Achievement and Friends: Key Factors of Player Retention Vary Across Player Levels in Online Multiplayer Games

Published in In the 26th International Conference on World Wide Web (WWW), 2017

Retaining players over an extended period of time is a long-standing challenge in game industry. Significant effort has been paid to understanding what motivates players enjoy games. While individuals may have varying reasons to play or abandon a game at different stages within the game, previous studies have looked at the retention problem from a snapshot view. This study, by analyzing in-game logs of 51,104 distinct individuals in an online multiplayer game, uniquely offers a multifaceted view of the retention problem over the players’ virtual life phases. We find that key indicators of longevity change with the game level. Achievement features are important for players at the initial to the advanced phases, yet social features become the most predictive of longevity once players reach the highest level offered by the game. These findings have theoretical and practical implications for designing online games that are adaptive to meeting the players’ needs.