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Playtime Europe – Games on Google Play

Playtime Europe – Games on Google Play GREG HARTRELL: Thanks to everybody for attending. Today I want to spend some time reflecting on what were seeing in the games ecosystem in general and observations around what players are actually doing, talk about the archetypes that we see and how your game design can cater to those archetypes and a lot of the tools that we have that allow you to connect with them. So before I prepped for this talk, I spent some time actually watching people play games.

Turns out great opportunities to work with many of you, but also to get to see people play all the fun stuff that you make. And some observations are this– mobile games, by and large are still, on average, a very single player experience. This is a portrait of a child sitting on a couch staring into a screen, very single player lonely type of experience.

And whatever the little girl or the little boy is playing, I promise you they wont remember a year from now what they were playing. And thats a weird kind of phenomenon for me because when I reflect on the games of say the 80s and 90s, I remember playing with friends. I remember playing with families. I remember running into random people at arcades and enjoying a very social experience.

In the console biz, we created this kind of gamer archetype, right? Its the guy sitting in his basement staring at a screen with a controller in his hand. And we put a headset on this gamer persona and we call that social.

But if youve played on those types of experiences, that experience usually involves some 13-year-old screaming something about your mother. And thats not necessarily the best experience. We did a little better. And then there was briefly this phase in gaming that we called social gaming. We were all very excited about the possibilities of bringing people together.

I dont know how you feel, but I never had the day where sending a putty knife to my friends was a fun experience. And it just turns that we see less of those types of games today as a result. So the reality is that games are better than this, right? Ignore article games for a moment.

We know that games have the capacity to bring people together in a way that other types of mediums and other types of entertainment are not capable of. And theres evidence around us when you just take a look. I quote Greek philosophers to get immediate street cred, you should too. Plato uses this quote where, you can discover more about a person in an hour of playing a game with them then you can in a year of conversation.

Its a profound statement there, that perhaps unlike any other kind of medium, you can connect with people in a deeper way with games then you can with any other action you can think of. A more academic version of this is by a Dutch historian, a guy named Johan Huizinga, if I can pronounce that correctly. And in this quote– his thesis of his seminal book called, Homo Ludens, which if youre a Latin speaker, that loosely translates into man at play.

And the thesis of the book is that playing in its own right helps develop us in ways that are more fundamental to the person that we are. It shapes our personalities, it shapes the relationships that we create. It even shapes the way that communities come together. And even at a meta level the way nation states kind of work with each other.

So all play, because were attracted to playing with each other, has meaning in that sense. So its a very profound kind of way of looking at it. And what those quote are really supposed to demonstrate is that playing games together are fundamentally a human trait.

We build friendships around them. We express ourselves through them. We build a sense of belonging to a community when we engage in those types of experiences.

And if I again use the physical world as a barometer for this, theres some obvious examples here. I investigated retiring. Its actually fantastic. I think Im going to skip the whole work thing and skip to retiring. Theyre constantly playing games, right?

Card games and board games and anything that they can get their hands on. They dont just merely do it to pass away time. The underlying tone here is its really to help groups of people meet each other. And you would otherwise not know who this other person is in this retirement community, but you build a relationship through games. Games also have the capacity to get large groups of people to do really inane things.

This is a picture of– so in the Northeast United States, theres Wall Street in New York and it turns out theres a neighborhood of people there. And every year at Christmas, they get together in do this annual freeze tag event. And so if you know what the Northeast is like in the United States– there it gets actually pretty cold. But somehow they get hundreds of people out in the community to come and play freeze tag events because its compelling to come and play with a lot of people. This is also a good example of a physical world.

At MIT, they have this annual mystery hunt theyve been running since the 1980s. And I think in the last version, they had about 2, 000 participants with teams ranging from 50 to 150 people. And the goal of the mystery hunt is you solve all these very archaic or arcane puzzles, I should say.

And you eventually solve all these riddles to learn where some hidden coin is around the campus. And the reward for doing all of these crazy puzzles that involve mental and maybe even real gymnastics is that you get to write the puzzles for next years event. And you see this graph here where it just shows the intensity of the teams that are participating in this solving puzzles over a time series.

And it captures the essence of large groups of people coming together to experience a really fantastic entertainment experience. And so the thesis is basically, at their best, games bring us together. And when I look back in article game history theres really great examples of where we did this really well.

Theres the arcades of old that brought together random groups of people to play. The more recent incarnation is the bar-cade. Some genius decided that theyll take their love of arcades and their love of alcohol and combine them into one establishment. And so Im glad to see that kind of take a resurgence. But living room multiplayer games– we remember games like Goldeneye and a lot of the Nintendo products of old.

And of course, MMORPGs, which in my mind are really just really elaborate chat apps that have a game on top of it while youre playing it, right? And of them have these similar types of properties. They bring people together and it keeps people engaged in very deep way.

So if we accept that mobile games are largely still single player experiences and playing games is human and weve been better at this before, the question is, can we change? Can we be more effective? And what my thesis is yes, we can. And heres why.

You heard this stat from Michael this morning where we have a billion active Android users. This is 30-day actives, not totals. Thats a massive active community of people.

But use this stat as your next measure here. Three in four of those users are playing games from Google Play. That might be the largest group of people playing games ever put together. And it of course makes Google Play the best place to grow and distribute your game in the mobile ecosystem today.

But what these two stats really tell you is that really, everybodys a gamer now, right? Its not a demographic in a box. Its not just 18 to 35-year-old males.

Anybody can play a game because the device in your pocket is capable of entertainment– such rich entertainment. And we have these cloud services that can actually connect people together in a very deep way. So the call to action to me is really clear. Lets make our games social again.

