8th Sep 2020

Proven Social Features to Increase Engagement in Your Mobile Games

by Viral Patel, co-founder and COO at GetSocial,
a Keywords Game Science studio

It’s hard to imagine modern life without social media and people sharing their important (or not so much) moments on Facebook or Instagram.

This is also true for mobile games — isn’t it much more interesting when you can brag about your progress, challenge your friends, be constantly motivated by others and feel this exciting sense of community?

While helping various companies implement social features in their mobile games, we at GetSocial found that users are 2.7 times more likely to stay in the game for a sense of community and belonging.

That’s why games with social features show better rates of retention than those without.

Social Features and User Engagement

Social features are interactive elements that resemble social media and thus build the in-game community:

  • Activity feeds: Users can view the activities of their fellow players in a feed. They can follow the progress of others, and share questions and thoughts about their gaming experience, requests for lives, or whatever else comes to mind.
  • In-game chats: Most interactive desktop games have in-game chat, so why not add this in-app communication feature to your mobile games as well? Giving your players a platform to communicate alongside the game will not just give them a real-life gaming experience, but also save them from needing to switch apps to message their friends.
  • Push notifications: Like on social media, players can get notified on various activities in the game. For example, they can receive notifications when they are mentioned in a post or comment, when it’s their turn to play, when they want to send a challenge or receive a gift from a friend, and much more. Push notifications are great for user re-engagement to get lapsed users back into your game.
  • Guilds: These help players build communities united by interests, playing styles, and levels of engagement. Inside the guild, people can exchange items, play together, make new friends, and accomplish various goals. Examples of mobile games with guild mechanics are popular match-3 games such as Homescapes and Fishdom.
Banner for Keywords Game Science studio GetSocial
GetSocial helps mobile app developers acquire and engage players

So why does social user engagement matter that much?

There are several reasons. Let’s explore.

  • Reason #1: It creates a sense of competitiveness. And this is exactly what gets the player going. Being able to invite their friends to the app and pitting against them will keep their interest at peak levels.
  • Reason #2: It improves retention. Smooth user experience within a game, such as being able to instantly communicate with friends, automatically keeps the user on the app for a longer time.
  • Reason #3: It motivates users. In-game rewards for contributing to social features such as inviting friends or posting on a feed are a great way to keep your users motivated and ready for new challenges.
  • Reason #4: It builds a strong sense of community. A social mobile game player gets a feeling of belonging to a community that consists of people with similar interests and experience. This is especially true for guilds.
  • Reason #5: It boosts conversion and saves costs. Investing in social mobile engagement can pay off in the future. When you acquire organic users, you pay a certain dollar amount per each user. However, social engagement can help you acquire those users for free through word of mouth.

How Game Developers Implement Social Features

A smart approach is to implement the social features step by step, starting with the most effective — the activity feed.

Activity feeds enable your users to interact and help each other out, and allow developers to communicate with their users. This provides qualitative insights and helps developers prioritise the product roadmap.

Let’s go through some of the case studies that illustrate the successful integration of social features into mobile games.

Kingdoms of Camelot by Kabam

Kings of Camelot (KoC) is an online real-time strategy game developed by Canadian company Kabam.

Originally being the browser game, KoC went mobile for iOS in 2012 under the name Kingdoms of Camelot: Battle for the North. The company’s goal was “to create an MMO that also worked as a Facebook game.”

In other words, they implemented social features such as invites, social feeds, alliances (guilds), and a chat. This initiative brought the company financial success and made KoC the top-grossing iPhone app of 2012.

Castle Cats by PocApp

PocApp wanted to provide something truly unique and exciting in a crowded marketplace to stand out and keep players from abandoning their game in favor of another new, shiny title.

Therefore, the chance of getting their game noticed was extremely low without a sustainable marketing plan. But, most importantly — even if they managed to receive a high amount of downloads, the biggest challenge was to retain these players longer.

PocApp studios implemented GetSocial’s Smart Invites as their organic growth strategy in Castle Cats incentivising users with in-game items for successful referrals. They also added Activity Feed to enable their players to share their accomplishments in the game and communicate with each other.

As a result, Users delivered by GetSocial Smart Invite retained significantly better:

  • D1 retention is 11% higher.
  • D7 and D30 retention is 77% and 153% higher respectively.

Users that engaged with GetSocial Activity Feeds also retained significantly better:

  • D1 retention is 90% higher.
  • D7 and D30 retention is 229% and 584% higher respectively.
Screen shot of social features in Castle Cats by PocApp
A screen from Castle Cats by PocApp

Dice World by Appa11y

Appa11y was looking for a way to better engage with their users and improve the sense of community in hopes of extending their user sessions. They had tried an in-house chat room and knew there was interest in it but struggled to integrate it in a way that didn’t feel disjointed.

Appa11y added GetSocial’s Activity Feeds to communicate with their players.

They interacted with players regularly to provide them with customer support through a dedicated support feed, announce upcoming events, features, game tips, and tricks. Activity Feeds further enabled their players to announce to other players that they were available to play a multiplayer session.

The company also created user segments to gain insights into different user behaviors and compare segments to identify which one was performing better (e.g visually impaired users vs sighted users).

They further used these segments to send targeted push notifications.As a result, users that engaged with the community feed retained significantly better and had higher LTV:

  • These users had 113x more game sessions.
  • 20x higher lifetime.
  • 14x higher LTV in the game compared to others.

Moreover, the company managed to significantly cut development and maintenance time required, by using social push-notification solutions for turn-based user to user notification and targeted notifications.

The Bottom Line

Social features are very likely to become the future of mobile gaming due to their powerful user engagement capabilities.

Social features make your game look like a “mini Facebook”, with core elements such as:

  • Activity feeds — the ability to track the activities of other users.
  • In-game chats — the ability to chat with friends right inside the app.
  • Push notifications — alerts on various activities that involve or may interest the user.
  • Guilds — communities of players united by interests, playing styles, and levels of engagement.

Social engagement in mobile games matters because it creates a sense of competitiveness, improves the gaming experience, motivates users, builds a strong sense of community, and, most important, boosts conversion, and saves costs on user acquisition.

If you would like to learn more about how can you increase your app or game virality, join Jeroen Bouwman of Keywords Game Science and Leontine Jeenner of Kolibri Games to find out how together we increased the number of viral installs x5, following a few simple steps.   

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