How customer feedback complements measurement of game stickiness
Updated: Jul 7, 2022
Here's another unusual trivia item: did a Canadian guy break the world record with a 145-hours of nonstop video game session? That's how much Kory Breaden played "Call of Duty: Warzone" on PS5 inside his home. For every 60 minutes of play, he was allowed a 10-minutes break which he could and did accumulate into longer breaks, as his gaming record redefined the term "game stickiness".
The word "sticky" usually carries negative connotations. "The weather was hot and sticky". "There is a sticky substance on the table". "The paint was still sticky". But in the gaming world, "sticky" is good: companies wish for players to stick to their games for as long as possible. Stickiness is even rated by how many monthly users of a certain game played it every single day. Such measurement, as discussed in stickiness in mobile games, indicates a company's game's ability to retain players over a month's time. For example, if 3,000 unique active players play a game in one month but only 300 of them play it daily, this adds up to 10% stickiness or 3 days.
So companies are in constant pursuit of ways and means to keep players stuck to their games. They also keep trying to produce flawless features in order for the players to keep playing. As explained in The secret to high mobile game retention, a player churning because he got stuck on any of the game's levels is a product manager's nightmare!
In recent years, games and game levels have developed in a non-linear fashion. The idea was to stop producing games where a player must advance from level to level since if he got stuck for a long-time on any of the levels, it served as a reason for him to churn. Newer games started to feature a variety of goals at every step of the player's journey. The player was now given a choice of which goal to pursue and at what time. Such a change reduced the possibility that the player would get stuck for good at any point of the game, thus reducing the chances of him churning.
The introduction of RPG, the Role Playing Games, switched the gaming purposes from narrative and the goal of advancing from one stage to another into a greater focus on the hero and on his character's development. There were still goals to achieve, but it had to do now with such features as the hero's strength (how much damage he can inflict on his rivals) or on his abilities to suffer before being taken out by his opponent. Other character features included his different levels of speed and even his stamina, referring to the maximal time during which he can run at a high speed. So the progression turned over to be inside the character and not in the game's stages themselves, as was the case in the older games.
Following that switch, another development took place and moved the gaming world into yet another new phase altogether. In a manner similar to the world of Lego bricks, Minecraft introduced "Minecraft Blocks", enabling an almost infinite number of ways for the hero to progress. In what is termed as a "loose game system" or an "emergent gameplay", such a game world allows for players to interpret and formulate their own goals. Those goals can shift, off-course, or be abandoned in no time. As a result, the “density of goals” in this new phase is endless and the gamer is free and autonomous to play and advance as he feels. As the saying goes, it is impossible to get stuck in Minecraft. And this is one of the reasons for its success.
Gaming companies learned the important lesson of players abandoning games when they can't advance any further. As a result, those companies started to offer multiple progress paths instead of the usual linear ones. They also entered a "density of goals" phase where they left the players to decide for themselves what goals to pursue.
The above-mentioned processes took a long time to evolve and cost the gaming companies huge amounts of money. But the gaming industry prevailed through a "trial-and-error" process. According to Mordor Intelligence, the global gaming market worth was $173.70 billion in 2020, so the industry must have been doing a lot of things right.
But with the success come yet more challenges. The gaming industry is highly competitive, as many existing, as well as new players, are trying to take a bigger share of this huge financial pie. Companies must offer new and exciting gaming features all the time in order to not fall behind and maintain high levels of "game stickiness". And when people eventually will stay less at home, it is possible that the average game time will somewhat reduce. So companies must prepare constantly for such new challenges.
Affogata already offers to its gaming clients fast and real-time customer feedback analysis which assists those companies in a number of important ways. Affogata operates a "safety net" feature through its alert system, enabling companies to track and analyze immediate game bugs, thus reducing the time it takes to fix them. If a technical problem lasts for a long period of time, players may feel disappointed, seek other games and churn from the company's service. That is one risk no gaming company is willing to take.
Another feature enables companies to analyze what players are saying about current as well as new game features. Such an analysis shows companies what features are popular with gamers and what are those who need to improve. Companies can also follow their competitors' customer feedback and learn where their rivals are beating them.
Affogata strengthens the real-time and constant connection between gamers and the gaming companies, allowing those companies to advance in this lucrative but very competitive market. Customer feedback, therefore, via Affogata, complements measurement of "game stickiness" with the quantity and quality analysis features.