Non-paid social channels are generating more engaged gamers

Mobile app gamers acquired through non-paid social channels have a lifetime retention that’s 43% higher than that of regular gamers, according to new research by GetSocial, the social and viral layer for apps and games, in collaboration with SEGA HARDlight.

The study examined the behaviour of gamers on Sonic Forces: Speed Battle who were invited to the game by friends through social media channels in connection with GetSocial.

These players also played 87% more game sessions over the lifetime of their install. The players who installed he game were 3x as likely to invite their friends to play.

“Adding GetSocial’s social layer to Sonic Forces: Speed Battle delivered incredibly encouraging results,” said Chris Southall of SEGA HARDlight. “By relying on the power of peer-to-peer recommendation, and rewarding users who invite their friends with in-game items, we not only saw significantly lower acquisition costs versus traditional channels but also much greater levels of player retention. As an experiment in using non-paid channels, it’s been a definite success.”

The study also found that WhatsApp was the most effective in terms of viral acquisition channels and accounted for 47% of players acquired through non-paid channels. SMS and Facebook Messenger were also frequently used social channels among gamers.

Interestingly, the report identified a subgroup of players who were engaged but also had extensive social connections. They played the game 15x more than the average player and 4x longer.

GetSocial dubbed them ‘Viral Whales’ i.e. players that invite a lot of their friends to play. They generated a whopping 5 or more installs by sending 109x more invites compared to normal players.

The US was the market with the highest percentage of Viral Whales (31%) and 25% of all players acquired came through GetSocial campaigns. Additionally, 11% of players came from Brazil, 8% from France, and 7% from Germany.

“The data collected from our collaboration with SEGA for Sonic Forces: Speed Battle proves the value of adding a social layer to apps and games to increase their virality and retention,” said Jeroen Bouwman, CEO of GetSocial. “ With games and app developers constantly on the lookout for new ways to drive user acquisition and retention, viral acquisition has the clear potential to be an incredibly cost-effective method within the marketing mix of other traditional paid channels.”