Joost van Dreunen, PhD for alistdaily:
Now that free-to-play is an established revenue model and accepted by both game companies and consumers, the underlying economics have shifted. Specifically, where initially the market for MMOs focused largely on acquisition, it now emphasizes retention. Keeping your players happy is a much more effective way of spending your time than to merely churn through them and get new ones.
However, following any successful launch, free-to-play MMOs face the difficult task of retaining their players for as long as possible in a process that can seem chaotic and unpredictable. Analyzing the login data we collected from a diverse set of free-to-play titles over five years, we have identified several general patterns that guide player retention and isolated key trends in this process.