Cracking the Gamer’s Loyalty Code


Chitra Iyer

October 30, 2023

You can think of it as a Netflix for gamers or a loyalty and rewards program for mobile gamers. Either way, Mistplay has loyalty built into the core of its product and value proposition. It is a company that rewards people for playing mobile games – or at least for playing one of the 400+ games in its catalog. 

Despite its 30 million downloads, 2 million active monthly users, and the generally sticky nature of mobile games, Mistplay is serious about leveraging foundational loyalty building blocks to ensure daily habitual usage, high-quality engagement, retention, and of course, revenues.

Here’s how they plan to do it.

Optimize the onboarding 

If you had a three-day window to ensure you don’t lose 77 of every 100 customers who download your app, what would you do?

Onboarding is a crucial stage, says Nicholas Kerr, VP of Loyalty and Lifecycle at Mistplay, because people become disengaged from apps they have downloaded very quickly. Considering the high cost of customer acquisition, churn from day 0 to day 07 can be very damaging. 

That explains why Kerr’s first priority, fresh on the job, was to design and execute an uber-optimized onboarding program for Mistplay members.

Kerr decided to go with e-mail because it was clutter-breaking. Typically people who install a mobile game are not used to getting a welcome email with helpful tips to earn rewards. 

The first welcome email also tacked on a few permissions to drive newsletter subscriptions, which helped with the ongoing engagement in terms of bringing people back to the app, getting into the habit of launching games through the app and earning rewards for frequent usage. 

The bet paid off, with the welcome email driving hundreds of thousands of dollars in incremental revenues based on the pre- and post-onboarding sequence data. 

Optimize retention through the gamer’s life cycle 

As industry analyst Eric Seufert explains, the ‘leaky bucket’ isn’t just an onboarding-stage problem, but an ongoing one. In fact, he argues that user churn is more expensive at a later stage than during onboarding, because of their proven affinity and acquired behavioral data.

As a result, Mistplay closely monitors day 0, day 03, day 07, and day 30 retention patterns and trends by running multiple small experiments and testing different hypotheses around what might work to drive stickiness. 

Engagement and retention in gaming are all about building a daily habit with daily engagement. Mistplay starts with leveraging data on its users (a female-skewed demographic, believe it or not!) to make the best possible game recommendations, a la Netflix.

Aside from an optimized onboarding experience and in-game checkpoints to help users play and earn better, they also use push notifications and in-app pop-ups to incentivize in–app purchases, help gamers build their daily streak, and earn ‘units’ (Mistplay loyalty currency) for playing on consecutive days. Gamers can redeem their reward currency units for top popular gift card brands on the Misplay shop.

Optimize community and build trust

In September 2022, Mistplay launched their first customer survey to get a pulse on their customers, as well as set a baseline NPS score. The survey asked users what they liked or disliked. With the help of word clouds, they identified the user sentiments that were popping. One of the highlights was ‘trust’. 

This was revealing because ‘trust’ is not an industry norm. Many competitor gaming reward apps are, in fact, perceived as ‘scams’ because they don’t come through with the rewards, prizes, and gift cards as promised. 

When trust is low, says Kerr, skeptical gamers tend to band together to find ways to hack the system and game the rewards. But when a community is built on trust, it’s a very different sentiment that propels much more positive user behavior. 

Mistplay plans to leverage the trust it enjoys to build a super-engaged community. The aim is to move from transactional loyalty to more emotional loyalty by aligning rewards, incentives, and sweepstakes more closely with user demographics and what they value. 

Hear the full episodes with Nicholas Kerr here.

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About the Author

Chitra is an experienced marketer turned freelance B2B content creator. She writes about CX, martech, sales tech, ad tech, retail tech, loyalty tech, and customer data and privacy. Of her two-decade-long career, Chitra spent the first half in senior corporate marketing roles in India. She’s led communications, digital marketing, and marketing ops teams for companies such as Timken Steel, Tata Play Satellite TV, and Procter & Gamble (P&G).

She has served as the editor-in-chief for the pioneering martech site Martech Advisor, which she led through a successful acquisition by Ziff Davis. She also conceptualized and co-hosted three seasons of one of the earliest Martech podcasts, The Talking Stack, with renowned Martech experts David Raab and Anand Thaker.

As a freelancer, Chitra creates original, thought-provoking content for senior B2B audiences, and has authored over 500 articles, white papers, ebooks, guides, and research reports about Martech and CX for clients around the world. She writes monthly columns for CX publication CMSWire and HR tech publication Reworked; and teaches a course on freelance B2B content writing in association with the Himalayan Writing Institute in India.

Chitra holds a Master’s in global media & communications from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and an MBA in marketing from the Institute of Management Development & Research, India.

In 2011, Chitra opted out of the city and moved to a farm in rural Punjab, in the north of India, where she and her husband breed thoroughbred race horses, grow organic food, and homeschool their two boys.