Retention in F2P Games

Retention rate is an important metric for success in mobile gaming, and it becomes even more important as CPI (Cost Per Install) increases due to increased competition. Here are some reasons why:

Cost: A higher retention rate means that players are more likely to keep coming back to the game, reducing the need for expensive user acquisition campaigns. This is especially important when CPI is high, as it can be difficult to acquire new users at a reasonable cost.

Revenue: Players who stick around longer are more likely to spend money within the game, which can help offset the higher CPI. Retained users are also more likely to engage with in-app ads and make purchases, contributing to the game’s revenue stream.

Virality: Retained players can also help with user acquisition by recommending the game to their friends and sharing it on social media. This can help reduce the need for expensive advertising campaigns.

Type of Retention Rates

There are three main types of retention: short-term retention (D1, D2, D3), mid-term retention (D7-30), and long-term retention (D30+).

Short-Term Retention (D1, D2, D3): Short-term retention is typically the highest, as users are still exploring the game and deciding whether or not to continue playing. Factors that can affect short-term retention include

  1. Onboarding
  2. Game Tutorial and UI
  3. Core Gameplay Mechanics

Mid-Term Retention (D7, D15, D30): Mid-term retention is crucial for the success of a mobile game, as it represents users who have made a commitment to the game and are more likely to stick around. Factors that can affect mid-term retention include

  1. Game’s Difficulty Level
  2. Performance and Stability
  3. Social features that encourage users to engage with other players

Long-Term Retention (D30+): Long-term retention is the most difficult to achieve, as it represents users who have been playing the game for an extended period of time. Factors that can affect long-term retention include

  1. Game’s progression
  2. New content and events
  3. Community of players inside the Game

Candy Crush is an example of a mobile game that achieved long-term success through high user retention. The game had D30: 25%, and D90: 10% allowing it to maintain a loyal user base that generated billions in lifetime revenue. The game’s simple yet addictive gameplay and colourful graphics helped it become a viral hit, but its long-term success can be attributed to its high retention rates.

How do retention rates vary by game genre?

Retention rates can vary greatly depending on the genre of the game, and several factors can influence them, such as gameplay mechanics, level design, social features, and monetization strategies.

Typically, games that offer more immersive and captivating gameplay and create a sense of community and social interaction among players tend to have higher retention rates.

  1. Strategy and Role-Playing Games tend to have high retention rates due to their intricate gameplay mechanics, which require players to invest significant time and effort.

  2. Multiplayer Online Battle Arena games like League of Legends and Dota 2 also tend to have high retention rates, mainly because of the team-oriented gameplay and active esports scene.

  3. Casual and Hyper-Casual Games generally have lower retention rates as they are often more simplistic and repetitive than other genres.

Strategies Behind the Long-Term Retention of Top Games

  1. Clash of Clans: Clash of Clans is a freemium mobile strategy game developed by Supercell that has consistently remained one of the highest-grossing games on both the App Store and Google Play. One of the key strategies that Supercell used to achieve long-term success with Clash of Clans was continuous content updates that kept the game fresh and engaging for players. They also built a strong community around the game, with social features that allowed players to connect with each other and compete against each other. Another strategy that helped increase retention rates was the use of daily bonuses and rewards that encouraged players to log in and play every day.

  2. Pokemon Go: Pokemon Go is a location-based augmented reality game developed by Niantic that became a global phenomenon when it was released in 2016. One of the key strategies that Niantic used to achieve long-term success with Pokemon Go was the use of limited-time events and challenges that encouraged players to keep coming back to the game. They also leveraged the nostalgia factor of the Pokemon franchise to attract a wide audience and built a sense of community by allowing players to join teams and compete against each other in gym battles.

  3. Candy Crush Saga: Candy Crush Saga is a puzzle game developed by King that has consistently been one of the most popular mobile games since its release in 2012. One of the key strategies that King used to achieve long-term success with Candy Crush Saga was the use of addictive gameplay mechanics that kept players engaged for hours. They also leveraged the freemium model to allow players to play for free but offered in-app purchases to speed up gameplay or unlock additional content. Another strategy that helped increase retention rates was the use of social features that allowed players to connect with each other, send each other lives, and compete against each other on leaderboards.