Now heres the challenge. If you have a billion active users, how do you succeed in an ecosystem this large? When you only had a few million users, it became a lot easier to think about, well, what kind of game am I making? How am I going to connect with them? When you get into the billions, it becomes a much harder challenge.

And so this is the reason why we made Google Play Games. This is Googles game network for Android iOS on the web. And we announced recently that this game network added 100 million users in just the last six months alone. And that velocity, were very confident in saying that its the fastest growing mobile game network, perhaps ever.

And whats fascinating about Play games is that it fills this really unique need when you have an ecosystem this large. And that is– youre creating a concentrated network of people who love playing games. And as a result you want to be able to connect into that and get your content exposed to them.

So since we launched it at Google IO in 2013, developers have been integrating services like achievements, leaderboards, multiplayer gifts, and newer services like saved games and quests to be able to enhance the retention and engagement of their games. And we know that games are doing better with those services today. More tangibly though, Play games gets you access to very high quality gamers, people who love playing games.

And thats the performance edge you need it in an ecosystem like we all see today. We know when we look at data for the developers who have integrated game services– and Ill take this moment to say that if you have integrated them, thank you, because you are the reason why weve been successful and we love everything that youve done with game services and we want to see you do more. But tangibly, we want to make sure that the services are actually providing value.

Its not just something you throw into your game because Google told you to. We see these players, they play longer, they play more often, and they monetize more frequently. And that is a reason alone to make sure that you get your game connected to those users.

And being able to see the double digit percentage increases weve seen in session lengths and duration played. And in some cases, revenue bumps depending on the types of designs that youve chosen. So this is where the question– its not merely a question of did you integrate Play Games? We all know that the game that your designed matters and the thematics and how you approach your users still works.

But how do you engage a billion people? So weve done number of studies here and one way to think about this is that in this ecosystem theres an openness factor for how people want to engage with social interactions. So theres people who want to do very high levels of social interaction and very low. And so we have these three personas, right.

So Ill call them the competitor, the completionist, and the stealth gamer. And you can plot these personas, kind of on that graph of social openness, right? With your competitor being the most open to being directly competing with other people, to your completionist whos actually not very interested in competing with others, but is more interested in single player type interactions.

So Ill talk about these three personas in more depth. So the competitor is an interesting kind of persona because theyll engage in almost everything in your game, right. Its achievements, its leaderboards, its multiplayer. This is the person– they own every console.

They set up their social media page to brag about the achievements that they earn from any platform they earn it on. And theyre really engaged and thrive in direct competition. On the opposite side of the spectrum we have these completionists, right.

These are people who dont really like engaging in any kind of social activity. However, they thrive in progressing through your game. They want to be immersed in it, they want to accomplish all the goals that you give them. They want to see the storyline.

They want to finish everything. This is like the mobile equivalent of the gamer that wanted to earn the Geometry Wars million point achievement without ever dying. If you remember games like Final Fantasy VIII, there was that one summon that you could do at the end and it was like a two minute article that you had to watch just to watch it cast.

And you had to complete every last corner and inch of the game to be able to earn the right, or the bragging rights to do that. Thats this person, and in mobile, they exist. The last category here, and theyre kind of in the middle of this social openness spectrum is what we call the stealth gamer. This ones a tricky one because theyre the person you ask, hey are you a gamer, and theyre like, nah, Im not a gamer.

But then when you look at them on a normal day theyre playing games every day. This is like my mom, right. Shes like, no I dont play games. But shes sitting there on her tablet every day playing with random people. And so what we know about this persona is that they will engage in social interactions but they will do so passively, right.

The social interactions have to be quick, they have to be relatively frictionless. Or you have to kind of involve them in kind of like a community type of atmosphere as opposed to making it more head-on competition or something that they would otherwise be frightened of. So with these three personas, we can think of the tool kits that we have with the games network and how we can connect you to each one of them. So I talked about the competitor persona.

The toolkit you have here– an obvious one is leaderboards and we can talk about turn-based multiplayer and real-time multiplayer. So the nice thing about our leaderboards is that we have social and public leaderboards. So public leaderboards are kind of for your hardcore audience because theres a set of people who will always compete to be number one.

For the average person, they might never be number one. But I could be number one amongst my friends. And so whats great about your competitors, theyre going to intuitively go for the top scores but theyre going to see their friends leaderboard and say, hey, I want to compete with my friends. Theyre more inclined to invite them, its more likely to turn into an acquisition for you. And thats a fantastic reason for leaderboards to be implemented into your games.

Encouraging the friends to be invited into the game is just another way to not only engage the persona, but to grow your game incrementally. Real-time multiplayer– if youre building a synchronous game this is a fantastic technology that gets you into the ecosystem in a very tangible way. NBA Jam here– if you remember that game from the 90s, now on mobile.

They implemented our real-time multiplayer. And what they use really effectively is what we call our auto-matching feature. And auto-matching– the way to think about it is that youre getting access to the hidden social graph of the game.

Its basically connecting people who are playing actively right now. And so you see incredible boosts in engagement because youre able to simulate the arcade interaction of old, but on a mobile medium. And so youll play a game like NBA Jam, youre playing one or two sessions, you bail out and then seconds later youre connecting with somebody else whos available to play right now.

For a more, lets say intimate experience, you can still invite friends directly in the game and this is kind of a screen shot of doing that. Google will sort and rank users depending on your interaction with them recently. So recent players and active players will show up at the top.

