Player Retention: Lessons from Successful Mobile Games

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Hello everyone! It’s Ali here. Over the past few months, I’ve attended multiple game developer conferences across Turkey and Europe. I’ve connected with like-minded industry professionals and shared insights into the gaming landscape.

A common concern heard across sessions, coffee breaks, and panel discussions during these conferences was low player retention. Many of these talented individuals have poured their hearts into creating a fantastic game, only to find that their player base is shrinking rather than growing.

This common concern wants to investigate why some mobile games keep players hooked for hours, days, and even months. In contrast, others struggle to maintain interest beyond the initial download.

What is Player Retention?

In mobile games, player retention refers to the number of users who return to the game within specific time periods. There are different retention metrics that help developers determine their games’ success:

  1. 1-Day Retention: It shows the number of players who return to games one day after playing.
  2. 7-Day Retention: It refers to the percentage of players who return to the game after seven days
  3. 30-Day Retention: This is the percentage of players who return to the game thirty days after their first play.

Why Does Player Retention Matter?

A high retention rate shows that your players enjoy the game you develop. Because they had fun, they were more likely to spend more time on the game. When players become involved, they make in-app purchases and watch ads.

And, higher retention means a higher lifetime value. LTV is not just about the money a player spends on your game but also how long they play it.

How Do You Calculate the Player Retention Rate?

Before we get into the details, let’s learn how to calculate the retention rate:

  1. The first step is to select a specific day for measurement. Let’s call this Day 0. This could be the day a game is installed for the first time.
  2. Next, decide whether you want to measure retention for one day, seven days, or thirty days.
  3. Then, all you have to do is find the number of players from Day 0 who are still playing on your chosen day. For example, if you want to calculate Day 7 retention, count how many players from Day 0 are still playing with you on Day 7.
  4. Last, but not least, divide this number by the total number of players from Day 0, and multiply the result by 100.

Among Us

Among Us - Player Retention
Among Us

We all know about Among Us, right? This game’s popularity is off the charts everywhere! People are absolutely obsessed with this game. On social media, they share memes, tips, and more. But why?

It’s a simple game of ‘whodunit’, mixed with fun social dynamics that keep people coming back. The numbers don’t lie—player retention for Among Us on iOS and Android is through the roof.

Key Takeaways from Among Us:

  • Intriguing Gameplay Balance: The heart-pounding suspense of uncovering the imposter among crewmates keeps players engaged, proving that suspense is an excellent tool for improving mobile game retention.
  • Social Features: The social aspect is a key factor in its success. Players can interact, form alliances, and betray each other, which creates an emotional bond and encourages players to return.
  • Free-to-play: Among Us employs a free-to-play model with optional purchases. This lowers the barrier to entry, maximizes player lifespan, and generates sustainable revenue.

Subway Surfers

Subway Surfers

When I was younger, I remember getting hooked on Subway Surfers. It’s an endless-runner game that had my heart racing and my fingers swiping at full speed.

Fast forward to today, and Subway Surfers still kills it, teaching player retention. With its high-octane, immersive gameplay, it has a special way of making us come back for just ‘one more run’ over and over again.

Key Takeaways from Subway Surfers:

  • Game Updates: Regular environment refreshes keep content fresh and engaging, appealing to a global audience and boosting monthly active users.
  • In-game Rewards and Player Loyalty: Daily challenges and rewards motivate frequent play and foster player loyalty, bumping retention rates.
  • Gameplay Balance: An increasing difficulty level keeps things interesting, striking a delicate balance between challenge and progress. It’s a clever design tactic that keeps players coming back.



Alright, let’s move on to Roblox, a real rockstar in mobile gaming. They’ve done something cool by flipping the gaming model upside down.

The game allows players to hang out with other players and make connections globally within the game. Also, the games are super easy to play. When you put it all together, Roblox is a superstar in mobile gaming.

