How the Business Model of Customisable Card Games Influences Player Engagement

Victoria J. Hodge, Nicholas John Sephton, Sam Michael Devlin, Peter Ivan Cowling, Nikolaos Goumagias, Jianhua Shao, Kieran Purvis, Ignazio Cabras, Kiran Fernandes, Feng Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article, we analyse the game play data of three popular customisable card games where players build decks prior to game play. We analyse the data from a player engagement perspective, how the business model affects players, how players influence the business model and provide strategic insights for players themselves. Sifa et al. found a lack of cross-game analytics while Marchand and Hennig-Thurau identified a lack of understanding of how a game's business model and strategies affect players. We address both issues. The three games have similar business models but differ in one aspect: the distribution model for the cards used in the game. Our longitudinal analysis highlights this variation's impact. A uniform distribution creates a spread of decks with slowly emerging trends while a random distribution creates stripes of deck building activity that switch suddenly each update. Our method is simple, easily understandable, independent of the specific game's structure and able to compare multiple games. It is applicable to games that release updates and enables comparison across games. Optimising a game's updates strategy is key as it affects player engagement and retention which directly influence businesses' revenues and profitability in the $95 billion global games market.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Games
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2018

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© 2018, The Author(s).

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