It's getting more expensive to acquire users in mobile games, and even moreso to get them to make a first-time in-app purchase.
Using data taken from 555 apps from June 2018 through May 2019, Mobile app marketing company Liftoff determined that it cost an average of $4.37 to acquire a new user for a mobile game, up 16.5% year-over-year. It's also getting more expensive to encourage acquired users to register, with an average cost of $9.17 up 33.3% year-over-year. And to get a user to make a first-time purchase, it cost an average of $35.42 over the reviewed period.
Additionally, conversion rates have dipped year-over-year, with 47.7% of users who install a game converting into registered users, and only 12.3% of users who install a game making their first in-app purchase. That's down 6.9% and 1.1% from last year.
Compared by platform, Liftoff determined that Android users are much cheaper to acquire (an average of $3.21 per user compared to iOS's $4.85), as well as slightly cheaper to get to register and eventually make a purchase ($33.83 on average on Android versus $36.63 on iOS).
By region, countries with higher acquisition costs include the UK ($4.25 per user), the US ($4.71, Canada ($5.12), and Japan ($5.25). On the lower end, it's only $2.17 to acquire a user in Russia, $1.42 in Brazil, and $1.32 in China.
However, the low cost of acquisition doesn't always land alongside a high conversion rate to making in-app purchases. The US has a 12.9% conversion rate, and Canada is up at 15.3%. But cheaper acquisition cost countries like Brazil and China have low conversion rates, 4.2% and 3.1% respectively, but China in particular has such a large overall population of players that the low percentages are offset somewhat. Overall, the UK is in one of the best positions -- it costs $24.53 to acquire a user that makes an in-app purchase, and also has a high conversion rate of 17.3%.
Finally, the report breaks down several genres of game such as social casino, hyper-casual, and midcore and strategy. Though social casino and hyper-casual have the highest user retention on day one of all the genres covered (32.2% and 32.7% respectively), the numbers for all genres even out over time, with less than a 2% retention difference by Day 30 between the highest (social casino, 4.2%) and lowest (hypercasual, 2.3%).