Increase retention and get more Downloads – Best practices

Every game developer wants to have a successful game. Since always, people were trying to break a mystery about how to keep players engaged and how to increase retention in their games. As the world getting bigger and the online community continues to grow, it is not uncommon for players to spend days in a single game. Many of us have done it. But why? Why would you play one game so long? What is the secret recipe for holding players attention so long?

To answer these questions, let’s see what are the most important metrics that we should follow:

  • Installs – number of installs is a fundamental metric of your game because it shows the success or failure of your game 
  • Daily Active Users (DAU) – this number defines how many unique users used your app within 24 hours
  • Monthly Active Users (MAU) – similar to DAU, this number represents the number of unique users that logged in your app in the last month
  • Retention Rate (RR) – a measure of how many people are still playing your game after a certain period of time from their first login date
  • Churn Rate (CR) – opposite to RR, churn rate measure how many people uninstalled your app
  • Lifetime Value (LTV) – shows you total revenue generated per user 


Why is important to increase retention?

Retention rate is a key indicator of your app’s performance over time. A high rate demonstrates your game provides value to users generating repeat usage. It is the basis of monetization and a key factor in prediction models. 

Mostly, we track retention rates on Day 1, Day 7, and Day 30. This is helping us to know if our games are built to last.

Day 1 retention – informs you about the first impression that players have about your game. You want to make sure that users will come back for more. This will tell you how they like your interface, convenient it is, or If it corresponds to their expectations. That first impression is unforgettable. And you want to make it right to increase retention. Traditionally, the successful retention rate after the first day is 40%.

Day 7 retention – most of the time, this is a turning point where players decide whether they’ll continue playing your game. It tells you how much they like your game as they are getting familiar with the gameplay. You know that you are on the good track if your retention rate is above 20%.

Day 30 retention – this is the point where you know that players like your game. They play your game regularly, they are your loyal players, and they are more likely to make an in-app purchase. The good retention rate at this stage is about 10%.


Make a great first impression

A great first impression means having as few barriers to fun for first time players as possible. Making a great first impression is a key factor to increase retention.

One of the first barriers users encounter is logging in. When you download the game, you are so excited and can’t wait to play. You don’t want to bother with entering your password. Nobody wants to type their credentials when they open the game, they want to play! To prevent this annoying habit, try using device authentication instead, and let your players enjoy your game immediately.

One of the disadvantages is that users will lose their data if they switch devices. So, what now? After you give your players a try for your game, kindly ask them to sign up to keep tracking their player data. Let them decide if they want to leave you sensitive information.
If you are asking for credentials, keep in mind that you want to do it only once, and not on each game startup. Once your player logged in, make sure to save login details for the next time the player open your game. But, you definitely don’t want to keep your player’s password unprotected. You may wonder how to do that? The answer lies in the RememberMe token.

ServerBytes authentication plugins provide a simple way to insert the RememberMe token and authenticate your players in no time. It also gives you a clear look at your player’s statics, so you can follow up on your numbers and the status of your players.


Track users statistics and increase retention


Release regular updates

So, you have made a great first impression, and players have shown interest in your game. Great!

Your next priority should be keeping the players engaged. One of the best ways to do so is to release regular updates. If you have started with a minimalistic game, you should have a lot of ideas for new features.

Regular updates are a smart way to keep people playing. Players would rather play a constantly evolving game than a stale one.
Additionally, players are more likely to post positive reviews on Google Play and App Store.

Depending on the type of the game, it might be a good idea to announce an update before it has happened. As a result, players will be more eager to play once the update is ready.

Do not forget to measure Daily and Monthly active users after each release, so you can verify what works, and fix what does not.


Achievements & Rewards

In real life, rewards are given to appreciate the hard work. Same works for games. Giving your players goals to work toward can be a simple way to make your players stick to your game to unlock them.

Achievements are a very smart way to reward and encourage player interaction within your game. Players always like to reach some milestones, unlock new doors, and discover new ways of playing your game. You can have plenty of in-game achievements varied by difficulty, from easy to hard by increasing unlock value to keep both new and persistent gamers engaged.

Try to make the achievement acquisition process interesting. One way to do so is to hide them – players love surprises! Once the players unlock the first one, they will start exploring your game to find more.

Make sure to track the progress of the achievement, and hint whenever a player is close to unlocking one. This can make the player engaged for a few more minutes, and have a massive impact on a global scale.

Rewarding players for logging in every day, or doing something like daily quests works well as a tactic to increase retention because it encourages people to play your game every day.

If there is no fulfillment and motivation for players, they’ll quickly become bored and it will result in high churn rates – i.e. a player will abandon a game.


Leaderboads & Competition

Creating a simple competition by displaying the scores in ranked position in the leaderboard can be a fun way to drive competition among your players.

To implement a successful leaderboard and boost engagement, it’s important to motivate competitive players and pick a reset interval carefully. Short reset intervals may be appealing to new players and give them a fair chance. Leaderboards with longer reset periods can keep veteran players challenged.

Leaderboards can be ranked in ascending or descending order. Selecting the right order depends on your game type:
Descending order is used in cases where users compete for a higher score, such as coins;
Ascending order is better for time scores, where a lower score to complete a level is better.

Other than the standard options, ServerBytes leaderboards allow users to update the value of the previous score, or to have a cumulative score.

Awarding the first few players on a leaderboard is often a very effective strategy to make players more competitive, and therefore, spend more time playing the game.


Cloud Storage & Player Data

Competing for player attention is hard. Having a personalized game helps with player experience.

Data you might want to save include:

  • Preferences
  • Progress
  • User – Generated content
  • Configuration

Preferences include settings like audio level, theme, tutorial status, etc. For example, if the player mutes the audio, make sure to save that setting, and mute the audio next time the game starts.

Saving player progress ensures that the progress will not be lost.

Saving User – Generated content is also a powerful way to personalize the game. The players might want to use a personal avatar and to be able to share these avatars with others.

Having different configuration sets that change the behavior of the game might be a good idea. In a car racing game, each car has different properties, like Acceleration, Max Speed, etc. If you hard-code these properties inside your game, once the game ships, it is not possible to change them.
However, if you use cloud storage for configuration, you can change them if the need arises.

Cloud Storage gives you an easy and intuitive way to manage and organize your game data through collections and documents.

It is a good idea to have multiple collections, one for player data and preferences, one for configuration, etc.
Store data for each player as a new document for easier access. One of the privileges of using the ServerBytes Cloud Storage plugin is that you can have different permissions per collection. You can ensure that only a player can update his data, or you can even restrict read access.




The game should be fun, easy to learn, and hard to master. Keeping the gameplay simple focused on the key game idea makes it easy for first players to enjoy a game. Gamers shouldn’t have any barriers when playing the game. Every unnecessary obstacle can make them leave your game, and negatively impact your efforts to increase retention.

We have been developers ourselves, and we know that game development is not an easy process. It requires a lot of hard work, inspiration, dedication, and focus. There are a lot of challenges that developers are facing, from adding the right feature to increase retention and the number of downloads. We encourage you to focus on your gameplay and design by providing you all the necessary plugins that will help you skyrocket your game.



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