I helped identif the problems and create a simple new flow for premium sales to dramatically improve the game's revenue.
Mobsters was one of the hit games by Playdom, a small game startup with about 20 employees at the time. Mobsters was the biggest game on Myspace with 15M users, ahead of Zynga’s Mafia Wars. The revenue growth was slowing down as we tapped out on potential users on Myspace.
The main revenue source was premium items sale. We just released a batch of holiday themed weapons and vehicles for the Christmas week, however it was barely moving the needle. CEO Dan Yue and product owner Ling Xiao were looking for a quick solution to turn it around.
- Players were not seeing premium sales.
- Players were not responding to premium sales.
- Missing out on Christmas season soon.
- Only one backend engineer was available.
All this means is, we need to spark players' interest in spending with an simple elegant solution which requires minimal engineering work.
As the resident “Mobsters expert” on the team, I had some ideas as to why players were tuning out premium items.
I thought the biggest issue was that players were not seeing the premium items.
It made perfect sense to put premium items on the Equipment page. However, as players level up, the need to visit the Equipment page decreases dramatically. So Equipment became a passive, low-visibility page.
In order to convince the product owner, I needed data to back me up. So I asked the engineer “how many times an average player performs an activity on each page”?
The data confirmed my suspicion. Equipment was among the least visited pages, while Mission was the most visited page by a wide margin.
Why don’t we let players make the purchases on the Mission page? I took this to the product owner and we agreed that this would certainly address the visibility problem.
The second challenge was to convert visibility into revenue.
"How do we provide a good experience such that players want to spend?"
Here were some of the solutions we came up with during our quick brainstorm session:
|Low Visibility||Integrate with Mission, front page announcement|
|Uninteresting||Compelling mission story|
|Low paying rate||Free gift to give a taste, good value|
|Low repeat purchase %||Random Loot with 1.5x value|
|Boring buying experience||Exciting carousel animation, mini-game|
We then looped in engineer to give an estimate on how much engineering effort each solution would take. We also estimated how much impact each solution would yield.
Due to the fact that we had a really short deadline, we agreed to first pursue the 3 high-impact, low-engineering-effort options, and to release them by end of the day.
I was tasked to create a flash widget that spins and stops on the final reward. I also did the data entry for the new mission, new loot content and probabilities.
The engineer created a random loot feature. And added the flash widget to the mission result section.
This process took us about 2 hours.
Player response was very positive.
They didn’t resent the new feature the way they resented the old premium item sale, because the feature was coherently incorporated into the game story, and most of the players got premium item(s) for free. A lot of happy players became paying customers due to the exciting presentations and good value.
Newer players were excited for the opportunity to get old items.
The financial results exceeded our wildest expectations.
When the Christmas sale was first released, only 2.7% of the DAU were engaged and spent money.
With the new mission-wrapped implementation, 87.9% of the DAU were engaged, while 8.3% of the DAU spent money.
The repeat purchase rate also greatly increased due to the exciting visual presentation and a random loot system.
Combining those two factors, we got nearly 13x on daily revenue for the next few days.
The new mission-based user experience was pulled after 2.5 days since it was branded as a holiday mission. This feature was often requested by the players for various holidays.
The takeaway from this project is that we should always look for the bottlenecks and address them first. The solutions could be very easy once you understand the problem and the users.