開發者解讀數據分析公司Flurry關於手遊沉浸度下滑的問題

原作者:Guest Author 譯者:Willow Wu

Wilhelm Taht是Rovio的遊戲執行副總裁。

與行業內的許多同事朋友一樣,我之前一直努力想要理解Flurry所發佈的年度行業觀點:手遊沉浸度正在走下坡路。

他們最近的文章是關於2016的宏觀數據,還有其他的,比如:“錄像帶殺死遊戲大亨:遊戲類app曾一度被認爲是‘移動業內的寵兒’,相較去年,用戶在遊戲類app上投入的時間已經減少了4%。”

鑑於手遊產業2014至2016的全球年均複合增長率(CAGR)達到了驚人的21.7%,IAP收益佔到了整個移動行業的80%,Flurry的數據看起來是有點費解。

 CAGR globally(from pocketgamer.biz)

CAGR globally(from pocketgamer.biz)

紅色:中國,灰色:美國,淺藍色:日本,淺灰色:歐洲,藍色:韓國,黑色:其他國家

2016年,手遊也是整個遊戲行業中收益領跑的類別,終端用戶產生的IAP收益多達370億美元,這是一個非常龐大的數字,2016年整個遊戲產業的終端用戶收益是1000億美元,手遊就佔了37%。

還有不要忘了,廣告收益(例如原生廣告視頻)並沒有包含在這個數字裏,這也是手遊經濟中不可忽視的一大部分。

既然如此,那爲什麼數據顯示用戶每天玩遊戲的時間和流程次數都在減少,沉浸度一年不如一年呢?

flurry 2017(from pocketgamer.biz)

flurry 2017(from pocketgamer.biz)

flurry 2015(from pocketgamer.biz)

flurry 2015(from pocketgamer.biz)

上面的圖表體現了用戶在移動應用上花費的時間,從2015年到2016年增長了69%,遊戲類app卻下滑了4%。

好吧,或許是有幾個原因。

F2P手遊和付費手遊的整體差異

F2P(Free-to-play/Freemium)手遊這幾年來一直是行業內最賺錢的遊戲類型。現如今,手遊行業內大概99%的終端用戶收益都來自IAP。

免費遊戲想要賺錢,那就得吸引玩家回到遊戲中。通常這會被總結爲“靜態留存率(static retention)”或者“N天留存率(Day-N retention)”。

你能把玩家留得越久就越好。難就難在只要是遊戲(不管是不是F2P遊戲),它多多少少都有重複性。

關於F2P遊戲,有個大家都懂的道理就是如果你讓玩家一次性就玩完了所有內容,那明天沒有新東西,他們就不會回來玩遊戲了。

因此,如果讓玩家認爲他/她已經把這個遊戲玩透了,或者是“這遊戲沒有什麼新鮮的了”,那就會失去這個用戶。F2P遊戲最不想看到的就是用戶流失。這就是爲什麼F2P遊戲這麼擅長運用所謂的“流程機制”。

F2P遊戲中衆所周知的情景,比如“體力值已耗盡 -> 請一個小時候之後回來”或者“你已經種下了種子 -> 兩個小時後回來查看花朵”這都不會讓玩家放棄遊戲,玩家會繼續玩下去。之後,對遊戲進行優化,儘可能地延長玩家生命週期,讓玩家更投入於遊戲中。

反過來說,實用性APP——例如信息類、視頻娛樂類、音樂類、運動類、社交類等等,針對的就不是這類消費者行爲了。它們努力想要讓你花更多時間在這些應用上,不讓你脫離它們的手掌心。而且這些APP基本上都不像遊戲那樣具有重複性。

鑑於亞洲和西方市場的移動應用市場處於成熟狀態(去年,兩個地區共計有23億智能手機用戶,他們每天平均要花一個小時在移動應用上,這個觀點應該是大家都沒意見的),消費者的分秒爭奪戰已經打響了。

然而,在付費平臺(或者是包月付費平臺)的戰爭和F2P平臺的戰爭完全是不一樣的。付費遊戲(或者是包月付費遊戲)一開始就想要爭取儘可能多的玩家時間,F2P遊戲是隨着時間吸引越來越多的玩家。

從宏觀角度來看,我相信手遊的沉浸度下降,其他類型的APP上升,還不算意外之事,也就是說,手遊的沉浸度下降可以歸咎爲“遊戲設計”:“這是個遊戲特色,不是bug。”

