Whats the best game metric to focus on? This is a big, big question. In the alphabet soup of metrics, which do you think is the most useful? Which is the most poignant, the biggest indicator of whether your game is a hit or not?
If there was a “Top 10 Chart of Metrics” it would certainly contain the conversion rate, uninstall rate and percentage of people completing the tutorial. They all tell you something significant and there are good benchmarks out there to track how you’re doing.
The other day, we spoke to a studio that had an 8-9% conversion rate! Until then, the highest number we’d seen was 6.5%. That’s no mean feat, but to make a successful game (from an economic point of view) even 1.5-2% could be good enough!
So what’s the top dog of all the metrics? The one that everyone aims for. The one that UA managers and product teams yearn for? It has to be retention! Now that might be an obvious and broad statement – is it Day 1, Day 7 or Day 30? Your retention numbers tell you instantly if players are hooked or not. They can also tell you whether you’ve made the game too easy or hard, too boring or too complicated. They tell you and your product team where you need to focus, where the issues lie and where you need to keep tweaking.
The desired retention metrics can be very different depending on the type of game. If you’re Voodoo, then the Day 1 retention number gives you an instant answer as to whether you keep the game or move on to the next – and they make that call very quickly. But then that’s hypercasual for you – and rightly so.
Hypercasual games require a Day 1 retention metric of well over 50% but on average the number to aim for is closer to 40%. Note that this metric can be seasonal (especially around Christmas & Summer holidays when fickle new players have more time to flick between different games). At the end of the day, if your metrics start from a low base on Day 1, 2 and 3 then it’s hard to recover from!
A good Day 7 retention number is roughly 15%. But if you’re not quite there then it just means you should keep testing, don’t give up! Think about ways for players to unlock new content (levels, skins, areas etc) – just keep them hooked! A great way to do this is to figure out where players drop off using a retention funnel. That way, you can locate exactly where in the game things get less engaging and then focus on redesigning and changing things up.
We believe the Day 30 (or sometimes 28) metric is the most important of all. If players hang around until that point, they must like your game a lot. Anything above 6-7% is an amazing level. A great way to improve this metric is to reward those who play for a long period of time per session, say 5-10 minutes, with free gifts, discounts or a “medal.” They’ll feel good about it and come back for more.
The other thing to do is to know your genre. If you’re making a casual game, there’s no point obsessing over hypercasual or strategy game metrics. Know your niche and make sure to find the relevant benchmarks.
We often meet studios that are unsure which metric to focus on and even where best to find it. So make sure you know which metrics matter, what you should be aiming for and react quickly when the numbers tell you that something needs to change. You should spend some time getting to know what your analytics platform is telling you and how it measures it. Once you’ve mastered that you can hit those retention targets you’ve worked so hard for and then crank up the UA finance.