The Platform Duel: Web vs. Mobile in Social Casino Gaming

Posted on 30 October 2015 by Yohai Sabag in Optimove Blog

For the better part of this decade, mobile has reigned supreme in social gaming, and the trend is on the rise. Recent research suggests that the mobile share of all social casino games on both platforms is 20%-98%, with an average of 65% mobile versus 35% Web. This average is growing in favor of mobile at an annual pace of 1.5%.

But what are mobile players like, and how do they differ from Web players? We intuit that mobile players are more engaged and proactive, but how much more intense are they in contrast to Web players? And what characterizes multi-platform players—those engaging with the game on both mobile and Web?

To answer these questions, we conducted some thorough industry research, leveraging data from tens of millions of players across dozens of social casino games. We used data generated only by those players who initiated a first game session (ignoring those who downloaded a game, but never played it).1 The numbers paint a vivid picture of social gamer personas, tendencies and value.

Mobile Players are Like Web Players on Fast-Forward

The overwhelming majority of social gamers have a clear-cut preference for one platform: 96% limit their gaming experience to either mobile or Web. The remaining 4% play on both platforms. Of the 96% who are single-platform players, the average mobile/Web ratio is 65%/35%.

Social Casino Gaming - Single Platform Preference

Our research shows that mobile players exhibit faster progress across all metrics. They convert faster into paying customers, they make their second payment—as well as subsequent payments—faster, they play more often and they initiate more sessions each time they play. Across all metrics, they are like Web players on fast-forward! Having their platform (mobile device) with them at all times surely helps, as well as the current tendency to check their device 200 times daily, on average.2 As opposed to the more sedentary Web players, mobile players like to play on the go, whenever there’s time to kill or the luxury to sit back and be entertained. The result is more exposure to the game, greater engagement and more frequent payment routines.

While there are no consistent differences in conversion rates between mobile and Web players, conversion speed is almost twice as high on mobile: mobile gamers convert 1.9X faster than Web players. While the average conversion period on mobile is 30 days (with a median of eight days), Web gamers will make their first payment only 52 days after their first session (with a median of 21 days). (It’s interesting to note that for both platforms, same-day conversion occurs among 7%-15% of all players.)

Social Casino Gaming - Time to Conversion

Mobile players also tend to make their second payment considerably sooner. While there is no significant difference in the first-to-second-payment rate (both mobile and Web players average 52%), paying mobile players make their second payment 1.5X sooner than Web players. On average, the time elapsed between first and second payments is 18 days for mobile players (with a median of five days), and 27 days for Web players (with a median of ten days).

After reaching the second-payment milestone, mobile players continue to make more frequent payments. While there is no consistent difference in payment amounts between the two platforms (in some games, mobile trumps and in others, Web), mobile players exhibit 1.4X more payment days than Web players (i.e., distinct days on which one or more payments are made). In terms of time between payments, we observed a transaction every ten days for mobile gamers, compared to every 14 days for Web gamers.

Give Me More!

Mobile players also play more often, with more sessions occurring more rapidly. They boast 1.6X more game-play days than Web players, playing every 4.2 days during their activity period, versus every 6.7 days for Web players. For every one of those playing days, mobile players register 1.4X more game sessions than Web players. So, not only do mobile gamers have more active play days, they play more on each of those days.

Social Casino Gaming - Play Frequency

In terms of retention rates, there is no correlation with a player’s platform preference; retention rates vary significantly between games across both mobile and Web.

Your Most Valuable Customers

What about those gamers without a distinct preference for one particular platform? Among the games we examined, we found that between 0.5% and 9% of players played on both platforms, with an average of 4%. These numbers indicate that the great opportunity lies with these multi-platform players. Multi-platform players aren’t the ones just killing time with your game—they’re the ones making time to play, whenever and wherever they can: on their phone while commuting, on the office desktop when they need a break, at home in the evening and anywhere in between. Multi-platform players tend to be your most valuable customers.

