. Big Spenders are a Big Deal• 4 out of the top 5 games get the majority of their revenue from those spending $500+• All top 10 games get the majority of their revenue from players spending $100+
  8. 8. How We Look at Retention• % Repeat – What % of players ever return – Shows initial impressions/interest in the game• Repeat  Reg – What % of players who repeat become regulars (10+ plays)? – How strongly is the player hooked in the early-middle parts of the game?• Reg  Commited Player, aka % Commitment – What % of regulars become committed players (50+ plays)? – Engagement of end-game content
  9. 9. ARPU & % Repeat• Surprisingly little correlation with ARPU – Games that lose 75% of players immediately are just as likely to have a high ARPU as one that keeps 75%• But games with higher repeat rates have higher revenue at the same ARPU – Games that have high repeat rates get higher ratings and viral spread, more players more revenue• Average for Western games slightly higher than Asian games but top performers much higher
  10. 10. ARPU & % Commitment• Strong correlation with ARPU – Smaller bubbles to the right are generally newer games, their revenue & ARPU will grow with time• Correlation slightly weaker with Asian games, but Repeat  Regs very strong – Longer sessions lengths & stronger early-game monetization probably explain
  11. 11. Asian vs Western Style• Asian games: High ARPPU, tight player funnel – Monetization caters well to big spenders• Western games: Lower ARPPU, wide player funnel – Monetization focuses more on initial retention and broad conversion to paid at lower prices – Pay 2 Win is not accepted• Mixed games: can combine the best of both approaches – High conversion, wide funnel, still create big spenders
  12. 12. Commitment REALLY MattersType of Player % Buyers Avg Trx ARPPU ARPU % Players % of RevNon-Repeats 0.03% 2.10 $ 24.69 $ 0.01 43% 0%Repeats (2-9 plays) 0.40% 1.85 $ 19.61 $ 0.08 40% 3%Regs (10-49 plays) 4.68% 2.61 $ 21.35 $ 1.00 10% 12%Committed (50+ plays) 16.53% 7.03 $ 96.92 $ 16.02 7% 84%
  13. 13. First Advice#1 Don’t push too hard too fast – People are not going to buy the first time they play your game. In the first few sessions focus on fun & giving them reasons to return, not upsells. – Western players expect & value some level of fairness – pay for advantage (and reduction in grind) okay but non-buyers should feel they have some chance to compete#2 Don’t underprice, don’t intimidate – There is very little price elasticity below $5. It‟s an emotional decision to spend for progress and status, focus on that. – Use intro paid currency, first time buyer packages & deals to get people into the habit of purchase – Really expensive items early may scare players away who might accept them later
  14. 14. Big Spender Advice#3 Make sure players can spend $1,000+ – Games are hobbies, no different from golf, cooking, live music – Those who get deeply involved devote significant time, energy, and money – Have lots of items that are appealing and useful to a committed player and price them higher (if possible) than items meant for early/mid-game play. [Higher means $30-100, not $1000] – If you make a fun game someone will want to spend an infinite amount. Don‟t create a situation where spending is capped by availability or utility.
  15. 15. The Most Important Lesson#4 – Retention, Retention, Retention• Every high ARPU and high revenue game on Kongregatehas a strongly social and competitive end-game. Commonfeatures (mix and match): – Guilds/leagues – Guild warfare or leaderboards – PvP (either synchronous and asynchronous) – Visible status & character progression – Guilds/leagues (it bears repeating)• You have to keep feeding the game – New content, new modes, new events – New servers are good but not enough
  16. 16. Fantasy Online: A Coming of Age Tale • By Pixelated Games (Jeromy Stroh) • Launched May 2010 • 4.20 rating • 7.2M gameplays
  17. 17. Fantasy Online: A Humble Start• Popular and good retention, but couldn‟t monetize well. Only sold aesthetic equips. First month (Jun „10) Monthly ARPPU: $5.50• Added new zones for modest growth to $8.50 in Sept. Minimal updates for next few months.• Nov 2010: Monthly ARPPU faded to $8.11• Dec 2010: Guilds launched, Monthly ARPPU jumped to $12.93• Jun 2011: Crafting, mining, XP potions, etc., kept growing to $18.66
  18. 18. Fantasy Online: Big Growth• Jul 2011: “Gem Packs”, expensive “uber” items ($30+) were added to court whales. Monthly ARPPU soared to $32.80• Nov 2011: New content, new equipment slots, Halloween event, grew to $36.23 in• Jan 2012: Guild Warfare, peak of $41.86• Mar 2012: New high level content, $54.37• June 2012: 2-year anniversary event. Lots of revenue, still high ARPPU at $43.97.
  19. 19. Fantasy Online: Monthly ARPPU
  20. 20. Fantasy Online: Monthly ARPPU
  21. 21. Fantasy Online: Summary Stats• Traffic stayed strong through high rating and repeated Kongregate promotion• % Buyers generally ~1.1% with promotion, ~1.5% without• Monthly ARPPU grew from $5.45 to $54.37• Monthly ARPU grew from $0.04 to $0.70
  22. 22. Fantasy Online: Revenue
  23. 23. To learn more visit developers.kongregate.comContact us at