Roller Coaster Tycoon hits new heights

How Unity’s LiveTune feature helped Nvizzio increase long-term retention by 50%

RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch: A Unity for Analytics case story

After initial success, with more than 5 million downloads in the first month, nearly one-third of RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch’s player base churned due to poor device performance. But with LiveTune, Nvizzio was able to lift long-term user retention (Day 30) by 33% by dynamically customizing device performance settings on each user’s device.

The game

RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch, a popular 3D simulation game made by Nvizzio

The goal

Deliver the best performance possible on every device

Platforms

iOS, Android

Team members

15

Location

Montreal, Canada

Sylvain Constantin, Nvizzio Executive Producer and leader of RollerCoaster Touch team

Meeting 3D-graphics requirements for 50,000+ different mobile devices of various specs presented a challenge for Executive Producer, Sylvain Constantin and his team. They needed a way to monitor and configure RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch performance settings for each device instantly and continuously — without having to redeploy the game. What’s more, the rising cost of user acquisition motivated them to find a solution sooner rather than later. Instead of building one on their own, they chose LiveTune, a Unity product that optimizes game performance dynamically for various devices.
 

The results:

  • Avoided early churn of 35% of iOS players by delivering a smooth experience at optimal fps
  • Improved long-term Android retention-rate from 6% to 8%, 33% lift, closing the gap with iOS
  • Increased revenue opportunities by improving user experience on various devices

Dynamic performance settings

With two decades of experience at leading AAA studios, Constantin knew that in order to succeed his team would have to continuously monitor players’ game behavior.

Soon after launch, he found that quite a few players were getting stuck around level 25-30 and that most of them were high-paying iOS players on low-end devices.

In a sandbox test, he confirmed that level 25 and beyond required graphic capabilities that devices with 1GB memory couldn’t handle with normal settings. That amounted to one-third of the game’s iOS player base.

Performance settings expand the total addressable market

Initially, they built a simple in-house client-side solution that sent performance settings based on the model of the user’s device. When they discovered LiveTune, however, they switched over right away.

“First of all, as a server-side solution, LiveTune is much more flexible. We can use a variety of parameters to optimize without requiring users to update the app. Secondly, it saved us all the effort of maintaining a solution in-house. Finally, it expands our addressable market to devices with 1GB memory—many of whom are high-paying iOS customers,” says Constantin.

Optimize frame rate (fps)

Increased fps on Android by 5 points

Another benefit Constantin is excited about is how LiveTune increases fps on various devices, in particular on Android devices.

“Our optimal frame rate is around 24 fps. Anything higher than 30 fps will drain the battery faster, and anything lower than 15 is just a slideshow,” he says.

LiveTune allows Constantin and his team to apply different settings, such as visual and AI, to tune fps. By experimenting with different criteria, such as MaxPeepCount and TextureQuality, they were able to find the best performance parameters for various devices.

“Through LiveTune, we’ve increased fps by an average of 5 points on underperforming Android devices. And players are much happier with the smoother visual experience.

Increased long-term retention

Long-term retention up by 50%

LiveTune has directly contributed to lifting player retention by improving the player experience on Android devices. Data had showed that fps was affecting playtime and retention.

“No one wants to play a game that takes more than 60 seconds to load, and you can just see the churn going up as a result,” Constantin says.

However, he could see the positive results of using LiveTune in the data as well. The lift in Android performance was directly reflected in retention results.

“The improvement we got from using LiveTune in our live operation practices was obvious. We saw that Day 1 retention on Android improved from 35% to 40% in just one month. And we expect Day 30 retention to increase 33%, from 6% to 8%, by the end of the year.”

Constantin says that the good early retention rates will help them gain insight into what players are building with the game and what new features they might appreciate. This, in turn will help them maximize long-term retention.

“The CPI (Cost Per Install) is rising these days, especially for Android users. So, earning higher player LTV (Lifetime value) from a loyal, engaged player base will definitely improve our game economy. At the end of the day, LiveTune leads to more revenue opportunities.”

“LiveTune helped us address performance issues that impacted one-third of our player base, improved frame rate by 5 points across all devices, and improved Android players’ long-term retention by 33%. It’s a no-brainer.”

Sylvain Constantin, Executive Producer, Nvizzio Creation Inc.

How do you get started with LiveTune?

Please fill out the form to sign up for the beta and contact us at unity3d.com/LiveTune

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