The Data Behind Customer Acquisition and Retention For F2P Mobile Games
Three things you need to do in order to build profitable free-to-play mobile games.
In our last post, we looked at a few of the factors attributed to the ever-rising popularity of the free-to-play (F2P) model for mobile games.
Free-to-play games are consistently ranked among the most profitable apps in the market.
If you had to read that sentence twice, rest assured you understood it correctly. Free games can mean big bucks for developers. But getting there isn’t an easy task as there are a number of unique hurdles facing F2P mobile app publishers when it comes to monetization.
Here are our top three tips for overcoming these hurdles ensuring a positive return for your free-to-play game:
1. Get engaged players. Hordes of them.
Success in the free-to-play model is a numbers game. The reality of the situation is that you’ll never see a dime from the vast majority of your players.
Only 2.2% of active free-to-play gamers ever purchase content in app. And the real revenue comes from an even smaller proportion – with half of all in-app revenue contributed by 0.15% of players.
Let’s do the math on this. If one million people install your mobile game, the math would suggest that two-thirds of these players will ditch the game within 24 hours. That leaves you with approximately 335,000 players. Let’s call these your active players. Among this number, 7,370 are likely to make some sort of purchase and a mere 500 will make a significant enough contribution to add up to 50% of your app’s revenue.
That’s 500 high-value customers out of 1,000,000 installs.
Moral of the story: You need a lot of players before you can start seeing any revenue.
2. Know your metrics. Does it make sense to invest in app install ads?
The typical solution to problems of scale is to throw money at the problem. Invest a few grand in app install ads and watch your customer-base grow. As long as customers contribute more than they cost, you’re doing something right.
Of course, this isn’t a problem if players remain engaged for at least six weeks… but only 10% of customers do.
(For more information on the math of the app business, check out our recent post on The Five Mobile Marketing Metrics That Matter Most.)
3. Focus on retention and customer churn.
Acquiring customers isn’t cost-effective and driving organic traffic can be a nightmare as there are over 300,000 mobile games in the iOS App Store alone – many of which are competing for the same ASO keywords.
Getting players is hard. Keeping them is harder.
On average, mobile games retain 15% of players one month after installation and only 4% three months out. Here are two data-tested ways to improve your mobile game’s retention rates:
Get players playing faster.
SuperData Research conducted a five-year study on retention in mobile MMO (massively multiplayer online) games and found that if you want to boost retention, you need to get players in the game ASAP.
The study found that the closer to the game’s launch that players first sign on, the longer they’re likely to be retained. On average, 6.2% of the players who first signed in within one month of a game’s initial launch, the research indicated, signed in again 360 days later. In contrast, only 0.63% of players who signed in one year after the MMOG’s initial launch logged on again 360 days later.
The study attributes fandom a leading cause of the retention delta, where the mobile game’s most loyal fans will be aware of the game prior to its release and eager to start playing the day it comes out. As such, the first month is crucial in deciphering how well your game lives up to fan’s expectations and providing a peak at what retention will look like over the next 11 months.
Additionally, the study found that 83% of players who first signed in within one month of the game’s release signed in the following day and 20% signed in 30 days later. For players that first signed in one year after the game’s launch, 35% signed back in the following day and only 3% one month later.
Interact with your mobile game’s players.
And what’s the single most effective way for a free-to-play mobile game to boost retention? Customer engagement.
Our data, measuring over 60 million in-app interactions, has found that app publishers who interact with their mobile customers one way or another see retention ways 2-4 times higher than those of publishers who do not proactively interact.
According to the findings, the average mobile game retains 35.67% of its customers one week after their first sign-in and 14.72% one week out. On average, app makers that interact with their customers see these numbers rise to 63.54% and 31.89%, respectively.
It’s hard enough to get people to discover and play your mobile game – do everything you can to keep them engaged.
We hope these tips helped you think about your mobile game’s monetization strategy. If you ever find yourself in need of a little help – we’re here every step of the way.