Optimizely Explains How It Boosted SimCity Pre-Order Revenue

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Fly Or Die: Divvy

Here’s an example of a company using Optimizely‘s A/B testing tools for a high-profile game launch.

The startup, which recently raised a $28 million Series A, is releasing a case study today about how Electronic Arts used Optimizely to boost preorders for the new version of SimCity. Prior to the SimCity launch (and before all of that launch’s attendant problems) EA division Maxis was trying to drive online pre-orders by offering a discount, and it was promoting the deal in a large banner on the pre-order page (as seen below) and in ads — but it wasn’t seeing the improvement that it expected.

So it turned to Optimizely to test out different ideas about how to lay out the preorder page, each one corresponding “with a hypothesis the team had set beforehand regarding placement, color, and display of the promotional offer.” They also had a version that removed the promotional offer altogether. Since Maxis wanted to find an answer quickly, it ran these tests with 100 percent of its site traffic, and it found a surprising result — the preorder page with no offer whatsoever drove 43.4 percent more purchases than the others.

That seems pretty counterintuitive. One explanation offered in the case study is that the offer was pushing the actual call-to-action (namely, the preorder button) down the page. Whatever the reason, that approach clearly seemed to work, and it’s the one that Maxis adopted for its preorders.

simcity-original-variation

Ultimately, SimCity launched on March 6. In May, EA announced that it had sold 1.6 million copies, and about half of them were digital downloads.

“Optimizely helped us learn a lot about our users – what’s working and what’s not – so we could make changes on our site to optimize our conversion percentages,” said Mike Burk, senior online product manager at Maxis, in the press release. “In the end, this translated to higher revenue for us.”

You can read the case study here.