You might have heard some industry experts talk about LTV (life time value) and how important it is. Here are 5 things even some of the experts don’t know about LTV.
1 – Life time value (LTV) is not just for marketing campaigns
You might have heard that you need to know your life time value to do marketing. This is correct but there are actually more reasons. The first reason for for calculating LTV is related to the early design phase. Before you even start making the game you should analyze the potential LTV based on benchmarks from similar games. This important for fundraising as well as for choosing the right games to build. The second reason is even more important. LTV is the one KPI that wraps both ARPDAU and retention and it is highly correlated with long term success. By actively tracking LTV your team will be focused on the right thing when making decisions about the game and monetization techniques.
2 – There is no real life time value – only predicted life time value
Knowing the real LTV requires waiting a very long time – technically you will have to wait a lifetime. You can assume some maximal lifetime – in games 180 days and 365 days are common values for the maximal lifetime. These time frames are just too long to make any meaningful decisions about marketing, product or monetization. Lets say you made a new feature and want to know if you should keep it or not – waiting 180 days for a decision is just impractical. Whenever someone is talking about life time value he means the predicted life time value. That’s the only parameter you can actually work with. To predict yours, you can use one of these 6 LTV calculators
3 – You can succeed with low LTV but not with declining LTV
There are successful games with LTVs as high as $20 or as low as $0.3. You can succeed with low lifetime value and many games have – this is especially true if you are able to constantly increase it. However, you can’t succeed if your LTV is declining – it means that something is fundamentally broken with your game.
4 – Most companies have both CPI > LTV and CPI < LTV
LTV has to be greater than CPI! There are a ton of articles that explain that If your get the basic formula right you are golden. In fact, there was even a conference with that name (http://ltvgtcpi.com). In real life however, you can’t be golden in all segments so the trick is more around finding your golden segments and expanding on them. If your app uses ads, you will need to trace ad LTV per segment using a traceback platform.
5 – In successful games most of the life time value is created after day 30
If you build a life time value spreadsheet and play around with the numbers you will soon see that typically the first 30 days contribute between 25% to 50% of the total life time value. Plugging in the known ratios of 40%,20%,10% for d1, d7 and d30 retention shows that the yield in days 31 to 180 is twice as much as your first 30 days. This means that you should invest time in giving your most loyal users reasons to play for a really long time. King has mastered that art well and Candy Crush has 1,880 levels in the game. I’m sure they are working on some new ones as we speak.
If your game uses ads and you want to track the LTV per cohort, segment and testing groups, you need a traceback platform. Check out SOOMLA Traceback – Ad LTV as a Service.