This sponsored post is produced by W3i. 

Most of the top grossing apps design social features into their apps as part of their core strategy.  Why?  In his key note at GamesBeat Zynga’s Chief Executive Mark Pincus stated that users’ retention rates doubled compared to the average game’s retention rates when acquired through social.  Not only do compelling social features dramatically increase user retention, they also help drive down user acquisition costs.

You’ve heard a lot about the growing social networks and related mobile game platforms, like Facebook’ Single Sign-On, Google+, Apple’s Game Center, DeNA’s Mobage, Gree’s Open Feint, Papaya and PlayPhone.  We were interested in finding out what top-grossing apps were using for social.

We set out to survey the Top 50 Grossing Apps in the App Store and Google Play on June 28th paying close attention to how the app connected game players through social.  We ended up analyzing 38 freemium games on iPhone and 42 freemium games on Android eliminating the 12 iPhone and 8 Android paid games in the top 50.  Here are our findings:

10 of 38 iOS games and 8 of 32 Android games required users to register with their social network credentials prior to first playing the game.  In conversations with top app developers, we were told that requiring social sign-in can cause as much as a 70% reduction in initial conversion rates when a user is required to register before experiencing gameplay.

Gareth Davis, a Product Manager at Facebook, spoke at GDC 2012 this spring.  In his session he noted that Facebook social channels include:  Friends, News Feed, Search, Notifications, Requests, Bookmarks and Open Graph & Timeline.  These can all be used to add Facebook social features to games.  He also mentioned the following mobile platform best practices:

  1. Add SSO to get FB Bookmark & Search Result
  2. Use a single FB App ID on all platforms
  3. Publish via Open Graph to get distribution
  4. Design frictionless Requests & Invites
  5. Use all Social Channels
  6. Native Deep Linking for native distribution
  7. Social Design

Some of the key points in his session for successful social design were:  1. Build social into app from the ground up, make the app people centric; 2.  Make friend finding easy; 3. Design the app for sharing; 4. Make content “braggable” and 5. Leverage unique mobile capabilities like location and social tagging.  In our survey we found more than half of the games used points 1, 2, 3 and 4 above, with no one using 5 location and social tagging.

Social is a great source of engaged users.  W3i can help identify additional profitable sources for user acquisition or other ways to monetize your app as well as give you advice on how to optimize your freemium game.  Learn more at W3i.com.

For more Facebook information Gareth cites Documentation developers.facebook.com/mobile, Showcase fb.me/mobileappshowcase; Sample App fb.me/fbhackbook and HTML5 Resource Center devlopers.facebook.com/html5.

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