Among multi-platform players, the percentage of players who converted to paying customers is a staggering 3.9X higher than the conversion rate of single-platform players: 8.8% (!) versus 2.2% for single-platform players.

Social Casino Gaming - More Multi-platform Players Convert

Multi-platform players are also 20% more likely to ever make a second payment, thus demonstrating a substantially higher LTV: 63% of multi-platform players make a second payment versus 52% among single-platform players. And while there isn’t a statistically significant difference between the payment amounts made by mobile and Web gamers, the average payment made by multi-platform players is 10% higher than that of single-platform players.

Crossing the Chasm

No one can dispute the fact that mobile is on the rise. In fact, many companies breaking into the gaming industry today design for mobile only, treating the Web as redundant. Our data backs up the supposition that things happen faster on mobile in the world of social gaming. However, it’s worth noting that mobile doesn’t surpass the Web in some significant KPIs, including payment amounts, conversion rates and retention rates. So, while social gaming publishers enjoy greater immersion among mobile gamers, there’s still a lot of value in those players who remain loyal to gaming on the Web.

Our data shows that social gaming’s best customers are neither on the Web nor on mobile exclusively—they’re the double-delight multi-platform players. These findings suggest that it may be worthwhile investing in marketing campaigns designed to push loyal single-platform players into the other platform. Giving them a significant incentive to play your game on the other platform may help them cross the chasm from single- to multi-platform players and become the fully-immersed, totally-engaged most valuable players of your games.

Presenting our Findings at Casual Connect

Our CEO, Pini Yakuel, presented these findings at a Casual Connect event. Watch it here:

1The findings in this paper reflect only results that were consistent across all platforms, sites and apps. Single platform players were defined as users who played a minimum of 95% of their sessions on one platform.
2Source: Daily Mail

  • Eli Skolas

    I’m not sure that your final conclusion necessary follows logically. Causal relationships aren’t always reversible.

    “Tall people play better basketball.” Okay. But that doesn’t mean that if I teach someone to play better basketball s/he will become taller!

    People who are compelled to play more (remember we’re talking about social gambling, which combines TWO addictive behaviors!) will seek out social gambling opportunities on multiple platforms. Their compulsive behavior also leads to higher conversion rates, faster re-engagement, greater spending, and on and on. But getting non-compulsive social gamblers to adopt multiple platforms won’t necessarily develop more compulsive behavior. Instead, we might well see that their NON-compulsive behavior (with attendant lower return statistics,) is distributed across the two platforms, with the same performance rates as when they were on a single platform.

    This is highly likely because of the cross-platform numbers that remain the same in either platform, as cited in the article. Conversion rates are the same, second payments are the same, etc. It’s only the time factor that varies from one player to the other, and is most likely an effect of their overall time pressure – people on mobile are trying to cram more activity in every nook and cranny of their schedule. (Think of the person walking into the toilet with their fingers flying over their mobile – the desktop user has left their platform for the toilet, while the mobile user takes the toilet break as an opportunity for more online activity.)

    While it might happen that a marketing campaign to transform players from single platform to multiple platform will yield some results, it is unlikely to transform non-compulsive social gamblers into compulsive ones.

    • Yohai Sabag

      Hi Eli,

      Thanks for your astute comment, with which I completely agree! Having said that, sometimes these types of observations are surprisingly useful to marketers. It’s always worth experimenting and testing if, and how much, there are cause-and-effect relationships – the results are often surprising. In this highly-competitive day and age, we are in favor of marketers trying out all kinds of creative approaches, because sometimes discoveries can lead to significant advantages. It is for this reason that I mentioned in the post: “These findings suggest that it may be worthwhile investing in marketing campaigns designed to push loyal single-platform players into the other platform.”

      Also, it is worth focusing on the fact that a player who plays on more than one platform is usually of higher value, and it is thus particularly important for marketers to invest in keeping these players happy and engaged.

      Cheers,
      Yohai