Mobile gamers usually give up after one day, and developers know it

Mobile gamers usually give up after one day, and developers know it
The mobile gaming space is an extremely competitive market, and there are plenty of games that never get counted as being successful. Of course, how "success" is measured has been something we never quite understood before, but a new study and some comments from developers are shedding light on it. Surprisingly, the bar is set relatively low.

A study from app testing firm Swrve used data gathered from over 30 different games that it can track, including games from Activision, Epic Games, Gameloft, WB Games and ZeptoLab. From those 30+ games, Swrve was able to track the playing habits of 10 million players over the course of 90 days. All of the players tracked were new to the games, and the firm found that 66% of the players never opened the game again after the first 24 hours. 19% of players only opened the games one time total. 

In terms of paying actual cash money in games, Swrve had found a couple months ago that only 2.2% of players actually spent money in games, and this latest study expanded on that to find that the average player only spent 45 cents over the course of 90 days (of course, 45 cents on average when talking about millions of players is still quite a lot of money.) And, over half of the spending came within the first week of playing the game. 

All this leads to a lesson that many game developers already know: hook them fast. According to Ben Cousins, a veteran developer who has worked for Sony and EA, the "sign of a real hit" is if a game can retain just 40% of players on day two. 

source: Swrve & @BenCousins via Re/code

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24 Comments

1. ArtSim98

Posts: 3535; Member since: Dec 21, 2012

It's because mobile games usually suck. That's why app stores get flooded with games. People download for one day and then delete and download an other one for the next day.

2. Klamba92

Posts: 212; Member since: Jun 25, 2012

Exactly mobile games especially those that boast high intensive graphics have a terrible on screen control scheme. This makes me hate to game on mobile devices to the point where I have got rid of all but 2 games and regret buying any of them in the first place! For my portable gaming I just use the fairly recently purchased 3ds and while it has a terrible resolution and is less graphically pleasing it makes up for a much better gaming experience and have a lot more fun with it! Even connecting a controller does not always help while it makes playing games a lot easier and better, still lacks with games compared to console/handheld games accuracy and control! Well that's just my opinion anyway.

4. ArtSim98

Posts: 3535; Member since: Dec 21, 2012

I agree! While 3DS has horrible resolution and it's not powerful, the games are SOOO GOOOD and the controls are amazing! Gaming is not for graphics it's for the games!

18. alterecho

Posts: 1106; Member since: Feb 23, 2012

To think, they were forecasting the doom of dedicated handheld gaming devices, since the advent of tablets and phones. Even the PC/console game ports on tablets and phones, don't interest me. I find myself going back to my desktop (i don't have a 3DS or PS VITA), even for casual gaming.

24. nokia12

Posts: 610; Member since: Nov 19, 2013

@altercho those type of games hasn't happened yet because of controls.. Touch screen controls need so much extra amount of training and even then are pretty uncomfortable than physical controls.. that is why we do not enjoy those type of games on touch devices.. mobile gaming was never serious and hence there aren't good AAA kind of games that PS vita have.. this will change from this year as more and more devices like Nvidia shield and other handheld gaming systems starts utilizing android systems.. even things like amazon fire are shipping with controllers so give it 2-3 years for both content and devices to mature ..

21. true1984

Posts: 864; Member since: May 23, 2012

the 3ds is awesome but i find myself playing my psvita more these days since you get graphics and controls

13. Totse2k15

Posts: 475; Member since: Feb 11, 2014

AGREED. And Imho, it's not even near consoles/pc quality gaming to waste my time on it. Good for casual or kill time, mostly.

3. StraightEdgeNexus

Posts: 3689; Member since: Feb 14, 2014

I've spent many weekends playing frustrating game levels on my PS3. Mobile gaming never really attracted me. I play sometimes on my nexus 7 but never with the same addictive nature.

5. fuelband

Posts: 28; Member since: Jul 19, 2013

Download clash of clans or samurai siege and I'm tellin you, you wont let go of your smartphone/tab for months!

6. EclipseGSX

Posts: 1770; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

Clash of Clans is getting old, I shouldn't have to wait 4 days to play

7. mobi_user

Posts: 152; Member since: Jun 18, 2013

I never knew my gaming characteristics is been tracked by someone. Damn I can't even play now, without being watched.