Key Takeaways from Roblox:

  • User Engagement Strategies: The user-generated content model encourages creativity, boosting player engagement and retention. This strategy capitalizes on the idea that when players invest time and creativity in the game, they’re likely to stay.
  • Social Features for Players: Much like Among Us, Roblox’s community-driven approach encourages social interaction, further improving mobile game retention.
  • Subscription Model: Roblox’s optional subscription service, Roblox Premium, offers members various perks and is another example of successful retention strategies in the freemium mobile game world.



Next on our journey is Gardenscapes, a fun and engaging match-3 game enveloped in a compelling storyline. This combination has resulted in a high player retention rate, making it a successful mobile game worth studying.

Key Takeaways from Gardenscapes

  • Storytelling: Gardenscapes pairs its core gameplay with an engaging storyline and colorful characters, a potent recipe for player engagement strategies.
  • Rewarding Progress: The game rewards players with steady storyline progress, which motivates them. This optimizes user lifetime value by keeping players engaged for the long haul.
  • In-game Events: Regular in-game events in Gardenscapes provide extra entertainment value, encouraging players to return and engage.

Temple Run

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Temple Run

Temple Run, an iconic endless runner game, provides an adrenaline-fueled adventure that keeps players hooked. Its high-stakes gameplay and progressive difficulty have resulted in impressive retention.

Key Takeaways from Temple Run:

  • Game Design: Temple Run’s “just one more try” nature illustrates how exciting and straightforward game design can improve player retention.
  • Player Re-engagement Campaigns: The use of power-ups and character customization offers additional goals for players, effectively re-engaging them in the game.
  • Game Tutorial Impact: Temple Run’s easy-to-understand tutorial helps retain new players right from the start, illustrating how vital an effective introduction is for retention.

What’s Next in Retention Strategies?

In the future, player retention will become increasingly data-driven, with advanced analytics and machine learning providing insight into player behavior. In-game personalization and extended Artificial Intelligence (AI) also promise new avenues for retention.

Decoding the Future with Player Retention Analytics

  • Advanced Analytics: By using cutting-edge analytics, game developers can better understand player behavior, enabling them to make data-driven decisions to maximize retention.
  • Personalization: Tailoring the gaming experience to individual player preferences can improve retention, an area likely to see focus in the future.
  • AI Technologies: Artificial intelligence integrated into gaming holds exciting possibilities for the future. AI’s potential to produce dynamic, adaptive gaming experiences could revolutionize player engagement and retention, and the industry could break new ground.

Ratic: Your Secret Weapon in the Mobile Game Universe

As we explore the nuances of player retention, let’s spotlight a tool that can potentially turn the tide in your favor: Ratic. Ratic is more than just a tool; it’s a comprehensive solution designed to empower mobile game studios to improve player engagement and drive revenue growth.

Through a plug-and-play LiveOps tool with a feature-rich dashboard, developers can seamlessly integrate a suite of dynamic features into their mobile games, including:

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Ratic Features
  • Leaderboards: Encourage friendly competition and community spirit.
  • Tournaments: Create engaging and compelling events.
  • Rewards: Foster player loyalty through meaningful incentives.
  • Leagues and Levels (XP): Offer progression and achievement.

Ratic is dedicated to helping mobile game studios overcome today’s competitive gaming market hurdles. It supports both independent studios and publishers in their journey toward higher player engagement and monetization.


Lessons learned from these successful mobile games point to several strategies for improving customer retention. These strategies include effective game design, social features, rewarding progress, and refreshing content. Implementing these tactics can improve your game’s retention rate. With a tool like Ratic on your side, you can incorporate features that promote engagement, encourage competition, and incentivize play. These are all critical components of a player’s lifespan

Success in the mobile gaming market requires a solid player retention strategy. Keep in mind that a game’s success is based on more than just the quantity of downloads; it also depends on how many players actually play it over time. I wish you fun while developing your next mobile game and a high player retention rate!