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DAU/MAU = engagement

By on October 26, 2011

DAU/MAU is not a key driver of revenues for the GAMESbrief online games forecasting model. It is so important – and quoted so often – that I’ve incorporated it anyway.

Engagement

Across the online games world, engagement is a key objective. The more engaged a user is in your game, the more likely they are to spend. If they come back every day, they are more likely to spend. If they think about the game when they are not online, they are more likely to spend.

Little wonder DAU/MAU has become so important.

Benchmarks

Appdata tracks DAU/MAU for every game in its database. The table below shows the DAU/MAU figures for several popular games. The figures are often quoted in different ways. Sometimes DAU/MAU is quoted as 0.13; sometimes as 13%.

(Note that for new games, the DAU/MAU figure is likely to be over-stated. In the first month, for example, a game will get an engagement ratio of 100%. Note also that Facebook engagement ratios have been in decline throughout 2011. It is unclear whether these are structural changes or the results of a summer drop in game consumption.)

I tend to recommend that clients target an engagement ratio of 0.15, or 15%. That used to be very conservative. It is getting more and more like a base case, not a worst case. W3i claims, “A game with a strong DAU/MAU ratio will be able to maintain a value over 0.2 for an extended period of time”. (source: Gamasutra)

Mobile

Angry Birds, Rovio: 10% (source: the app side)

Parallel Kingdoms, PerBlue: 30% (source: inside social games)

Glu Mobile: 11.7% (source: Pocketgamer, 9/8/12: 3.4 million DAUs /29 million MAUs)

Facebook

Zynga (entire catalogue): 22.5% (source: investor.zynga.com)
Scrabble, Gamehouse: 30% (source: Gamesbrief)
Bejeweled Blitz, Popcap: 27% (source: Gamesbrief)
Pet Society, Playfish: 14%  (source: Gamesbrief)

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: thecurveonline.com
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  • http://www.gamesbrief.com Nicholas Lovell

    Nir Ayal has written a marvellous piece at Tech Crunch about why DAU/MAU is such a critical metric. Daily users show true engagement, and drive an accelerated viral loop. The post is really worth a read.

    http://techcrunch.com/2012/05/26/never-take-your-eyes-off-this-hacker-metric/

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=783339441 Frank Trevor Gilson

    Note that a strict DAU/MAU measure can be obscured by new users whom you can buy with marketing spend. I like to calculate (DAU – New Users)/(MAU – New Users) for any given day.

  • http://www.gamesbrief.com Nicholas Lovell

     That’s a good point, if you have a lot of paid for marketing taking place

  • DimitraThess

    This is a nice article! A very interesting article on monetization is also this one: http://www.playcompass.com/kalmpourtzis/freemium-game-monetization-terminology-and-strategy/

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrea.keil.18 Andrea Keil

    Did you notice that you never ever said in your article what “DAU/MAU” means at all, and how to calculate it? For example “last DAU of the month / MAU of this month”? Or “sum of all DAUs of this month / MAU of this month”?

    Concerning the meaning you say it’s “engagement”, but that’s no definition as it’s totally abstract.
    DAU/MAU of the last 30 days says how many % of your MAUs stay the whole month, every single day!
    Same can be done for DAU/WAU: How many % of your WAU stay the whole week?

    I think this should be added in some way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrea.keil.18 Andrea Keil

    Hey there! Attention please, is a very important question to me! Please answer!

  • http://www.gamesbrief.com Nicholas Lovell

    Hello Andrea,

    The DAU/MAU is used in the spreadsheet because it is (or at least was) the figure that Facebook gave out, and that you could track with Appdata. That meant that, for all its weaknesses, it was a useful stat because you could compare it with rival products.
    I am pretty sure that Facebook showed at as yesterday’s DAUs / the most recent MAUs.(I can’t remember, off the top of my head, how FB defines MAUs.)
    It is abstract. It is an arbitrary figure used to compare your performance with that of your rivals. There is no point in real detailed analysis in such a situation, because you don’t have detailed numbers for your competitors.

    By all means, play with the spreadsheet to find a way to strip out new players from returning users if that is useful for you. I made the spreadsheet freely available so that people can adapt it to their own use.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrea.keil.18 Andrea Keil

    Well, I didn’t want to focus on the spreadsheet alone, but my question was targeted at the real meaning behind DAU/MAU in general.
    Hmm, but if one does not know what this figure represents, one shouldn’t use it, imho. Even when it’s for comparing. Buzz word “vanity metrics”.
    One guy: “Hey, we have 20% DAU/MAU, that’s more than Farmville has!”
    Other guy: “Great! ………and what does that mean?”
    One guy: “Uuuuhhh… Whatever, we’re better than Facebook.”
    -.-

    I think “it is abstract” is wrong. If you look at day x, and you calculate “DAU from day x / MAU from day x”, you have: “How many of my MAU returned today?”, then you have a concrete result (!= abstract).

  • http://www.gamesbrief.com Nicholas Lovell

    Fair enough. But when that is all that anyone had, it mattered. Everyone knew that engagement was a good proxy for revenue, even if people were still tinkering with the exact mechanics of why.

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