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It is difficult to overstate the importance of retention to succeeding with a free-to-play game. After all, if players don’t stick around, they don’t watch ads, they don’t buy currency, and they don’t consume all that lovely, expensive game content. Recently Mobile Game Doctor’s chief-of-surgery, Dave Rohrl, recorded Episode 15 of the “Mastering Retention” series, presented by Userwise. Key topics discussed are: How Dave started Mobile Game Doctor What he looks for when he is hiring? Split testing Some of the projects they’ve been working on Growth marketing in the gaming industry What are the right things to do when developing a game from scratch? What to look for to make sure the game is marketable One tip or trick on how to boost the retention rate.

Levels drive the core interaction in most free-to-play puzzle games. The quality of this content, and the pacing of level features, rewards, and difficulty has an enormous impact on both retention and monetization. While the overall visual presentation, simplicity in design, story, setting, a deep and resonant meta game, and the quality of retention features all have their impact – for most players, the levels are the key driver of whether they stay and play or go away. When creating and releasing a regular stream of high-performing free-to-play puzzle levels, four best practices are crucial:

We were recently approached by one of our existing clients about writing some design documents and doing some game balance for upcoming high-priority features in one of their games. Being a design agency owner, I replied “Of course. And what features are those?” Each member of the client’s management team then began to list off different features, meanwhile arguing with the other managers on the phone about why their choices didn’t make sense. As politely as I could, I told the customer that it would be impossible for us to work on their high priority features until we all agreed on which features were actually high priority.

While there are many different ways to go about developing stories for games, in this blog post on narrative design we will focus on a process that has been passed down to multiple generations of game developers over the industry’s relatively short lifespan. This process is simple, extensible, and allows us every opportunity to stay on track and not get “lost in the weeds” during pre-production. Note that not all of these steps are needed with every project, but the process is presented here in its entirety for those who wish to apply it to their current projects or practice it on their own. This simplified approach boils down to 5 steps:

I often speak with partners and colleagues outside the field who want to better understand what User Acquisition (UA) is. UA, which is sometimes referred to also as “performance marketing”. Despite the name, these activities fall under the umbrella of ADVERTISING activities rather than MARKETING activities. Marketing activities focus on the collection and interpretation of customer insights into guidelines about target audiences, value propositions, messaging, and advertising asset production. In short, Marketing is really about turning market/customer knowledge into effective banding, targeting, and messaging. Advertising takes those insights and assets and uses them to actively find new customers, paying money to display those assets to potential customers through a variety of different channels. User Acquisition, then, is a specific type of Advertising tasked with buying digital advertising inventory through online advertising marketplaces like Facebook, Google, Unity, ironSource, and other such digital advertising networks.


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