Four Strategies to Level Up User Retention in Games Using Avatars

In the ever-evolving landscape of gaming, developers are continuously seeking innovative ways to engage and retain players. One crucial aspect that has proven to be immensely effective is the use of avatars. Avatars are virtual representations of players within the gaming environment, and their incorporation into games has opened up a whole new realm of opportunities for enhancing user retention. In this piece, we will share insights from data of over 10,000 companies that have already integrated Ready Player Me into their games and apps and recent developer community survey results to identify four key strategies for how developers can leverage avatars to keep players engaged, grow user retention, and contribute to the overall success of gaming experiences.

Strategy 1: Avatars Drive Personalization and Connection

Avatars bolster user retention by fostering a sense of personalization and connection. On average, players on Ready Player Me create 1.6 avatars, with some creating more than 10. Players customize their avatars to reflect their unique personalities, tastes, and preferences, which leads to a more immersive and enjoyable experience. This is not a new phenomenon. A study by Quantic Foundry in 2018 found that 64% of players prefer games with avatar customization options. 

Figure 1: Customize your Ready Player Me avatar with Mini Royale: Nations

When asked why they create multiple avatars, Ready Player Me survey respondents indicated that multiple avatars allow them to change between styles, including purchasable branded assets. Further, when asked how important personal avatars are, they scored an average of 7/10. When players feel a personal connection to their avatars, especially if they feel the avatar represents them in a personalized or authentic way,  they become emotionally invested in their in-game progress, achievements, and interactions with other players. This sense of attachment encourages players to return to the game regularly, ensuring consistent user engagement.

Strategy 2. Create an Emotional Investment and Achievement

Avatars contribute significantly to players' emotional investment in the game world. As they navigate through the virtual environment with their avatars, players experience a range of emotions, from triumph and elation during successful quests to determination in overcoming challenges. These emotions create lasting memories that players associate with the game, increasing their desire to return to the familiar, immersive world they've grown attached to.

Figure 2: House of Math uses quests to incentivize players to continue learning new skills

Additionally, numerous studies¹ highlight the importance of unlocking achievements and rewards that significantly impacted player engagement and enjoyment. Players who actively pursued and unlocked achievements are more likely to continue playing the game and expressed a stronger intention to purchase or unlock additional content and rewards. Avatars and assets, such as outfits, skins, and cosmetics, can serve as a visual representation of players' progress and achievements within the game. Players work hard to level up their avatars, unlock special abilities, and acquire unique items, which creates a sense of accomplishment. This feeling of progression is a powerful motivating factor for players to continue playing and investing their time in the game.

Strategy 3. Encourage Social Interaction and Community Building

Avatars serve as social bridges, enabling players to interact with each other within the gaming world. In fact, nearly 20% of all games integrated with Ready Player Me can be classified as virtual worlds. Whether it's teaming up for cooperative gameplay or engaging in friendly competition, avatars facilitate social interactions that can lead to the formation of strong in-game communities. These communities offer players a sense of belonging and camaraderie, making the gaming experience more enjoyable and meaningful.

With the increasing interest in Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Spatial Computing, and major tech vendors putting significant investment behind devices such as the Quest and Vision Pro headsets, the interest for game developers to integrate avatars into their worlds will continue to accelerate. In 2022 alone, we saw a 10.3% increase in developers looking to add avatars to virtual worlds, suggesting an upcoming swell in interest in immersive technology. Game developers have an opportunity to be at the forefront of this shift with personalized avatars.

Furthermore, avatars in multiplayer games often allow players to communicate nonverbally through gestures and expressions, breaking down language barriers and fostering a deeper level of understanding among diverse players. This inclusivity further strengthens the sense of community and encourages players to return for the social aspect of the game. It is estimated that in Fortnite, one of the largest online multiplayer games, players spend nearly 10% of in-game purchases on emotes and dance moves. 

Strategy 4. Grow Brand Awareness

Brands looking to reach new, and global audiences can utilize avatars in mixed-media campaigns to create unique and immersive experiences that blur the lines between physical and digital. BMW, for example, in the launch of their recent iX1 electric vehicle, used Ready Player Me avatars to grow brand awareness and paint a picture of the always-connected future of driving. Through this campaign, BMW was able to have over 400,000 avatars wearing their branded clothing by users in 217 countries around the world. 

With nearly 60% of addressable players in the Ready Player Me network classified as gen-z or millennials, who have grown up in a hybrid digital and physical world, the opportunity for brands looking to incorporate avatars into their products and marketing campaigns to grow brand awareness is endless. 


In conclusion, avatars play a pivotal role in enhancing user retention in games by fostering personalization, emotional investment, a sense of community, and a blurring of the lines between physical and digital brand awareness. By creating virtual representations of players and allowing them to customize their in-game persona, avatars establish a strong emotional connection between players and the gaming world. As players invest time and effort into developing their avatars and interacting with others, they form lasting bonds and a sense of belonging, further solidifying their commitment to the game.

Ultimately, the power of avatars lies in their ability to immerse players in a dynamic and captivating virtual universe, ensuring that they return time and again to continue their adventures, achieve new milestones, and partake in meaningful social interactions. As the gaming industry continues to evolve, avatars will remain a crucial tool for developers to keep players engaged and entertained for the long haul. Ready Player Me has designed a platform for Developers to quickly and easily integrate avatars into their games and apps and improve user retention. You can get started for free today. 

  1.  The Achievement Effect: The Role of Gaming Achievement in Game Selection and Purchase Intentions" (2018) and The Anatomy of Video Game Completion" (2017)