Gods of Rome
A Live Ops Case Study
Gods of Rome, a mobile fighting game published by Gameloft that puts players in the sandals of some toughest warriors the universe became part of Amber’s portfolio in the fateful summer of 2017. With a tough market to crack, where a total of 77 percent of the 4.5 million apps in the iOS App Store are games, maintaining the health of a middle-aged live service is one of the greatest challenges our industry has mustered.
Instead of just maintaining the game, Amber pursued a strategy of constantly adding valuable content to the experience. Releasing updates monthly and sometimes even more often, with the day-by-day involvement of Amber’s passionate team, the content and feature drops were designed to sustain and increase the forecasted KPIs.
A central challenge for Amber was to identify the best ways to maintain and boost the performance of Gods of Rome, in a scenario where no user acquisition or promotion was available for the title. The declining DAUs trend offered us two obvious quick fixes: try to stop the players loss by increasing retention and engagement, while at the same time carefully optimizing monetization design.
Stabilizing the early retention numbers and ensuring that elder players will return, made us build a strong production plan with a content update cadence that was not too long. We were aware of the fact that delays in implementation of new features such as new game modes, regular and special events or simply delaying powerful features, will impact our ability to reduce the churn rate and thus retention won’t increase.
We therefore built a balanced production plan where we added new stories acts, a new game mode and, each month, a brand new character. All of those increased the time spent in game and number of daily sessions but, unfortunately, didn’t contribute much to early retention. We tried boosting it and actually managed to do so, after certain weekend events, that increased time spent in game with up to 10% in some days.
But taking a closer look at the monetization performance, the title delivered significant increases in the first 6 months under Amber’s umbrella. End of year was presented with a doubled ARPU (August to December ‘17), boosted by constant in app purchases and well-crafted promotions.
As a matter of fact, the highest ARPPU of the title was reached under Amber’s development in March 2018, after a perfect blend of IAP promotion with a just-released character’s sale.
With significant efforts invested in optimizing revenue, we reached 90% higher ARPI 6 months after takeover, which can be considered quite a “miracle” if we look at the low visibility of the title in the market, where long-ago released games fail to make an impact in terms of attracting high quality users, with no financial effort.
Part of maintaining the monetization’ increasing trend of the game was also maximizing the advertising revenue and efficiently monetizing the non-payers. Amber added new point cuts showing incentivized ads without ruining the smooth gaming experience, optimized existing ones and tested methods of constantly improving share of ads revenue. As a result, an 18% increase of ads revenue popped out immediately and maintained the trend in forecasting solid revenue.
This being said, we can proudly state that Amber crafted a successful mix in bringing the best deliverables to the table of Gameloft’s Gods of Rome: maintaining constant retention and high engagement, topped with month to month increasing monetization KPIs. There’s always room for continuous improvement, but we all know that a humble and curious culture, as Amber has, is the foundation for best-in-class live ops.