Flurry在移動應用生態環境中的位置

接下來要講的這個原因實際上跟上面所講的有點矛盾。讓我解釋解釋。

大家都知道(就隨便選一篇Mobile Dev Memo的博文讀讀)手遊的數據是至關重要的。

數據,玩家數據,人們經常會用精煉的語言總結它。如果說產品是一枚硬幣,那麼一面就是複雜的KPIs,另一面就是遊戲本身。

如果沒有數據,那麼F2P策劃人、產品經理和遊戲分析師都會陷入困境之中。手遊的數據(很不幸地)也是不能通用的(甚至都無法大範圍使用)。

對比一下這兩種遊戲:有saga地圖的三消解謎遊戲和實時PvP對戰遊戲。他們的遊戲設計、相關玩家數據是完全不一樣的。

是的,平均每付費用戶收入(ARPDAU)和日活躍用戶數量(DAU)都是高層次的衡量標準,不同遊戲的這兩項數據是十分接近的。任何一個數據分析系統都可以告訴你結果。

但是如果你要在數據驅動的遊戲設計上追求卓越,那麼這些衡量標準並沒有多大幫助。數據驅動的遊戲設計和優秀的在線運營需要在遊戲核心和用戶行爲方面下更多功夫。

移動應用生態環境經歷了翻天覆地的變化,對於Flurry來說,它的黃金增長期就源於之前那個時代。在付費手遊年代,Flurry就是移動應用數據分析的代名詞。

2017年2月,不知道美國收益榜前100的遊戲有多少使用了Flurry。爲什麼不知道?我是有問過,而且是兩次。但是我現在都沒有得到答案。

@FlurryMobile 的更新:https://t.co/rix8dc73mj 現在在美國最賺錢的100個遊戲有多少用了Flurry @Simonkhalaf
— Wilhelm Taht (@wilhelm_taht) 2017年1月30日

@FlurryMobile 現在在美國最賺錢的100個iOS遊戲中有多少用了Flurry? https://t.co/oPH0IQfB6Z
— Wilhelm Taht (@wilhelm_taht) 2017年2月23日

手遊行業向F2P經濟轉化,在數據方面也會變得更加複雜。因此不出意外的話熱門的手遊會越來越少地使用Flurry,這個想法我認爲還是比較合理的。

考慮到熱門遊戲通常都是“噬時者”(能夠讓玩家長時間地沉浸在遊戲中),如果Flurry對熱門遊戲的滲透率隨着時間持續下降,那麼它的宏觀數據表明玩家的遊戲沉浸度下降也就不足爲奇了。

這正好就能解釋爲什麼整個手遊行業的收益還呈現增長趨勢而Flurry宏觀數據體現的是下降趨勢。

補充:這個理論也支持了Unity和SuperData近期發佈的數據,和Flurry相反,他們的數據表明沉浸度在2016年第四季度相比一年前上漲了19%。

確實,他們的樣本數據跟Flurry是不一樣,Unity的數據收集對象規模非常大,從大熱門到無人問津的遊戲都有。

噬時者理論當然只是我的個人看法,但我確實認爲最賺錢的遊戲相比一般遊戲肯定能夠讓玩家投入更多時間。畢竟沉浸度是F2P遊戲設計中的核心要素。

Flurry的其他觀點體現了他們有時候目光過於狹隘

這最後一個原因不會給我加太多分,但是我還是得說說。

還有一篇相似的文章同樣也解釋了爲什麼手遊的沉浸度持續下滑(參照前文),其中有這樣一句話:

“今年的首個熱門遊戲Pokemon GO,它的冷卻速度相對還是比較快的,因爲消費者們逐漸對該遊戲失去了興趣,只有在大型假日活動纔回來玩一下。”

Flurry和Yahoo的PR能讓這樣的文章過審?簡直太讓人震驚了。撰寫這篇文章的時候(2017年2月23日, 早上9:14,位於芬蘭的赫爾辛基),Pokemon GO還是美國收益榜的冠軍啊。

它是史上最快達到5億下載量的手遊。截止2017年2月,Pokemon GO的累計收益已經達到10億美元,這項數據也打破了之前所有的手遊記錄。這確實是一項令人歎爲觀止的成就,並且它的持續熱度也是很驚人的。

