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In 2023, China’s gaming industry will recover as a whole, and the actual sales revenue of the mobile gaming market will return to positive year-on-year growth, reaching 17.51%. At the same time, many new games will be launched and blockbuster hits are frequent. However, in recent communications, we found that practitioners are still generally cautious about the prospects of the game market in 2024. Today, NetEase Cloud Business would like to talk to you about some of the hidden worries behind the bottoming out of the gaming market and how to effectively deal with them.

Let’s first look at a set of data: the number of games under investment in mobile game APPs in 2023 will increase by 10% year-on-year, hitting a new high in the past three years (data source: Dataeye); in 2023, the number of mobile game users in China will only increase by 0.38% year-on-year, almost reaching Ceiling (data source: Gamma data); in Q3 2023, the daily mobile game usage time of Chinese mobile netizens dropped by 32% year-on-year, although Q3 already includes the summer time when player activity is the highest every year (data source: Yuehu data). These data reflect a question – the domestic game market will inevitably move towards a high degree of involution. How will the growth of game companies be maintained in the future?

In the past, the most important growth engine was “purchases.” However, when the number of players and attention resources are close to saturation, the cost of purchases will only continue to rise. Now major manufacturers have to consider reducing costs and increasing efficiency. How will manufacturers keep up with this “cash-burning” competition? Research data from CITIC Construction Investment shows that the average sales rate of A-share listed game companies in 2023 will reach 27.7%, the highest in recent years, and the sales rate of some companies even reaches more than 50%.

We have seen a vivid metaphor about traffic. Buying traffic from the Internet platform is like using tap water. As long as you pay, turn on the faucet and water will flow out; there is another option – dig your own well and drill it in advance (build it) Traffic pool) requires some investment, but every subsequent water withdrawal (obtaining traffic) is free, and there is no need to rely on other platforms. This well water corresponds to an Internet concept that is familiar to everyone-“private domain”.

Some game companies have figured out this truth early on, and have begun to try to “dig a well” on their own – reducing the amount of purchases to acquire customers, and operating the existing users they have already acquired. Let’s take a look at the current status of China’s game industry: In a survey conducted by NetEase Cloud Business on medium and large-scale research and operation integrated game companies, only 9% of the companies surveyed were systematically building private domains in 2020; Two years later, in 2022, the trough of the gaming market, 56% of companies began to deploy in the private domain. (The systematic construction here not only refers to having a team and infrastructure, but also refers to the ability to realize a closed loop of the value of the private domain to the game.)

The underlying logic of the private domain actually existed long before the word “private domain” appeared. From the official website in the PC game era to the “double micro” media in the mobile game era to group operations, companies are always trying to find ways to control users. In your own hands. Let us give a clear definition of the private domain. It refers to a user pool that enterprises can reach proactively, directly, repeatedly, and at very low cost, and accumulate it as data assets. There can be many forms of hosting private domains, as simple as a mobile phone number, or as complex as a community APP built by a large company. However, the latter has the same drawback as game APPs, that is, when players abandon the game, they are likely to be deleted and lose value. Associating the APP will make it difficult for the company to maintain it. Therefore, we advocate building a private gaming domain based on “social media” (WeChat as the core). On the one hand, WeChat strongly binds the social relationships of national users, and on the other hand, enterprise WeChat has complete ecological and product functions. Can support complex private domain operational requirements.

As shown in the figure below, the private domain is a systematic project. At the bottom level, it is first necessary to connect data inside and outside the game terminal to provide a basis for refined operations; secondly, it is necessary to complete the rapid accumulation of private domain users through traffic diversion; as the operation deepens, The functions that the private domain will carry will become more and more abundant – a place for game content consumption, a place for users to socialize, a place for users to communicate with brands, etc. Off-end experience will also become an important part of the game experience and brand recognition, and the operation team needs to Here we provide players with better services and companionship.

It seems that the private domain is not simple, and mid-level manufacturers with limited resources may be daunted. Here we might as well think about what the minimum feasible form of the private domain of games is?

Can the current value created by the private domain be quantified? Judging from the practical experience of NetEase Cloud Business, the core value of the game private domain can be intuitively reflected through the following three data:

First, the message open rate of enterprise WeChat can reach more than 75%, the cost is zero, and the effect is far better than conventional text messages. Enterprises have built a direct and efficient external contact channel through private domains;

Second, after A/B testing, the LTV of players in the private domain has increased by more than 300%. The operation in the private domain is more warm and closer to players, which will help promote player activity, retention and payment conversion;

Third, providing players with smoother off-end payment services through the private domain will bring greater profit margins to the game. The 30%-50% channel tax on IOS and Android can become an increase in net profit.

Although the value of the private domain is huge, we still find that during the actual implementation process, game companies often do not advance as smoothly as expected. After research, we found that the biggest obstacle is “the need to get approval from the boss.” The more essential reason behind this is that the value of the private domain within the company has not been well verified and there are barriers to collaboration between departments. This is why we say that the private sector is a top-level project – only the boss can effectively promote the integration of resources and long-term systematic investment.

Now, take the evolution process of the tens of millions of private domains served by NetEase Cloud Business as an example to see how enterprises should reasonably promote the implementation and growth of private domains. In the figure below, the vertical axis represents the number of people in the private domain, and the horizontal axis represents four different business stages.

In the project preparation stage: mainly completing the value verification of the private domain within the company, forming a dedicated operation team, and improving the infrastructure construction (data system, customer service system, operation system, recharge system, etc.). A quick and lightweight method to verify the value of the private domain is to import a part of the new game traffic into WeChat, and use A/B testing to obtain the login conversion status of private domain users and non-private domain users. This process does not require too much human investment. Private domain Efficient contact will bring significant differences several times.

