Last update: May 2021

5 mins to read - 2020/06/22

Top KPIs for Mobile Games: Acquisition, Engagement, Conversion

Key Performance Indicators (KPI) are the milestones along your roadtrip to a successful product. They are like a blueprint to measure your product and its progress against. If you hit the appropriate benchmarks for your product, you know that you’re moving in the right direction. While they can differ across industries, KPIs for mobile games are all about engagement. This means creating deeply engrained habits for players that keeps them coming back to your game again and again. And when it comes to doing that, a solid push notification campaign is key.

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

What is a Key Performance Indicator (KPI)?

KPIs for mobile games are metrics that track player behavior across the various stages of their player journey. This means from user acquisition through churn and (hopefully) reactivation. Mobile game companies leverage tons of user data so they can assess their spending habits, their gaming preferences, what time of day they’re more likely to engage, etc. By using this data, they can carefully tweak aspects of the game or its marketing to better appeal to the greatest number of users.

On the whole, these KPIs are metrics of how well you are succeeding at the following 3 actions:

  • Acquiring players (User Acquisition)
  • Keeping players (Engagement/Retention)
  • Turning those players into paying customers (Conversions)

KPIs for Acquiring Players for Your Mobile Game

While organic user acquisition – such as app-store optimization (ASO), referrals, press coverage, etc. – is still a part of any campaign, paid user acquisition is a necessity for smaller gaming apps to compete. As such, KPIs for the acquisition stage become imperative to make sure every player is pulling their weight in terms of overall costs. This, of course, is taking the average for all your players, including the whales and those who slide through without paying a cent. Here are a few possible metrics you could use to determine this.

Cost per install (CPI) is the obvious KPI for measuring this. This takes the amount of money you spent on your UA campaign and divides it by the number of installs you ultimately got. Pretty simple.

Another KPI you could look at is Daily Active Users (DAU) which is a tally of how many unique users open the app per day. After all, once you attain the users, it’s a whole different ballgame to keep them entertained. Cross-reference this metric with Monthly Active Users (MAU) to look at how well your mobile game retains users over an extended period of time.

This ratio (DAU/MAU) is referred to as “stickiness,” and shows you which monthly-basis players also open your app on a daily basis. In the mobile games industry, a 20% DAU/MAU ratio is considered extremely high performance. 7% and below, on the other hand, is poor.

KPIs for Engaging Mobile Game Players

When it comes to mobile game engagement, push notifications should be your #1 tool. Engagement is all about habit building, and push notifications, when timed correctly, can be a powerful tool for reinforcing opening your gaming app at a certain time every day. And when it comes to measuring how well your game is building habits in players, there are plenty of KPIs to look at:

  • number of sessions
  • length of sessions
  • interval between sessions
  • player actions per session

Combine number of sessions with some other metric to give it context – for example, DAU. However, number and length of sessions of daily gameplay considered “high-performing” can differ depending on your game’s genre. For a hyper-casual game, a good benchmark to aim for might be 10-15 1-minute sessions per day. An RPG with an involved narrative might see most users completing one 45-minute session per day.

Length of intervals between gaming sessions can be used to gauge how addictive your game is. And you can then track the behaviors of players during those sessions to advise how you can ramp up that addictiveness. What action to they complete most often? What is the optimum number of loot boxes? How long can you lock them out of gameplay before they lose the taste and download some other app as opposed to purchase in-game currency to unlock more playing time?

Most importantly, what aspects of the game is causing players to close the app? What actions have they attempted and failed at? Is this a constant across a large cohort of players? If so, that barrier to engagement should be changed, or taken away. Otherwise, you run the risk of players churning en masse.

Looking for tips on how to beat churn? Read more: Top 5 Tips to Re-Engage and Beat Customer Churn

KPIs for How To Convert Free Players into Paying Customers

Conversions are the end game for every free-to-play (F2P) mobile game. As a basic KPI, you can calculate your conversion rate by comparing the number of players who purchase something to the total number of players during that stint of time. In many casual games, this can mean ad revenue, generated by how many ads the player encounters. This is a key tactic for hyper-casual games. But for more involved, story-based games, too many ads will interrupt the narrative and may drive players away. For these games, in-app purchases are the main driver of revenues.

The standard KPI for gauging conversions in mobile games is ARPDAU (Average Revenue Per Daily Active User). This can be combined with other KPIs to see how your game is progressing in terms of monetization over a length of time.

Compare ARPDAU with ARPPU (Average Revenue Per Daily Paying User) to see how big of a discrepancy there is. Again, different genres of game will have different ARPPUs, with highly addictive and inherently monetized games, such as casino and RPGs, will have high ARPPUs. If the difference is sizeable, then you may have a lot of players not pulling their weight. And while not all value needs to be monetary – players can also provide value in terms of referrals, exposure, and contributions to the community – be aware that you have a segment of players who may not be worth large expenditures when it comes to churn prevention.

For a closer look at monetization and engagement strategies in F2P games, check out our blog post: Top LiveOps Strategies for Free-To-Play Mobile Games

To learn more about the life cycle of your mobile game and how push notifications play into optimizing your revenues, get in touch with one of our experts.

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

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