• January 2nd at 8:04pm

    Game Design and the Art of Failing Forward: How One Executive Has Faced Evolving a Beloved Game


    Loyal players are key to the long-term success of a title. They’ll keep playing as long as you keep listening to what they have to say, bad or good. Russ Carroll, Executive Producer of MobilityWare’s Solitaire, said the biggest challenge is not in the design but that “players resist change- and companies only want positive change.”

    MobilityWare makes a point to listen to its players. With over 300,000,000 downloads of its Solitaire game, that’s a lot of user feedback to consider. Players average over 500 years of playing time per day, making the game a critical and commercial success year after year since its release in 2008. In an industry always looking for the next big hit, MobilityWare’s Solitaire is #11 in active users on iOS and #6 on Android over the past year. Solitaire is also #6 amongst all mobile games in monthly active users across the United States. Over the past decade, the game has amassed a loyal fanbase that is committed to the game and reticent to embrace change. 

    With such success, developers can become fearful of trying new things. But with a sea of amazing game titles out there failing to build followings, playing it safe just isn’t an option. The path to staying relevant and stoking player growth requires challenging the status quo. 

    What’s the secret? “Success through failing forward,” said Carroll. To turn your failures into triumphs you must embrace player data and feedback. Incorporating input is crucial when trying to retain loyal players. Because dedicated users are the first to say, “You can’t make changes to Solitaire!”

    That made one of the most necessary changes one of the most daunting to consider. Through feedback, Carroll and his team found out that those who weren’t playing MobilityWare’s Solitaire weren’t able to read the cards. But dedicated players were the first to say,”You can’t change the cards!!” “So how could we make cards more readable when everyone is telling us you can’t touch the cards?”, he added with a laugh. 

    The answer is simple once you find the nerve to take the first step: make the changes and then find out what players think. Carroll and his team utilized extensive in-game A/B testing along with in-game surveys. A test phase was implemented with both new and existing users. New users surveys could be trusted for feedback on card readability without the distraction of negative feelings over design changes. 

    The A/B testing showed two results. The new font on cards increased player retention on phones significantly and decreased retention on tablets considerably. So, while the new font was a failure on tablets both tests were considered a success in determining a way forward. The change was made as a default on phones and made available as an option on all devices. 

    In sum, players only resist change they don’t agree with while companies only want change for the good. The goal is to protect the interests of both the player and the developer- to listen to the users and make changes that ensure they’ll stick around. That kind of authentic concern for the player also ensures the developer’s needs are met.

    The lesson is that failure is a necessary component of doing something new. “As we try new things, we should expect to not get them right all the time,” said Carroll. In other words, listen carefully and fail successfully. 

    View original post
  • November 8th at 10:53pm

    One Thing Gamers Love More Than a Handout is an Extra Hand

    One of the biggest challenges a gaming company faces is keeping its biggest fans engaged and playing. MobilityWare has some of the most popular titles from day one of the Apple App store. With over 200 million downloads of its Solitaire game, the company claims to know one thing, that it doesn’t know what players want. So they test, make hypotheses and then test some more.

    MobilityWare taps behavior insights through predictive modeling and hypothesis testing. Data analysis is a key factor for developers when trying to make changes to retain good users longer.

    Predictive Scoring & Modeling

    How do you figure out when a customer is likely to quit playing–and which player incentives could delay or stop “churn”?

    Chris Densmore, director of analytics for MobilityWare, focused primarily on “dedicated players,” who had installed the game more than two weeks ago, but who had not played in the previous two weeks.

    “Dedicated players–they’re more valuable, and we have a larger behavioral dataset because they’re more likely to have played a lot in the past,” Densmore says.

    “They can be incentivized, so there is something we can do to influence the outcome, which is important,” he adds.

    Densmore and his team used data and analytic features from the Mobility Ware’s CDP. Then he chose a logistic regression model, because it can still produce valid results even if some variables are correlated—as they usually are in real, live users—and because logistical regression makes it possible to interpret contributing factors as well. Another bonus: the coefficients that come out of regression can be easily placed in SQL scripts to produce predictions.

    Two key consumer insights were determined:

    Coins Are Cool. But Boosters are the Bomb.

    The team found that gifting players with in-game currency at the right moment retained players longer. Many would use this gift to progress past difficult levels that had frustrated them, increasing their enjoyment of the game and keeping them playing longer.

    The real surprise was that giving someone a “booster,” or a small assist or tool they can use to win, was almost as effective as coins in combating churn, but the big difference was that it increased ARPU (average revenue per user) by more than 450 percent for those with a probability of churning between 60 and 80 percent.

    Customers Will Pay More If You Help Them

    Players that were given in-game currency experienced what is known as “loss aversion”–hoarding it because they wanted to save it for the best possible moment. Players that were gifted boosters had a “use it or lose it” mindset that did not stop them from fully utilizing their gift, thus increasing their enjoyment of the game while simultaneously giving them an experience of premium items.

    Offering just a little bit of help—so it wouldn’t devalue the accomplishment of winners—was the key to reducing churn and renewing player interest in the game. The effort offered customer insights that opened the door on a better customer experience and improved monetization. With it, hypothesis testing and predictive modeling pointed the way to making a positive impact on churn, a tough problem many game publishers face.

    View original post
  • February 2nd at 7:12pm


    Leanplum asked MobilityWare’s Sr. Product Strategy Manager, Yelena Grant, her expert opinion about the future of Mobile Marketing for Gaming. Read Yelena’s and other industry expert’s predictions here

    View original post
  • August 8th at 6:17pm

    It’s International Cat Day! Take a look at this cutie pies that are fur babies to our fellow team mates!!! 

    View original post
  • August 6th at 5:31pm

    💝 From all of us to you, we LOVE YOU!! 💝

    View original post
  • July 21st at 8:12pm

    Happy National Junk Food Day! Some of our team’s TOP picks!

    Happy National Junk Food Day! Mmmm…chips…..

    Take a lookie look at what the team over at MobilityWare prefers to eat!

    Do you prefer Salty or Sweet treats?

    What is a better chip choice:

    What is your favorite ice cream out of the ice cream chest at MobilityWare?

    Thanks to the team members who filled this bad boy out. I now hear some Cheetos calling my name….

    View original post