Retention Rate: The Key To Success For Mobile Games

Chiara Patrizi
March 15, 2023
Retention Rate: The Key To Success For Mobile Games

When it comes to UA strategy for mobile games, there are several metrics (KPIs) to measure and track to obtain information about your mobile game’s performance. All KPIs are different, because they provide you with data related to a specific area.  The retention rate is arguably the most important metric to measure whether your campaign is hitting the mark or not. 

In fact, not only retention rate allows you to assess the performance of your app, but it also shows you which strategies are bringing high-quality users that ensure you significant monetization opportunities. Let's break it down in detail, shall we?

What is Retention Rate?

Retention rate is an important KPI (Key Performance Indicator), which measures the percentage of customers who continue to use your mobile game over a pre-set period after the app install. This metric is usually measured after Day 1, Day 7, and Day 30. The goal is to keep users engaged with your app over time and this is particularly important for F2P (Free-To- Play) mobile games, because the longer a user continues to use the app,  the higher will be the chances of positive revenues.

Why is Retention Rate Important for Your Mobile Game?

Working on the retention rate is important for the profitability of the User Acquisition campaign. Since advertisers pay with CPI model, which means they pay for each install, it is important for them not to waste money on users who never return to use the app. 

Generally speaking, the retention rate is a key metric for your app promotion campaign, because it shows  you: 

1. How good is your Mobile Game performance and if your UA campaign is reaching the right audience.

If a high number of users continue to use the app over time, there is a greater chance that they will perform In-App events. This is a positive signal, not only from a brand loyalty point of view, but  also from a financial one. In fact, more users equals more In-App Events and In-App Purchases that will increase your ROI. Therefore, if the performance of your game is positive it means that you are reaching your users through the right channels and that your UA campaign is extremely effective. 

On the other hand, a higher churn rate is a huge red flag. That’s why retention rate metric is crucial, because in case of a negative performance it allows you to reassess your strategy and invest budget on the right campaigns.

2. How to improve Users’ Lifetime Value.

Retention rate allows you to understand why users decide to uninstall your mobile game and at which moment they decide to stop engaging with it. To have this data in hand means to have the possibility to improve some aspects within your mobile game so as to encourage users to continue using it. Therefore, retention rate also allows you to understand how to boost your users’ lifetime value. 

Retention rate can also help you understand whether the users flow within the app, from install to monetization, is properly working. Optimizing the user funnel is crucial to assess which features of the app are working and which are not, for example what influences a user to install your app, or at which passage users leak from the funnel. 

3. How to Optimize your App Install Campaign

Analyzing users’ experience within your mobile game can help you optimize your app install campaign towards specific events. This optimization process is possible thanks to the use of A.I. and machine learning algorithms.  

Ad networks and DSPs are indeed able, through AI and machine learning algorithms, to analyze and identify a set of contextual dimensions or signals to optimize traffic acquisition. In this way they can target and acquire users with the highest (expected) retention rate. Here’s some examples of contextual dimensions or signals:

- Internet service provider of the user;

- The Geolocation ( Cities, but also ZIP codes);

- Internet Connection type;

And many others!

Improve customers retention rate for mobile game

Ok, now that we talked more in detail about what is the retention rate metric and why it is so important for your app, it’s time to understand how you can improve your mobile game retention.

Make your Mobile game easily accessible

Showing too much information all at once, can overwhelm new users. If your game layout and design are too chaotic, users are more likely to quickly bounce from it and uninstall the app. Having a clear interface and showing simple but effective game tutorials is key for a successful onboarding process, because users are encouraged to discover all the other features of your game. You can also help them during the navigation process by showing them which icons need to be slid, which ones need to be tapped and so on. 

Keep Users Engaged

Without doubt, engagement is key to retention.  There are several ways in which you can keep your users engaged, for example by setting up daily or weekly challenges to pursue and rewarding them with prizes. This will give players a sense of achievement during the game experience that will keep them coming back and continue to pursue new game challenges.

If otherwise you are noticing that there are some lapsed players you can try to re-engage them by offering welcome back gifts. These kinds of rewards make players feel special and therefore, they are most likely to come back using your mobile game, also because they are provided with special items that improve the gameplay experience.

Avoid Intrusive In-Game Advertising

In-Game Advertising  is one of the most common monetization strategies, however this practice should be handled with care. If used frequently, In-Game Advertising can be annoying for players, because even though they know that it is what allows them to play for free, if their game experience is continuously interrupted by ads they will find it tedious. This can lead them to uninstall the app. 

To avoid uninstall actions caused by ads, developers can decide to use In-Game Rewarding Ads, that give users the opportunity of choosing to watch Ad Videos in exchange for a reward. This Ad Format provides users with total control of the advertising experience and gives them the choice to interact with ads. Another method used to avoid uninstallations caused by ads is to apply a hybrid monetization strategy, which combines In- App Ads with In-App purchases.

Retention Rate: A challenge for Hyper-Casual Games

Hyper-Casual games are arguably one of the most popular game categories. However, this game genre is facing some crucial challenges, among them there is the struggle to keep a high retention rate. The reason behind this issue is the nature of the game itself, in fact hyper-casual games are characterized by easy and short session gameplay mechanics that can be initially addictive, but after some time repetitive for players. Furthermore, because of the wide choice they have, users are likely to jump from game to game without engaging with any of them.

Since the market is oversaturated with hyper-casual games, a brand new concept is entering the mobile game world, the hybrid-casual games. These brand new game categories are characterized by the same simple mechanic, however, to increase retention rate, developers have added some mid-core game features, that require strategy skills to reach the victory. The insertion of these features entices users to engage more with the app, since they are more stimulated to come back. 

Key Takeaways

Among all KPIs, the retention rate is arguably one of the most crucial metrics, since it allows you to understand how good your mobile game is performing and whether you should make some changes in your campaign strategy. Let’s do a brief recap to fix in mind some key points.

- Retention Rate is an important metric that measures the percentage of users who continue to use and engage with your app over a certain period of time.

- Retention Rate is a key optimization tool that can be used to understand whether your UA strategy is winning, to analyze your mobile game’ s performance, to improve user’s lifetime value and to optimize your app install campaign.

- Since it is a crucial metric for your mobile game, you should keep in mind some good practices you can perform to improve your app Retention Rate. To give some examples, make your mobile game easily accessible, keep users engaged and avoid intrusive In-Game Advertising. 

- Hyper-Casual games are one of the most thriving game categories, however they suffer from a low retention rate. To solve this problem, a brand new concept has been introduced in the mobile game world: Hybrid-Casual games, which blend the simple repetitive mechanic of Hyper-Casual with mid-core game features.