And friends who havent yet come to play the game are deprioritized in an effort to make the match experience relevant. For turn-based multiplayer, it largely follows a similar type of model. Turn-based multiplayer is much better for games where the sessions can be played in increments. So maybe its over hours, or over days, or its literally a turn-style game. Same type of thing, except when a turn is pending in the games experiences that we have in the Play Games app and inside the game themselves, this is a call to action for me to come back.

So if I went on vacation or I just got busy and I didnt decide to finish playing the game, having that card sitting in my inbox that says, hey Dans turn started reminds me that I was playing this game and is a call to action for me to come back and thats an important retention point for you. An important part of turn-based and real-time, though, is the social discovery part of it. And that is when somebody invites me, I do get a notification across the entire Android ecosystem. So the way that this works is that we prioritize how noisy the notification is, depending on whether I have a connection with them and their circles, or whether I dont know them at all.

So here you can see Dans invited me on the left here. And I see his face and I see his name and it buzzes my phone and it vibrates, and great, Dans there, Im going to go and play a game. But somebody can invite me whos not in my circles.

And Ill get a silent notification in the shade and when I pull that down and I look at it, its like, OK, great, Im going to go see who invited me and understand that I want to play with them. So when I dive into one of those notifications, youll get an experience not dissimilar to this, which basically allows me to start a game with somebody I know– Dan on the left. Or somebody I dont know– this stranger on the right.

Not really a stranger. And I can decide whether I want to play with them or not or mute them or decline or whatever have you. But heres the growth hack. If I dont have the game, this will redirect you to the Play Store.

And then someones going to install your game, start getting playing that they otherwise wouldnt. And because it was introduced to me by a friend, they feel a lot more inclined to start playing the game because theres kind of a social angle to, well if Dan likes the game, I should like the game too. OK. So we talked about the competitor persona. Theres the other side of the spectrum which is the completionist.

Theres two really important ways to engage this user and we just see it time and time again through data. Great achievement design and supports saved games. Great achievement design– the way I always describe it is if I finish a game like Hit Men Go is the game really done? And I could just turn it away and forget about it.

But it turns out that when I add achievements to my game it allows me to explain to users that theres more depth to it. That theres more to do. And so you can easily come back and you can see, heres some achievements that I havent quite finished.

Theyre still very incremental. It gives me other types of objectives, it calls me back into the game. And weve seen games with great achievement design boost monetization. Theyve boosted engagement, theyve retained their users in a deeper way and consistently, compared to games that dont implement achievements, they outperform them almost every time. If you want tips on good achievement design, we have a YouTube article called, Game On– Achievement Point Pointers.

This is a good opportunity to take a picture of the screen. If you dont take a picture of the screen, you can Google it. Its a fantastic article by our resident, Todd Kerpelman, who is a former Pogo designer. I mentioned saved games. So this is kind of intuitive, but you have these solo players who increasingly, when theyre very engaged, are switching between devices.

Our saved game system works cross-platform. And really, the point of doing this is that you never want somebody to play level one again. If theyre going to switch a device or buy a new device, the worst situation is youll completely churn out your user if they cant pick up where they left off.

Or my other favorite example– I think weve all experienced this– is you get the support call if somebody says, hey I thought that I would fix the game if I just uninstalled and reinstalled it, like that works normally right? And then you realize, oh wait a second, youve lost all your data. Youve basically reset the game, theres not very much I can do for you.

Thats a bad experience. Saved games completely removes this. And we consistently see this as one of the top requests from any one of our players in Play Games. Easy to implement, brain dead from that perspective. And heres what we added at IO– the ability to attach cover images.

So youll see here this is me playing Leos Fortune. What they do is they take a screenshot of where I last left off in the game. So when I come back from vacation and I scroll through and say, hey, what game do I want to go back to?

I see the screenshot that reminds me, yeah, thats right, I did left leave off on level three. Im going to come back and Im going to pick that game over other ones because I feel like I could go back and probably win that level. So its kind of a digital bookmark so that users can get called back into action and help you get a little bit more of a re-engagement flavor to your title. While were on the topic of growth hacks, I want to insert this one.

And this is the concept of games your friends are playing. This applies really to all the personas, but Ill call out– because the completionist is still a play alone type of player, theyre still attracted to this. Theres something thats about, hey, let me see what my friends are playing. Its a way for me to discover games.

Its a denotion of maybe the games have a higher quality, or whatever have you. So you see a screen shot here. We have the Play Games app where you can see games that Ive played recently, like Brave Frontier or Frozen Front. Or in the store where you can see games like Heroes of Camelot and Sky Force.

This is a very strong call to action. Its zero effort to you, other than implementing Play Games. We take the signals, we pour them into our discovery channels and help your name get better discovered.

And so if youre into growth hacks, finding those extra percentage points of additional user acquisition, this is a very easy thing to do for your game. OK. And so that brings me to the stealth persona. So we talked about how the stealth persona is kind of tricky, right. They dont like the direct social engagement, so you cant use like the old memes of direct competition.

They dont think of themselves as a gamer, but they play all the time. But we have a few tools that we think will constantly resonate with them. So the first one is that we created a game gift system. We know from our research that if the social interactions are extremely discreet, very easy to get into, and low friction Game Gifts is a way to kind of trade a quick object between two players and keep them engaged and invite them into the game. And this service is pretty simple.

I can just kind of visualize it this way is that when you implement it, players select a gift that they send to another player. We store if for seven days on our server. And we send a notification in a similar type of way that we do for multiplayer. When the other user receives the notification, they tap through, they select the gift that they want to play. And similar to what we did in multiplayer.

It will ask them to install the game if they dont already have it. So its a great opportunity for another social acquisition. But its also something that resonates with this persona because Im not getting challenged. Im not being put on the spot to be able to do this right away. Its a very simple thing.

