Mobile Games CPI Rates 2023: How to Stay Ahead of the Curve

Chiara Patrizi
April 27, 2023
Mobile Games CPI Rates 2023: How to Stay Ahead of the Curve

In the world of mobile gaming user acquisition, advertisers are fighting to win the hearts and wallets of gamers everywhere. With the stakes higher than ever, the cost per install (CPI) has become the ultimate battleground. As we look ahead to 2023, it's important to understand the trends and projections for Mobile Games CPI rates, as this metric will continue to shape the mobile gaming industry and its investments in marketing and user acquisition. Let's dive into the world of Mobile Games CPI rates and find out what has changed. 

  1. What is CPI and why is it important for your mobile game ad campaign
  2. Running a CPI campaign for mobile games
  3. Mobile games CPI rates trends 2023
  4. Mobile games CPI by platform
  5. Mobile games CPI by region
  6. Mobile games CPI by category

What is CPI and why is it important for your mobile game ad campaign

Cost Per Install, or CPI, is a popular metric used in mobile games app marketing to measure the cost of acquiring a new user who installs and opens an app.

To calculate Cost Per Install (CPI), divide the total amount spent on advertising over a specific time period by the number of new installs from the same period. The formula for CPI is:

The lower the CPI, the better, as long as lower prices don't mean lower quality of new users acquired. 

For mobile games, CPI measures the cost of getting a player to download and start playing the game. CPI is important because it helps game developers and advertisers understand how much they are spending to acquire new users and whether they are getting a good return on their investment, therefore it is an effective indicator of the effectiveness of your mobile game ad campaign.  By tracking CPI, game developers can optimize their advertising spending, identify key acquisition channels, and improve the overall user acquisition process.

Running a CPI campaign for mobile games

Running a CPI campaign for mobile games can be beneficial because it allows game developers to acquire new users at a cost-effective rate. CPI campaigns are focused on acquiring users who are potentially interested in playing the mobile game, which can lead to higher user retention rates and ultimately, higher lifetime value of players. 

Additionally, CPI campaigns can be optimized to target specific user segments that are more likely to engage with the game and generate revenue, such as users who play similar mobile games or users who are interested in the same game's genre. By leveraging CPI campaigns, game developers can drive growth and revenue for their mobile games while keeping user acquisition costs under control.

Furthermore, CPI represents a low risk for advertisers relative to other advertising models because they only pay when a user actually installs the app, as opposed to paying for ad impressions or clicks that may not result in an installation. This means that CPI campaigns can be more efficient and cost-effective for game developers, as they only pay for actual results. 

However, while running a CPI campaign it is important to keep in mind that driving installs doesn’t necessarily mean that a user will perform an In-App purchase. CPI measures the cost of acquiring a new user who installs the app, but it does not measure how engaged those users are with the mobile game once they have installed it. 

A user may install the app but may not engage with it beyond the initial installation, which can result in a low retention rate and ultimately, lower ROI for the advertising spend. For this reason, game developers may need to use additional metrics, such as in-app engagement, retention rate, and revenue per user, to measure the success of their app and ensure that they are acquiring high-quality users who are likely to generate revenue and drive growth for the mobile game.

Mobile games CPI rates trends 2023

As the Mobile Gaming Industry continues to shift and evolve, it is important to keep an eye on the mobile games CPI rates in 2023 according to Casual Gaming Apps Report  2023 by Liftoff. 

However, it's worth noting that Mobile Games CPI rates can vary widely depending on the specific game genre, platform, region parameters used in a given campaign. Keeping track of these trends and monitoring mobile games CPI rates closely can help developers and advertisers to optimize user acquisition campaigns, acquire new users efficiently, and drive growth for their mobile games. Let’s crunch some numbers, shall we?

Mobile games CPI by platform

One of the variables that can influence mobile games CPI is the platform used by a potential user. This is because different mobile platforms, such as iOS and Android, have different user demographics and competition, which can lead to variations in the cost of acquiring new users. For example, iOS users tend to have higher lifetime value than Android users, which means advertisers may be willing to pay more for acquiring an iOS user. 

Additionally, iOS users are usually more willing to spend money in-app, compared to Android users, this means that there are less chances that they will delete the app, therefore there will be a higher average cost per install for iOS platforms. 

Liftoff’s data prove this, in fact acquiring users on iOS  ($2.23) costs 3 times more than on Android ($0.63).

However, it must be stressed that the differences between iOS and Android may mitigate or increase depending on the various countries/regions, where the OS market shares can be very different. 

Mobile games CPI by region

The Cost per Install (CPI) rates for mobile games can vary depending on the region. For instance, some regions may have higher user acquisition costs due to greater competition, while others might be less expensive to acquire users due to lower saturation in the market. As such, it is essential for game developers and advertisers to stay up-to-date with mobile games CPI trends across different regions to optimize user acquisition campaigns cost-effectively. 

According to the Casual Gaming Apps Report  by Liftoff,  in 2023 North America has the highest CPI rate ($3.59), approximately 4 times more than EMEA ($0.90).

The lowest CPI is owned by Latin America ($0.55).

During this period of economic downturn, it is crucial to carefully evaluate in which countries you should run your mobile game ad campaign. 

According to Appsflyer’s Country Performance Index, US leads the ranking in 9 out of 13 game genres in iOS gaming with a high share of paying users. The US are followed in the rankings at No. 2 by China and No. 3 by South Korea. Regarding the hyper casual games genre, Appsflyer identifies as hidden gems countries of iOS gaming Chile and Colombia ranked second and third respectively in Hyper-Casual games.

As for Android Appsflyer identifies US, India and Japan as the top 3 tier countries. US leads the ranking thanks to five out of eight #1 spot, again driven by a high share of paying users. 

Speaking of hidden gems for the Casino game genre, Netherlands boasts 2nd place in ranking thanks to both a low paid install share and a low level of competition.

Mobile games CPI by category

Last but not least, Cost per Install (CPI) rates for mobile games can also vary depending on the game category or genre. Each mobile game category has its own unique characteristics, target audience, and level of competition, which can impact CPI rates. For example, casual games, such as puzzle or arcade, may have a lower CPI compared to games in the mid-core or hardcore genres, such as strategy or role-playing games, due to the broader appeal of casual games. In fact, casual and  hyper-casual games boast a larger user base, due to the fact that playing them involves almost minimal effort for users.

However, since they attract players who are not willing to commit too much, hyper-casual games tend to monetize less through in-app purchases and this compensates for the lower CPI compared to other game categories.

According to Liftoff Report, which focuses on 3 popular game genres (Puzzle, Simulation and Lifestyle), Lifestyle CPI ($1.32) costs 2 times more than Simulation one ($0.59), which is the most convenient genre. On the other hand, Puzzle game CPI is fixed at ($0.90).

In a Nutshell

With the ever-changing landscape of mobile games, staying up-to-date with Mobile Games CPI Rates 2023 is vital, since it allows advertisers to improve their mobile games marketing efforts and succeed in a highly competitive mobile games market.

Understanding the cost per install (CPI) trends in the mobile games industry is crucial for game developers and advertisers to optimize their user acquisition campaigns and achieve higher return on investment (ROI). Mobile Games CPI rates can vary depending on several factors, such as the platform, game category or genre, and region. In 2023, we can expect continued evolution of Mobile Games CPI rates in response to changing user behaviors, mobile technologies, and advertising channels. So start analyzing your Mobile Game CPI data - your ROI will thank you!