Despite mobile gaming's seemingly relentless boom, it seems the medium has struggled over the last year to actually get users to buy in, with costs to get users from install to in-app purchase shooting upward from 2017 to 2018.
This is according to Liftoff and Leanplum's App Engagement Index 2018 report, which analyzed 257 billion ad impressions across 58.4 million app installs and 47.4 million post-install events across six categories, including gaming.
The gaming segment of the report notes that though the average cost to acquire a user of a game has gone down in 2018, cost to get that user to make an in-app purchase has gone way up. On average, in 2018 it costs gaming apps $2.91/per to acquire a user, $5.10 to get that user to register, and a whopping $101.58 to get that user to make an in-app purchase. Only 2.9% of users take that last step, which is down from last year's 5% of users who made in-app purchases.
But the report notes that women tend to be more likely to do all three, and the cost to get women to make in-app purchases is less than it is for men ($94.16 vs. $128.06). Also, the report recommends abandoning gendered ad strategies, and acknowledges some of the discrepancy may be because men tend to prefer strategy and action games, which cost more to make than the puzzle games more widely preferred by women.