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How to level up: A guide to mobile gaming analytics

Mobile gaming has evolved from entertainment into a cultural, educational, and social phenomenon. Its universal appeal has led to a 4% annual increase in revenue by 2024, reaching a substantial US$111.4 billion. Gaming analytics is a crucial catalyst for this growth.

As we explore the current mobile gaming landscape—characterized by a slight decrease in consumer spending but offset by advancements in technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and market strategy—analytics stands out as an essential tool, helping developers and marketers make quicker, smarter decisions. Gaming analytics provides valuable and nuanced insights into player behavior, preferences, and spending habits, which can be used to enhance user experiences and reveal new opportunities. This plays an important role in enabling the industry's adaptability and continued growth.

In this article, we examine gaming analytics' pivotal role in sustained growth, highlight key performance indicators (KPIs) for game developers and marketers to monitor, and share instances where gaming analytics have significantly contributed to the success of mobile games.

Gaming analytics

What is gaming analytics?

Mobile gaming analytics is a specialized field that centers on gathering, analyzing, and interpreting data from mobile game players. Its primary aim is to understand player behaviors, preferences, and game interactions, enabling developers and publishers to optimize games and enhance the overall player experience. This data-driven strategy ensures better business outcomes by providing valuable insights for immediate action as well as data to feed predictive models and analytics systems. The better your gaming analytics, the better your data. The better your data, the better your ROI.

Gaming analytics importance

Why is gaming analytics important?

Analytics has become a vital tool in the fast-paced mobile gaming industry. It gives developers essential insights for creating captivating experiences that keep players engaged. Let's dive into how gaming analytics can transform the development process, boost player engagement, and increase profitability in a competitive market:

Understanding player behavior: Analytics illuminate player interactions with games, revealing preferences and identifying features that enhance engagement. This data informs modifications, in-game mechanics, and difficulty levels, ensuring an enjoyable and personalized experience tailored to all players. Additionally, performance analytics across various devices, such as PCs and consoles, spotlight opportunities for optimization to provide seamless gameplay.

Optimizing player acquisition: Analytics guide efficient player acquisition strategies. They identify high-value channels and demographic targets to reduce acquisition costs and improve marketing return on investment (ROI).

Personalizing for retention: Data-driven personalization strategies engage players with tailored content and features. This enhances satisfaction and loyalty and is crucial to long-term retention and churn reduction.

Refining monetization approaches: Insights into player spending behaviors help formulate monetization strategies that align with user expectations and preferences. This ensures a profitable balance between in-game spending incentives and player satisfaction.


How to implement mobile gaming analytics?

Implementing mobile gaming analytics involves strategic steps to collect, analyze, and use data from players. This process aids in understanding player behavior, optimizing game design, improving user experience, and boosting revenue. Here is a step-by-step guide to effectively implement mobile gaming analytics:

1. Define your objectives

First, determine what you want to learn from your analytics. This could include understanding player behavior, identifying drop-off points, or measuring the success of monetization strategies. Based on your objectives, you can then define specific KPIs such as daily active users (DAU), retention rate, average revenue per user (ARPU), lifetime value (LTV), and effective cost per install (eCPI).

2. Choose the right analytics tools

The second step involves researching and selecting analytics tools that align with your game's requirements. Consider aspects such as real-time data processing, user segmentation capabilities, and compatibility with marketing tools. After choosing the appropriate analytics tool, integrate it with your game. This typically requires incorporating a software development kit (SDK) into your game's codebase.

3. Data collection setup

After successfully integrating the suitable analytics tool, determine the events and actions you wish to monitor in the game. These may include level completions, in-app purchases, and session lengths. Set up the analytics tool to track these events, ensure data collection complies with GDPR and any other regionally relevant regulations, and respect user privacy.

4. Analyze the data

Consistently review the KPIs you've set to gauge your game's performance against your goals. Leverage this data for more detailed analyses, such as cohort analysis, funnel analysis, and user segmentation. This will reveal insights into player behavior and overall app performance.

