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On average, it costs $35.42 to get a mobile gamer to make first in-app purchase

Liftoff: Costs to acquire and register users continue to increase, conversion rates dipped YOY

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%).

The full report can be found here.

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Rebekah Valentine

Senior Staff Writer

Rebekah arrived at GamesIndustry in 2018 after four years of freelance writing and editing across multiple gaming and tech sites. When she's not recreating video game foods in a real life kitchen, she's happily imagining herself as an Animal Crossing character.

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