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ARMing yourself at Login 2012

By on October 4, 2012

Acquisition, retention and monetisation dominate discussions about free-to-play gaming, and Login conference 2012 was no exception.

The cost of user acquisition is rising, creating a more challenging environment for small studios. Chris Akhavan of Tapjoy advised developers to set aside $100k for acquisition, pointing out that to save money, they should avoid launching on a weekend when CPIs are higher. A lot of money can be saved by timing a launch strategically – launches in Q4 are going to be particularly expensive this year.

Buying your users isn’t always the best way forward. Dylan Collins of Fight my Monster explained that to build an audience of over a million children, Facebook advertising simply isn’t going to work – they’re not there. You can’t buy users under a certain age. You rely on literal word of mouth on the literal playground. You have to design your game to be original and visually distinctive so that this jaded generation of hyper-consumers feel that your game is worth recommending.

Some speakers at Login were keen to point out that it’s not acquisition that makes or breaks a freemium title – it’s retention. The top games are not successful because they ‘went viral’ – it’s because they have great retention.

Learn more with the Gamesbrief ‘ARM yourself’ guide

Geoffrey Zatkin from Eedar shared some fascinating market research on how to retain and monetise mobile users. When asked what their most common reason was for quitting a mobile game, 32% of users said it was because it was too hard to progress in the game without spending money. 37% said it was because the game was repetitive. This confirms the intuition of industry veterans who criticise freemium game design. However, part of the problem developers face is how to retain the highest value users. Eedar’s research found that whales are extremely unlikely to be put off by repetition or paywalls, and more likely to be turned away by the sense that they have completed all of the content.

Acquisition, retention and monetisation present ever more complex challenges as the market gets more competitive. To get up to speed on ARM strategy, read the Gamesbrief ‘ARM yourself‘ series.


Speakers shared some really incredible data at Login 2012 – I’ve collected them on the Spreadsheet pages so that you can sanity-check your benchmarks when forecasting.


Trivial pursuit, EA: 9,000 MAUs


Popcap’s conversion on mobile is 2x Facebook


Bejeweled Blitz has double the DAUs on Facebook compared to mobile. But on the DAUs page you’ll note that its DAUs on Facebook are falling, while they are rising on mobile.


Fight my monster has 1.8 million registered users

Market size

Android has 68% market share globally


Darya Trushkina says there is an Android game with an ARPPU over $100/month

Brazilian users spend on average 10.29 USD per month on mobile games


According to YuChiang Cheng of WGT, If ARPDAU is below 0.05 you’re not doing well. It should be between 0.12 and 0.15.

ARPDAU is 15-25% higher on tablets compared to smartphones

About Zoya Street

I’m responsible for all written content on the site. As a freelance journalist and historian, I write widely on how game design and development have changed in the past, how they will change in the future, and how that relates to society and culture as a whole. I’m working on a crowdfunded book about the Dreamcast, in which I treat three of the game-worlds it hosted as historical places. I also write at and The Borderhouse.