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Case Study: Can GDPR Actually Improve Mobile Game Performance?

By Simon Mittruecker, Senior Producer, Flaregames

GDPR is upon us! And thanks to the many great summaries available online, everybody in the mobile games industry should have a good idea what it is and how games can account for it.

But what about the financial impact? The typical assumption might be that the new regulation, which requires that players explicitly consent to their data being collected and used by developers, can only hinder free-to-play mobile game revenues.

To inform our decision-making around this topic we ran a simple A/B test, and the results were surprising: GDPR might improve the performance of free-to-play games.

The test

Our concerning hypotheses:

  1. Showing our players a consent popup and links to terms and conditions before the game client has connected to the game servers (or in other words, before any user data has been sent), will have a negative impact on the installation rate.
  2. The lower installation rate caused by this will lead to a smaller number of players and therefore less revenue.

To test if this is true we shipped a version of our game Nonstop Knight with a simple A/B test.

Group A was presented with a simple consent popup when starting the game for the first time. They would only get to play the game if they accepted the GDPR-related terms and conditions.

Group B didn’t get a popup and the game simply started for all of them.

The popup Group A had to accept

 

This test has now been running for about two weeks and we had about 10,000 players in Group A.

The result

Good news: we were wrong!

Hypothesis 1 turned out right: we lost about 3.5% of the players in group A due to the popup.

IAP LTV between D1 and D12, group A (green) and group B (blue)

 

Regarding hypothesis 2, it is too early to be sure, but it seems like it might turn out wrong: regardless of the 3.5% additional churn, the total IAP revenue of group A was higher than that of group B, with group A’s IAP LTV being up by around 30% at this point of the test.

Interpretation

Going into this we expected that the fall in revenue would be smaller than the fall in users, because we assumed that players who are really interested in the game would be more likely to accept the terms.

Not only does that seem to be the case, beyond that there seems to be an additional effect that causes the players who have seen the popup to spend a lot more.

Sure, there are caveats: this was a single test, in a single game and 10,000 players is not the biggest sample. We are obviously not expecting a 30% uplift on our entire portfolio of games. Still, this test indicates that there is a correlation between the displaying of the popup and an increase in IAP revenue.

We have new hypothesis now: “Showing players that they have control over their data has a positive effect on their spending behavior.”

Let’s see if we are right this time!

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