What is game retention?

Retention is the single most important metric for free-to-play. In fact, any game developer who cares about the quality and life time of their games should track retention. Steam/console premium developers included. So what is retention?

Basically, it measures how many people who started playing your game on a given date are still playing it after some time. For 1000 people who started playing Letters of Gold today (with actual numbers):

  • 530 people are still playing it tomorrow, it means the game has a 53% Day 1 retention;
  • 350 people are still playing after a week, Day 7 retention is 35%;
  • 200 people are still playing after a month, Day 30 retention is 20%.
Numbers of Gold - Retention Chart
Numbers of Gold – Retention Chart

Industry standard for F2P games is 40-20-10 for the periods mentioned above. If your game is below that, it still needs some work. If it is above, it can also be improved. If you have a low short term retention, you should work on your gameplay, tutorial and overall first time user experience of your game. If your long term retention is low, then you need to work on your meta game.

Letters of Gold and Words of Gold both started with numbers that were worse than those mentioned above and were improved over time, achieving numbers higher than the industry standards. Numbers of Gold however started with excellent numbers (D1 62% – D7 40%).

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Support articles:
https://pocketphilosopher.net/2016/01/14/all-about-retention/

Author: Gabriel Stürmer

CMO of Cupcake Entertainment.