Oh, Im receiving something from somebody. That sounds kind of cool. Dont send them putty knives, by the way. I dont want any putty knives.

And then ultimately, they receive the gift, theyre elated, and they get engaged into the game. And you can recreate the experience inside of your own game like we do with any one of our other APIs. Another service that we launched is called Quests. And the way to think about Quests first of all, its a way to create time-based objectives in your game without having to update the game.

And what it does is it creates this community feeling, right. Theres a lot of people doing this big kind of community event on a weekend. Sometimes this is referred to as live-off.

So this might be thought of as live-offs in a box. But the way weve implemented this is that its analytics driven. So the way Quest works is that you send the Quest system events of whats going on in a game. When somebody levels up, when they modify their sword, when they find the rare black sheep in your game. And through learning what players are doing inside of the game, you can craft quests then you run in a time span, like on a weekend, or for an entire week based entirely off of that data.

Ill show you how this works. So you start by defining a set of events that happened in your game. Lets say Im making a zombie game and I have red, green, and blue zombies. And so I would fire an event every time somebody killed one of those three colors of zombies.

And I integrated that in my game and the Quest interfaces exists to show a user when a new quest is available. Then I monitor those events. So lets say Im pretty satisfied with the number of red zombies and green zombies being killed in the game, but Im not really happy with the number of blue zombies being killed, because theres more monetization events tied to them, theyre harder to kill, people have a tendency of buying more things in my game because theyre harder to kill in general. So I can go into the developer console and create a Quest thats like, hey, were going to have a 5, 000 zombie blue zombie killing fest this weekend. And the Quest system will track every time somebodys completed killing an existing blue zombie.

And when you accomplish that goal, it can push down a custom blob of data to your game that you can interpret and decide how you want to reward your users. So common examples would be a blob that says, grant in-game currency to the user who succeeds. Or give them some kind of in-game reward or progress them through the game in a new type of way.

The best part about this, though, is I didnt have to update my game at any moment in time. Its entirely based on just sending the events and the quests automatically populate in the Quest UI thats integrated. And so you could run these quests every day, every week, every weekend and constantly reengage your users.

But use the data to decide which quests are the most effective, and are you helping shape the behavior of your users in a way that youre retaining and engaging them more? We had one developer who showed their Quest data recently and they saw users that engage in quests went on to do, I think it was 160 more other types of sessions in their game, just by virtue of engaging them in this way. So I highly advise– its a dynamite feature if youre in to live-ops. Very easy to implement and everything is documented on developers.google.com. The last thing that I want to talk about is, of course– OK, weve got these three personas, we have all these tools.

How do you know youre successful? So you have to have a way to measure success. So Google– were a very data driven company.

Game developers who were wildly successful are also very data driven. One way that we help you here is– youre familiar, probably with the statistics we have in the Play console today. But theres a separate game focused set of statistics that are given to you just by virtue of integrating Play games. And so when you implement Play Games, theres basically a zero effort dashboard thats given to you. Ill dive into it a little deeper.

So for example, your daily dashboard gives you a summary of your active users, your new users, retention. And more recently weve added demographic data. The demographic data– when we hear from developers is essential because as a game designer you want to know, hey, is this game actually resonating with the audience I thought that was going to be playing it? If I made a game that I expected females between the ages of 18 and 30 to play, I would hope my data would show that.

Another angle here is that if youre into user acquisition and youre trying to come up with the right type of creative assets, knowing what kind of demographic your game has, in reality, can help you decide what kind of creatives you use and how you engage and go after the right audience. Another essential here is our retention dashboard. This is for your ability to retain new users. So a common example here is that you want to take a look at how many new users are coming back– day one, day two, day seven, day 30. And so you can kind of understand the attrition rate of your game.

And lets say that you had a tutorial in your game and you wanted to try and improve that in an effort to help people get back on day one and day two more often. Here you would see, you know, on March 8 here, I did an update to my game the day before and I saw a boost in my metrics because apparently my tutorial was better at convincing people to stick around. And thats a use case for this data. Again it comes from just integrating Play Games and having people sign in. AUDIENCE: Do you have a formula for that?

GREG HARTRELL: The formula? AUDIENCE: Yeah. GREG HARTRELL: Yeah, this ones simple, right. Its basically that you have a cohort of new users that came in on a specific day.

Heres the percentage that came back day one, day two, day three. Its a simple multiplier. The last one is in the engagement stats. Today we support achievements and leaderboards. So when you think about engaging these personas you also want to use the data to know that youre effectively doing that.

So you can see whether the achievements that you added to your game recently are actually getting earned. Whether theyre too difficult, whether it takes too long to earn them. Or if youre into the competitor type of persona, maybe you have a custom leaderboard for some very special part of the game and this is a way for you to get an indicator of whether theyre actually engaged in that content.

And whether the changes that youre making to your game design are actually resonating with that type of user. All right. So Ill wrap up. The summary today is basically this– Google Play games connects your game to a highly concentrated network of very high quality gamers. We have the services, achievements, leaderboards, multiplayer, and gifts.

And the new stuff like saved games and quests. And theyre all showing us data that games are increasing engagement and retention in very dramatic ways. These players play longer, they play more often, they monetize more frequently.

And the service can cater to those three personas if youre very deliberate about in your design. But going back to the beginning of this– remember, everybodys a gamer now. We have a billion of them out there. And that makes this a much more challenging, but also a very exciting time for us.

Android and Google Play have created an ecosystem that large that gives you that kind of opportunity. And we know that games at their best have brought us together. And so if I leave you with one message today its, go forth and make your game social.

