17 KPIs Gaming app marketers should measure

By Igal Frid
gaming app marketing metrics

Mobile gaming marketers live and breathe measurement —knowing your numbers is key to developing a winning app that players can’t put down. 

But with so many key performance indicators (KPIs) to track, and an ever-growing list of acronyms (CPI or eCPI? ARPU or ARPPU?), it’s all too easy to lose your way. . 

Fortunately, we’re here to point you in the right direction. In this blog, we’ll explore why gaming KPIs matter and how to choose the right ones for your app. We’ve picked our top 17 KPIs across the whole user journey — from acquisition, through engagement, to monetization — to help you keep your finger on the pulse.

Just keep in mind that each KPI by itself is only part of the picture. To get the most from your metrics, look at your data holistically, try to identify trends, and pay attention to your users: they’ll soon show you which measurements matter most. 

What are gaming KPIs and why do they matter?

Gaming KPIs are metrics that help you evaluate how your mobile game is performing. Throughout your game’s lifespan, you’ll be working towards particular goals: increasing downloads, extending gaming time, or driving in-app purchases, to name a few. Measuring KPIs shows you how well you’re doing against these, and what you could improve. 

KPIs can help you make smarter campaign decisions, for example by identifying the most effective marketing channels for your budget. They also provide insight into the user experience, so you can make your game more enjoyable, intuitive, and engaging. That in itself will drive positive reviews, attract users, and build loyalty. 

How to choose the right KPIs

We’ve gathered 17 KPIs here — and there are many more besides. But don’t panic: you don’t need to track all of them, all of the time. The right ones for you will depend on your game and your objectives.

Firstly, think about what stage your game is at. If you’ve recently launched, your focus will be on user acquisition. Chances are, you’re spending big on marketing: acquisition KPIs like CPI and IPM ensure you’re getting your money’s worth. 

Further down the line, you’ll want to know how sticky your app is: do people come back to play regularly? Monitoring usage and engagement KPIs, like retention rate and active users, shows you what users value, and how you could improve their experience. 

Finally, all apps need to make money — so, once you’ve got users on board, you’ll track things like ARPU, LTV, and ROAS.  

As well as lifecycle, consider the type of game you’re offering. Let’s say you have a hyper-casual puzzle game with broad appeal: you’ll want to attract as many users as possible, accepting that the game’s limitations will mean high churn. You’ll also be relying on advertising to drive revenue, so monitoring ad spend and results is crucial.

For more complex games, engagement is the name of the game: keeping users playing for longer, seeing more ads, and/or making purchases (like extra lives, premium content, or in-game currency). 

Acquisition KPIs

App acquisition metrics

The first hurdle of mobile marketing is to drive installs. And with nearly half a million apps competing for users’ attention in Apple’s App Store alone, investing in your marketing is a no-brainer. 

Knowing the effectiveness of your ad spend means you can take action to reduce the cost per user and improve ROI. That’s where the following KPIs come into play:

1. Effective cost per mille (eCPM)


The revenue generated per 1,000 impressions (in other words, 1,000 users seeing your ad).

To calculate eCPM, divide the total earnings from advertising by the total number of impressions and multiply by 1,000.

eCPM = (Total ad revenue / Total impressions) * 1,000

Why it matters:

eCPM offers a basic approach to evaluating the value of your traffic and determining your CPM (cost per mille). CPM is the rate an advertiser is willing to pay for 1,000 impressions, while eCPM represents the publisher earnings per 1,000 impressions.

2. Cost per install (CPI)


The cost of generating one new install.

CPI = Total campaign spend / Number of app installs

Why it matters:

CPI is used to determine the price of acquiring a new user, helping you optimize your marketing budget. When your aim is to generate installs, you want to be sure you’re not overpaying for each one and hurting your bottom line.

3. Installs per mille (IPM)


The number of installs generated for every 1,000 impressions. IPM is calculated by dividing total installs by total impressions and multiplying by 1,000.

IPM = (Total installs / Total impressions) * 1,000

Why it matters:

IPM helps evaluate the performance of a campaign: the higher it is, the better. A low IPM may indicate low user engagement with a given creative: check that you’re reaching the right users, or try changing the creative itself (read more about IPM and conversion rate optimization).

