Gaming App Growth in 2023: Users Under the Spotlight

Elena Strappato
March 22, 2023
Gaming App Growth in 2023: Users Under the Spotlight

After the pandemic outbreak in 2020, the gaming market saw an incredible growth that contributed to making the two years following, the 2021 and the first quarter of 2022, “the golden age” of mobile game apps.


Unsurprisingly, as the post-pandemic era unfolds, the return to pre-Covid levels risks boiling down to a digital cooldown. In addition, the new data privacy era, the economic downturn due to the war and the rise of inflation, including a general change in macro trends, have negatively impacted the market, affecting overall app installs and consumers behaviors.


Despite these complications, according to the new AppsFlyer report, the gaming app industry still proves resilient with a gaming app install ad spend reaching £26.7 billion on a global level. For this reason, marketers will have to come to terms with all the changes taking place, by being flexible and focusing on their users.


The purpose of this article will be to outline the best strategies you can adopt in 2023 to speed up your gaming app growth and hit the mark.

Major Changes in User Acquisition for Mobile Games in 2023 

In light of what has been mentioned above, the radical changes taking place seem to have affected for the most part mobile game users’ behaviors inside the apps. As a result, user acquisition for mobile games is foreseen to experience several major changes. For instance, in-appadvertising stayed strong in driving revenues only in hyper-casual games whiledeclining across most categories in 2022. 


Therefore, in the 2023 economy, marketers are expected to be almost compelled to prioritize in-app revenues over a general rise in the number of users, if they wish to improve their gaming app growth. To boost their profits and face all the predicted challenges, marketers will need not only to engage with but also to retain the most loyal and valuable users - those who are most likely to carry out installs and in-app actions to generate revenues. 

Measurement capabilities and key metrics are needed to analyze the campaign performance and understand when, where, and how app developers will have to invest their monetary efforts to catch or retain high-quality users. We must note, in addition, that there have been relevant changes also in the type of metrics marketers are more interested in for assessing their user acquisition campaign. For instance, monetization metrics such as ROI, LTV and ARPU are taking priority. 

However, due to the privacy limitations on iOS, it will not be so easy for marketers to utilize user-level data to connect their campaign performance to gamers’ behaviors and attract new potential customers. Consequently, it will be increasingly important to invest in privacy-enhancing tech and data clean rooms to respect users’ privacy and to make at the same time the safest and timeliest decisions. 

Another factor app developers may want to consider is the development of a widely expanded global market. While the United States keeps its first position as the most profitable target market in a gaming app, the 2023 economy makes room for global investments in other countries such as Japan, India, South Korea, Germany, and the United Kingdom that similarly are seeing a gaming app growth.

How to Measure Your Gaming App Growth with the Retention Rate 


So far, we have commented on the major changes that will occur in the gaming app market. It is high-quality users that will play a key role in your gaming app growth; therefore, marketers’ capability to assess campaign results focusing on users’ profitability and using new types of metrics will be fundamental to understanding whether they have made the rightest investments in user acquisition. 


Among the KPIs metrics that marketers can use to have a deep insight into their performance, the retention rate is probably the tool they cannot really do without. In fact, this key performance indicator keeps track of the percentage of users that continued to use the app during a pre-set period after the first install.  


Why is the Retention Rate so Important? 


Imagine you are the app developer of a free-to-play mobile game app where in-app advertising is the most lucrative resource driving revenues; in-app advertising depends exclusively on the time users spend using the app and being exposed to ads. In this case, retention rate helps you reach your goal: understand if your gaming app was able to retain engaged users as long as possible. 


On the other hand, in case of a high churn rate or a negative performance, the retention rate is a key measure to understand why the users you may have lost decided to uninstall your mobile game, and ceased to engage with it. 


To re-boost your gaming app growth, then, you will be allowed to behave accordingly and reassess your investment strategy, improving the aspects that are not working and shaking dormant users. Finally, the longer customers use your app, the more they are likely to complete some in-app events or actions, which will increase your ROI and will prove the efficiency of your user acquisition campaign. 

UA Re-Engagement to Boost Your Gaming App Growth


If the retention rate is the key metric to monitor your performance results, it follows that engagement and re-engagement are vital intrinsic elements for your gaming app growth.


As we saw, app engagement is the interaction between players and the mobile game app, measurable by several performance indicators. Engagement is particularly relevant in mobile app marketing since a high engagement rate contributes to increasing consumer lifetime value (LFT). Moreover, having an engaged user base means that advertisers understand their audience. Which is quite indispensable to complete another step for your gaming app growth: re-engagement.


The term “re-engagement” is frequently used to name a marketing strategy that seeks to shake dormant users, persuade them to re-engage with the app, and come back to their activities within the apps, to avoid churn rates and wasting not only user acquisition investments but also potential revenue.


It consists of showing targeted and very specific ads to users, and sending them marketing messages (push notifications, emails, and other ads). More in detail, in the world of mobile games, specific messages to re-engage with users can also include specific items to improve their experience within the app or prizes to make your users feel special and unique.


Here for you some of the most effective engagement and re-engagement practices to pave the path for your gaming app growth:

- Set up periodic challenges (daily or weekly) to reward users with items or assets.


- Offer welcome-back gifts for re-engaging with dormant lapsed customers.


- Don’t rant! Steer clear of intrusive in-app ads. You may solicit the opposite effect: instead of encouraging users to keep using the app, excessive ads interrupting the game experience may discourage them from leaving.


- Use in-game rewarding ads where users can decide whether to watch the ad in exchange for a prize.


- Mixed monetization strategies that combine in-app purchases with in-app ads help you not rant with intrusive ads while focusing on deeply engaged users.

For your 2023 user acquisition campaign, customers’ habits and behaviors will represent your absolute priority. Engagement, re-engagement, and retention are three intertwined factors you need to consider if you wish to balance your investments, avoid wasting money and reap the benefits!