Last update: May 2021

4 mins to read - 2019/06/19

5 Ways To Use Push Notifications To Optimize Your Gaming App

On the surface level, launching a mobile game app should be the simplest thing in the world. People are on their phones constantly, so all you should have to do is come up with a great concept for a game, develop said game, then sit back and watch your community grow. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple anymore, as mobile gaming is one of the most oversaturated markets out there.

You might have developed the best, most entertaining mobile game out there, but you’ll struggle to get a foot in the door when a high percentage of your consumer base are still playing old favorites like Angry Birds and Candy Crush.

Push notifications have quickly become the #1 marketing tool for the mobile gaming industry, and user retention improves 15-20% for gamers receiving notifications than those without. Make sure you get your message out there loud and clear, and maximize your customer retention, by sending notifications that not only complement but also actually enhance gameplay. Here are a few strategies to get you started…

Download our Mobile Marketing Playbook to perfect your user engagement game!

1. Inspire Users to Opt-In With Pre-Permission Notification

With iOS, a shocking 60% of users opt out of receiving push notifications from the get-go. Pre-permission in-app notifications are a way to ease users in to the idea of receiving notifications from your app, before you deliver them the Yes/No ultimatum by triggering the permission dialogue. A good way to use this tool is to explain to your user what you intend to use push notifications for, and how opting in can benefit gameplay.

Be specific. For example, you might want to mention how push notifications can offer cheat codes, free points, extra lives, or other in-game goodies that they’ll miss out on if they don’t opt in.

2. Use Push Notifications to Ignite Competition Between Friends

Nothing lights a fire under your users – and pushes them to open up your app and play – like a little friendly competition. You’ll have access to their contacts’ activity on your app, so let them know when their frenemy has outpaced them, or beat their high score.

A few examples…

“Jason just unlocked Level 50! There’s still time for you to catch up!”

“Congrats, you just broke your record for ten days of gameplay! Keep that winning streak going!”

“Alex just beat your all-time high score… don’t let him get away with it!”

Chess pieces on tablet

3. Games Are Fun… Your Push Notifications Should Be Too

Users are more likely to find value in notifications that are entertaining, or that feel like extensions of the game rather than generic content trying to get them to engage. So get creative! Remind them of the world of gameplay they’re missing out on in your app. If they have an in-game profile or avatar, address them as that. Use language particular to your game.

A few examples…

“Your farm animals need to be fed! Check in to make sure nobody goes hungry.”

“Hark, traveler! A darkness descends upon a kingdom without its hero… come back and seize your destiny.”

“Squad Captain: your presence is requested at Checkpoint Falcon at 08:00 hours. Open the app to read your mission debriefing.”

4. Personalize Push Notifications According to User’s Gameplay

Personalization is the golden rule for push notifications across the board, but gaming apps in particular have a wealth of material to work with. Every achievement your user makes in your app can provide material to fuel a dialogue with them. If they beat a particular level or attain a special item, that can be referenced in custom messages that inspire them to come back and play more.

A few examples:

“Wow, we can’t believe you defeated the Volcano Boss in record time! Explore his dungeon to find the +2 Magma Gloves he left behind.”

“Time’s up, pardner. The Sheriff and his men are coming to run you out of town, unless you agree to face him one on one at high noon. Do you accept?”

“Hey there! You have the look of a Water Pokémon aficionado. Did you know there’s a Squirtle nearby that you could easily capture?”

Big house and a Squirtle

5. Offer Discounts for In-App Purchases

Discount codes are a tricky beast. They can do wonders for drawing in an errant user, but at the same time you don’t want users to come to expect them. So they are best used sparingly, once conventional methods of push notification have already been tried. But if your mobile game involves buying gear or modifications for your avatar, try hooking your players by offering them something relevant to their gameplay at a slashed price.

A few examples:

“Morningshire Blacksmith is having a liquidation sale! Use this discount code for 30% off any melee weapon.”

“Spruce up your look with a new hairdo! For a limited time, Azure Hair Spikes are 60% off with this code.”

“Hey there! We want to reward you with a gift. Click below to see if you get 20%, 40%, or 60% off your next in-game purchase!”


As always, a push notification campaign is not an exact science, and a lot of your success at user retention is going to be based on trial and error. Maximize your results by writing stellar content, engaging in A/B testing, and analyzing your results to see what works and what can be abandoned.

OpenBack’s top-ranking push notification platform can provide your gaming app the platform it needs to engage users with perfect timing and an unprecedented level of personalization. Read more about what makes OpenBack unique in the push notification market, and contact one of our experts to see how our GDPR, HIPAA, and COPPA-compliant SDK can optimize your app’s mobile engagement.

To read more about how to use OpenBack to boost player retention and maximize revenues, download our Case Study: Dreamworks How To Train Your Dragon App, School of Dragons

Download our Mobile Marketing Playbook to perfect your user engagement game!


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