Lengthening the User Lifecycle for Games and Apps

November 9, 2023
November 9, 2023

With users increasingly unwilling to pay an upfront fee to access a mobile game or app, the majority of publishers rely on in-app purchases, ads, and subscription fees to generate revenue. Because these revenue streams rely on small transactions, developers need to keep users as long as possible to generate profits.

Unfortunately, with the average retention rate being just over 25% on day one and dropping to just under 6% by day 30, most users don’t stick around long enough to spend much money. The average app loses about 77% of its daily active users by day three. One of the best ways to boost the revenue from your game or mobile app is to lengthen the user lifecycle.

Key Takeaways:

  • The user lifecycle describes the entire user experience from installation to churn.
  • Most users quit playing a game or using an app after just a few days or weeks. Lengthening this lifecycle provides you with more opportunities to monetize and extends the life of your app.
  • There are a variety of ways you can lengthen the user lifecycle. Examples include making sure users have a good initial experience, continuously adding new content, personalizing your app, eliminating bugs, communicating with users, and designing your app to be habit-forming.

How To Lengthen the User Lifecycle for Games and Apps

The user lifecycle describes the time users spend interacting with a game or app from installation to the point where the user churns. Most users churn after just a few days or weeks. However, there are steps you can take to lengthen the average lifecycle.

Make a Good First Impression

Most users decide whether they are going to keep playing a game or using an app in the first few seconds. If your app doesn’t grab their attention and hold it, you will lose them. Don’t rely on amazing content that the user will get to after they get through the boring introductory stuff.

If users get bored before they make it further into your game, they will probably never see the good content. Ensure that your onboarding process is smooth and engaging. Grab the users’ interest right off the bat.

Give users the initial information they need to play your game or use your app without overwhelming them. Break tutorials up into small chunks that integrate with the gameplay or normal app progression instead of hitting users with everything they could possibly need upfront.

The first few levels or challenges players face in gaming apps should provide enough challenge to keep players interested but not be so frustrating that they quit. Make sure there are no bugs and that the app loads quickly.

Engage and Reward Returning Users

Users who churn aren’t necessarily lost forever. You can often extend the user lifecycle of lapsed users by telling them about a fun new feature or event or offering a special promotion. Once you get them back, be sure to immediately give them something to do to help them get caught up with what they missed and reengage with the app.

Reward returning players with in-game items, currency, points, or recognition. Make sure to fix whatever issue caused players to churn in the first place.

Personalize the User Experience

Not everyone wants to use your app or play your game in the same way. You can keep users engaged longer when you offer options that personalize their experience based on their preferences. For example, offer multiple difficulty levels, the option to skip tutorials, aesthetic customization options, customizable controls, open-world gameplay, and gameplay that changes based on player choices.

Example of a screenshot that allows users to choose to skip tutorials
https://uxdesign.cc/the-ux-of-video-game-tutorials-7e7bc37e2ceb

Make Your App a Habit

One of the things that makes the most popular apps so successful is that users become so used to engaging with them that they open the apps without even thinking about it. Make your app habit-forming by using engagement hooks. Trigger users to engage by sending emails or push notifications.

Make it as easy and appealing as possible for the user to take the action you want. Offer users a reward for taking the desired action and then ask the user for some type of investment, such as inviting their friends to download your app.

Communicate With Users

Loyal users tend to have a longer user lifecycle. Users are the most loyal when they feel like the creators of the apps they love care about them. Engaging with your users can keep you alert to frustration that may lead to churn. It also provides you an opportunity to communicate the value of your app to users.

Effectively using in-app messages can improve retention by 30%. However, don’t overwhelm users with annoying or pushy messages, and personalize your communication so that it stands out among all the other notifications from other apps.

Continuously Add New Content

No matter how amazing your game or app is, users will eventually get bored without new content. Regularly add new levels, features, story elements, challenges, characters, and items to keep users interested.

Time-limited events can be a powerful tool to re-engage lapsed users and keep current users interested by providing a steady stream of new content. Add meta-layers to hyper-casual games to keep players entertained longer.

Screenshot of a time-limited event in the game “Overwatch”
https://www.gamescribes.com/7-ideas-for-your-seasonal-in-game-community-event

Don’t Block Player Progress

Players commonly quit playing games once they feel like they can no longer advance because they have run out of content or the game is too challenging. You can give players a helping hand by offering hints, powerups, extra lives, and other items as microtransactions, but avoid giving players the perception that you are intentionally limiting progress to force them to buy something. Players naturally tend to spend more money and recruit more friends when they are happy with their experience.

Help With Extending Your User Lifecycle

Sonamine offers retention, engagement, and monetization services that keep users engaged with your app, leading to a longer user lifecycle. Whether you need help with live ops, user retention, or advanced analysis, we have the expertise you need. Contact us today to find out more.

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