Impact of Bundling Game Under One Metagame on User Engagement & Time Spent
Bundling games is nothing new. Providing multiple options for users gives people the choice to find more games they like. Just like in a well-stacked supermarket shelf or buffet table with many food alternatives, increased choice is likely to increase consumption - but to what extent?
When it comes to gaming, providing broad choice and a diverse range of experiences has always been key. Users want a fresh challenge after completing the latest one.
From Sega’s Mega Drive 126-in-1 game to Roblox to Apple’s Game Center, providing a destination for gamers is key to engage users in the long term.
Using shared meta-gaming as a glue that fuels engagement
Meta-gaming refers to a set of rules and logics, which could be inside or outside the game. So for example, there might be a scoreboard that applies across all games which also lets you compete with other players. Or a token or currency which can be used across different games.
By sharing a meta-game, players are incentivized not only to explore new games, but also with the benefit of operating within a familiar ecosystem where the achievements or awards from one game can be redeemed or yield benefits across other games.
10 games, 1 meta-game
To understand the impact that joining multiple games through one meta-game has on user engagement, we carried out an experiment. We published 10 games within an umbrella app that contains a meta-game which connects all. In-game achievements including a combined scoreboard and shared tokens were inter-connected between games. Separately, we created another app which contained the same 10 games without the share meta ecosystem. This means no token across games or overall scoreboard that connects and gels into a single player experience.
We promoted both games so each had 3000 downloads. To make the comparison fair, the demographic profile of the users was the same (18-24 gamers).
The difference in engagement was significant, with players spending nearly 40% more time in the app that contained meta-game. While the average time spent on the app without the meta was 3 hours per player per week, for the other game with a meta-game that connected all the gameplay rose to 4.15 hours per week. That is an additional 1.15 hours per user per week!
Average time spent on an app per week
The reason why players spent more time is clear. Instead of being a collection of games, there was a broader gameplay to aspire to. Since players in the game with meta could collect tokens across all games that would affect their overall scoreboard, they were encouraged to try more games within the 10 options available. While the average player on the game without the meta played 3.3 games, the number rose to 3.9 for players on the app with the meta.
In conclusion, it is clear to see how players will be more invested with games that belong to a bigger ecosystem. The shared rules, inter-play, and an economy that will add a layer of possible achievements translates to a significant increase in engagement and time spent on games. After all, when they get tired of a game or complete all the missions within it, they can move to the next while still benefiting from scores, tokens, or achievements throughout a broader and richer experience.