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How mobile games reward exchange attribution systems fail

Mobile game reward exchange attribution systems are the backbone of app revenue. This is why it's important to know how they fail and discover viable solutions. Find out how in this post.

Mobile games embrace reward exchange attribution systems as a means to engage players and monetize their apps. While they’re an advantageous system, the trouble with them lies in the attribution processes’ intricate nature, involving steps like watching ads, validating that the ad has been watched, and allocating rewards based on the fulfillment of this action. 

The impact of this process on the user experience can’t be understated, making the seamless functioning of reward exchange attribution systems critical. Without the proper flow, it leaves users frustrated and likely to abandon games.

The road to ensuring these systems work flawlessly is full of challenges. Identifying and addressing breakdowns within these systems is more complex than it appears. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through how reward exchange attribution systems work, the common problems you encounter, and the action steps you can take to resolve this issue.

First, you need to grasp the intricacies of the challenges at hand. You need to understand how reward exchange attribution systems work to do this. Here’s the rundown:

how-reward-exchange-attribution-systems-work-infographic

Understanding the causes of reward exchange attribution breakdowns

The roots of reward exchange attribution breakdowns often lie in ad verification failures, which have three primary triggers:

  • SDK bugs: Certain SDKs might not signal the completion of ad views due to internal bugs, rendering ad views incomplete in the system.
  • Validation options: While some ad SDKs offer validation mechanisms to thwart user manipulation, these validations can fail due to internal SDK bugs or network issues.
  • User behavior: Prematurely closing ads or quickly scrolling past them may result in verification failures and subsequent breakdowns.

After understanding why reward attribution systems break down, it’s crucial to uncover the obstacles that stand in the way of resolution.

Why it’s difficult to solve reward exchange attribution problems

There are a few key reasons why it’s difficult to solve reward exchange attribution problems. Below, we’ll run through the most pressing causes.

Limited visibility

Limited visibility plays a pivotal role in camouflaging attribution failures. Generic error codes and surface-level logs only provide a mere peek into the issues your app may face. This lack of data is what impedes thorough root cause analysis. The complexity of attribution systems adds to this challenge, making it tough to pinpoint specific failure points.

Sampling limitations

Data collection within attribution systems relies on sampling, which introduces its own set of limitations. Sporadic breakdown occurrences can slip through the cracks due to insufficient sampling. This leads to an underestimation of problems and incomplete issue detection, further exacerbating the challenges.

Complex interactions

The reward exchange attribution process involves intricate interactions, from ad view completion to reward delivery. These intricate steps interact in ways that can be confusing to unravel. Identifying exact points of breakdown within these workflows poses a significant challenge, hindering timely solutions. This is why it’s vital to have a detailed understanding of the attribution process.

A lack of comparative data

The absence of comparative data hampers accurate assessment. Game performance with and without attribution systems should be compared to gauge their impact. However, tools often lack the benchmarks required for such evaluations, which hinders the ability to assess the effectiveness of these systems and make informed decisions.

Wildlife Studios discovers an ad network bug

Wildlife Studios, one of the largest mobile gaming companies in Brazil, was able to solve a crash that didn’t show up in other tools although it impacted hundreds of thousands of their players.

The Wildlife Studios team discovered a crash on Android that was related to an ad network bug. What was so notable about this crash is that it only appeared in Embrace’s Crash Reporting, not in other crash reporting tools. Not only this, but Embrace helped Wildlife weed out “false positives.” Where other reporting tools pointed out errors, they weren’t shown in Embrace. Equipped with this information, the team was able to realize that the error was actually a problem with a library rather than with the app itself. 

With Embrace, Wildlife Studios was able to allocate their engineering resource time appropriately, saving themselves valuable engineering time, resources, and strain.

Read more

Solutions for detection and mitigation

It’s important to solve the problems that reward exchange attribution systems pose. Gamers are a passionate group. Sauce Labs noted in their 2023 Gaming Experience Survey Report that 31% of gamers have reacted to a buggy game by stopping play themselves or encouraging others to stop play through a variety of behaviors — this includes commenting on social media or game forums. This shows that your game’s problems can have a lasting impact, so it’s crucial to solve them quickly and efficiently.

Addressing these challenges requires advanced monitoring and analytics solutions, those that can shine a light on the reward exchange attribution process, its functions. With that in mind, these are the features you need to maintain a high-performing reward exchange system in your mobile game:

  • Comprehensive error reporting: Implement detailed error reporting mechanisms that show the exact nature of failures for more efficient troubleshooting. By comprehensive, we mean that you should have sufficient error logging and the ability to see your user’s journey with all the relevant details.
  • 100% of session data: Rethink sampling strategies to encompass a wider range of data, reducing the chances of missed breakdown occurrences. This is why it’s advantageous to have 100% of all user data. That way, you can always access the information you need and make informed decisions based on it.
  • Comparative analysis: Forge a culture of comparative analysis, benchmarking the performance of games with and without attribution systems to assess their true impact.

Accurate tracking and the ability to troubleshoot attribution-related issues are vital because they foster a proactive approach to problem-solving. This is important for a mobile game engineer. As Sauce Lab’s survey shows, 55% of developers have insufficient details and/or lack actionable context when receiving feedback from gamers. 

During a release, developers’ biggest challenge is deciphering gamer feedback to make information actionable. This is how a data-driven approach makes your life easier — you’re able to make informed decisions backed by unequivocal evidence. In turn, you’ll also reduce your incident response time and produce a better game for your consumers.

Final thoughts

The world of mobile gaming is dynamic and player experience reigns supreme. This is why the challenges posed by reward exchange attribution breakdowns cannot be ignored. 

As game engineers, investing in advanced solutions is vital to ensure a seamless player experience. By embracing these solutions, engineers can not only overcome the complexities but also craft a mobile game that captivates players. Doing so fosters a sense of enjoyment that creates user satisfaction, brand loyalty, and overall app longevity.

Find out more about how you can detect and solve issues in your mobile game by reading our eBook on the ways ad SDKs hurt player experience, here.

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