5. Act on insights

After collecting data, use analytic insights to make informed decisions about game design. This could involve adjusting difficulty levels, adding new content, or fixing bugs. Enhancing onboarding processes, simplifying user interfaces, and creating personalized experiences based on player preferences and behaviors are likely areas for ongoing tweaking. Additionally, adjust pricing, offers, and the timing of in-app purchase prompts based on what generates the most revenue. Note that this will be different for different segments.

6. A/B testing

Before implementing significant changes, A/B testing or a simple beta test should be used to assess  impact on player behavior and game performance. Analyze the results to determine the most effective variations, then roll out the optimal options.

7. Continuous improvement

Ensure you consistently collect and analyze data, then adjust your game's design and marketing strategy based on your findings. Be prepared to quickly adapt based on new data and evolving market trends.


Essential KPIs for mobile gaming success

Understanding and measuring specific KPIs is vital for marketers and game developers to navigate the complexities of the mobile gaming market and drive growth in the most competitive landscape the industry has ever seen These metrics do more than quantify success; they  guide strategic decisions needed to boost player engagement and increase revenue.

User engagement metrics

Daily active users (DAU) & monthly active users (MAU): DAU indicates the number of unique users who engage with the game daily, while MAU monitors monthly engagement. These metrics provide insight into the game's ability to attract and retain users.

Stickiness rate (DAU/MAU Ratio): This ratio shows how often users engage with the game within a month. A higher stickiness rate suggests more robust daily user engagement.

Stickiness rate = (DAU / MAU) × 100

For example, if your game has a DAU of 500 and an MAU of 5,000, the stickiness rate is (500 / 5,000) × 100 = 10%. A 10% stickiness rate indicates a solid daily engagement level compared to the monthly user base.

Retention rate: Retention rate is the percentage of users returning to the game after their first session. Tracking daily retention rates helps developers understand the game's effectiveness in keeping players engaged over time.

Retention rate = (Number of users on day 0 / number of users returning on day X) × 100

For instance, if 1,200 users log in on Day 0 and 240 return on Day 1, the Day 1 retention rate is (240 / 1,200) × 100 = 20%.

Monetization metrics

Average revenue per user (ARPU): ARPU measures the average revenue generated per user, providing insights into the game's monetization efficiency.

ARPU = Total revenue / total number of users

If your game generates $10,000 from 2,000 users monthly, the ARPU is $10,000 / 2,000 = $5 per user.

In-app purchases (IAP): Tracking transactions within the game, whether with real or virtual currency, is crucial for evaluating the game's monetization mechanics and player spending habits.

For example, if introducing a new character skin results in a 20% increase in transactions, it indicates IAP on items as a successful monetization strategy.

Performance & quality metrics

Session length:  The average time spent in the game per session, which can indicate user engagement and game quality. For instance, an increase in average session lengths from two to five minutes after an update suggests improved game content.

Churn rate: The percentage of players who stop playing over a certain period. A lower churn rate suggests higher player satisfaction and loyalty.

Churn rate = (Number of users lost in period / total users at start of period) × 100

Losing 400 out of 1,000 users in a month results in a 40% churn rate, signaling the need for improvements to retain players.

App store ratings and reviews: This reflects player feedback on app stores, directly indicating user satisfaction and areas for improvement.

Revenue & profitability metrics

Monthly revenue (MR) & year over year (YoY) growth: MR measures the total revenue generated in a month, while YoY growth compares revenue against the same period in the previous year.

For example, increasing from $10,000 last April to $15,000 this April reflects  50% YoY growth.

Conversion rate: Conversion rate is the percentage of users who make an in-app purchase.

Conversion rate = (Number of paying users / total number of users) × 100

If 500 out of 10,000 players make a purchase, the conversion rate is (500 / 10,000) × 100 = 5%.

