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I run a free-to-play online game that involves collecting creatures and simply clicking on a button to give them a small amount of EXP. The idea is to do this for other people and they're likely to return the favour and help you make your own progress.

The initial tutorial guides you through the basic idea until you've successfully obtained a full Party of 6 before leaving you to your own devices, to make your own objectives and stuff.

I've noticed that players who make it through the tutorial tend to stay quite engaged with the game, but I also found these numbers:

  • 25% of users join but never complete the first step of the tutorial, that is they never hatch their very first Egg.
  • A further 25% of users drop out of the game before finishing the tutorial, so having hatched only 1-5 Eggs.
  • Barely 50% of registered users actually complete the tutorial.

The problem is that I've never run this kind of game before. This is my first real project, but it's been going for several years now. I don't have any kind of baseline on what numbers to expect.

I can only imagine reasons right now, such as it being quite jarring to people that, in order to make progress, they have to help others make their progress and hope they return the favour.

So we have about half our users leaving before the tutorial is complete. Is this kind of thing normal? Am I worrying too much about this?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, probably. Most users decide if they like your application in 60 seconds. If the kind of gameplay your game has doesn't match the user expectation then he's going to quit faster than you can say "Do you want to play the tutorial level?". You could make graphics highlighting all game elements unlockable in the game, so that people interested can see it directly and people who would be interested in later stages of the game consider playing even when the first steps may not look appealing. Other players may be unhappy with the progression speed or unresponsive UI. \$\endgroup\$ – HopefullyHelpful Dec 20 '16 at 14:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HopefullyHelpful Fair enough. The game is more of a social game with the intention being playing long-term to collect all the things, so maybe having a slightly slower tutorial actually helps set that expectation. And if people aren't up for it, better they get out before losing too much time... right? :D \$\endgroup\$ – Niet the Dark Absol Dec 20 '16 at 15:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NiettheDarkAbsol There is also the trick that if you have a long tutorial the user feels invested in the game and is less likely to stop playing the game shortly after completing the tutorial as they feel the time playing the tutorial may have been wasted if they don't get something out of the game. \$\endgroup\$ – benh Dec 20 '16 at 16:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @benh Great point. That's something we've seen, there's very few people who completed the tutorial only to quit shortly after. \$\endgroup\$ – Niet the Dark Absol Dec 20 '16 at 16:17
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Without knowing the length and complexity of your tutorial, 50% is pretty damn good. considering 37% of registered games on steam have never been played even after users have purchased them.

This all depends on the type of game though, one would expect a cheap or f2p game to have very low retention rates compared to more expensive games. This means that 50% retention is fairly good for f2p.

However you might still want to look into making your tutorial more engaging if you want to make this retention even better. I'm guessing that your tutorial involves hatching a total of 6 eggs, which sounds pretty long to me. Maybe you should question whether you even need a tutorial or you could teach the player by playing the game. have a look at this fantastic video from Mark Brown for inspiration on how to hide your tutorial within your gameplay.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ That's very reassuring... and made me realise that I've got a few games I bought but never played too (mostly was gonna play with friends, then life happened, but still!) Thanks for the info, and the resources. I feel a lot better now :D \$\endgroup\$ – Niet the Dark Absol Dec 20 '16 at 14:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Just an additional point regarding 37% of steam registered games not played. That there are many games nowadays sold in bundles, so quite a percentage might have come from the less attractive titles of a popular bundle. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Ong Dec 22 '16 at 7:26

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