Sustaining Users, Sustaining Revenue: Staying Ahead of the Game

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Sustainability in any industry is key, but especially in the gaming world where the “next big thing” is just around the corner. 

By Clark Buckner (Content Marketer & New Media Strategist, TechnologyAdvice.com)

On the TechnologyAdvice podcast I get the chance to uncover the stories of some of the most interesting and innovative individuals. Did you catch my last post on here about Project Innovation from Google & Apple Alum Ellen Leanse?

Ellen introduced me to the Jenny Diggles over at the hot new GIF game YIX. Listen/read all about it below.

Think of it as Apples to Apples (or Cards Against Humanity, depending on your sense of humor) but with GIFs.

Here’s how it works:

Players take turns being the judge, who selects a phrase, like “I found _____ in my fortune cookie. And I liked it.” The rest of the players then select one GIF out of the ten randomly given to them each round that they think best complements the phrase. The judge then picks a winner.

It’s genius, and Jenny Diggles is one of the geniuses behind it.

In the Beginning

Before YIX, Jenny and her team had no experience with game design. But they did have a strong background in mobile development and marketing. Most importantly, they had a good idea and a willingness to ship it.

Their development background led them to design new ways to minimize file size, which they’re moving towards patenting. They also set out with monetization in mind. As Jenny explains, they didn’t want to have a highly successful game with no clue how to make it make money. She wanted to start a sustainable company she says, and that meant going in with a game plan.

Currently, players are able to favorite a GIF that they particularly like, which saves it to their favorites library. The starting library can hold only seven GIFs. Once that limit is reached, players can opt to purchase an extended library that allows them to store an additional seven. It’s unobtrusive, but also unsustainable as a sole source of revenue, by Jenny’s own admission.

Adding Sustainable Revenue Streams

To add a more stable and consistent source of revenue, the team designed their own advertising platform. In addition to the ten random GIFs that players are given each round, they will also be able to choose from three sponsored GIFs, provided by advertisers. As part of the custom-designed advertising platform, advertisers are able to log into an admin dashboard and see in detail how their content is performing.

As part of YIX’s commitment to creating an enjoyable user experience, if players find the sponsored content off-putting, they have the choice to disable it. It seems unlikely that many would, given the sponsored content blends seamlessly with the game, functioning as part of it. Very few web or mobile applications encourage interaction with advertiser content in this user-friendly way.

Adapting, Evolving, Engaging

Jenny and her team quickly found ways to improve the game by incorporating nudge and rematch features. One user can nudge the others, encouraging them to play. If notifications are enabled, this will appear as a banner notification on the nudged player’s phone. The key, Jenny explains, is having users provoke each other, not the app itself.

With the rematch button, players can keep a game going, which normally ends after every participant has taken their turn is judge. Since incorporating the rematch feature, she’s observed games that essentially never end.

Looking Ahead

They’re working on a way to include the crown — featured on the app’s logo — which a player receives upon winning a round into the game. Jenny speculates that it might act as an in-game currency, allowing them to purchase certain privileges or abilities. This, among all of their other gamified strategies that are being incorporated, especially caught my attention because at our company we do a great deal talking about how modern gamification can improve customer loyalty and create valuable engagement opportunities for companies. The fact that Diggles and the team are discovering ways for users to actually want to engage (and share) sponsored GIFs is remarkable.

A large part of their success has come from being able to work with Microsoft, through their startup program. A friend of Jenny’s recommended that she reach out, Jenny couldn’t be happier that she did. Not only has Microsoft covered their first year of hosting, which would have been their biggest expense, the software giant also provided resources in the form of meetings and consultations.

How are you engaging your users?

Clark Buckner

About the guest blogger: Clark Buckner is a Content Marketer & New Media Strategist podcasting about technology and entrepreneurship at TechnologyAdvice.com. He enjoys the tech conference scene and discovering innovative ways to create new opportunities from emerging technologies. Tweet Clark a hello or follow him on Google +!