Lifetime value (LTV): LTV represents the total revenue a game developer can expect from a player during their entire engagement with the game. This critical metric helps understand the long-term value generated by players and guides decisions regarding player acquisition, budget allocation, and retention strategies.

LTV=ARPU×average lifespan of a player

If the ARPU is $5 and the average lifespan of a player is six months, then the LTV would be $5 * 6, which equals $30. This suggests that each player is projected to generate $30 in revenue throughout their gameplay duration.

Cost per install (CPI): CPI calculates the average cost to acquire a single installing user, considering all marketing and advertising expenses. This critical metric assists in evaluating the effectiveness of user acquisition campaigns and optimizing marketing spend.

CPI=Total marketing spend/number of installs

If a game's marketing campaign costs $5,000 and leads to 1,000 new installs, the CPI would be $5,000 divided by 1,000, which equals $5. This suggests that each new user install costs $5, serving as a benchmark to assess the effectiveness of marketing strategies. Additionally, By comparing the LTV and CPI, developers can determine if the long-term revenue from a player outweighs the acquisition cost. A balanced LTV: CPI ratio indicates the game follows a sustainable path.

Other metrics you can monitor include:

Success stories

Game apps’ success stories with analytics

At Adjust, we collaborate with clients from various facets of the gaming industry, including apps, publishers, studios, and developers. We've gathered just a few success stories demonstrating how these clients have used Adjust’s analytics and attribution to improve their performance and success. Take a look at the approaches they took and consider whether focusing on similar KPIs might benefit your app.

APPS boosts ROAS

APPS aimed to extend session lengths and boost in-app purchases for their game Drill and Collect. They collaborated with mobile measurement partner Adjust and user acquisition platform AppSamurai for advanced analytics and targeting solutions. This partnership enabled APPS to increase D28 ROAS to 107% and double the completion rate for higher levels.

Widogame maximizes revenue

To improve user retention and extend the lifespan of their games, Widogame required a way to track campaign performance. With the precise data Adjust provided, they could identify successful channels and campaigns. This enabled Widogame to increase ad expenditure and confidently optimize their marketing efforts. With Adjust's assistance, Widogame experienced a 4,900% increase in installs and a 2,200% growth in revenue.

Duolingo increases user retention

Duolingo, a language learning, education, and gaming app, utilized Adjust’s Measure to understand the app's user journey better. This allowed them to delve deep into data and track crucial metrics such as day 7 retention and LTV. This comprehensive data analysis enabled them to significantly increase both KPIs' performance.


Challenges of mobile gaming analytics

While essential and ripe with rewards, getting mobile gaming analytics right poses several challenges. Here are the critical challenges and how you can solve them:

Cross-platform measurement

Cross-platform measurement and integration challenges stem from the need to collect, consolidate, and analyze data across various platforms, such as PCs, mobile devices, and gaming consoles. While this expands a game's reach, it also complicates analytics by aggregating data from diverse sources, each with unique formats, metrics, and compliances

The gaming industry is increasingly offering seamless multi-platform or cross-device experiences. This trend allows players to start a game on one device and continue on another without interruption. Such continuity necessitates sophisticated analytics capable of tracking and integrating player behavior across all platforms. This provides a unified view of the user journey. Understanding a player's interaction with the game on different platforms can provide valuable insights into preferences and engagement patterns, which are essential for optimization and personalization.

A comprehensive cross-platform analysis requires advanced data integration tools. These tools must ingest data from various platforms, normalize it for consistency, and then transfer it to a centralized repository for collective analysis. Part of this process is overcoming technical challenges associated with data format disparities, differing platform metrics, and the vast volume of data generated. Moreover, ensuring data accuracy and timeliness in this integrated repository is vital for actionable analytics.

Data privacy and security

Data privacy and security have become paramount challenges in mobile gaming analytics, particularly in light of significant industry changes such as Apple's post-IDFA framework and working with SKAN, along with the upcoming  Google's Privacy Sandbox on Android initiative.

