Using Data & "Free" to Engage Players

Think With Google has been sharing some excellent case studies recently via their partnership with MIT's Sloan. One that caught my eye was Electronic Arts, the video game maker. 

EA, which makes FIFA World Cup Soccer, earns some major hay when the World Cup comes around. They drop a new game with updated stats and players, and sell it to the masses.  This past World Cup, though, they took a different approach - they updated the previous version for free right into the 2018 game..

This might sound silly, but there was a method to their madness - deep customer insights. They learned, through player metrics, that there is such thing as a recency effect. Those who play the game late cycle convert to the new product. They learned, however, veterans of the game who had not played in more than two months needed a push to engage again. Hence, the free product. 

"Our free update succeeded in bringing those players back and, given the Recency Effect, increased their likelihood to convert to FIFA 19."

The results of this test should not be overly surprising to us, the horseplayer. Back around 2006, with handle flailing, the Hong Kong Jockey Club used the same type of metric to bring their lost horseplayers back. In that case it was a rebate. 

A rebate works in similar fashion. Poorly engaged veteran players are having trouble staying afloat, so they're given a push. This push gets them back into the habit of playing, with a higher probability of winning money.  When referencing the results of their change in policy, the HKJC remarked how the habitual nature of horse racing customers is an important metric, and this seized the day.

Over here across the pond we're not doing Electronic Arts, or the Hong Kong Jockey Club. We're not using internal player metrics as they should be; we're not creating any dynamic policy of "free" to increase engagement, and grow lifetime value. In the quasi-oligopoly (or in Canada, HPI's pretty much monopoly) there seems to be little incentive to. But, as that happens, make no mistake, horse racing is falling behind.

Have a great Thursday everyone.

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