Hi-Rez Studios Sees 3x Player Engagement and 3x Player Spending with In-Stream Rewards for Paladins

Learn how Hi-Rez Studios partners with Facebook gaming to build community, increase engagement and drive monetization.

Introduction

Hi-Rez Studios was founded in 2005 to create high-quality, free-to-play games for a global audience. In 2017, after years of success with player-versus-player and multiplayer online games, Hi-Rez launched Paladins, a team-based shooter game. Their goal was to make an exceptional free-to-play game that was competitive, customizable and fun to play. After an extended alpha and beta testing period with the Hi-Rez gaming community, Paladins is now universally available and free to play on PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Switch.

Hi-Rez is committed to creating quality, free-to-play games that even the playing field for everyone. Their business strategy is community driven, with monetization relying on the dedicated fanbases that have formed around their games. For Hi-Rez, community growth and engagement are paramount.

Challenge

Soon after the release of Paladins, Hi-Rez was surprised to discover that, without their involvement, a self-organized Paladins community had organized on Facebook. The group was large and active - twice as big as other Paladins groups. Members were connecting on their shared interests in playing competitively, forming teams and setting up tournaments. For Hi-Rez, the community's potential was clear. They could see the platform was capable of supporting the community in ways that would inspire players to play longer and return more often. Growing the Paladins esports community on Facebook became a top priority

Solution

Partnership with Facebook and Livestreaming esports

Facebook partners' guided Hi-Rez to take a pioneering role by becoming one of the first esports leagues to stream exclusively on Facebook while also tapping into grassroots competitions on Facebook Groups.

Hi-Rez and Facebook launched the $350,000 Paladin’s Global Series (PGS), a community-focused, openbracket tournament series held in seven regions around the world, where amateur players recruited and formed teams all within the official Paladins Facebook Group. In the first week alone, more than 300 teams consisting of more than 1,500 players signed up to play in the Global Series, with top matches streamed via Facebook Live. Regional PGS champions competed to earn a slot in the World Championships and played alongside qualifying teams from Paladins Premier League, Hi-Rez's esports league for professional competition that was livestreamed exclusively on Facebook.

As a Games as a Service (GaaS) provider, Hi-Rez needs always-on marketing content, and livestream gaming is an efficient and effective way to deliver it, as it lets the gameplay sell itself and spread by word of mouth. After the launch of Paladins esports competitions on Facebook, community engagement saw significant increases in gameplay from players who linked their Hi-Rez and Facebook accounts.

Increased Engagement with In-stream Rewards

To further increase engagement, Hi-Rez wanted to incentivize viewers to interact with the content. So beginning in March 2018, viewers who tuned in to the Paladins Premier League broadcasts on Facebook could earn rewards for the desktop version of the game while watching the streams. Roughly every hour, a reward will drop as a pop up within the video content. A viewer is granted a period of time in which to click on the reward. If the viewer has a linked Facebook account, the digital item will be added to the viewer’s game account.

The Facebook platform gives Hi-Rez the flexibility to easily change and test the items and frequency of drops that are delivered via In-stream Rewards based on data-driven metrics in conjunction with Facebook Analytics. And to integrate In-stream Rewards, Hi-Rez didn’t need to update or add any SDKs, just add a simple API call. Popular rewards are in-game currency (gold in the case of Paladins), crystals (Paladins premium in-game currency which can normally only be purchased), or a set of exclusive skins that are only available on the platform.

Results

Hi-Rez has observed some powerful correlations with In-stream Rewards and increased player engagement and monetization potential. Hi-Rez also ran ads to acquire new players and found that ads with mentions of In-stream Rewards had higher Click Through Rates than the ads that didn’t. Pleased with their performance on desktop, the studio is now testing for mobile with the help of their Facebook partners.

  • 2X
    engagement from players with linked Facebook accounts
  • 3X
    engagement from players who receive In-stream rewards
  • 3X
    spending from players who receive In-stream rewards

"The fact that the platform reaches two billion people and allows streaming of games is a huge opportunity for gaming to continue to reach a more mainstream and global audience. The reach is an enormous benefit, and developers should look at how to leverage that." Todd Harris, COO and Co-Founder, Hi-Rez Studios