Growth 7 min read  - October 25, 2016

Know Your Vitals: 17 Metrics For a Healthy Mobile Game

You’ve spent countless hours designing the ins and outs of your game, nailing down everything from the levels to the characters. Awesome accomplishment! What’s next? How do you make sure your investment pays off in recognition and player engagement? There’s no denying that expectations for mobile games have greatly increased in the past couple of […]

You’ve spent countless hours designing the ins and outs of your game, nailing down everything from the levels to the characters. Awesome accomplishment! What’s next? How do you make sure your investment pays off in recognition and player engagement?

There’s no denying that expectations for mobile games have greatly increased in the past couple of years. Knowing just how well your game meets player standards is essential to the health of your game.  

That’s why we recommend performing regular checkups on your game’s performance with these 17 vital metrics. You’ll find everything from retention to revenue verticals in this guide to help you increase the overall success of your mobile game.

1. Users

Sure, this metric might be one of the more obvious ones but knowing your user base is the first step to increasing engagement and revenue. If you don’t know who’s using your app, how can you expect to connect with them effectively through marketing and advertising? Keep track of how many users you have and their dates of initial download.

On a more practical note, you’ll need to know your user base numbers to work with other important metrics such as DAU, ARPU, and ARPDAU.

2. DAU

Use your user base figures to determine your DAU (daily active users), or the number of users that launch a session in your app during a 24-hour time frame. You can also use your DAU to help you determine how much revenue each of these users is making you (ARPDAU).

Your DAU also provides insights into retention and engagement including how many users actually interact with your app on a given day and any major drop offs along the way.

3. MAU

This is another good retention-related metric. MAU (Monthly Active Users) answers the question, “How many of users actually come back to play each month?”

For MAU analysis, you’ll need to have your user base segmented by download date. As you track MAU over time, build in new advertising campaigns and in-app promotions during those months when your number of active users is the highest.


Knowing your ARPU (Average Revenue Per User, sometimes referred to as current LTV) allows you to analyze the effectiveness of your monetization strategy, whether it’s through ads, in-app purchases, or both.

Calculating your ARPU is straightforward:

ARPU= lifetime revenue / number of lifetime users

Your ARPU is a metric you’ll want to keep a close eye on at all times, especially after a change in your monetization strategy or a sudden surge of new users.


What does your revenue look like on a daily basis? Do you see a significant increase in revenue after a promotional event or monetization strategy update?

Calculating your ARPDAU (Average Revenue Per Daily Active User) will shed light on how much your users are currently spending so that you can compare that figure over time.

To calculate ARPDAU:

Total daily revenue / number of active users on the same day

This metric is incredibly useful as it is not influenced by impressions or fluctuations in user base. It simply tells you how much each user is earning you in revenue at the present moment.

6. LTV

The lifetime value concept has been around for ages. During the heyday of advertising, businesses realized that some consumers were “worth more” in the long run than others. The same idea rings true for mobile apps as loyal players spend more money, interact more with your app, and bring in new players as well.

For quick look at your overall LTV, try this formula:

LTV= total revenue per period / total users per period

As you become more comfortable with the LTV concept, you’ll also want to segment users to calculate the value of each audience.

7. CAC

ROI and CAC go hand and in hand. Bringing in revenue is mostly the main business objective of your game. Its success often boils down to dollars and cents. ROI, or return on investment, tells you how much payoff you’re getting from the efforts you make to generate revenue.

CAC, or Customer Acquisition Cost, is the answer to: “How much I do I have to spend to get a player who pays? To find out the cost per paying player, divide what you’ve spent on customer acquisition by the number of players you’ve acquired during a set time period.

If you spent $1,000 on acquiring players last month and gained 500 new users during that time period, your CAC is $2.00. Analyze your CAC alongside your LTV. Your CAC should always exceed your LTV, or you’ll lose money fast.

8. Session Length

It’s nearly impossible to talk about engagement and not discuss session length. In fact, session length is one of the key differences between apps you just can’t put down and apps that wind up in the graveyard.

Session length lets you know how long a player actually interacted with your app after launch. Keep in mind the level of interactivity will depend on your app. For game devs, session length is almost always about direct screen time, or how much time the player spent viewing the device’s screen.

To nail down more insights, use Appodeal Segments to keep track of which types of audiences are the most highly engaged and why that might be.

9. Session Interval

While you’re monitoring session length, keep tabs on session intervals as well. This metric reveals the amount of time between a player’s first session in your game and the subsequent session. High app open frequency often equates with high value, meaning players like your game.

But there’s more to be gleaned from session interval than likeability. By having data about the average time lapse between sessions, you’ll know when to display in-app messaging or push notifications to draw those players back into your game for another play.

