Bees and Pollen: What Games Can Learn From Social Insects


[Editor’s Note: This story was a recap of an interview had with Alan Avidan, Executive Director of Business Development at Bees and Pollen occurred on June 6,2013, during Day 1 of the Inside Social Apps Conference in San Francisco.]

Alan Avidan of Bees and Pollen is working on a new type of game play: predictive personalization. The idea stems from the fact that many players get frustrated when they get stuck. For beginners this might mean not clearing level one, where as for more experienced players, the breaking point might occur when they can no longer unlock certain features without using the virtual store.

Using predictive analytics, which taps into the Facebook social graph, geographical demographics and game behavioral metrics, Avidan and his team have identified the pressure points of where players get stuck when playing a game. The company believes that their customization algorithms can keep people engaged. Unlike traditional A/B testing, Avidan is able to find an optimized solution for all players, not just the majority.

Their data shows that the Average Revenue per User (ARPU) varies as bonuses are doled out throughout game play. There is an initial peak in ARPU as players start to receive bonuses, whether that means unlocked levels or increased decision points within the game. But then something strange happens: there is a drop in ARPU as the number of bonuses increases by 20-30 percent. However, Avidan’s team found that if you continue pushing bonus content to users, ARPUs reach a global maximum, one much greater than the ARPU returns seen for the smaller bonuses delivered earlier in the game.

Avidan acknowledges you cannot create a custom game for everyone; but you can optimize the decision choices, themes and game flow for individual users based on their skill level and previous engagement.

In all, Avidan’s methods have shown a 25-30 percent increase in what he calls “lift factor,” which consolidates KPIs, player retention and ARPUs.

While the device is currently only available on iOS, Avidan has plans to expand in other mobile markets.
Update: Bees and Pollen is available on iOS, Android and web, including APIs for Flash JS, Unity, Marmalade and Air.