Investing in a robust user segmentation strategy is critical for the long-term success of live video games. Player segmentation involves dividing your player base into distinct groups based on various traits, such as their playing habits, preferences, motivations, and spending behaviors. By understanding the distinct needs and behaviors of different user segments, studios can make smarter decisions that will drive engagement, retention, and revenue.

Understanding the different player segments in your live game comes with four distinct benefits:

  1. User segmentation allows for targeted experiences that drive engagement and revenue
  2. It unlocks smarter resource allocation based on the value of different player groups
  3. It informs user acquisition and marketing strategies to attract high-quality players
  4. It’s essential for identifying and addressing the unique causes of churn for different segments

Mastering player segmentation is essential for creating the personalized experiences that lead to long-lasting games in today’s competitive market. In this article, we’ll explore why player segmentation is such an essential strategy for video game studios to adopt — especially live service games. We’ll take a look at all the problems that user segmentation can solve, some common player segments, and different user segmentation strategies for games.

The Importance of Player Segmentation

When it comes to live games, user segments are invaluable in guiding development and marketing efforts. By understanding the different types of players engaging with a game, studios can make more informed decisions on numerous fronts, from game design and feature prioritization to targeted marketing campaigns and live ops strategies.

Some of the most common types of user segments include:

  • Core Gamers: Highly engaged players who invest significant time and often money into gaming.
  • Casual Gamers: Players who enjoy games but play less frequently and are less likely to spend money.
  • Whales: High-spending players who contribute a significant portion of a game’s revenue.
  • Explorers: Players who enjoy discovering content and unlocking achievements.
  • Socializers: Players who primarily engage with games for the social interaction and community aspects.

By analyzing data from player behavior, surveys, and market research — or with audience intelligence software like Solsten — studios can identify these segments within their own player base.

While every player is important, some segments will have a greater impact on a game’s overall success and revenue. For example, the “whale” segment, though typically small in number, often accounts for a disproportionately large share of in-game spending. It’s important to keep these paying users satisfied and engaged in order to maintain a healthy revenue stream.

However, focusing solely on high-spenders can be shortsighted. The “core” and “casual” segments, while less monetarily valuable on an individual basis, almost always make up the bulk of a player base.

These players contribute to the game’s overall popularity, community vibrancy, and long-term sustainability. Neglecting their needs and preferences can lead to a decline in player retention and a shrinking community. This can ultimately hurt your game’s prospects.

The goal is to create a holistic experience that caters to the needs and preferences of all your key segments, while still maintaining a cohesive vision and user experience for your game. By using user segmentation to inform your live ops strategy, you can create a more engaging, sustainable, and profitable game over the long run.

What Problems Does User Segmentation Solve?

User segmentation solves several critical problems for video game studios, especially when it comes to live games. Here are some of the top issues that we’ve seen user segmentation address:

Resource Allocation

With limited development resources, it’s important for studios to prioritize their efforts effectively. User segmentation helps determine which player groups are most important to a game’s success so resources can be allocated accordingly. By focusing on the needs and preferences of your core and high-value segments, you can ensure that your development efforts yield the greatest return on investment.

Churn Reduction

Player churn is a constant challenge for live games. By identifying the unique pain points and frustrations of different player groups, you can take proactive steps to improve their experience and keep them engaged. For example, if you notice that your “socializer” segment is churning at a higher rate, you might prioritize features like guild improvements or in-game social events to keep these players engaged. This is critical in live games, where players have countless options vying for their attention.

Monetization Optimization

Effective monetization is essential for the long-term sustainability of a live game. User segmentation helps to identify your highest-value players and customize your monetization strategies to their preferences. This might involve offering exclusive cosmetic items for the “whale” segment or providing value-packed bundles for the “core” segment. By aligning monetization tactics with the unique needs of each segment, you can improve on revenue potential without alienating players.

Targeted Marketing

User segmentation also helps to inform marketing and user acquisition efforts. By understanding the characteristics and preferences of your most valuable players, you can create targeted marketing campaigns to attract more players like them. This might involve ad creative and messaging that resonates with specific segments or focusing user acquisition efforts on channels and platforms that core segments use the most.

Game Design Guidance

Finally, user segmentation provides valuable insights into game design decisions. By understanding what each segment values in a game, studios can make more informed choices about what features to add, what content to create, and how to balance the overall experience. For example, if you know that your “explorer” segment loves hunting for easter eggs and secrets, you can make sure that each new content update includes plenty of hidden gems for them to discover.

Ultimately, user segmentation is a powerful tool for aligning your efforts as a studio with the needs and preferences of your players. By solving these key problems, you can create a more engaging, profitable, and sustainable game that keeps players coming back for years to come.

Different Approaches to Player Segmentation

Of course, not every game should implement the same segmentation strategy. There are various ways to segment players, each offering a different lens through which to understand and cater to your player base. Here are some common approaches:

Behavioral Segmentation

This approach focuses on how players interact with a game. It looks at factors like play frequency, session length, in-game actions, and progress. Behavioral segments might include categories like “daily active players,” “completionists,” or “social butterflies.”

While user behavior is vital to track, it is only a snapshot of what players have done. To make segmentation more effective, the best studios add a layer of psychology, which tells them what players will do.

Demographic Segmentation

This method divides players based on personal characteristics like age, gender, location, income, or education level. Demographic information can be useful for tailoring content, pricing, and marketing strategies to different groups. However, it’s important to remember that demographics only tell a fraction of the story. If you only segment by demographics, you risk missing out on vital nuances that will make segmentation a far more potent strategy.

Psychological Segmentation

While behavior tells you what players did, psychology tells you what they will do. Segmenting by psychology goes beyond surface-level characteristics to uncover players’ attitudes, intrinsic motivations, and personality traits. Psychological segments might include “competitive players,” “story-driven players,” or “escapists.” This type of segmentation can be particularly useful for designing compelling content and features that resonate with players on a deeper level, and optimizing marketing creative based on motivations and personality.

Monetization Segmentation

Segmenting based on players’ spending habits can help you optimize monetization strategies and ensure that your game offers appealing options for players across the spending spectrum. A basic way to segment based on monetization is to divide players into categories high spenders, moderate spenders, and low or non-spenders. A powerful segmentation strategy is to go a step further, and add a layer of psychology to these segments. Understanding the specific motivations of each monetization segment makes bringing high-spending players into your game remarkably straight-forward.

Lifecycle Segmentation

This approach looks at where players are in their journey with the game. Segments might include “new players,” “regular players,” “lapsed players,” or “churned players.” By understanding the unique needs and challenges of players at each stage, studios can create targeted experiences and interventions to improve retention and reactivation.

In practice, a robust segmentation strategy often combines multiple approaches. For example, you might look at the intersection of behavioral and monetization segments to identify your most engaged and valuable players. Or you might combine demographic and psychological insights to create highly targeted marketing campaigns.

The key is to choose segmentation criteria that are relevant to your specific game and business goals. By continually refining your segmentation models based on data and player feedback, you can develop an increasingly nuanced understanding of your player base and make more informed decisions to keep them engaged and satisfied over the long run.


Implementing a segmentation strategy requires an investment of time and resources upfront — but it will pay dividends in the long run. By making data-driven decisions that cater to the diverse needs of your player base, you can create a more engaging, profitable, and sustainable game that will stand the test of time.