When you’re set to grow your game app, you should be prepared for the challenges that will arise on the way. Depending on the stage you’re at, it can be high competition, increasing acquisition costs, or even user retention. If only you could foresee the danger to avoid it… Wait: actually, you can! Pushwoosh has studied the data of 410 popular game apps to reveal the problems mobile games are most likely to face, depending on their audience size. Keep reading to get aware of the hidden challenges at your current stage and prepare for the next level of your business growth.

Start-up game apps: 1k–50k users
Rising stars: 50k–100k users
Mid-sized game apps: 100k–500k users
Big players: 500k–1M users
Dominant Players: 1M+ Users

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Start-up game apps: 1k–50k users

High churn rate

The most challenging metrics for game apps with a small user base are D1, D7, and D30 Churn Rates. On Android, they are found to be above the median values.

High churn rates - game apps growth challenge

The interconnection between the rates is no accident: we’ve found that when a game app of any size fails to retain users on Day 1, it will also struggle with high churn on Day 7 and Day 30.

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Gain insight into relationships between engagement, retention, and churn in our data-based FAQ post


Low retention rate

Respectively, small game apps find it challenging to retain users as early as on Day 1, and the problem remains until Day 30.

Low retention rates - game apps growth challenge

Low numbers of DAU and MAU

The problem lies in low app user engagement in both iOS and Android game apps.

Low DAU and MAU - game apps growth challenge

If you carefully read the full version of our game apps report, you’ll see that such low user activity is a prerequisite for the retention/churn problem.

High percentage of Uninstalls

Pushwoosh study has revealed that game apps with a small audience tend to face a record-high number of app uninstalls. Apparently, if you, as a mobile game, fail to engage and entertain your newly-acquired players, you risk losing them rapidly — for good.

High percentage of uninstalls - game apps growth challenge

Growth area:

High push notification opt-in rates (even on iOS!) look like a very promising growth area for game apps with 1k–50k users.

High push notification opt-in rate - game apps growth point

As long as your game app audience is open to hearing from you, use push notifications and in-app messages to your (and your users’!) advantage!

  • Start by improving your new user onboarding — so that they see the value of your app and learn the rules/interface of the game early on and don’t churn as early as on Day 1 or by Day 7.
  • Engage your players regularly with your daily, weekly, and monthly offers to keep driving DAU and MAU effectively.
  • And make sure your audience is aware of any update that will improve their in-game experience!

Rising stars: 50k–100k users


This audience size is literally a gold mine for Android game apps: user activity reaches its maximum along with D1, D7, and even D30 Retention rates while Churn rates are, respectively, at their historical minimum.

As a result, the App Growth ratio soars to the unreachable 23.85%.

It appears to be, compelling messaging contributes to this flourishing season: opt-in rates, as well as CTRs and User CTRs are at their max too.

On iOS, this size of game apps’ metrics are a bit less spectacular, but they are still within the healthy range, slightly falling above or, in most cases, exceeding the median values.

What kind of challenge may a game app face at this stage? There might be two of them:

Maintain the engagement and retention metrics at the high level

Keep sending highly relevant communications to your audience. Most players will be pleased to receive a free in-game gift, for example:

Engaging push notifications from a game app - good examples

Keep an eye on the relevance of the acquired audience

High app growth rates indicate an active acquisition process. And it perfectly makes sense: a game app has already gained proper experience and got quite familiar with its audience. Now, to prevent these high-valued users from churning while taking the next step, ensure your acquisition campaigns are perfectly targeted.

Growth area:

A good rapport with the audience, reflected in high User CTR — the percentage of users who have opened at least one push notification of all the messages that were sent to them.

High User CTR - game apps growth point

Mid-sized game apps: 100k–500k users

Mobile games that have gained an audience of a few hundred thousand users normally have all the metrics above the median values on both Android and iOS devices.

At this point, the main challenge is to keep all the metrics at the current level as the app audience grows steadily. If we look at the figures, apps with bigger audiences show a decrease in their opt-in rate and DAU in comparison to game apps with 100k–500к subscribers.

Growth area:

Experiment safely and document the results of your experiments diligently.
Make the most of the best practices to improve CTR and boost your app user engagement — and even invent your own formula of highly engaging communication with your gamers.

Big players: 500k–1M users

Pushwoosh Team has discovered that an Android game app reaches the peak of its user activity and marketing performance once it has gained 50k–100k players. For iOS games, this glorious period happens when they have between 500k and 1M users. At this point, game apps have maximum retention rates along with the lowest churn and high app user engagement metrics (detectable by large shares of DAU and MAU). However, iOS game apps start facing problems at the communication level:

Low User CTRs

Only a small percentage of game app users open push notifications.

Low User CTRs - game apps growth challenge

Low opt-in rates

While supernova game apps explode with unimaginable 86.67% opt-in rates (on iOS), larger apps slip into lower-than-median opt-in rates.

Low push notification opt-in rates - game apps growth challenge

Android apps, in the meantime, start facing long-term retention issues: a smaller percentage of users is retained by Day 30. A major 80.82% of users abandon this size of apps after a month of having it installed on their phones.

Low retention - high churn - low stickiness rates - game apps growth challenge

Growth areas:

High levels of user engagement: above average DAU и MAU for both Android and iOS apps.

  • Keep users engaged with the app using interactive mechanics — introduce them right in the app with the help of eye-catching in-app messages
  • Get users back to opting in to your pushes — explain (once again) the value they’ll get with timely notifications. Insist you provide exclusive, limited-time offers only in pushes, so if a player wants to seize the opportunity, they have to opt in.
  • Use behavior-based messaging to re-engage churn-risk users who are inactive for 30 days

Dominant Players: 1M+ Users

Among Pushwoosh customers, there are quite a few well-established players in the game apps market. Having observed their journey, we can state that for million-user apps these are typical:

Low App Growth Rate

When a game app has passed the 1M users mark, the percentage of newly-acquired users naturally drops.

Low app growth rate - game apps growth challenge

Decreased user activity

As million-user game apps slow down their growth rates, they can’t rely on their actual audience to stay active either. Their user engagement metrics fall below the median DAU and MAU numbers.

Low user activity - game apps growth challenge

Falling retention rate and growing churn — iOS game apps are no exclusion

As the user activity drops, the problem of decreased retention and increased churn returns.

Decreasing retention and increasing churn - game apps growth challenge

Growth area:

User loyalty. As expected, game apps with a 1M+ audience have the highest Stickiness Rate: loyal game players help to build a vast user base — even despite the low DAU and MAU.

If you’ve found yourself in a similar situation, use this as an advantage in your growth strategy:

  • Monetize the loyal audience: promote in-game purchases among them, increase their LTV, and boost session frequency and duration — if this is the monetization model you rely on.
  • Make a portrait of your stuck-around user and acquire their promising look-alikes demonstrating the same behavior pattern
  • Keep working with your pre-churning users. Obviously, one of the conditions that help big apps grow even bigger is the minimum number of Uninstalls that we’ve noticed in our research
  • Track and analyze user behavior: as soon as their activity starts dropping, re-engage them to get back in the game. Don't wait until Day 7 or Day 30 as then it will become way more difficult to reactivate users.

As you can see, every stage of a game app growth has its own challenges and potential benefits to build a strategy upon. To evolve from a start-up app into a well-established market player easier and faster, you can use Pushwoosh customer engagement solutions.

Learn how you can accelerate growth and double your game app marketing efficiency with Pushwoosh:

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