Pokemon GO如今的熱度還像它剛發佈一週時的那樣嗎?當然不是。Pokemon GO現在還是手遊界的一大巨頭而且擁有大規模玩家嗎?是的。

我個人更希望數據公司可以更多地利用分析的方法發表觀點,而不是用這種不符合事實的觀點博人眼球。

總結

好了,來總結觀點吧。我認爲風險投資者和手遊行業不用擔心所謂的整體沉浸度“下滑”。關於沉浸度還是有其他因素在起作用,而不是像Flurry分析的那樣。

雖然手遊行業放緩了發展腳步,或者說走向成熟,但是這個行業接下來幾年的增長率應該還是比較合理的(預計2016年至2020年的全球年均複合增長率爲11.9%)。

作爲獨立的遊戲製作人,我們要保持低調,不要去過多思考那些高高在上的宏觀層面數據,而是應該集中精力創造出最好的手遊,外面還有上百萬個玩家等着玩你的藝術大作呢。

我們發行新遊戲的當天還有其他699個新遊戲也會在同一天上線,這就是一個更大的挑戰。所以,保持低調就是最好的辦法。

本文由遊戲邦編譯,轉載請註明來源,或諮詢微信zhengjintiao

Wilhelm Taht is Executive Vice President of Games at Rovio. This article was originally published on Mobile Dev Memo.

Along with many colleagues and friends in the industry, I have been trying to wrap my head around Flurry’s yearly statements on engagement dropping in mobile games.

Their most recent statement regarding 2016 macro data states, among other things, that: ”Video Killed the Gaming Star: Gaming, the app category formerly known as “the darling of the mobile industry,” saw time-spent decline by 4% year-over-year.”

This seems a bit incomprehensible, given that the mobile games industry has grown from 2014 to 2016 at an astonishing 21.7% CAGR globally and commanded over 80% of IAP revenues generated in the mobile entertainment industry in 2016.

Red: China, Grey: US, Light Blue: Japan, Light grey: EU, Blue: South Korea, Black: Rest of world
During 2016, mobile games also took the helm in terms of overall games industry revenues, reaching a whopping $37 billion in end user generated IAP revenues, representing 37% of the 2016 total games industry’s $100 billion in end user generated revenues.

And keep in mind, this figure does not take into account advertising revenues (e.g. native reward videos), which is a considerable portion of the mobile games economy.

So how can it then be that engagement is reported to drop significantly year over year, both in terms of time spent per day and amount of sessions?

The above chart shows mobile app time spent in games, which grew 69% year-on-year in 2015 to 2016, with games falling by 4%.

Well, there are probably a few factors at play here.

#1 The overall difference between F2P and premium apps

Free-to-play / Freemium / F2P has been the dominant form of monetisation now in mobile games for a few years. At this point, roughly 99% of all end user generated revenues in mobile games originate from IAPs.

For a freemium economy to work well, you need players to return over time. Often times this is summarised as static retention or Day-N retention.

The more days you can engage a player of the player’s lifetime in the game, the better. What makes matters challenging in this respect is that games (regardless of whether they are F2P or not) are somewhat repetitive in nature.

In F2P games it’s a well-known fact that if you let players play through the content all at once, you won’t have anything for them to come back to the next day.

Consequently, it’s enough to let a player perceive he / she has played through everything or “seen everything”; that will make the player churn. And churn is the enemy in F2P. This is why F2P games have become quite good at employing so called “session mechanics”.

The widely known situations in F2P games such as “no more lives left -> return in an hour” or “you’ve now planted a seed -> come back in two hours to see the flower” are by no means there to throw players out; they are there to make players come back. Later – optimised to maximise the overall player lifetime engagement.

On the flip side, utility apps – messaging, video entertainment, music, sports, social media, etc. – are not built around this type of consumer behavior. They try to gulp up as much of your time as possible and not let you out of their grip. And they are, by and large, not as repetitive as games tend to be.

Given that the market is mature for mobile apps overall within Asia and the West (with 2.3 billion smartphone users globally last year spending on average one hour per day within mobile apps, this idea is fairly uncontroversial), it’s fair to say that the battle for consumer minutes is on.

However, this battle is fought completely differently in premium (or subscription) apps vs. F2P games. Premium (or subscription) apps try to command as much time as possible, F2P games spread it over time.

Taken to the macro level, I believe it’s to be expected that engagement is shown as dropping within mobile games and rising in other areas, i.e. an engagement drop in the mobile game space could be argued to be “by design”: “It’s a feature, not a bug”.

#2: Flurry’s position in the mobile app ecosystem

The next possible explanation actually slightly contradicts the previous one. Let me explain.

