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11 Key Mobile Game Metrics That Developers MUST Track

Home » Mobile Marketing » Mobile Games » 11 Key Mobile Game Metrics That Developers MUST Track

Mihovil Grguric

Created: August 20, 2018

Last Update: November 22, 2019

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

YOU, right now: What? What are you saying? The key to success is having a cool game that people like to play… You know nothing.

(That is the most common reaction I get to my statement.)

The truth is, if you think that the only thing that matters is having a cool game that people like to play – you are not right.

Don’t get me wrong – the game itself matters a lot. But it is unreasonable to expect that something is going to work on the first try.

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

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

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

These are the most important mobile game metrics every game developer should be looking at.

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 for secondary metrics, such as retention, ARPU, and so on…

2. 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 different ways since they’re tracking different user actions.

The usual formula for calculating DAU goes like this:

Udonis - Mobile Game Daily Active Users Formula

3. 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 a MAU, a user just has to log in – he doesn’t need to engage with the product. With that being said, having a high MAU doesn’t mean you’re going to have high user engagement.

Udonis - Mobile Game Monthly 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 a Silicon Valley analyst, Andrew Chen analyzed over 125 million mobile games and apps that had over 10,000 downloads on Google Play Store. Here’s what he found out:

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

Source: Geckoboard DAU/MAU Ratio

In conclusion, if you manage to get your users to play your 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

Retention rate gives insight into 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 can 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 the average user. It tells you how much users like the game, interface and overall experience. It determines whether they’ll continue playing your game.

Day 30 Retention – This is when your customer base has shrunk and the remaining users are the ones who play it on a 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. You keep track of lost users (the ones who uninstalled your app).

Udonis - Mobile Game Churn Rate formula

Most app owners lose more than 80% of new users in the first 90 days after 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 – tough 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 don’t understand why the users are uninstalling your app? The answer to this question can often be 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 will 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 start 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 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 important?

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 a metric that 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. How much time has passed between the download and the 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.

This 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 is $0.44 for iOS apps, 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 understand 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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