Search Unity

Player-first engagement: Learnings from deltaDNA

May 15, 2020 in Games | 4 min. read

Is this article helpful for you?

Thank you for your feedback!

To establish and maintain player engagement, you need to operate on both the macro and the micro levels: adhere to best practices game-wide and tailor messages on a player-by-player basis.

The right engagement is what sets games up for long-term success. Without using intelligent engagement strategies to put players first, even the greatest game concepts that boom at launch may bust not long after. 

The good news is that you can implement a number of measures and personalize your messaging without completely redesigning your game. You can build intelligent long-term relationships with your players simply by following data-driven advice and using advanced engagement technology to optimize your targeting.

Because our technology has been used to analyze and optimize thousands of games, Unity has unique insights on what keeps players happy and engaged over weeks, months, and even years. We’ll be sharing some of our expertise in an upcoming webinar, “Best Mobile Engagement Practices in 2020,” led by Franco Spina, a senior game design consultant and expert user of deltaDNA.

What is deltaDNA?

Unity’s deltaDNA provides sophisticated player engagement tools for game-makers, powered by deep data analytics. With cross-platform and rich data capability, this end-to-end solution enables publishers and developers to better understand different player behaviors and create personalized experiences, targeting individual players in real-time. Anyone can get a full-feature 30-day free trial of deltaDNA.

What keeps players around for longer?

Developers can implement a variety of mechanics and techniques to make their games more appealing in the long term. It comes down to basic human psychology.

Humans are sociable, competitive, habitual, quick to get bored, and always looking for value in our interactions. As a developer, you can embed mechanics to your games that play to these characteristics. Here are some examples of features and mechanics that make games more engaging and sticky.

Regular tasks and tournaments

Any event, task, or reward that you can tie to a certain cadence will encourage healthy habitual play. If a daily task or weekly tournament becomes part of your players’ routine, they will be far less likely to churn after having a frustrating session or being distracted by other games. 

Seasonal content

Whether in the form of unique assets, time-limited offers, or special events, seasonal content is great on multiple levels. For dedicated players, it gets them excited ahead of time. For lapsed players, something special could be what tempts them back from the brink of abandonment.

Guild/clan mechanics

Community and sociability are incredibly powerful motivators. Encouraging players to join teams and make alliances brings with it extra prestige and achievement, but it also serves to bring players back through a certain loyalty. When mood alone can’t get a player logging on, team spirit just might.

Status items

Items that have status and prestige attached to them are extremely desirable. Players will perform many tasks and put in a lot of effort to be the envy of their peers. Developers must be careful here, though. If players feel that an item bringing competitive advantage is available for purchase, they may brand the game as “pay-to-win” and will churn in droves.

What is targeted engagement?

Targeted engagement involves messaging and interacting with your players in a personalized way. By giving players bespoke experiences based on their individual preferences, play styles, and behaviors, you can massively reduce the likelihood of churn. 

Sophisticated engagement tactics can yield more successful results than a generic approach. Here’s how all the campaigns run in deltaDNA break down:

  • 48% hit all active players, with no specific targeting
  • 15% target players based on milestone events and significant actions
  • 35% target players based on specific behaviors and complex profiling

It turns out that the “sophisticated” 35% is shared between an even lower percentage of games. This is because good campaigns target small subsets of similar players, so you need more of them to cover your total audience. 

Looked at another way, the data shows that:

  • 85% of games use basic targeting, with typical uplift of 11%
  • 15% of games use sophisticated targeting, with typical uplift of 47%

This massive difference in uplift demonstrates the power of targeted engagement. Any event that you choose to track in your game can be used to create player segments, improve your understanding of what those players want, and give them a bespoke experience to keep them playing.


Check out our upcoming webinar to find out more about engaging your players. You’ll learn how to:

  • Time your messages for peak performance
  • Target based on player behaviors
  • Optimize your in-game ads
  • Keep players interested for the long term
  • Reactivate lapsed players


Sign up for the webinar

May 15, 2020 in Games | 4 min. read

Is this article helpful for you?

Thank you for your feedback!