A practical guide to increasing user retention in dapps
The primary component for any application to be successful is user retention. User retention is the most critical metric for any application to survive in the market. As much as new users are important for application growth, the current users play a vital role.
In practice, we acknowledge many ways to measure retention. There are numerous benchmark statistics on desktop and mobile games. While blockchain games are barely talked about.
Within this article, we are going to overview the theoretical part of retention and we will carry the practical analysis of the best blockchain games retention rates.
Multiple ways to measure user retention
User retention is a metric to measure how many users returned to the application in the given period. There are several ways to calculate user retention, all of which lead to different results.
While computing these metrics, many people end up comparing apples and oranges. User retention can be measured generally in 4 intervals of time.
- 1-day retention
- 7-day retention
- 28-day retention
- 90-day retention
The general formula for calculating retention can be:
Hypothetically let’s consider an application on the day of the launch that generates 10,000 users. On the second day, out of 10,000, only 2,000 users return, a week after 1,000, and after a month has passed only 500. On the 90th day, only 100 users. In this case, using the above formula, the user retention will be:
- 1-day retention: 20%
- 7-day retention: 10%
- 28-day retention: 5%
- 90-day retention: 1%
Long-term success requires a high retention rate
Retention is vital because the metric will help application developers to determine the performance over the period and the feasibility of a dapp, which will indeed make it successful in the long run.
According to 2019 benchmark statistics in 28-day retention, games that reach more than 18% draw more attention and popularity which is a sign of a successful game.
Ways to improve retention
Theoretically, there are many ways to improve user retention, but practically user retention is quite challenging.
Efficient onboarding experience
It’s essential to make an excellent first impression. The key here is to build the dapp in such a way that the process is as simple as possible- if the dapp is challenging to use, then users might never return.
In the blockchain world, games like Splinterlands, Prospectors, Axie Infinity, and the IOI-game provide great onboarding experiences to users which will keep them returning and continue playing the game.
The best user interface
Dapp design plays a vital role in improving user retention. By having the best navigation system, the dapp can retain its user. Hence, it’s essential to have the best UX and UI design.
With regards to the blockchain games, My Crypto Heroes user interface is not really easy to access and navigate through for users. However, the user interfaces of IOI-game, Axie Infinity, Splinterlands, and Prospectors are very good and user-focussed.
One excellent strategy to improve user retention is to incentivize users by rewarding them. It could be done in the form of coins, extra lives, discount on in-app-purchase accessories, etc.
Through this kind of engagement, users feel valued and might stick around for longer. A dapp game such as Splinterlands provides daily rewards to its users.
Adding new features regularly to drive the user engagement
Another way of improving user retention is by adding features that are exciting and challenging for users and take the dapp to the next level.
In May 2020 Axie Infinity released a new update for land development which helped drive increased user engagement.
Prospectors have been active with their feature updates and giveaways in 2020. Below are a few updates that benefited the game in regard to monthly activity.
In March there was a Big update release that brought about more attention to the game and in April they announced the deployment of new features like adding account nicknames, track workers, and many more features.
In mid-May, Prospectors announced the auction of assets for the new Boomtown challenge. In June their dream project Prospectors Railway was launched and last but not least in late July 2020. Prospectors celebrated their 1 year anniversary with an NFT airdrop and now rare anniversary NFT card giveaways. Both events excited the audience and drove user engagement in August.
Dapp developers must also plan for and adapt to new ways of working within the application. This can ensure the change is sustained and reinforced.
Blockchain game retention methodology
In the world of blockchain games, user retention can be based on the number of unique active wallets. Let’s consider monthly, i.e., 28-day retention of unique active wallets on a per-game basis.
This metric breaks down each game’s monthly audience into two parts; new users and retained users, each compared from the previous month’s unique wallets.
This provides a snapshot of whether players are enjoying the experience and continuing to play month-on-month or quickly churning out.
Note, this methodology doesn’t attempt to measure the medium or long term re-engagement of audiences over two or more months.
We will consider the performance of 6 blockchain games running on these 6 blockchains: Hive, WAX, EOS, TRON, and two from ETH.
Some games sustained monthly retention rates of over 75%, and most had multiple months of retention more significant than 50%. In contrast, all games bar one also had months in which more players churned out than were retained, i.e., they relied on new players for headline growth.
Retention rate on Hive – Splinterlands
Spliterlands is a fully decentralized application, digital collectible trading card game. It was a popular dapp on the Steem protocol. But after the hard fork causing the Hive blockchain to separate from Steem. Hive benefited heavily by the movement of Splinterlands in June 2020.
Post Hive launch and community creation, the unique wallets started dropping down in the Steem version of Splinterlands as there was movement taking place, which is very evident in the retention rate graph. However, the dapp regained its users after the shift to Hive protocol from 8% to more than 75%.
Retention rate on WAX and EOS – Prospectors
Here we consider a game that runs on 2 protocols. Prospectors is a massively multiplayer online real-time economic strategy game with thousands of daily active players and is among the top active dapps tracked by DappRadar.
The dapp was initially launched on the EOS protocol but due to congestion back in November 2019. The team decided to launch the game on the WAX protocol, and the migration happened in December 2019. However, the game does still exist on both platforms.
Prospectors on EOS and WAX demonstrated a stable monthly retention rate of above 50% in 2020. However, activity in August to date has increased to 78% on the WAX protocol, and on EOS has decreased to 59%.
Retention rates on Ethereum
Due to the issues surrounding high Ethereum gas prices, the top dapp games on Ethereum, My Crypto Heroes, and Axie Infinity are ranking 26th and 37th respectively on DappRadar retention has obviously decreased month on month.
My Crypto Heroes
In terms of overall retention, the best performing blockchain game in 2019 was My Crypto Heroes, developed by Japanese studio Double Jump. Tokyo. It is the most popular Ethereum game in terms of audience and growth but in 2020 has lost half of its retention month on month which is evident.
Axie Infinity is a decentralized game based on Ethereum and also runs on the Loom network. The game introduces players to adorable fantasy creatures called Axie’s. These can be bred, raised, battled, and even traded in the marketplace by users. The game has recently lost its retention to 19% in July but raised back to 49% in August just in 10 days.
Retention rate on TRON
TRON is famous for its popular Gambling & High-Risk dapps. These types of dapps attract users looking for good deals and rates and can prove very difficult to retain users without regular updates and offers. But some dapps on TRON are flourishing.
IOI platform is the bridge between trading and gaming. This game allows users to earn money in a fun, gamified environment. The dapps retention rate kicked off with a 50% rate monthly, and now it’s standing at 100%.
Though there was not much activity observed during the initial days of its release, the popularity grew back in June 2020, and it is retaining its users 100%.
According to the data dapps like Splinterlands, Prospectors, My Crypto Heroes, and IOI-game have more than 18% in 2020 with regards to 28 days retention.
As discussed, Spliterlands has some amazing features like an excellent user interface, one of the best onboarding experiences, and regular rewards for users.
All these aspects make this particular dapp game famous and loved by users. Splinterlands would be the best example to show how to retain wallets in the blockchain gaming industry.
By looking deeper at the mechanics and retention mechanisms employed within these dapps. Using and living with them, dapp developers can begin to take notes and find a path to success.