And with that– if you have any questions for me, Ill be wandering outside, happy to talk with every one of you. Playtime Europe – Games on Google Play GREG HARTRELL: Thanks to everybody for attending. Today I want to spend some time reflecting on what were seeing in the games ecosystem in general and observations around what players are actually doing, talk about the archetypes that we see and how your game design can cater to those archetypes and a lot of the tools that we have that allow you to connect with them. So before I prepped for this talk, I spent some time actually watching people play games.

Turns out great opportunities to work with many of you, but also to get to see people play all the fun stuff that you make. And some observations are this– mobile games, by and large are still, on average, a very single player experience. This is a portrait of a child sitting on a couch staring into a screen, very single player lonely type of experience. And whatever the little girl or the little boy is playing, I promise you they wont remember a year from now what they were playing.

And thats a weird kind of phenomenon for me because when I reflect on the games of say the 80s and 90s, I remember playing with friends. I remember playing with families. I remember running into random people at arcades and enjoying a very social experience. In the console biz, we created this kind of gamer archetype, right? Its the guy sitting in his basement staring at a screen with a controller in his hand.

And we put a headset on this gamer persona and we call that social. But if youve played on those types of experiences, that experience usually involves some 13-year-old screaming something about your mother. And thats not necessarily the best experience. We did a little better.

And then there was briefly this phase in gaming that we called social gaming. We were all very excited about the possibilities of bringing people together. I dont know how you feel, but I never had the day where sending a putty knife to my friends was a fun experience.

And it just turns that we see less of those types of games today as a result. So the reality is that games are better than this, right? Ignore article games for a moment.

We know that games have the capacity to bring people together in a way that other types of mediums and other types of entertainment are not capable of. And theres evidence around us when you just take a look. I quote Greek philosophers to get immediate street cred, you should too.

Plato uses this quote where, you can discover more about a person in an hour of playing a game with them then you can in a year of conversation. Its a profound statement there, that perhaps unlike any other kind of medium, you can connect with people in a deeper way with games then you can with any other action you can think of. A more academic version of this is by a Dutch historian, a guy named Johan Huizinga, if I can pronounce that correctly. And in this quote– his thesis of his seminal book called, Homo Ludens, which if youre a Latin speaker, that loosely translates into man at play. And the thesis of the book is that playing in its own right helps develop us in ways that are more fundamental to the person that we are.

It shapes our personalities, it shapes the relationships that we create. It even shapes the way that communities come together. And even at a meta level the way nation states kind of work with each other.

So all play, because were attracted to playing with each other, has meaning in that sense. So its a very profound kind of way of looking at it. And what those quote are really supposed to demonstrate is that playing games together are fundamentally a human trait. We build friendships around them. We express ourselves through them.

We build a sense of belonging to a community when we engage in those types of experiences. And if I again use the physical world as a barometer for this, theres some obvious examples here. I investigated retiring.

Its actually fantastic. I think Im going to skip the whole work thing and skip to retiring. Theyre constantly playing games, right? Card games and board games and anything that they can get their hands on.

They dont just merely do it to pass away time. The underlying tone here is its really to help groups of people meet each other. And you would otherwise not know who this other person is in this retirement community, but you build a relationship through games.

Games also have the capacity to get large groups of people to do really inane things. This is a picture of– so in the Northeast United States, theres Wall Street in New York and it turns out theres a neighborhood of people there. And every year at Christmas, they get together in do this annual freeze tag event.

And so if you know what the Northeast is like in the United States– there it gets actually pretty cold. But somehow they get hundreds of people out in the community to come and play freeze tag events because its compelling to come and play with a lot of people. This is also a good example of a physical world. At MIT, they have this annual mystery hunt theyve been running since the 1980s. And I think in the last version, they had about 2, 000 participants with teams ranging from 50 to 150 people.

And the goal of the mystery hunt is you solve all these very archaic or arcane puzzles, I should say. And you eventually solve all these riddles to learn where some hidden coin is around the campus. And the reward for doing all of these crazy puzzles that involve mental and maybe even real gymnastics is that you get to write the puzzles for next years event. And you see this graph here where it just shows the intensity of the teams that are participating in this solving puzzles over a time series.

And it captures the essence of large groups of people coming together to experience a really fantastic entertainment experience. And so the thesis is basically, at their best, games bring us together. And when I look back in article game history theres really great examples of where we did this really well. Theres the arcades of old that brought together random groups of people to play.

The more recent incarnation is the bar-cade. Some genius decided that theyll take their love of arcades and their love of alcohol and combine them into one establishment. And so Im glad to see that kind of take a resurgence. But living room multiplayer games– we remember games like Goldeneye and a lot of the Nintendo products of old.

And of course, MMORPGs, which in my mind are really just really elaborate chat apps that have a game on top of it while youre playing it, right? And of them have these similar types of properties. They bring people together and it keeps people engaged in very deep way. So if we accept that mobile games are largely still single player experiences and playing games is human and weve been better at this before, the question is, can we change?

Can we be more effective? And what my thesis is yes, we can. And heres why. You heard this stat from Michael this morning where we have a billion active Android users.

This is 30-day actives, not totals. Thats a massive active community of people. But use this stat as your next measure here.

Three in four of those users are playing games from Google Play. That might be the largest group of people playing games ever put together. And it of course makes Google Play the best place to grow and distribute your game in the mobile ecosystem today.

But what these two stats really tell you is that really, everybodys a gamer now, right? Its not a demographic in a box. Its not just 18 to 35-year-old males. Anybody can play a game because the device in your pocket is capable of entertainment– such rich entertainment.

And we have these cloud services that can actually connect people together in a very deep way. So the call to action to me is really clear. Lets make our games social again.

