With a steep increase in the popularity of smartphones, mobile apps have become an integral part of our everyday lives. Mobile games take up a significant portion of the mobile app business, with revenues accounting for 76% of all app revenue. The total app revenue in 2018 amounted to $92.1 billion, which paints a good picture of just how lucrative this business can be if you know what you’re doing.
Creating an awesome mobile game that everyone will want to install, retaining players for a long time, and earning a steady income from it is a dream many a developer wants to see come true. So they work hard on achieving this goal, investing money, time, and energy but something seems to be amiss. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest problems your game might be facing and how to take care of them.
1. Poor player retention rates
Perhaps the biggest problem in the mobile game business is the low retention rate. Retention is defined as the percentage of users returning to the app more than 10 times. Opposite of retention is the churn rate or the percentage of users abandoning your app after using it only once. In 2018, this percentage was 21%. Although it’s on the decline, this number is still worrying.
Sometimes whatever you do isn’t enough to keep your players’ interest and they abandon your game. Other times, however, the problem is in the game itself. There are multiple ways to increase your game’s retention rate.
What you can do
You first need to understand why the players leave. Is it because of errors, complicated interface, boredom, or better games? Is it because they don’t understand how to play your game?
Whatever the case, you have to stay on top of your game (pun intended) at all times. You’ll need to constantly update it, check for bugs, tweak the design, add new levels and characters, and so on. Add tutorials to onboard the players more quickly and ensure they fully understand the complex controls. What’s more, why not offer daily, weekly, and monthly incentives to keep them active?
Another thing that helps in retention is the push notifications, occasionally reminding your players about your game.
One way to learn why your players are leaving is to read the reviews. They can give you valuable insights into what you can change to keep players around for longer. Another way is to track your users’ in-app behavior by cohort. This allows you to identify your most valuable and engaged users, create better targeting opportunities, and customize the overall game experience.
2. Lack of visibility
You can’t expect to have any success with your game if no one knows it exists. Sometimes your mobile game just isn’t easily discoverable to valuable players.
What you can do
Your game should have an attractive price tag. Moreover, you can offer it for free if you have other monetization strategies planned.
You also need to tailor a good marketing budget as it will allow you to spread the word about your game. This means getting reviews by popular blogs, placing ads on social media. You can do this by partnering up with ad mediation platforms that will advertise your game or you can strike up cross-promotion deals with other game publishers.
Influencer marketing is another area worth exploring as more and more young people follow celebrities on social media and listen to their advice.
Special attention should be devoted to App Store Optimization (ASO), which can place your app on the top of the app stores’ charts. This equals better discovery as it means the players don’t have to search for your game. ASO can be divided into two categories – appeal and search optimization. The former refers to optimizing elements such as icons, screenshots, and keywords, while the latter affects app stores’ ranking algorithms and includes usage, reviews, ratings, etc.
Speaking of app stores, consider placing your app in an alternative app store like Amazon App Store, GetJar, Mobogenie, SlideME, or Aptoide.
3. Bad monetization policy
Finally, you have attracted a considerable amount of players that continue using your game. So you should have a steady income now, right? Wrong. If your profit isn’t as you expected, there’s probably something wrong with your monetization strategies.
What you can do
As you probably already know, there are various ways to monetize your mobile game. These include putting a price tag on your game, placing ads in it, offering in-app purchases, sponsorships, etc. However, all of them have their own advantages and disadvantages, so be careful when deciding upon which one(s) to use and consider your revenue goals and target audience.
If you’re using ads – fantastic! Just make sure they don’t hamper your players’ experience and keep track of their performance with a good monetization platform. Such a platform can help you discover and take advantage of the so-called ad whales – a group of users who contribute more than 90% of your ad revenue. Although ads have taken over the position of in-app purchases as the preferred and most lucrative monetization method, IAPs still have a significant place in the business. Buying in-game items like boosters, characters, and customizations can complement in-app advertisements to create a winning combination. Just be careful not to damage the sensitive balance of the game economy.
Acknowledging the problem is the first step to solving it
Even the best of mobile game developers and publishers can sometimes fall victim to these common problems. But just because there’s a problem, it doesn’t mean it can’t be fixed. The first step is to acknowledge it so you can take proper action and find a suitable solution.
Monitoring your game’s performance and users’ in-app behavior helps you get to the bottom of what’s causing these problems. To do so, you need to pair up with a good analytics platform to give you precise numbers and identify problem areas so you can optimize your game strategies.