Want to know why people keep abandoning your mobile game? You’re not alone. Churn rate is a mobile game metric that keeps game developers awake at night.
Users abandon apps all the time, even the ones they like.
For this reason, every user you manage to keep is valuable.
There are so many reasons why this happens. Tracking this metric will help you spot your game’s weak spots before they turn into problems.
Lowering churn rate and increasing user retention for mobile games isn’t an exact science, but there are some methods that work.
Let’s get into more detail about churn rates.
Churn Rate in Mobile Games Explained
Churn rate tells you how many users leave and never come back to your game. In other words, it measures how many of them uninstalled your game. More precisely, churn rate is the percentage of users that quit playing a game over a certain time period.
If this reminds you of another important mobile game metric, you’re on the right track.
Churn rate is the opposite of the retention rate.
Retention rate is defined as the percentage of users that come back to play after the first time they launched the game. For proper understanding and calculation of churn rate, you have to track and understand retention rates for your mobile game. We typically measure retention rates in three time periods:
- Day 1
- Day 7
- Day 30
Calculating Churn Rate
Just like retention rate, churn rate is measured for a certain group of users over a period of time.
Typically, the largest churn happens during the first 7 days after the user first launches the game. After that, this number continuously increases until it finally stabilizes after 30 days.
That being said, to calculate churn rate, we use this simple formula based on retention rate data.
In numbers, if your game has a day 1 retention rate of 55%, your churn rate for that day would be 45%.
If you’re looking to calculate your monthly churn rate, it gets a little more complex, so let’s use an example. Let’s say you want to compare the number of users that installed the game during June to the ones who are still playing your game in July.
First, add up all users you had over June. That includes the number of users from June 1st and those newly acquired throughout the month, let’s call them monthly users. Then take the number of users that left by the end of June and divide this by the number of monthly users. To get a percentage, multiply this number by 100.
Now that you know your numbers, it’s time to get into reasons why people churn on your mobile game.
Why Users Churn
The question that bothers game publishers the most is why do their users churn. Is it because of bad user experience, do they get bored quickly, or is it something else? To get to the bottom of this, let’s have a look at a typical user journey.
On the first day when the users launch a game, they get a first impression. At this point, the players evaluate the interface, game tutorial, and content. This is called the onboarding experience. If players churn on the first day, you probably lost them for good. However, if they stay, they are about to further explore your game’s features.
After a week, you can get a clearer idea of whether people like your game. During this phase, they are getting to know your game’s mechanics, features, and other characteristics. If they tend to churn at this phase, this is where you look for a problem. Make sure they can unlock new features, whether it’s items, levels, or skins. In other words, don’t allow them to get bored in a week!
Finally, your churn rates after 30 days tell you if your game can generate loyal users. Typically, those players that play the game after a month’s time are not going to uninstall it. In this phase, you can be assured of your game’s quality: UI, graphics, core loop, and other elements. Your task here is to keep them excited about it.
With this in mind, you can learn why users churn based on when they churn. For example, if you notice a high day 1 churn rate, the problem might be the onboarding process. If it happens during the first few days, take a deeper look at which features are giving them headaches, etc.
On the technical side, common reasons for churning include crashing, freezing, and load times.
Most Common Reasons for Player Churn
When it comes to in-game and external features that can chase the users away, here are some of the most common ones:
- Game complexity. Mostly refers to the onboarding phase and the game tutorial.
- Friends that quit playing. Social interactions highly affect churn rates.
- Moving to a similar competitor’s title. If a new game in the same genre appears, some of the players might switch to it.
- There is no new content to see. Once the players have nothing new to win, unlock, or progress, they tend to quit.
- Repetitive tasks. If the players constantly have the same or similar activities, they will eventually get bored.
- Paywalls and high prices. Free games shouldn’t force users to pay too early and too much.
- Sending out too many reminders. Including push notifications, email notifications, and other messages.
- Aggressive in-app purchases, i.e., offers. Any kind of offer should be integrated seamlessly.
- In-app ads are too frequent. Mobile game players don’t like frequent gameplay interruptions. They prefer seeing longer ads less frequently.
Methods For Lowering Churn Rate
After you detect the main reasons why users are churning, you will have a better understanding of what you can do about it. It all comes down to the cause.
Basically, you will use the same methods that are used for improving user retention. This will give you the long-term results you want to see.
In fact, according to Clevertap, if you manage to lower churn rates by just 5%, that can improve your profits by 75%!
Here are some of the industry’s best practices for lowering churn rate.
1. Create a Good First-Time User Experience
When the users start their first session, give them a great first-time user experience. The key to this is keeping everything clear and simple. This includes the tutorial, login options, and understanding what the game is all about.
The game tutorial should be intuitive and interactive. However, don’t make a pre-play tutorial mandatory. You can throw them directly into gameplay and guide them as they play.