Now heres the challenge. If you have a billion active users, how do you succeed in an ecosystem this large? When you only had a few million users, it became a lot easier to think about, well, what kind of game am I making?

How am I going to connect with them? When you get into the billions, it becomes a much harder challenge. And so this is the reason why we made Google Play Games. This is Googles game network for Android iOS on the web.

And we announced recently that this game network added 100 million users in just the last six months alone. And that velocity, were very confident in saying that its the fastest growing mobile game network, perhaps ever. And whats fascinating about Play games is that it fills this really unique need when you have an ecosystem this large.

And that is– youre creating a concentrated network of people who love playing games. And as a result you want to be able to connect into that and get your content exposed to them. So since we launched it at Google IO in 2013, developers have been integrating services like achievements, leaderboards, multiplayer gifts, and newer services like saved games and quests to be able to enhance the retention and engagement of their games. And we know that games are doing better with those services today.

More tangibly though, Play games gets you access to very high quality gamers, people who love playing games. And thats the performance edge you need it in an ecosystem like we all see today. We know when we look at data for the developers who have integrated game services– and Ill take this moment to say that if you have integrated them, thank you, because you are the reason why weve been successful and we love everything that youve done with game services and we want to see you do more. But tangibly, we want to make sure that the services are actually providing value. Its not just something you throw into your game because Google told you to.

We see these players, they play longer, they play more often, and they monetize more frequently. And that is a reason alone to make sure that you get your game connected to those users. And being able to see the double digit percentage increases weve seen in session lengths and duration played.

And in some cases, revenue bumps depending on the types of designs that youve chosen. So this is where the question– its not merely a question of did you integrate Play Games? We all know that the game that your designed matters and the thematics and how you approach your users still works. But how do you engage a billion people?

So weve done number of studies here and one way to think about this is that in this ecosystem theres an openness factor for how people want to engage with social interactions. So theres people who want to do very high levels of social interaction and very low. And so we have these three personas, right. So Ill call them the competitor, the completionist, and the stealth gamer.

And you can plot these personas, kind of on that graph of social openness, right? With your competitor being the most open to being directly competing with other people, to your completionist whos actually not very interested in competing with others, but is more interested in single player type interactions. So Ill talk about these three personas in more depth. So the competitor is an interesting kind of persona because theyll engage in almost everything in your game, right. Its achievements, its leaderboards, its multiplayer.

This is the person– they own every console. They set up their social media page to brag about the achievements that they earn from any platform they earn it on. And theyre really engaged and thrive in direct competition.

On the opposite side of the spectrum we have these completionists, right. These are people who dont really like engaging in any kind of social activity. However, they thrive in progressing through your game.

They want to be immersed in it, they want to accomplish all the goals that you give them. They want to see the storyline. They want to finish everything. This is like the mobile equivalent of the gamer that wanted to earn the Geometry Wars million point achievement without ever dying. If you remember games like Final Fantasy VIII, there was that one summon that you could do at the end and it was like a two minute article that you had to watch just to watch it cast.

And you had to complete every last corner and inch of the game to be able to earn the right, or the bragging rights to do that. Thats this person, and in mobile, they exist. The last category here, and theyre kind of in the middle of this social openness spectrum is what we call the stealth gamer. This ones a tricky one because theyre the person you ask, hey are you a gamer, and theyre like, nah, Im not a gamer. But then when you look at them on a normal day theyre playing games every day.

This is like my mom, right. Shes like, no I dont play games. But shes sitting there on her tablet every day playing with random people.

And so what we know about this persona is that they will engage in social interactions but they will do so passively, right. The social interactions have to be quick, they have to be relatively frictionless. Or you have to kind of involve them in kind of like a community type of atmosphere as opposed to making it more head-on competition or something that they would otherwise be frightened of. So with these three personas, we can think of the tool kits that we have with the games network and how we can connect you to each one of them. So I talked about the competitor persona.

The toolkit you have here– an obvious one is leaderboards and we can talk about turn-based multiplayer and real-time multiplayer. So the nice thing about our leaderboards is that we have social and public leaderboards. So public leaderboards are kind of for your hardcore audience because theres a set of people who will always compete to be number one. For the average person, they might never be number one. But I could be number one amongst my friends.

And so whats great about your competitors, theyre going to intuitively go for the top scores but theyre going to see their friends leaderboard and say, hey, I want to compete with my friends. Theyre more inclined to invite them, its more likely to turn into an acquisition for you. And thats a fantastic reason for leaderboards to be implemented into your games. Encouraging the friends to be invited into the game is just another way to not only engage the persona, but to grow your game incrementally. Real-time multiplayer– if youre building a synchronous game this is a fantastic technology that gets you into the ecosystem in a very tangible way.

NBA Jam here– if you remember that game from the 90s, now on mobile. They implemented our real-time multiplayer. And what they use really effectively is what we call our auto-matching feature.

And auto-matching– the way to think about it is that youre getting access to the hidden social graph of the game. Its basically connecting people who are playing actively right now. And so you see incredible boosts in engagement because youre able to simulate the arcade interaction of old, but on a mobile medium.

And so youll play a game like NBA Jam, youre playing one or two sessions, you bail out and then seconds later youre connecting with somebody else whos available to play right now. For a more, lets say intimate experience, you can still invite friends directly in the game and this is kind of a screen shot of doing that. Google will sort and rank users depending on your interaction with them recently.

So recent players and active players will show up at the top. And friends who havent yet come to play the game are deprioritized in an effort to make the match experience relevant. For turn-based multiplayer, it largely follows a similar type of model. Turn-based multiplayer is much better for games where the sessions can be played in increments. So maybe its over hours, or over days, or its literally a turn-style game.

