Key KPIs to measure when commissioning a game

So you’ve decided to commission a game. Well done you.

Whether it’s for entertainment without an ulterior motive, an advergame to subtly inject your brand message or a serious game to educate and drive new behaviours, it is worth considering how you will measure success.

At times like these I like to turn to the Playfish troika of metrics – gleaned from the successful social gaming company these categories have been shown time and again to be the right prioritized order of metrics.

They are engagement, virality and monetization.

Let’s take each in turn.

Engagement is first and foremost – are people engaging in your game, do they enjoy being here and do they return time and again to your game.

The metrics are standardised – daily active users (DAUs) and monthly active users (MAUs). Beyond simply number of installs or downloads, MAU and DAU track actual users and engagement. For the advanced among us you can look at dwell times (the average duration of an engagement) and churn rates (cohort declines over time) but MAU and DAU still reign supreme.

Next up is virality, because once people are engaged in your game they should want to share it with their friends. Unless your game has no social dynamics (like uh huh?) virality becomes your next concern after engagement. Here the metrics should be viral coefficient (how many people does each engaged player bring in to the game) – any number over 1 is good, a number over 2 is stellar. For the advanced you should look at the average time to share to get a feel for how quickly your virus will spread. If it takes people a few hours before they share with friends great, if it takes a few months then you have a virality issue.

Finally consider monetization. What? It’s last for a reason. People will pay, and indeed want to pay for your game, for level ups, for access to new features, but only once they are hooked and their friends are there too, egging them on. Monetisation is the art of converting online desires into cold hard cash. Typically your KPIs here are CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost) and CLV (Customer Lifetime Value) but the key one is ARPU (Average Revenue Per User). Ensure your ARPU exceeds your CAC and you have a viable, sustainable business, less and you are in trouble.

So the KPIs to measure are:

  • Engagement – MAU/DAU
  • Virality – Viral Coefficient
  • Monetisation – ARPU & CAC

Good luck!

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