Measuring the Player Journey: From New User to Payer

Learn how understanding player progression through your game can help refine monetization strategies and improve the player experience.

A deep dive into the player journey

Understanding and monitoring your player’s interactions with your game is essential for continuous growth. This guide will highlight essential KPIs for monetizing your players through in-app purchases (IAPs). 

For more information about the basics of game analytics, be sure to check out our previous article

Understanding the player journey with funnels

If you are looking to find specific pain points for your players and tweak elements of your game, you can’t just sit and wait for issues to make themselves known. 

Following the player’s progression and understanding the wants, needs, and difficulties at each point of your game can eliminate common issues for many developers, such as:

  • Is the difficulty curve in my game too severe?
  • Is my onboarding/tutorial cohesive, or are players getting stuck at a particular step?
  • How long does it take players to purchase my starter pack offer (and how many are buying it?)

Funnels allow for a better understanding of the path players take through your game and provide a visual representation of the player journey through a linear set of defined steps. These can be used to find out the number of players who are dropping off between steps, track the average amount of time taken to advance from one step to the next, and identify pain points in your game. 

Below are some examples of funnels to consider when trying to understand your player journey.

progress funnel

Progression

If your game features linear levels or missions, creating a “mission completed” funnel can show both where players are dropping off, and how long it takes players to advance between steps. 

By instrumenting missionStarted and missionCompleted events, and using the missionID parameter to correspond to each mission, you can build a funnel like the one above. 

From the results above, we can see a notable dropoff between steps 3 and 4, where the user level is required to be equal to 3. This would suggest that almost 85% of players are not playing long enough to reach this level. 

If your game has a character leveling system, something similar to the above can also be done with a levelUp event. If players are dropping off around the same level, it might indicate that the grind to hit the next one is too long, or the gameplay has become stale. 

FTUE-Funnel

Onboarding and FTUE

The first time user experience (FTUE) is the first aspect of the game that your player will see. By defining a separate funnel step for each aspect of your onboarding process, you can start to build a picture of how strong your FTUE is. For example:

  • If there is a big drop off from one step to the next, it may indicate that players are not engaging with the game or finding it stimulating enough. 
  • If there is significant time taken to progress between steps, this may indicate that players are not clear on how to progress. In the early stages of gameplay, it is important to guide the player through the basics of gameplay in a way that is both cohesive but also exciting. 
  • If your game features social-media authentication, and few players are advancing beyond this step, it could be a sign that this step is being presented too early, before players have decided to commit to the game enough to share their details. 

The FTUE will differ from game to game, but good practice is to implement an event for the start and end of each step, something like tutorialStepStarted and tutorialStepEnded with a StepID parameter which refers to each stage of the onboarding. From here you can create a linear flow like the one shown below. 

Although in many cases when using onboarding funnels, the steps will follow in quick succession, there can be a danger of over implementing tutorial steps. Focus on important milestones in the onboarding process to ensure that steps can only be completed in the linear order set out in your funnel. 

purchase funnel

Player journey to first (and repeat) purchase

Once your players are through the FTUE, the next likely milestone will be a first purchase. Like the FTUE, the journey to the player’s first purchase will likely be different from game to game, however it is not uncommon across F2P game genres to present a starter pack offer to players once the onboarding process has been completed. 

With a simple addition to the above funnel, we can add an extra step, starterPackPurchased (or use Unity Analytics’ default transaction event with a parameter indicating the starter pack’s ID), which will show the number of players who go on to purchase the starter pack after completing the tutorial, as well as the amount of time it takes them to do so. 

The results of this funnel can answer a few questions:

  • If the dropoff from the previous step is high, it might mean the offer is not compelling enough, and players may not feel they need the content yet. 
  • If there is significant time between the offer being presented and purchase, it might imply that the offer is being presented too early. The player might not understand how useful the offer is until they find themselves burning through the free boosters/currency/etc. provided during the tutorial. 

If your game doesn’t include a starter pack offer, or you want to widen the net to include any in-app purchase, using the standard transaction event will show how many players go on to make a purchase of any kind.

By adding a further transaction step after the previous one, you can also see how many of your spenders go on to spend for a second time, third time, etc. as well as the average time taken between repeat purchases. 

The chart above shows how this might look in practice, showing the number of players who complete the first mission and then go on to make their first and second purchases. The median time to completion shows that those players who make a purchase often do so on day two of play, and then again on day three. 

Kristofer McClelland

Partner Manager, Publisher Operations

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