It’s a known fact (just read almost any other blog posts on Mobile Dev Memo) that data is important within mobile games.

Data, player data, often then summarised in high level, impressive sounding KPIs is one side of the “product coin”, where the other side is the game itself.

Without data, F2P designers, product managers and game analysts are utterly crippled. Data, when it comes to mobile games, is also (unfortunately) not one size fits all (or even one size fits most).

Take as a comparison a saga map based match-3 puzzle game vs a real time PvP battle game. The difference in design and the associated player data is immense.

Yes, ARPDAU and DAU are high level measures, largely comparable from one game to another, and any analytics system can spit those out.

But those metrics are rather useless for excellence in data driven game design. Data driven game design and excellence in live operations needs to go much, much deeper into the core game and player behavior.

Flurry’s strong growth within the mobile app ecosystem comes from a time where the landscape was vastly different than it is today. Flurry became synonymous to mobile app analytics during the premium era of mobile games.

In February 2017 it is unknown how many of the Top 100 grossing mobile games in the US use Flurry. Why unknown? Well, I have asked. Twice. And I have not received an answer yet.

@FlurryMobile re new study: https://t.co/rix8dc73mj what %age of current top 100 grossing games in the US has Flurry integrated @Simonkhalaf

— Wilhelm Taht (@wilhelm_taht) January 30, 2017

@FlurryMobile what percentage of top100 grossing iOS mobile games in the US use Flurry nowadays? https://t.co/oPH0IQfB6Z

— Wilhelm Taht (@wilhelm_taht) February 23, 2017

Given the evolution of the mobile games industry to a freemium economy, which is very complex in terms of data, I think it’s fair to expect that Flurry’s penetration within the top mobile games has diminished over time.

Considering top grossing games as a proxy for “time hogs” (games that gulp up most of a player’s time), it’s to be expected that Flurry’s macro level data would suggest that engagement is indeed dropping, if the percentage penetration in top grossing games also drops over time.

This would neatly explain why Flurry’s macro level data shows a downward trend in mobile game player engagement, all while mobile games industry revenue is continuing to grow.

Edit: This theory would also support the counter claim presented in the most recent data released by Unity and SuperData claiming that “mobile engagement was 19% higher in Q4 2016 than the year before”.

Indeed, the sample data for their study would be different than Flurry’s, considering that Unity aggregates their data from a huge scale of top to low performing mobile games.

The time hog theory is of course my own personal suggestion, but I do think it’s reasonable to expect that the games making the most money also command a better engagement than the average. Engagement is after all one of the key pillars in F2P design.

#3 Flurry’s other statements point to sometimes not having the big picture in mind

This last reason won’t win me many popularity points within Flurry’s ranks, but it has to be pointed out.

The very same blog post explaining the diminishing engagement in mobile games (referred to above) has this statement within it as well:

“This year’s first ‘hit’, Pokemon GO, faded relatively fast, as consumers lost interest in the game, only returning for marquee holiday events.”

It is absolutely astonishing that this statement got past Flurry’s and Yahoo’s PR Review. Pokemon GO is at the precise moment when writing this post (February 23rd 2017, 9.14 AM in Helsinki, Finland) the #1 Grossing App in the US.

It is the fastest mobile game ever to reach 500 million downloads. By February 2017, Pokemon GO has grossed a cumulative $1 billion in revenues. This is also breaking all previous records in mobile games; a truly breathtaking achievement and astonishing sustained performance.

Is Pokemon GO as hot as it was one week after its launch? Of course not. Is Pokemon GO still a behemoth and absolutely massive in scale at this point? Yes, it is.

Personally, I would expect a more analytical approach from an analytics company than running with such a populistic and uninformed statement.

Wrapping up

So, to wrap up the point. I think VC investors and the industry should not be very worried about the “slow down” in engagement overall. There are way more factors at play in this respect than what Flurry has shown in their analysis.

As an industry, albeit slowing down or ‘maturing’, mobile games still shows a very healthy growth rate over the next years (assumed global CAGR 2016 to 2020: 11,9%).

As individual games makers, let’s keep our heads down, not think too much about the macro level clouds that are sometimes painted above our heads, and focus on creating the best possible mobile games to the billions of players out there waiting to engage fully with our art.

That’s the best way to overcome the much larger challenge we all face the day when we release a new game: the 699 other new mobile games also being released that same day.(source:pocketgamer.biz