15 Key Mobile Game Metrics That Developers MUST Track

15 Key Mobile Game Metrics That Developers MUST Track

by Mihovil Grguric

Me: Proper tracking of mobile game metrics is inarguably 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.

Only a very small percentage of mobile games are 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. If you don’t acquire a large number of users, you won’t be able to earn a significant amount of ad revenue or money from in-app purchases or subscriptions. 

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. This metric provides valuable information on how sticky your game is. 

The usual formula for calculating DAU goes like this:

Udonis - Mobile Game Daily Active Users Formula

For example, the popular mobile game Archero had between 500 thousand and 1.25 million daily active users in 2020. That was reflected in their multimillion-dollar revenue stream.

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 an 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.

The ratio of two interconnected metrics, DAU and MAU, shows you how well your game retains users.

Udonis - Mobile Game Monthly Active Users Formula

For example, a hit casual game Project Makeover got to 45 million monthly active users in just a couple of months of release. That’s quite an achievement – it’s the dream for every developer out there. It shows you it can be done.

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.

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

The 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. However, you can also measure day 60 and 90 retention to get even more insights into how many players stick around. 

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, the odds of churning will drastically increase. Day 1 retention of 30% or more is considered good. On the other hand, if a game’s day 1 retention is very low, it means a game is not good enough. If that’s the case, it’s back to the drawing board. Some publishers even decide to scrap the game and move on to the next project. 

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. Expect that day 30 retention will be much lower than day 1 or day 7 user retention. The players that remain after a month are your loyal users. They like the game. They play it regularly. They’re in it for the long run. They’re much more likely to make an in-app purchase or watch ads to advance in the game. 

According to GameAnalytics, here’s what the average user retention for the top 25%, median, and bottom 25% of mobile games was in 2020. Note that this is an average for all mobile game genres. Some genres have higher retention, while others have lower user retention.

Day 1 retention 

  • 14% for the bottom 25% of games
  • 22% for median games
  • 32% for the top 25% of games

Day 7 retention 

  • 1.5% for the bottom 25% of games
  • 4% for median games
  • 8% for the top 25% of games

Day 30 retention

  • 0% for the bottom 25% of games
  • 1% for median games
  • 3% for the top 25% of games

6. CR – Churn Rate

Churn rate is the exact opposite of the retention rate. You keep track of lost users (the ones who uninstalled your app). In other words, the churn rate measures the percentage of users that stop playing the game over a period of time.

Udonis - Mobile Game Churn Rate formula

Most app owners lose more than 90% of new users in the first month after the install, according to Clevertap.

Why Do People Uninstall Games?

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 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.

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. It 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.

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 placements and your in-game offers. 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.

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 by 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.

The average CPI varies depending on:

  • The country
  • Platform (Android vs. iOS)
  • Ad format

To exemplify, the average iOS CPI in the U.S. stands at $2.37, it is $0.98 in China, while Brazil is significantly cheaper with a $0.22 CPI. With all the variable factors in mind, the global CPI averaged at $2.24 in 2020, according to ironSource. 

12. Session Length

Session length measures the amount of time a user spends actively playing a mobile game. The session starts when the app is opened and lasts until it’s closed or the user becomes inactive. 

THE FORMULA: the time when the user became inactive – the time the app was opened

This metric is an important indicator of user experience and user engagement. It is based on the following assumption →  the longer the session is, the user is more satisfied with the gameplay experience and is performing the desired in-app actions. 

Session lengths are highly variable between game genres and should be benchmarked against similar app types only. For example, according to GameAnalytics, Card and Casino games are the genres that stand out with average session lengths that reach up to 35 minutes. 

Meanwhile, the average session length stands at 4-5 minutes (Soomla). In a word, a good session length is different for every mobile game genre.

13. Session Count

Session count is the average number of sessions played per user in a given period of time. For example, in a day, week or month.

This metric falls into the group of engagement metrics, along with session length, retention, churn rate, and others. However, it is most commonly observed along with session length.

Unlike most metrics on this list, you don’t need a special formula to track session count.

Every time a user opens and closes your game, this counts as a session. If they open and close the game, for example, 10 times in a day, the session count will be 10.

When it comes to desirable session count, the rule is – the more the better. If you manage to get the users to have a big number of sessions (long or short), this is a good thing for your game. If the game’s session count is high, this means the game is engaging enough for players to check it out regularly.

High session counts give you an indication that your game has the power to make users addicted to your game. Consequently, this affects one particular metric – stickiness.

Session count numbers vary between different genres and games.

According to GameAnalytics’ data for the top 25% games in different genres, classic games tend to have the highest session count.

Top classic games average at six sessions per day. On the other hand, the top 25% of casual and mid-core games average at 3 daily sessions.

14. Install Source

While it’s super important to track how many installs you get, you also need to know where they come from. For example, you might learn that many of your installs come from organic channels. That’s very important to know. Or perhaps, you might discover that Facebook is the number 1 channel when it comes to installs.

Knowing this is essential because it allows you to tweak your user acquisition campaigns and improve their performance. For example, you might choose to set aside more of your budget for a certain platform and run more ads there, while putting less focus on a different platform, depending on where installs come from.

15. eCPM

This is an essential mobile game monetization and UA metric all successful publishers analyze and track. It stands for effective cost per mile and its meaning depends on whether you’re on the monetization or the user acquisition side.

If you’re monetizing your game with in-app ads, eCPM tells you how well that is performing. More specifically, how much revenue you’ll earn per 1,000 ad impressions displayed in your game. The goal is to have high eCPMs.

If you’re on the user acquisition side, a high eCPM means you’re paying more than average for an impression. That means your ad will probably get served first, which helps you scale. Thus, in this case, eCPMs describe the campaign’s buying power.

eCPM values also depend on the ad format, ad network, country, and platform (iOS, Android).

Mobile Game Metrics & Next Steps

By following these 15 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.

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About Udonis

Udonis is an independent full-service mobile marketing agency that acquired more than 200,000,000 users for mobile games since 2018. Visitudonis.co

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