Lazy Koala Makes The Winning Move to Analytics With AWS
The gaming industry is on the cutting edge of new technology. But for some companies, the challenges cut too deep and they lose funds until they close. Lazy Koala Games wasn’t going to let that happen to it.
The German start-up was founded in July 2019 by two IT business students, Marcel Deufel and Julian Reitermann, during their studies in Karlsruhe, Germany.
The company focuses on mobile games using a freemium business model—the base game is free to play, but additional content can be purchased with microtransactions. It’s a common approach in the mobile games market, but it is hard to maximize revenue without driving players away. Deufel and Reitermann were looking for technologies that would help them find that balance. That’s why they turned to Amazon Web Services (AWS).
“AWS has a history of supporting start-ups to punch above their weight. We knew we needed to move fast and that AWS has the tools, support, and ease-of-use that fit,” says Reitermann.
Know Yourself, Know Your Customer
Lazy Koala’s AWS journey started in the summer of 2020 after receiving funding from the German Games Fund initiative. The company knew it wanted to work with AWS Game Tech to explore the possibilities. Koala Games realized that it needed to better understand its customers and how they engaged with the game to improve customer retention and to increase the in-app purchase rate.
“It was encouraging that AWS Game Tech showed so much interest in a small company. The respect and communication made us feel like one of the big players. And with AWS we are confident that we can get there,” says Marcel.
As part of AWS Activate—a cloud credit incentive program for startups, they were able to explore and experiment with services. With the help of AWS Game Tech they determined that Game Analytics Pipeline would serve as great framework to help them gain better player insights and reduce the churn Lazy Koala was experiencing in its game “Idle Candy” and improve player retention.
With the Game Analytics Pipeline solution, Lazy Koala had access to a framework for ingesting game events into a data lake for storage and easy access for analysis. The seamless integration of AWS services simplified data engineering and helped the Lazy Koala team focus on game development. The ease of use, scalability, and security was crucial for the small games studio.
The architecture of the custom AWS analytics pipeline was validated with the Game Tech team, who used the AWS Well-Architected Framework to ensure Lazy Koala made the right design decisions.
“Being able to simplify operations but access rich data and apply analytics has been a gamechanger. We’ve seen a retention improvement of nearly 15 percent and the in-app purchase rate increase by 1.5 percent since we began using AWS analytics,” says Deufel.
The AWS Analytics Pipeline helped Lazy Koala understand player behavior and increase in-app purchases. However, to further innovate and personalize the in-app experience for players, it started looking into AWS Machine Learning (ML) and AWS Artificial Intelligence Services.
Using ML, Lazy Koala personalized the game for each player by adding custom, temporary offers. Starting with little background in ML, it was important to quickly design and launch a recommendation engine for their game. It took Lazy Kola 30 days to create custom offers designed to suit each players interests, playstyle, and needs. The result was an immediate impact on the player experience that saw the acceptance rate of offers increase by more than 20 percent.
Advancing To The Next Round
The proven success of Lazy Koala’s data-driven approach has already paid dividends and the company is ready to level up and advance to the next round. It’s looking at using Amazon SageMaker to further improve in-app purchases as well as to predict which players may be at risk of leaving the game, so they can present offers that will help retain them.
The company is also working on a new game with PVP (Player vs Player) elements. Because of their experience with AWS they are planning to use Amazon GameLift for managed Game Server Hosting and Flexmatch as a customizable matchmaking service.
“A lot of companies talk a good game, but AWS has been able to back up everything with support and results that have made a difference. It’s exciting to work with a company that takes gaming as seriously as we do,” says Reitermann.