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So, I have a game that has a few dedicated users, but very few actual users. It is a free game on the Android marketplace, supported via ads. I've been toying with the idea of periodically popping up a notice to users encouraging them to do stuff like:

  1. Look at the ads presented.
  2. Write positive reviews in the Android Marketplace.
  3. Encourage their friends to play.

Right now, I have it set up in a not released version to do this once every 5 games, once the user has played at least 10 games, unless they are clicking on ads periodically. I am not letting the user know this, I don't want them to click on ads just to get the popups to stop.

Basically, I'm needing a bit more motivation from the users to keep going to the next level, and I'm letting them know what I would like from them.

Is this going to end up helping me out, or am I just going to get myself buried even more? Thanks!

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I don't know what ad service you are using, but it is usually against their ToS to ask users to click ads (or even suggest the notion of doing so). –  DMan Mar 10 '12 at 20:06
    
Hmmm. Maybe if I change it to simply paying attention to the ads... Good point though. –  PearsonArtPhoto Mar 10 '12 at 20:10
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Asking repeatedly might become very annoying to your most dedicated users, since those who play the most would see it the most often. –  mmyers Mar 10 '12 at 22:12
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In my opinion you are likely to get the opposite effect, if you are going to change the free game making it more annoying to play, you will probably lose some of your dedicated users. I would recommend to work the way around, provide a paid version which adds value to the current game. –  João Pinto Mar 10 '12 at 22:18
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2 Answers 2

up vote 21 down vote accepted

Popups suck, people dislike them. That you've even thought to ask the question should pretty much give you a sense of that.

For the following, I'm assuming that you're making a game which is relatively short, which players play over and over again (Minesweeper, Solitaire, etc). Minor adaptations would be necessary to these comments for long-form games.

My advice would be that if you want to do a popup to prompt the end-user to do things to help you, then do it only once for any single user. I wouldn't trigger it by a certain number of games; I'd do it the next time a game ended, after the player had logged a certain total amount of play time (not counting time paused, suspended, in in-game menus, or etc). Fifteen to twenty minutes would be a good period of play time after which the popup would be okay. And then never do the popup again, even for subsequent launches of the game.

Instead of popups (or in addition to the single popup as described above), a better approach would be to integrate text like: "Help this game: give us a review in the Android Marketplace!" into a small area on the "game over" or "leaderboard" screen that the player is sent to when a game ends. That way it's visible after every game (so it's more frequently in your user's mind), without becoming obtrusive the way that an OS-themed modal dialog box is.

In such a screen, you want to have a large pool of strings to use; don't always use the same one, or users will tune it out. My advice is that you want to have approximately 33% amusing quips, approximately 33% useful gameplay tips, and approximately 33% "things you can do to help me" messages. But those proportions are flexible; new users will prefer the tips, experienced users will prefer the quips, so feel free to bias in either of those directions. And the more strings available, the better; variety keeps the messages fresh, and keeps the users reading them each time they finish a game.

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I really like the idea you presented. I've been trying to come up with a good way to do it, and I think yours is a winner. Thanks a ton! –  PearsonArtPhoto Mar 11 '12 at 1:47
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I support the idea of messages put on another screen so there are no annoying popups. Some games also include a button the user can click to get to the market and see the same directly so it's easier to add a rating. Personally I can't see anything wrong with a non-intrusive button to help with it. IMHO just stay away from popups. If the user clicks something because they want to they're more likely to give you a positive rating etc. than if they felt they were forced to through a popup. –  Gilead Mar 11 '12 at 17:22
    
Very good point, Gilead. In the interest of conserving screen space, I'd advocate for the text itself to be clickable (rather than adding a button), when it's a message that's asking the user to do something, and it's possible for you to send the user to wherever they need to go to do that thing. –  Trevor Powell Mar 11 '12 at 22:25
    
So far I have a total of 13 messages, with 4 help mes, 3 tips, 2 funny quotes, and 4 random facts. It should do for now. Still need to figure the best place to put them, but that should be easy enough. –  PearsonArtPhoto Mar 12 '12 at 0:07
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From my experience, yes, do it but you are right to be careful.

If you have just a few dedicated players, TALK TO THEM - setup a forum, a private chat, forum anything like this. give them VIP access, treat them as VIPs (cause they are :))

They will like meeting the developer of the game. Get to know them. People help friends.

Learn what it is that they want. In my experience, people are willing to do a lot for a benefit. We a F2P game and we've tried a number of things in the last 4 years, and almost always a carrot works the best.

I cannot tell you what that carrot is for your game and there are differences between players. For one person, simply a badge "Friend of the game" is enough. Gives them status, and they will work to get it.

For another person, it is a benefit in the game, perhaps money or some in game currency.

If you are asking players for a review, find a place in the game when they get the first high. Find a time/place in the game where they feel great, or when they feel the game is great. ask for a review then. Ideally, offer something for the review (see above - some carrot).

Give you an idea from experience:

In Realm of Empires, when a person captured their second town, they get a big high. Right then, we asked them for a review. We then got some conversion, say 20% of people writing reviews.

Later we tried to offer a carrot - we offered some free credits as a thank you / congratulations. Conversion doubled.

however, we still had a lot of 3/5 or 4/5 reviews. Not because people thought it was a 3 out of 5 game, but we naturally rate games this way.

then we added a added a "5 star reviews are most appreciated and help us grow! :)" at the end of the message, resulting in VAST majority of reviews 5 of out 5 now.

lessons learned : offer a carrot. tell them exactly what you want them to do.

another lesson, learned from different examples is to be direct - tell players directly what you want them to do. Do not make the message convoluted. the more direct the message, the better.

my 2c :)

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I was thinking about the badge route, I rather like the idea. Thanks for the tips! –  PearsonArtPhoto Mar 13 '12 at 18:23
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