4. Organic conversion rate


The percentage of conversions driven by non-paid channels, such as organic search, social media, press, and so on.

Organic conversion rate = Number of conversions / Number of interactions with organic source

Why it matters:

Organic conversion rate informs your non-paid distribution power and highlights opportunities to bring new users to your app without spending on user acquisition.

5. K-factor


The number of organic users you get as the result of a paid UA campaign.

For example, if your game has an option for a multiplayer experience, and a user invites three friends to join who subsequently install the app, you just earned three new “free” users.

K = number of invites sent by each user / conversion rate of each invite

Why it matters:

A high K-factor indicates the virality of your app (its word-of-mouth power) and enables you to reduce your average UA spend per user. If, for example, you paid $3 for one install, and that one install triggered two additional organic installs, you actually paid $1 dollar for those three installs (read more about organic multipliers).

Usage and engagement KPIs

App acquisition metrics

We all know it’s cheaper to retain existing users than to acquire new ones, so keeping players engaged in your game is vital. That means understanding how often they use your app, how long they play for, and over what period of time. 

The following KPIs indicate whether you’re bringing in the right users, and provide insights that can help you improve their experience so they stick around. 

By benchmarking and observing these metrics long term, you can boost your segmentation and monetization strategies, as well as build a loyal user base that keeps returning to your app.

6. Retention rate


The percentage of players that return to your app during a defined period of time after the initial install (typically measured at 1, 3, 7, 14, and 30 days).

Retention rate = [(Number of users at end of period X – Number of users acquired in period X) / Number of users at start of period X] * 100

Why it matters:

A high retention rate shows your game provides ongoing value to users, which is crucial to monetization. 

Retention is also a key factor in evaluating the quality of your users, helping you develop effective UA strategies and allocate budget across media sources.  Attracting higher-quality users means they play for longer and generate more revenue. 


7. Churn/Uninstall rate


The rate at which users uninstall your app within a set number of days following an install.

Churn rate = (Number of users who uninstalled during period X / Number of users at start of period X) * 100

Why it matters

Games — particularly casual gaming apps — suffer from the highest uninstall rates in the mobile app industry. And that’s a problem, because you’ve spent good money acquiring those users. Understanding why users delete your app, and at what point in their journey, can help you address potential issues and hold on to valuable users. 

8. Daily active users (DAU)


The number of unique users who use your app at least once in a 24-hour period (note that a single unique user who launches the game three times a day is counted as one daily active user).

Why it matters

In gaming, you typically want users to play regularly — ideally, they love your game so much they pick it up daily. DAU shows the proportion of users who have installed your game and play it every day. 

This can help you evaluate the game’s potential if you increase engagement and retention. You can also use DAU to evaluate the success of a specific new feature or campaign: if it proves popular, you should see a spike in DAU.

9. Monthly active users (MAU)


The number of unique users who engage with your app over the course of 30 days (note that a user who engages with the game on five different days within 30 days counts as one monthly active user).

Why it matters

MAU indicates the size of your user base and gives a wider perspective about it than DAU. In addition, MAU can demonstrate the stickiness of your app (more on this below). 

10. Stickiness


The number of days users visit your app within 30 days. Stickiness can be calculated by dividing DAU by MAU and multiplying by 30.

Stickiness = (DAU / MAU) * 30

Why it matters

Stickiness indicates how addictive your game is and how relevant it is for users. High stickiness shows high interest in your game and makes users visit it more frequently.


The state of gaming app marketing 2023

Download report

11. ATT opt-in rate 


The proportion of iOS users who opt in to allow an app to track their behavior, under Apple’s ATT privacy framework. The app can use an opted-in user’s Apple IDFA for various purposes, including attribution and targeting. 

ATT opt-in rate = Number of iOS users who opt in to tracking / Total number of iOS users

Why it matters: 

When users don’t consent to this tracking, advertisers and developers can’t access user- or device-level data to inform campaigns. Instead, they must rely on predictions and aggregated data. The more users opt in, the more first-party data you’ll have, providing valuable insights into individual user experience and behavior. 

If you’ve taken steps to optimize your opt-in rates and they’re still on the low side, a measurement partner like AppsFlyer can help you source relevant, compliant data.   