Developers are still able to collect extensive opted-in user data and device IDs, which are extremely helpful for driving the most personalized experiences and targeted marketing. This data also works to form the basis of machine learning algorithms that can perform predictive analytics on aggregated data sets. In general, however, the move toward a post-ID future is the one marketers and developers in gaming and all verticals should be taking. For now, it’s all about the balance between granular attribution data and aggregated data.

Prioritizing next-gen tech and solutions that provide insights for scalable campaign optimization is the most future-proof and privacy-centric strategic move to make.

Why Adjust

Why choose Adjust for mobile gaming analytics?

Mobile games that choose Adjust's next-gen mobile measurement solutions gain a competitive edge thanks to enhanced analytics, strategic insights, and the ability to perform cross-device and cross-platform attribution. Here's why integrating Adjust into your gaming analytics can be a game-changer:

Championing channel and measurement diversification

Adjust understands the importance of a diverse marketing mix in reaching and engaging players. It supports measurement across various channels, from “traditional” mobile advertising to new channels such as Connected TV (CTV) and PC/console, providing a comprehensive view of campaign performance from user acquisition through to in-app engagement and beyond. The ability to measure multi-channel initiatives ensured developers understand which channels are providing their best-performing users and how the journey to install interplays. For example, if an ad is viewed on CTV, does it make it more likely that a user will install next time they see the ad on mobile?

Advanced analytics for strategic planning

Adjust doesn’t just respond to industry changes; it anticipates them. By incorporating incrementality testing and media mix modeling into our services, Adjust equips gaming clients with modern, privacy-driven tools for strategic decision-making. These methodologies provide a nuanced understanding of marketing impact and budget allocation, ensuring long-term success in an increasingly complex digital ecosystem.

Comprehensive and customizable analytics

Adjust delivers a robust analytics platform that extends beyond basic metrics, providing in-depth insights into player behavior, campaign performance, and monetization efficiency. Datascape, Adjust’s analytics solution, enables users to tailor their dashboard to focus on the metrics most relevant to their goals. This customization ensures that every gaming company, regardless of size or genre, can obtain the exact insights needed for growth and optimization.

Advanced campaign optimization

As user acquisition costs rise, Adjust's Automate solution offers mobile gaming companies a way to enhance their marketing effectiveness and operational efficiency through automation. It provides real-time optimization, unified data analysis, customizable reports for instant insights, and smart alerts for monitoring key metrics and potential fraud. Its audience targeting and retargeting features, paired with seamless partner integrations, ensure that campaigns are efficient and reach the intended users. With Adjust, mobile gaming developers and marketers can boost the value of each advertising dollar and allocate more resources toward creative and strategic initiatives.

Expertise in SKAdNetwork challenges

With success on SKAN still a leading challenge for mobile marketers, Adjust offers a suite of solutions that help marketers continue successful campaign optimization on iOS. Conversion Hub, an in-house SKAN expert, makes conversion value mapping easy, while SKAN Analytics enables detailed reporting for smart, fast decisions.

Learn more about our iOS & SKAN solutions.

Data security and flexibility

Adjust is, for example, distinct in offering clients the choice of where their data is stored and processed, aligning with regional compliance and legal requirements. This flexibility underscores Adjust’s commitment to data security and privacy, accommodating the specific needs of global businesses.

Tailored support across all levels

Adjust’s platform is designed to support gaming clients of all sizes, and it is backed by a global support team that is fluent in 17 languages. This commitment ensures that whether you're a burgeoning startup or a sprawling enterprise, Adjust provides the tools and guidance necessary for scaling growth.

Ready to take your mobile game to the next level? Schedule a personalized demo with an Adjust expert today and see how we can help you scale effortlessly. Dive deeper into the state of mobile gaming with our comprehensive Gaming app insights report. Download now!

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