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Mobile gaming is one of the most popular smartphone activities globally. In an October 2014 study by Symantec, playing games ranked as the second most enjoyable mobile app activity among smartphone users in the US as well as those worldwide, trailing only socializing with family and friends for both groups.
eMarketer expects US mobile game revenues—including both downloads and in-app purchases—to reach $3.04 billion in 2015, a year-over-year increase of 16.4%. This growth will be driven largely by in-app purchases, as freemium apps continue to be the monetization model of choice.
Mobile gaming apps’ widespread popularity and the shift to free-to-play models means that acquisition has taken a backseat to retention. Based on a February 2015 study by SuperData Research, apps need to grab players at launch for the best retention rates.
Among massively multiplayer online (MMO) free-to-play gamers, 83% who logged in for the first time during the same month as the game’s release logged on the following day. During the first 30 days, retention fell drastically, as just 20% of players who logged on for the first time during launch month played 30 days later.
However, SuperData noted that these retention rates were far better than among players who launch the game further down the road. For example, among app users who played the game one year after launch for their first time, just over one-third accessed it the next day, and a mere 3% still used it after 30 days.
What does this mean for mobile gaming app marketers? Strong prelaunch campaigns are critical for attracting dedicated players—and driving more in-app purchase revenues as a result.
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