When it comes to the login process, make it quick. Make sure they don’t have to type in a bunch of personal information before they can start playing. That is avoided by including social (e.g., Facebook, Gmail) login options. Equally important, don’t force them to log in. You should always give your players the option to play as guests.
2. Steadily Introduce Features
Show the users only those features they need to see. When they first start playing, they don’t have to see all the features, options, or modes you have to offer. Make sure the player can simply navigate through the interface.
As they progress through the game, introduce new features. For example, let’s say your average user plays 4 sessions a day. With that in mind, you can time new in-game features to always appear after 4 sessions. This will keep the interface uncluttered and simple.
This kind of approach will also positively affect user interaction. When they log in, they should always have a new goal in mind. As users progress:
- Unlock new play modes
- Introduce new content
- Visualize achievements
- Set a series of mini-tasks
In other words, always give the players something to do. Whether it’s daily or weekly tasks and goals, it should do the trick – make them feel motivated.
3. Stay on the Users’ Screens
Use different opt-in techniques to remind the users of your game while they are not playing. To do so, you can use different reminders like push notifications, alerts, and email notifications. Just make sure they are not too frequent and actually include valuable information.
4. Listen and Interact
Invite your players to share their honest opinions about the game. Sometimes the feedback will be positive, sometimes negative, and the most important thing is not to ignore it.
Give them a platform to communicate with you outside the app store. That can be a forum, in-game customer service, social media, etc. Reply to their comments and, if possible, promise solutions. This might help you keep players because they will feel like you’re doing your best to solve their problems.
5. Include Player vs. Player Modes
If it’s possible for your game type, add a PvP feature to your game. A competitive environment is a great way of keeping the players excited and boosting their engagement rates. You can do this by giving them a chance to play against random people or their friends.
There is one trick you can use after the “match” ends. Don’t make it a “winner takes all” situation. For example, you can give small rewards to players just for participating.
Another thing you can implement for social engagement is including leaderboards. This can make the players keep playing to beat others’ high scores.
6. Surprise the Players With Rewards
Rewarding players is especially important in the beginning when they are most likely to churn. Regularly give out currency, lives, items, or time-limited offers. Naturally, what you choose will depend on the nature of the game and your monetization KPIs.
However, don’t reward them too often. Always handing out free stuff will ruin the surprise and the players will start taking it for granted. Some good reward practices are:
- Rewarding users after completing in-app purchases with additional value
- Include rewarded video ads
- Target loyal players to keep them engaged
7. Don’t Punish Inactive Players
Some game developers think punishing players that didn’t log in for a while will keep them coming back. However, this can be a slippery slope.
Imagine coming back to a game after a long time for legitimate reasons (a trip, illness, work) just to see all your previous progress gone. What you can do instead is reward them for regularly logging in.
8. Avoid Fake Advertising
Are you using paid advertising to acquire new players? We highly recommend you do. Another thing we recommend is using video ads for promoting your mobile game.
Creating video ads can seriously boost your conversion rates.
However, many games have ads that deceive people. After you pay for acquiring them, you don’t want them punishing you by churning.
For this reason, stick to the best practices for your mobile game video ads: include authentic gameplay and highlight the game’s best features.
Here you can see an example of a non-deceiving and quality-made mobile game video ad by Brawl Stars.
9. Take It Easy with Ads and Offers
Every developer wants to monetize that game either with in-app ads, in-app purchases, or both.
However, many make the mistake of being too aggressive with various offers and ads that are too frequent and disrupt players’ experience. Many players churn for those very reasons.
If you think that might be the case with your game, dial it back and rethink your monetization strategy.
In-app purchases are a great monetization model if done right, so make sure to come up with offers that bring value to users.
The same goes for in-app ads. Never interrupt a user’s playing experience. Instead, place ads at natural breaks.
Another great tip is to utilize rewarded ads more – players love them because they’re opt-in and there’s an incentive for watching them.
10. Avoid Technical Issues
If a game is suddenly experiencing an unusually high churn rate, technical issues are often the culprit. For example, if a game unexpectedly crashes, players are quick to hit that uninstall button.
To avoid that, thoroughly test your game before releasing it. Once it’s out, update it regularly and always be on the lookout for various bugs and solve them immediately.
Oftentimes, users will be the ones who notice an issue with a game, as they’re the ones who are spending the most time playing it, so make sure to listen and make changes accordingly.
Churn Rate Wrap Up
When creating a mobile game, you have to be aware of the fact that most of your users will churn.
Despite that, don’t let churn rate statistics discourage you.
If you’re doing everything in your power to prevent the players from churning, the results will eventually speak for themselves.
Keep track of churn rates, benchmark against others in your genre, and set an acceptable churn limit.
Work on the technical issues, use in-game techniques for retaining users, and most importantly – always listen to your players.