The ONE Mobile Game User Retention Strategy To Rule Them All!

Mobile app user retention is the foundation to growing your mobile gaming business, especially if you’re a free-to-play publisher. 

By now you’ve likely implemented various retention strategies for your games with some success. But if you were happy with your retention rates you wouldn’t be here. And even if you were happy about them, your retention rates can always be better, right?

Here’s the deal. There is no secret user retention strategy that we’re about to reveal for the first time ever. There is however, a singular strategy that you can implement that will help you get more out of the current mobile app retention strategies you're already using.

In this post, we’re not going to rehash all the things you already know about from Googling ‘how to improve mobile game user retention’.

We’re going to talk about how to make sure you’re getting everything you can out of the user retention strategies you do implement so that you’re increasing and maximizing your retention rates - and scaling revenue.

In this post, we’ll cover the following:

Revenue Impact Of User Retention

Obviously, retaining your players is important. But the impact of improving player retention is exponential - increasing retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%! So a little effort in retaining the users you do have will more than offset all the effort you put into acquiring them.

Brutal Reality User Retention Metrics

User retention is often measure in 3 intervals:

  • 1-day retention
  • 7-day retention
  • 30-day retention

Whether you know the cold hard facts from personal experience or not, user retention statistics are not pretty. The average app loses 77% of users in only 3 days! And worse, 90% of ALL users are lost by day 30 - ugh.

Formula - How To Calculate User Retention Rate?

Measuring user retention for any number of days is pretty straight forward. The formula is as follows:

mobile game user retention rate formula

For example, if we had 300 users return out of 1,000 installs on day 1, our day 1 retention rate would look like this:

mobile game user retention rate formula example

If 200 used it after 7 days and 50 used it after 30 days, your retention rates would be:

  • 7-day retention = 20%
  • 30-day retention = 5%

As you can see, it’s fairly simple.

Understanding Why Users Churn In The First Place

Player retention and player churn are two sides of the same coin. You can’t effectively address user retention without first understanding what causes players to leave.

Why Users Leave A Game

In a recent survey, we asked 1,989 mobile gamers to give us a reason for why they recently stopped playing a game. You can see ‘got bored’ and ‘too many ads’ were the two main culprits for making users leave.

Chart: reasons mobile game users churn to help improve retention rates

Interestingly however, mobile gamers seem to demonstrate a great deal of patience when it comes to starting a new game. When asked how many plays do they typically give a game to win them over and keep them playing, 20% said at least 6 plays! 

Chart: how many plays do mobile gamers give a game to win them over and keep playing

Even at 28% of those surveyed saying 3-5 plays, it’s pretty evident that players will give your game a chance to win them over and keep them coming back.

Fine Tuning Retention Strategies To Get MORE Users Coming Back!

Once you’ve implemented various app retention strategies, the question remains, what’s next? How do you know your strategies are working to their fullest? How can you determine if the time and effort you’ve put into increasing your game’s retention rate is paying off?

This is where we hope to provide you with some insight you’re not going to find anywhere else. Rather than sitting around waiting for the results to trickle in, we’re going to show you how to proactively get feedback from your players by using rewarded surveys with our Player Insights tool.

With in-app rewarded surveys, you get real time feedback from your players about your game. In exchange for a few minutes of their time, you reward your users with your game’s currency.

So what’s the one strategy to get the most out of all user retention strategies? It’s simply engaging your players by asking them for their feedback.

This type of proactive engagement of your users can’t be overstated, as shared with us in a recent Fireside chat we had with CEO, Pete Williamson, of Supersonic Software Ltd…


That said, let’s share a few examples of user retention strategies and how to use rewarded surveys to find out if they’re working or not.

Turn Set-It-And-Forget Retention Strategies Into Continuous Player Feedback Loops

None of the strategies below should be new to you. And clearly this is not an exhaustive list. The goal here is to get you thinking differently about the retention strategies you’re currently using. 

Instead of passive, ad-hoc tactics, you can use in-app rewarded surveys to turn set-it--and-forget-it retention strategies into continuous feedback loops that help you get more out of your retention efforts.

Let’s look at 5 common user retention strategies you’re likely already familiar with and how to use in-game rewarded surveys to get real-time feedback from your players in order to optimize the strategies to maximize their benefit.

Retention Strategy

Ask Your Players…

Onboarding / First Impression

What do you like / don’t like? What’s difficult? What don’t you understand? How can we make it better?

Push Notifications

What do you want in your push notifications? Do you want to continue receiving notifications?

Reward Loyal Users

What would you like to receive for being our #1 user this month? Extra lives? Coins? Discounted iAP?

In-Game Events

Seasonal, holiday, and themed events are great, but be sure to ask users what type of in-game events they want to see more of.

Show Rewarded Ads & Videos

You may not have full control of what you can and can’t show, but you might get some interesting insights about your players.


Whatever retention strategies you’re using or thinking about using, it’s not enough to implement them and walk away, hoping for the best.

If your current retention strategy is working, great. But the goal now is getting player feedback so you can make it even better to further improve retention rates?

If your current retention strategy is not working, it’s not ‘game over’ (no pun intended). Instead, you can now ask your players why it’s not working and make improvements based on your players’ feedback.

Either way, your players will appreciate your continuous engagement. They get instantly rewarded for their feedback to make the game they player better. You get rewarded with better retention rates and that's to say nothing of the positive impact it can have on user acquisition. 


There are no secrets when it comes to user retention strategies. Everyone has access to the same strategies. The key is, implementing your strategies and following up with your players. How do you know what your players want / don’t want, like / don’t like, need help with / don’t need help with? You engage them by asking them directly. There is no more powerful way to improve retention than to directly engage your players - period.

TapResearch makes it easy to collect real-time player feedback from all your players – not just the loud ones – so you can make better product decisions, with more confidence. If you're interested in learning more about player experience measurement contact our player experience team here or create your free account to get started right away.

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