Same type of thing, except when a turn is pending in the games experiences that we have in the Play Games app and inside the game themselves, this is a call to action for me to come back. So if I went on vacation or I just got busy and I didnt decide to finish playing the game, having that card sitting in my inbox that says, hey Dans turn started reminds me that I was playing this game and is a call to action for me to come back and thats an important retention point for you. An important part of turn-based and real-time, though, is the social discovery part of it. And that is when somebody invites me, I do get a notification across the entire Android ecosystem.

So the way that this works is that we prioritize how noisy the notification is, depending on whether I have a connection with them and their circles, or whether I dont know them at all. So here you can see Dans invited me on the left here. And I see his face and I see his name and it buzzes my phone and it vibrates, and great, Dans there, Im going to go and play a game.

But somebody can invite me whos not in my circles. And Ill get a silent notification in the shade and when I pull that down and I look at it, its like, OK, great, Im going to go see who invited me and understand that I want to play with them. So when I dive into one of those notifications, youll get an experience not dissimilar to this, which basically allows me to start a game with somebody I know– Dan on the left. Or somebody I dont know– this stranger on the right. Not really a stranger.

And I can decide whether I want to play with them or not or mute them or decline or whatever have you. But heres the growth hack. If I dont have the game, this will redirect you to the Play Store. And then someones going to install your game, start getting playing that they otherwise wouldnt. And because it was introduced to me by a friend, they feel a lot more inclined to start playing the game because theres kind of a social angle to, well if Dan likes the game, I should like the game too.

OK. So we talked about the competitor persona. Theres the other side of the spectrum which is the completionist. Theres two really important ways to engage this user and we just see it time and time again through data.

Great achievement design and supports saved games. Great achievement design– the way I always describe it is if I finish a game like Hit Men Go is the game really done? And I could just turn it away and forget about it. But it turns out that when I add achievements to my game it allows me to explain to users that theres more depth to it.

That theres more to do. And so you can easily come back and you can see, heres some achievements that I havent quite finished. Theyre still very incremental. It gives me other types of objectives, it calls me back into the game.

And weve seen games with great achievement design boost monetization. Theyve boosted engagement, theyve retained their users in a deeper way and consistently, compared to games that dont implement achievements, they outperform them almost every time. If you want tips on good achievement design, we have a YouTube article called, Game On– Achievement Point Pointers. This is a good opportunity to take a picture of the screen. If you dont take a picture of the screen, you can Google it.

Its a fantastic article by our resident, Todd Kerpelman, who is a former Pogo designer. I mentioned saved games. So this is kind of intuitive, but you have these solo players who increasingly, when theyre very engaged, are switching between devices. Our saved game system works cross-platform. And really, the point of doing this is that you never want somebody to play level one again.

If theyre going to switch a device or buy a new device, the worst situation is youll completely churn out your user if they cant pick up where they left off. Or my other favorite example– I think weve all experienced this– is you get the support call if somebody says, hey I thought that I would fix the game if I just uninstalled and reinstalled it, like that works normally right? And then you realize, oh wait a second, youve lost all your data. Youve basically reset the game, theres not very much I can do for you. Thats a bad experience.

Saved games completely removes this. And we consistently see this as one of the top requests from any one of our players in Play Games. Easy to implement, brain dead from that perspective. And heres what we added at IO– the ability to attach cover images.

So youll see here this is me playing Leos Fortune. What they do is they take a screenshot of where I last left off in the game. So when I come back from vacation and I scroll through and say, hey, what game do I want to go back to?

I see the screenshot that reminds me, yeah, thats right, I did left leave off on level three. Im going to come back and Im going to pick that game over other ones because I feel like I could go back and probably win that level. So its kind of a digital bookmark so that users can get called back into action and help you get a little bit more of a re-engagement flavor to your title. While were on the topic of growth hacks, I want to insert this one. And this is the concept of games your friends are playing.

This applies really to all the personas, but Ill call out– because the completionist is still a play alone type of player, theyre still attracted to this. Theres something thats about, hey, let me see what my friends are playing. Its a way for me to discover games. Its a denotion of maybe the games have a higher quality, or whatever have you. So you see a screen shot here.

We have the Play Games app where you can see games that Ive played recently, like Brave Frontier or Frozen Front. Or in the store where you can see games like Heroes of Camelot and Sky Force. This is a very strong call to action. Its zero effort to you, other than implementing Play Games. We take the signals, we pour them into our discovery channels and help your name get better discovered.

And so if youre into growth hacks, finding those extra percentage points of additional user acquisition, this is a very easy thing to do for your game. OK. And so that brings me to the stealth persona. So we talked about how the stealth persona is kind of tricky, right.

They dont like the direct social engagement, so you cant use like the old memes of direct competition. They dont think of themselves as a gamer, but they play all the time. But we have a few tools that we think will constantly resonate with them. So the first one is that we created a game gift system. We know from our research that if the social interactions are extremely discreet, very easy to get into, and low friction Game Gifts is a way to kind of trade a quick object between two players and keep them engaged and invite them into the game.

And this service is pretty simple. I can just kind of visualize it this way is that when you implement it, players select a gift that they send to another player. We store if for seven days on our server. And we send a notification in a similar type of way that we do for multiplayer.

When the other user receives the notification, they tap through, they select the gift that they want to play. And similar to what we did in multiplayer. It will ask them to install the game if they dont already have it. So its a great opportunity for another social acquisition.

But its also something that resonates with this persona because Im not getting challenged. Im not being put on the spot to be able to do this right away. Its a very simple thing. Oh, Im receiving something from somebody. That sounds kind of cool.

