Report provides detailed look at social game invites, players

Turning a new social game into a viral hit is a complicated process and one that's worth a lot of money to developers. It's also a mysterious process that's still not that well understood. But a new paper by researchers at the University of Michigan, Brazil's University de Pelotas and developer LOLApps helps pull back the curtain into how social games spread and how players actually use them.

The paper benefits from some extremely detailed data provided by LOLApps for two of its most popular games, Yakuza Lords and Diva Life. The researchers used this data to generate a comprehensive nine-page report (PDF) looking at everything from changing player demographics as a game grows to how much time is spent in various areas of a game over time to which types of invites are most effective at generating new players.

The most interesting data point in the report, to me, was that a full 80% of non-invited players for these two games (i.e. players who stumbled on the game on their own) stopped playing before the first day was up. For players that came to the game through an invite, 50% were still there the next day and a full 20% were still playing 80 days later. So if you've ever wondered why social games seem so eager for you to invite your friends to play, well, now you know.

SocialTimes has a good summary of some other interesting findings from the paper that's well worth a look.
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