Creating Unique Player Experiences with Amplitude
Insight/Action/Outcome: FunCraft's team wanted to improve the Day 1 retention of their Wordgrams crossword game. They noticed first-time users were dropping off, and, by using Amplitude’s funnel chart and funnel analysis tools, they visualized and measured user behaviors across the customer experience and segmented users to understand why new players weren’t returning. Realizing that players wanted easier puzzles instead of tutorials, the company retooled its first-time user experience (FTUE), increasing day-one retention by 40% and reducing its overall cost per acquisition.
Headquartered in San Francisco with employees around the world, FunCraft makes social word puzzles for mobile gamers. Founded in 2019 by veterans of major gaming companies and startup gaming studios, the 12-person outfit built the ExampleCraft framework to enable the faster launch of full-featured games. Adhering to a SHIP-LISTEN-REPEAT development cycle, the company builds simple games to test the core of an idea, listens to players and data to determine their likes and dislikes, and prunes unsuccessful features. The company attracted the attention of early-stage gaming VC Play Ventures, raising a total of $8 million in capital in 2020 to make “casual forever” mobile games.
Using Analytics to Stay One Move Ahead
FunCraft is a small team that accomplishes a lot with limited resources. The company embraced analytics from the start, collecting player behavioral data to iterate on game design, adding and subtracting features based on user interactions with its puzzles. However, its analytics workflow lacked the speed to keep pace with an aggressive development cycle.
When VP of Product Gonzalo Orts joined the company in 2021, they had a cumbersome approach to analytics. They were using Tableau and outsourcing charts to a third party. “It was a pain because we moved so fast but our analytics were slow,” Orts says. “When I think about a new feature or a new game mode that I want to bring to the players, I need to watch the data to understand what they like, what they don't like, what they use, what they don't use. And if I have to ask someone for a chart, it gets even slower to think about new things and build a roadmap.”
Having worked with Amplitude previously, Orts recommended the platform to FunCraft co-founder Michael Martinez. “The first thing I said to Michael when I entered FunCraft is that we needed Amplitude,” says Orts. “Thankfully, he listened to me.”
During a brief training period, Orts discovered almost all FunCraft employees had some familiarity with the self-serve platform. Now, they use Amplitude Analytics daily, but they’re not the only users. Anyone in the company—from designers to founders—can open Analytics and uncover immediate and actionable insights. “Everyone tries to dig in,” Orts says.
FunCraft is a data-driven company, and 100% of our decisions are based on data. Amplitude solves the data immediacy problem, allowing us to think and iterate faster.
Starting from Scratch with Amplitude Self-Service Analytics
When FunCraft adopted Analytics, the company rewrote its event taxonomy, defining new user events that took advantage of its new platform, better matching its SHIP, LISTEN, REPEAT development cycle.
“It's really important to carefully plan and structure your event tracking in Amplitude to ensure you are capturing the right data and can use it effectively to inform decisions,” Orts says. “In our case, when we moved to Amplitude, we started from scratch, erasing all the unnecessary events we had and organizing them a lot better. And by taking a more strategic approach to event tracking in Amplitude, we were able to more effectively use the data to inform product decisions and drive growth.”
Having established a robust data framework, the team explored ways to integrate Analytics into their workflow. FunCraft’s product team uses the segmentation feature to see how users from different countries on different platforms behave, allowing them to create unique experiences for specific populations. They use the retention tool to focus on new user retention and monetization as part of a product-led growth strategy. Funnel charts let the team see where players drop off so they can eliminate friction points. The Pathfinder Users chart is useful for the support team, who use it to pinpoint where players encounter an issue in the game.
FunCraft also relies on Pathfinder Users for experimentation by tagging individual players with a user property and using it to track in-game activity. “We’ve run over 200 experiments in the last year, and Analytics is really useful to find insights,” Orts says.
The analytics platform has proven so useful that the company switched from the Starter to the Growth Plan after only a year.
Amplitude allows us to listen to players, see how they interact with our games, and change features to grow engagement.
Increased Retention, Monetization, and Stickiness
FunCraft players compete against others to solve crossword puzzles. The more turns they take, the more time they spend in the game. Since adopting Amplitude, FunCraft has seen a 30% increase in player turns per day.
“By understanding what [players] like and what they don't, we added many new game modes and killed many features because they were not interacting with them,” Orts says. “We just listen to the players, and we listen to them through Amplitude.”
Amplitude has also given FunCraft the tools to further explore product-led growth by tracking players’ responses to incentivized referrals (inviting friends to earn in-game currency) and responses to push notifications. They target new and existing players separately. FunCraft focuses on retention and monetization for new players, tracking various impressions. The more they play, the more impressions they trigger, which is the most impactful KPI of revenue per user (RPU). In existing players, they focus on stickiness, tracking the amount of days they play per week and then pushing them to play more.
“Game designers think we know our products because we make them, but if we overtrust ourselves, that means we’re not watching the data,” he says. “Data is key to building a business around a game. If you don't have good data and make data-driven decisions, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to build a growing game.” Orts trusts Analytics to help his team overcome preconceptions that don’t reflect what players want.
If the business is moving fast, you need to be fast as well. Amplitude helped us by offering a very easy and simplistic way of showing data. It's really easy to make a chart to understand what you're seeing and for everyone in the company to do it as well. And that's really important if you want to grow.