Dont send them putty knives, by the way. I dont want any putty knives. And then ultimately, they receive the gift, theyre elated, and they get engaged into the game. And you can recreate the experience inside of your own game like we do with any one of our other APIs.

Another service that we launched is called Quests. And the way to think about Quests first of all, its a way to create time-based objectives in your game without having to update the game. And what it does is it creates this community feeling, right. Theres a lot of people doing this big kind of community event on a weekend.

Sometimes this is referred to as live-off. So this might be thought of as live-offs in a box. But the way weve implemented this is that its analytics driven. So the way Quest works is that you send the Quest system events of whats going on in a game. When somebody levels up, when they modify their sword, when they find the rare black sheep in your game.

And through learning what players are doing inside of the game, you can craft quests then you run in a time span, like on a weekend, or for an entire week based entirely off of that data. Ill show you how this works. So you start by defining a set of events that happened in your game. Lets say Im making a zombie game and I have red, green, and blue zombies. And so I would fire an event every time somebody killed one of those three colors of zombies.

And I integrated that in my game and the Quest interfaces exists to show a user when a new quest is available. Then I monitor those events. So lets say Im pretty satisfied with the number of red zombies and green zombies being killed in the game, but Im not really happy with the number of blue zombies being killed, because theres more monetization events tied to them, theyre harder to kill, people have a tendency of buying more things in my game because theyre harder to kill in general.

So I can go into the developer console and create a Quest thats like, hey, were going to have a 5, 000 zombie blue zombie killing fest this weekend. And the Quest system will track every time somebodys completed killing an existing blue zombie. And when you accomplish that goal, it can push down a custom blob of data to your game that you can interpret and decide how you want to reward your users. So common examples would be a blob that says, grant in-game currency to the user who succeeds.

Or give them some kind of in-game reward or progress them through the game in a new type of way. The best part about this, though, is I didnt have to update my game at any moment in time. Its entirely based on just sending the events and the quests automatically populate in the Quest UI thats integrated. And so you could run these quests every day, every week, every weekend and constantly reengage your users.

But use the data to decide which quests are the most effective, and are you helping shape the behavior of your users in a way that youre retaining and engaging them more? We had one developer who showed their Quest data recently and they saw users that engage in quests went on to do, I think it was 160 more other types of sessions in their game, just by virtue of engaging them in this way. So I highly advise– its a dynamite feature if youre in to live-ops.

Very easy to implement and everything is documented on developers.google.com. The last thing that I want to talk about is, of course– OK, weve got these three personas, we have all these tools. How do you know youre successful? So you have to have a way to measure success.

So Google– were a very data driven company. Game developers who were wildly successful are also very data driven. One way that we help you here is– youre familiar, probably with the statistics we have in the Play console today.

But theres a separate game focused set of statistics that are given to you just by virtue of integrating Play games. And so when you implement Play Games, theres basically a zero effort dashboard thats given to you. Ill dive into it a little deeper.

So for example, your daily dashboard gives you a summary of your active users, your new users, retention. And more recently weve added demographic data. The demographic data– when we hear from developers is essential because as a game designer you want to know, hey, is this game actually resonating with the audience I thought that was going to be playing it? If I made a game that I expected females between the ages of 18 and 30 to play, I would hope my data would show that.

Another angle here is that if youre into user acquisition and youre trying to come up with the right type of creative assets, knowing what kind of demographic your game has, in reality, can help you decide what kind of creatives you use and how you engage and go after the right audience. Another essential here is our retention dashboard. This is for your ability to retain new users. So a common example here is that you want to take a look at how many new users are coming back– day one, day two, day seven, day 30. And so you can kind of understand the attrition rate of your game.

And lets say that you had a tutorial in your game and you wanted to try and improve that in an effort to help people get back on day one and day two more often. Here you would see, you know, on March 8 here, I did an update to my game the day before and I saw a boost in my metrics because apparently my tutorial was better at convincing people to stick around. And thats a use case for this data. Again it comes from just integrating Play Games and having people sign in. AUDIENCE: Do you have a formula for that?

GREG HARTRELL: The formula? AUDIENCE: Yeah. GREG HARTRELL: Yeah, this ones simple, right. Its basically that you have a cohort of new users that came in on a specific day.

Heres the percentage that came back day one, day two, day three. Its a simple multiplier. The last one is in the engagement stats.

Today we support achievements and leaderboards. So when you think about engaging these personas you also want to use the data to know that youre effectively doing that. So you can see whether the achievements that you added to your game recently are actually getting earned. Whether theyre too difficult, whether it takes too long to earn them. Or if youre into the competitor type of persona, maybe you have a custom leaderboard for some very special part of the game and this is a way for you to get an indicator of whether theyre actually engaged in that content.

And whether the changes that youre making to your game design are actually resonating with that type of user. All right. So Ill wrap up. The summary today is basically this– Google Play games connects your game to a highly concentrated network of very high quality gamers.

We have the services, achievements, leaderboards, multiplayer, and gifts. And the new stuff like saved games and quests. And theyre all showing us data that games are increasing engagement and retention in very dramatic ways. These players play longer, they play more often, they monetize more frequently. And the service can cater to those three personas if youre very deliberate about in your design.

But going back to the beginning of this– remember, everybodys a gamer now. We have a billion of them out there. And that makes this a much more challenging, but also a very exciting time for us. Android and Google Play have created an ecosystem that large that gives you that kind of opportunity.

And we know that games at their best have brought us together. And so if I leave you with one message today its, go forth and make your game social. And with that– if you have any questions for me, Ill be wandering outside, happy to talk with every one of you.

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