After passing the previous hurdles, private domain operations will become more refined in actual combat. The team also needs to think about how to let the private domain create greater value for the game, and even go further, how to use the private domain to feed back the company’s brand and let the Players become loyal users of the company’s brand.

Next, let’s share a practical scenario, which is also the most suitable scenario for companies to start a private domain from scratch—the launch of a new game.

During the reservation period, the key to the private domain team’s work is to attract users. The core indicators are the private domain size and the number of reservations. If the product already has enough information, the team can carry out various operational actions in the private domain to maintain or even appropriately raise players’ expectations. At the same time, the product information that players are concerned about and the problems discovered in the early testing will be fed back to the product team for further evaluation. Iterative optimization.

When the game is officially launched, combined with the player tag status on the data background, the private domain team can accurately wake up, continue to guide users to complete the login process, and provide follow-up novice support, fission addition, potential paying user conversion and prediction. For lost user intervention, the core indicators delivered by this process are appointment login rate, next-day retention, seven-day retention and LTV.

How to do a good job of drainage?

In the reservation stage, the reservations from the official website channel are migrated to the WeChat applet to complete. This change brings little resistance to players: after all, scanning with your mobile phone and completing the reservation with one click is more convenient than the previous method of entering your mobile phone number and then receiving a verification code. After the player completes the mini program reservation, he will be authorized to receive message notifications. At the same time, the operator can attach an official company micro QR code after the mini program reservation is completed, and combine it with the reservation gift package activity. The friend addition rate can reach 70%, quickly completing the private domain traffic accumulation of new games. After this operation, when the game is launched, the team will have three contact channels to ensure the reservation login rate:

The first channel: mini program service opening notification

Second channel: WeChat 1 to 1 message notification

The third channel: Smart outbound call notification based on mobile phone number

In the private domain, what we want to present to players is a warm and humane interaction. Therefore, the account design of Enterprise WeChat and the content SOP under each contact channel need to be carefully planned. Just think about it, would players be more willing to communicate with “Customer Service A” and “Customer Service B” accounts who only respond with fixed words, or with “Hongdandan” and “Xiao Daji” who are lively and knowledgeable and understand their needs?

The mini program tool mentioned earlier is not only used for reservations and traffic, it can also be equipped with functions such as “achievements”, “information”, “events”, “posting”, and “check-in” to form a lightweight content community in the private domain. , to meet the social and content consumption needs of players, and also provide richer operational tools for private domain teams.

After testing, during the launch of the new game, the reservation login rate, seven-day retention rate and LTV5 of users in the private domain can be increased by 200%, 33.9% and 295% respectively compared with non-private domain users. The advantages of this model need not be overstated.

Now back to the question mentioned above – what is the minimum feasible form of the game’s private domain? The new game’s first scene is the answer. For mid-sized enterprises or teams with tight resources, you can first choose a method that focuses more on efficiency and less on operations, using corporate WeChat, SCRM, mini programs and smart outbound calls to complete system deployment within a week at the fastest, and then match it with appropriate player incentives Policies can smoothly complete the value closed loop of the private domain.

Similarly, some teams are also worried about the problem of inconsistent data labels for various game products in the company. Here we also adopt a gradual strategy. In the initial stage, the user’s general tags (attributes, activity, payment, etc.) are enough to guide precise operational actions. After the subsequent product team has tasted the sweetness, the game’s own customized tags (value, social, appearance, gameplay, etc.) have been opened. , we will make longer-term and more refined plans.

In the early days, when we didn’t have enough manpower and experience, we could use the private domain as a more efficient message push channel. But as the operation got better, if we wanted to go further, we had to face the soul torture-what kind of operation To truly touch people’s hearts?

The first example is that it is also an activity to give out benefits. When you send a boring, smelly and long operation copy to the user, it can easily arouse the user’s disgust and disengage. However, like Identity V, sending a string of moderate length , friendly and easy to read, and paired with beautiful mini program page messages to users. Even if the other party has little initial interest, they will most likely click in to take a look. When they find that the threshold is not high or the prize is very attractive, they will just click on it. You can click to participate.

The second example is that we used smart outbound calls containing voice actor recordings to recall events during the Chinese Valentine’s Day during the Singularity Era, which aroused widespread praise from players. This is not the first time that this kind of phone gameplay using the voice of a popular voice actor to “break the dimensional wall” has a low operating cost but has been tried and tested. It hits the hearts of players almost every time and triggers widespread discussion and praise in the community.

Even in the private domain, every contact we make is still accompanied by the risk of user loss. In addition to convenience and benefits, can our operations provide players with higher emotional value?

Private domain is an important project related to future growth. We recommend that game companies find the right professional partners, which will get twice the result with half the effort. NetEase Cloud Business closely follows the private domain operation needs of NetEase games, has accumulated experience in private domain operation of games with tens of millions of users, and has served a large number of leading game companies. Its software capabilities fully cover every operation scenario, and it not only has the capabilities mentioned above Operation system functions, as well as intelligent customer service products empowered by large models, can handle the reception of millions of users. The efficiency of human-machine integration is more guaranteed, and the freed manpower can provide more personalized and creative services for high-value users. Powerful service.

Not only that, the private domain implementation process contains a lot of detailed practical issues. NetEase Cloud Business can provide private domain flight companion services that understand the game better, from project establishment to stable operation period, so that the customer team can avoid detours and achieve business growth calmly. Target.

To sum up, in the current highly involved stock market, game companies must not only create high-quality products, but also build mental barriers through warm and precise private domain operations, so that long-term and loyal brand-user relationships can drive future growth. .

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