Monetization KPIs

App monetization metrics

You’ve reached the right users, fine-tuned your app flow, and figured out how to acquire users for less. Time to sit back and relax, right? Not so fast… 

If you want your game to last, it needs to make money. With most apps now free to download, your main revenue streams are advertising or in-app purchases. But these don’t come for free, so you need to spend wisely. Let’s dig into the KPIs that will help you stay ROI-positive. 

12. Average revenue per user (ARPU)


The total revenue, on average, that a user brings in over a given period. For example, Day 30 ARPU is the average revenue generated by a user within 30 days of an install.

ARPU = Total revenue / Total number of users in cohort

Why it matters

ARPU is a basic KPI that’s used to evaluate player value over a set time period and plan UA budgets. ARPU includes all revenue-generating events in the app, such as purchases, ads, subscriptions, and paid-for apps. Once you have this figure, you can identify ways to optimize it across the user journey. 

13. Average revenue per paying user (ARPPU)


The total revenue, on average, brought in by a player who made a purchase in the game. Accordingly, the formula is the total revenue divided by the total number of users who generated revenue.

ARPPU = Total revenue / Total number of revenue-generating users

Why it matters

ARPPU is used to evaluate the efficiency of existing and new in-app purchase (IAP) events, as well as the effect of other events on IAP revenue (such as the option to see an ad rather than pay). It’s useful in a freemium game where you want to split out paying and free players.

14. Lifetime value (LTV)


The revenue a user generates over the course of the entire time they play a game. It’s calculated by taking the number of days of engagement and multiplying it by average spend per day.

LTV = Number of days of engagement * Average spend per day

Why it matters

LTV (together with ARPU) helps evaluate the total revenue, or value, of a game or user. It indicates how much you can afford to spend on UA and still make a profit. 

15. Time to first purchase


The time it takes a user to make their first in-app purchase after installing a game.

Why it matters

Time to first purchase helps you plan IAP placements and timing during the game flow, and shows you if and when to mix in-app advertising (IAA) as a way to improve performance. This timing matters: ask users to spend too early and they could be put off your game, but leave it too late and they may have lost interest or fail to see the benefit. 

16. Share of paying users


The percentage of installers who ended up making an in-app purchase within a given timeframe since the install.

Share of paying users = (Number of installers who make an in-app purchase within period X / Total number of installers in period X) * 100

Why it matters

This is an indication of quality users driven from media sources, as well as a way to measure the performance of your monetization model. Consider how you could optimize your marketing to encourage more purchases. 

17. Return on ad spend (ROAS)


The money spent on marketing, divided by the revenue generated by users in a given time frame (for example, a Day 7 ROAS of 50% means that a player generated revenue that was 50% of the money spent to acquire that user).

ROAS = Total marketing spend / User-generated revenue in period X

Why it matters

As a measure of profit, ROAS is the most important KPI on which UA managers are judged. For gaming apps, UA typically eats up a large chunk of your marketing budget: by constantly comparing your income to ROAS, you can judge how your campaigns are performing and allocate budget to the most valuable users and channels.  

Key takeaways 

  • Mobile gaming KPIs enable you to measure how successful your gaming app is at acquiring and retaining users, and, ultimately, making money. 
  • Understanding your KPIs lets you measure and optimize both campaign performance and user experience. 
  • With so many KPIs to choose from, you should select those most relevant to your game type and lifecycle. You won’t track everything, but you should consider your data holistically and identify trends. 
  • Useful KPIs for measuring acquisition activity include: eCPM, CPI, IPM, organic conversion rate, and K-factor.
  • KPIs for measuring usage and engagement include: retention rate and churn rate, daily and monthly active users, and app stickiness. 
  • To measure your monetization efforts, track KPIs including: ARPU, ARPPU, LTV, time to first purchase, share of paying users, and ROAS (the ultimate marker of profitability).

Igal Frid

Igal Frid is the Mobile Insights Specialist at AppsFlyer. He brings half a decade of experience with digital advertising leaders ironSource and Universal McCann, focusing on brand advertising, growth strategy, and the mobile gaming ecosystem. Igal is passionate about data, trends, and graphs, but his favorite question (in every subject) is “Why?“ You can follow him on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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