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11 Key Mobile Game Metrics That Developers MUST Track

The truth is if you think that the only thing which matters is having a game which is cool & people like to play it – you haven’t been taught right.

Mihovil Grguric

August 20, 2018

Mike: Proper tracking of mobile game metrics is non-arguably the MOST important thing in the mobile game business.

YOU, right now: What? What is this guy saying? The key to success is having a cool game that people like to play… This guy knows nothing.

One of the most common reactions (of developers or studios which just launched their first game) to my thesis on what makes for success in the game business.

The truth is if you think that the only thing which matters is having a game which is cool & people like to play it – you haven’t been taught right.

Don’t get me wrong – the game itself matters a lot. But how unreasonable and egoistic is to expect that something is going to work from the first try?

According to Gartner’s study mobile app market study, less than 0.01% of mobile apps & games are going to be considered a financial success in 2018.

That’s why the proper tracking of the mobile game metrics matters the most. It makes a clear differentiation between one-time (or first-time) developers and game companies which hit success almost every time they launch.

When things don’t work out from the first try – you’ll know what’s not working & then start optimizing towards better performance. Makes sense?

In the upcoming paragraphs, I wrote down the most important mobile game metrics every game developer should be looking at. Let’s dive into them…

1. Installs

The mobile game business is a business of volume. That means that you’re going to make your mobile game a financial success only if you manage to get a large user base.

The number of installs is a fundamental mobile game metric because it ultimately showcases the success or failure of your mobile game.

Also, you’ll use the number of installs in pretty much every formula to derive secondary metrics such as retention, ARPU, and so on…

2. MAU – Monthly Active Users

MAU or “monthly active users” defines unique users who used the app at least once in the last month (30-day period).

To qualify as MAU, a user just has to log in and doesn’t need to engage with the product. With that being said having a high MAU doesn’t mean you’re going to have a lot of user engagement.

Udonis - Mobile Game Monthly Active Users Formula

3. DAU – Daily Active Users

DAU or “daily active users” defines unique users who used the app within a single day (24-hour period).

Have in mind that some companies will calculate DAU in a different way since they’re tracking different user actions.

But a formula for calculating DAU would go something like this:

Udonis - Mobile Game Daily Active Users Formula

4. Stickiness Rate

By dividing DAU over MAU, you’re able to see your stickiness rate. This gives you an insight into a really important question – how many monthly users are daily users?

Udonis - Mobile Game Stickiness Rate formula

Also, an effective way of measuring your stickiness rate is when you combine your Power users and Loyal users.

Power users are people who use your app 10+ times per month and Loyal users are people who return to your app within 3 months of their first session.

In 2016 Silicon Valley’s analyst Andrew Chen analyzed over 125 million mobile games and apps that were available on Google Play Store and had over 10,000 downloads. Here’s what he found out:

    • average app loses 77% of its users in the first 3 days of the install
    • after a month, 90% of users stopped using the app.
  • after 3 months, 5% of your users will continue using it.

Source: Geckoboard DAU/MAU Ratio

In conclusion, if you manage to get users to play the game for the first 3 days, they’re much more likely to continue playing it over a longer period of time.

5. RR – Retention Rate

Retention rate is one of the most important metrics to track in mobile games because it directly impacts your revenue numbers.

Calculating your retention rate is pretty easy and you can follow a formula that goes like this:

Udonis - Mobile Game Retention Rate Formula

It’s one of the mobile game metrics that give you the insight of game performance and general user experience. Mostly, we keep track of day 1, day 7 and day 30 retention rate mobile game metrics so we know if our games are built to last.

Day 1 Retention – It’s all about first impressions. You have to make sure users want to come back for more. They need to get to know the product and understand its value and advantages. This is called onboarding. If not done properly, odds of churning will drastically increase.

Day 7 Retention– This is usually a turning point for an average user. It tells you how much users like the game, interface and overall user experience. It determines whether they’ll continue playing your game.

Day 30 Retention – Time when your customer base has shrunk and the remaining users are the ones who play it on weekly or even daily basis. These players are your loyal users. They like the game. They play it regularly. They’re much more likely to make an in-app purchase.

Source: Appsflyer

6. CR – Churn Rate

Churn rate is the exact opposite of retention rate where you keep track of lost users (the ones which uninstalled your app).

Udonis - Mobile Game Churn Rate formula

Most app owners lose more than 80% of new users in the first 90 days of the install…

Why do people uninstall the game?