10. Average Session Per Day

According to Verto Analytics, the average mobile gamer launches 4.31 sessions per day with each session lasting around 5 minutes and 35 seconds. Heavy gamers launch 10.6 sessions daily at 5 minutes and 53 seconds each. The most addicted mobile gamers play an average 16.6 sessions per day at 6 minutes and 3 seconds each.

Once you know where your players fall, incorporate engagement and reengagement techniques into your strategy.

Notifications about the player’s current level or status can be used to compel them to return to the game, increasing sessions per day. Messaging about specific actions to take (such as purchase supplies, challenge another player to a battle, etc.) encourages them to continue playing, increasing session length.

11. Time in App

Time in app is similar to session length, but the difference lies in its focus on how long a user used your app over a defined period of time i.e. 12 hours, 24 hours, etc. It gives you insight into user behavior as well as how valuable your game is for players.

As we’ve mentioned with other metrics, this one pairs well with cohort analysis. If you have one particular group of players who are spending long periods in your app, it’s critical to determine why so you monetize them more effectively, personalize their experience, and leverage the elements of your game that are causing them to stick around.

12. App Load Time

This one isn’t so much about your players. App load time focuses on the functionality of your app which we all know affects your user experience. User expectations for app load time seem to rise with each passing day.

A quick look at reviews on the App Store or Google Play will tell you that slow load times (and launch time, by that same token) generate low ratings and less than stellar feedback. You can find benchmarks for the App Store and Google Play to give you a frame of reference.

13. Player Retention

Retention tells you how many of your users are sticking around and how irresistible your game truly is. Poor retention rates spell trouble for the longevity of your game; high retention rates are, of course, the stuff app developers dream off.

So, how do you gauge the irresistibleness of your game?

Break your retention rate into common intervals: D1 D3 D7 D28 D60 D90. To measure retention, you’ll need to segment your users into cohorts based on a specific time span (in this case, by those that installed and launched your game on the same day). As you monitor player returns to the game, use this formula:

DX*= DX Users/ Day 0 Users

*being D1, D3, or D7 and so on.

Benchmark retention rates vary widely based on genre and platform. You might want to consider aiming for a threshold like 40/20/10 for D1, D7, and D28 respectively.

While you’re sure to be eagerly reviewing retention in the early stages, be sure to monitor it consistently. Lower retention rates at D60 and D90 could mean your game isn’t built to last.

14. Stickiness

Knowing your total user base, DAU, and MAU also comes in handy for measuring “stickiness,” or how good of a job your mobile game does at keeping players around. Stickiness is calculated as a percentage.

The simplest way to calculate stickiness: DAU/MAU. If you’re running a strong user acquisition campaign, you’ll probably want to focus on what’s known as actual stickiness. The formula:

DAU- today’s new users / MAU- today’s new users

Use stickiness to test the effectiveness of new strategies like a change in app flow or push notifications.

Stickiness looking a little, well, unsticky (read: below 20%)? Make sure no red flags like bugs, crashes, and excessive advertising are turning players off.

15. Conversion Rate: Paying Players

How many of the people who download your game  are converted into paying players? By calculating your conversion rate, you’ll know who’s actually making purchases.

While most of your players are probably keeping a tight hold on their wallets, those players who do spend money can be some of your greatest allies, as they’re truly invested in your game.

Here’s your handy conversion formula:

Total number of users during time period / number of users who have made a purchase

16. Churn Rate

Oh, the inevitable churn. As hard you try, there’s no avoiding the loss of at least a few players. However, a high churn rate can point to some significant issues in the mechanics of your game or a disruptive user experience.

So, how many players are deleting your app and moving on? To find out, follow this formula:

1- player retention rate= churn rate

17. Cohort Retention

Now that you know how to calculate the overall retention rate for your game, level up and start analyzing your retention profiles by cohort. Many game developers start with cohort retention analysis by date of download. If an update leads to a retention rate for that month’s cohort, you know you’re making improvements that players value.

There are so many ways you can segment your players, from age, to location, to interests. When you follow retention rates by demographics, you get more insights into who makes up your core audience and who doesn’t.

Identify the interests and demographics of your audience and then, start building a more effective and personalized strategy to acquire, engage, and reengage these players.

Ready to create dynamic cohorts in your user base for more powerful monetization strategy?

Get started with Appodeal Segments!

Learn more about Appodeal's mobile app monetization solution.

Marc Llobet
Product Marketing & Growth @ Appodeal
Monetization Desktop Column BlogBanner

Resources 7 min read

How Industry Events Can Change the Game For Indies and Publishers

As we wind down from Casual Connect in Seattle this week, and shared the finalists from our contest last week, we’ve been reflecting on our experiences and what motivates us to participate in industry events, whether in person or online.

Resources 7 min read

Marc Llobet
Marc Llobet