LGC12: EA Play4Free VP Sean Decker shares his secrets and advice for being an F2P success
Free-to-play games on average lose 70 per cent of their userbase within the first day, EA's play4Free VP has said.
Speaking at the London Games Conference 2012, Sean Decker provided a wealth of information for developers about how to become a success in the F2P market.
He said that as well as typically losing 70 per cent of users ithin the first 24 hours, most games will often have just 15 per cent of their initial player count after seven days.
Decker explain that users would often as quickly during the period after a game's release as being free meant no time or monetary commitment had yet to be made to the title.
"Developers need to get them to commit to the product for the long term," said Decker.
Using television as an example, he added: "If it doesn't grab you in the first few seconds, you are going to change the channel, because it's free. And that's the same for free-to-play, it's easy to move from one game to the other."
Decker said that while there was no silver bullet or perfect answer, developers could do a number of things to help improve player retention and expand their consumer base.
Developers firstly need to develop a great product he explained. "If you don't have a great game then start all over again".
Decker also suggested that users are most likely to keep playing a free game when their friends are also playing it.
"People stay because of their friends," he said.
"If you have a real friend playing the same game, you are six times more likely to play that game long-term, because you want to talk about it with then and engage with them. So if you're making an F2P game make sure you can engage people's friends in an interesting way."
'Cold openings' are also a useful tool for developers to use to encourage players to stick with a free-to-play title from the off, explained Decker.
Using James Bond as an example, he said that Quantum of Solace got into the action straight after the opening few credits to give viewers an impression of what to expect.
He added that games can often take a while to get into, explaing the backstory in lots of detail rather than engaging them in the first few minutes to keep them interested.
"I've seen so many games that give you the credits, an expose on the backstory - people will only give you a few mintues to keep them interested," he said.
"If it's a puzzle game, give them a puzzle game straight away. You have to give them that entertainment experience almost instantaneously or they are going to leave."