The most common reason(s) for uninstalling the game are crashes & bugs.

A study by uSamp, found that freezing (76%), crashing (71%) and slow responsiveness (59%) were the primary bugbears when it came to app problems. If you’re not fast when it comes to solving bugs – bad luck. 62% of users will uninstall the app if they continuously experience crashes, freezes, or errors.

If your game isn’t riddled with bugs and you’re still losing users – the problem lies somewhere else. The game may be too complex (for users to understand), maybe your monetization strategy is too aggressive or the game just lacks that ‘something’ to keep it interesting for users.

Still not understanding why the users are uninstalling your app? The answer to this question can be often found in the review section of Google Play or App Store.

Here’s what analysts at Google say about churn rate

A recent Google study showed that 38% of app users will come back if they’re offered a discount on a certain service, and 25% of app users would return if you offer exclusive or personalized content.

Updating your game’s interface or adding something new to your game will encourage users to come back and starting playing it again.

Source: Localytics 2015 (Dazeinfo)

7. ARPU – Average Revenue Per User

ARPU or “Average Revenue Per User” is a metric that will help you understand whether your business model/monetization strategy works (or not).

When you’re acquiring users via different marketing channels, you’ll see that the ARPU can vary from channel to channel.

Keeping a track of ARPU per channel/source from which users were acquired can help you understand what channel is making you money. Calculating ARPU is easy. Divide the revenue with the number of users in a specific period of time (i.e. day – ARPDAU, week – ARPWAU, month – ARPMAU).

Udonis - Mobile Game ARPU Formula

Want to know what’s your ARPDAU or ARPWAU?

Use the same formula over the desired period of time.

Source: Geckoboard

8. LTV – Lifetime Value

LTV or “Lifetime Value” is one of the most important financial mobile game metrics. LTV is designed to show you the total revenue that you generated (per user) from the start until the end of their lifetime with your game.

How to calculate LTV?

To calculate LTV, there are 3 variables you need to have in mind: monetization, retention, and virality. Here’s one of the models that you can use for calculating LTV:

Udonis - Mobile Game LTV Formula

Why is LTV the most important financial metric out of all mobile game metrics?

Because it defines your marketing strategy and profit margins. How much can you spend to acquire a user (CPI)? Definitely not more than you’re going to earn. This insight is very important when it comes to deciding on marketing channels you’re going to use.

Of course, you can’t know what CPI to expect on a specific channel without testing it first. But you can know what’s your goal CPI, which allows you to properly benchmark results against it.

Game Business - Mobile Game Metrics - LTV Estimates Source: Soomla LTV Estimates

9. ATV – Average Transaction Value

ATV or “Average Transaction Value” is the metric which defines the average value of an in-app purchase or transaction.

Driving higher-value purchases will also bring higher value users while you’re able to establish a one on one connection with them.

Calculating ATV is done by dividing your ad spend with the number of orders you’ve taken.

Udonis - Mobile Game ATV Formula

10. TTP – Time to purchase

Let’s say you launched your app and users are starting to engage. What’s the timeline between a download and a first purchase?

What is the value of that purchase? This metric can improve your ad placement and the things you offer in-game. Converting your users into buyers is done by identifying your conversion goals. Most of the games use different levels, achievements, in-app purchases or in-game items for conversion.

The excellent report brought by Morevisibility will show you how to keep track of this metric.

Source: Propertyobserver

11. CPI – Cost Per Install

CPI or “Cost Per Install” is mainly connected to campaigns that publishers place via digital ads to gain downloads. Advertisers are only charged if users install the app through the ad they clicked on.

The model for calculating CPI is quite simple, you just divide your ad spend with the number of installs.

Udonis - Mobile Game CPI Formula

Why are CPI campaigns crucial? Because it’s a metric that can grow your audience, organize your advertising budget and most importantly increase your revenue.

According to the data from the mobile app marketing company Geenapp, an average cost per install for iOS apps is $0.44 and $0.86 for Android apps.

Source: Greenapp © Statista 2017

Mobile Game Metrics & Next Steps

By following these 11 mobile game metrics, your mobile game app success is guaranteed. Just remember that the most value you bring to your business is by getting valuable users. When you see their behavior you’ll be ready to develop a superb business plan.

If you need me to clarify something for you, ask a question in the comments below or send us a message.

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