updated icon March 13 2018

We recently published a study with SEGA® HARDlight on what makes some games go viral, while the others struggle to keep their acquired users engaged. The study includes insights from more than 40,000 players who had been invited to the game Sonic Forces: Speed Battle, using social media invites powered by GetSocial. It also looks into the typical behavior of ‘Viral Whales’ – players who generated five or more installs from their friend circle and displayed greater social influence.

Here are the key findings from the study.

sega infographic

“Adding GetSocial’s social layer to Sonic Forces: Speed Battle delivered incredibly encouraging results. By relying on the power of peer-to-peer recommendation, and rewarding users who invite their friends with in-game items, we not only saw significantly lower acquisition costs versus traditional channels but also much greater levels of player retention. As an experiment in using non-paid channels, it’s been a definite success,” said Chris Southall of SEGA HARDlight.

Greater retention rates

User retention is one of the biggest challenges for game developers and marketers. But players who installed Sonic Forces: Speed Battle on iOS and Android as a result of receiving an invite on social media via GetSocial, showed an average lifetime retention of 43% – which is much higher than regular players.

More app sessions

The referred users also completed 87% more game sessions over the lifetime, from the point of install. The in-game community of their friends and family creates instant gamification, pulling them back to the app more often.

Viral user acquisition at lower costs  

The study also found that if a player joined the game via an invite from one of his friends, he was 3 times more likely to further send out more invites in his circle. This creates a powerful network of app users, resulting in viral user acquisition at a lower cost.  

  • Power users (Viral Whales) generated five or more installs from their own connections, sending 109x more invites than a normal user
  • Viral Whales continue to actively engage with the game, playing 15X more than regular gamers
  • The session length of viral whales was also observed to be 4X longer than regular users
  • USA accounted for 31% of ‘Viral Whales’ and 25% of all the players acquired through the GetSocial referral campaign
  • WhatsApp was a common choice for ‘Viral Whales’ to send out invites, accounting for 47% more user acquisition via non-paid channels 

“The data collected from our collaboration with SEGA for Sonic Forces: Speed Battle proves the value of adding a social layer to apps and games to increase their virality and retention. With games and app developers constantly on the lookout for new ways to drive user acquisition and retention, viral acquisition has the clear potential to be an incredibly cost-effective method within the marketing mix of other traditional paid channels,” said Jeroen Bouwman, CEO of GetSocial.

Think your game is ready for virality?

referral marketing cta