I have been around many games and products that had poor results but the game teams kept thinking that everything would be fixed with the new features they had on the roadmap. It never worked. A recent post by Andrew Chen, “The Next Feature Fallacy,” shows the metrics of why adding product does not turnaround an unsuccessful one.
New features won’t change the key metrics
Chen leads off his post with the sobering metrics that for a typical web app (mobile apps see similar numbers) that get, 20 percent of visitors sign up, 80 percent finish on-boarding, 40 percent return the next day, 20 percent return the next week and 10 percent return after 30 days. Thus, for every 1,000 visitors, you still have 20 after 30 days (and this is not even a poorly performing app). Chen’s graph below highlights this funnel:
Chen points out that most features will not impact this curve for two reasons:
- Too few people will use the feature. Most features target retained users, but as the above shows that if it is a feature post-D7 (day 7) it will only touch 20 out of 1,000 users, and if it is D7 it only impacts 40.
- The other key failing is that the feature will make a small impact when users to engage. This is often the case when key functions are displayed like optional actions outside of the onboarding process.
This problem of focusing on features that will not fix your game are a result of focusing on users/players already deeply engagement and trying to make their experience better.
The best way to prioritize features
When prioritizing and designing features, you need to focus on reaching the most potential users. As Chen points out, “it’s a good rule of thumb that the best features often focus mostly on non-users and casual users, with the reason that there’s simply many more of them…. Similarly, it’s important to have deep insights on what users need to do to become activated, so that their first visit is set up properly. ” If you build features that truly impact users at the top of the funnel, it will have a follow on impact to your entire game.
- Simply adding features is not likely to change a poor performing game into a strong performer.
- The problem is that most games lose almost all of their users very early in the player’s life cycle while most features target players who already are deep in the game, thus very few of the initial players.
- You need to prioritize features that will reach people early, preferably when they first interact with your game, and will impact them significantly.