8. papss unregistered

Its all about game play for me and I've said this many times. The touch screen isn't responsive enough and has zero feedback. I'll play my games like real gamers.. With a 3ds or on my Xbox one.. Hell maybe my Wii u

11. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Dont forget the Vita...it does a real nice mix of touch and traditional controls. I prefer gaming on my Vita vs my 3DS.

22. true1984

Posts: 864; Member since: May 23, 2012

i feel you on that. plus the graphics are incredible

9. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Part of the problem is micro transactions. Its hurting mobile games....yet many ppl get hooked. Its making its way to consoles...and many are up in arms over it. A game I buy shouldnt be loaded with micro transactions. Thats part of the reason I put down Need for Speed Most wanted (recent version.) around May last year and havent played it since. Seeing cars in free play I had to buy to drive...and locking specific cars to specific races killed any interest in the game for me. And if you are gonna have micro transactions...dont make it 4 days to wait or unlock for .99 cent.. $1, etc Candy Crush has it kinda right. Its funny tho that after they let you buy extra permanent lives on CC no other King game does...

10. vuyonc

Posts: 1089; Member since: Feb 24, 2014

Ya, mobile games generally suck. Gameplay is shallow, production quality hasn't really made any big steps recently and touchscreen controls will probably remain as the worst setup. I use my phone for emulated Nintendo games I didn't play as a kid with a Dualshock 3 controller or use my PS Vita.

12. StraightEdgeNexus

Posts: 3689; Member since: Feb 14, 2014

I played san andreas on my friends ipad air. The graphics are a bit better than what we got on PS3(JUST A BIT). But what ruins the party is the controls. We are used to play on dualshocks but on that touchpanel the gameplay plain sucks.

14. livyatan

Posts: 867; Member since: Jun 19, 2013

This has not much to do with controls/ playability. Some games are hugely successful, with tens of millions of avid players... Clash of Clans for example, earned an astonishing amounts of money..more than a billion dollars in the last 12 months. Real Racing 3 ( I played that game for 140 hours and I still play it) is an example of a high resource game that plays better without hardware controls (gyroscope >> joystick). And it is successfull, played more than all other racers in the world, and I mean all not just mobile. The reason for this lack of average interest is simply because of unparalleled competition of similar/ crappy titles that you get on mobile. There is just too much to choose from. In order to find one good game, you get to try ten of them that suck

15. Luuthian

Posts: 332; Member since: Sep 09, 2011

This is the post I agree with most. Success on mobile is such a mixed bag. It's not that phone games suck or they have crappy controls... It's that there is a distressing FLOOD of crappy content that people simply aren't going to put up with. So few mobile games are really great and have that hook which makes you come back. And there's virtually no way to sift through it if you're not an avid reader of phone gaming websites (which would mean a HUGE majority of people have nothing to go on but the front page of their app store). There's a number of fantastic experiences on mobile that work great for having been designed around a tablet/phone. There's even a bunch of great core titles. But no one is going to play them when they expect them to be free and they have to blindly navigate an app platform. I really hope this is turned around in the future. It may already be too late.

16. techperson211

Posts: 1280; Member since: Feb 27, 2014

You really can't compare mobile games to console game. The main problem is that if you play long enough you battery will drain fast. Unlike a gaming console whereas you just need to plug it in and the fact that you have the full version playing on console that makes it more interesting to play .

17. CX3NT3_713

Posts: 2348; Member since: Apr 18, 2011

Mobile gaming isn't there yet,,, it's just not natural .....

19. ultradragon

Posts: 6; Member since: Mar 26, 2014

I am using a z ultra and I think it's most alike a gaming console..this device is getting a part of my life day by day B)

20. loveHEAVYMETAL unregistered

looking for some great games,any good suggestion?

23. ultradragon

Posts: 6; Member since: Mar 26, 2014

There are plenty of wonderful games like asphalt 8, batman dark knight rises, world champion cricket, temple run oz, riptide gp 2 etc etc..jst visit to apkmania or andropalace you will find a lots of cool android games

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