Midcore gamers almost twice as expensive as casual gamers at average CPI of $2

Anne Freer | June 29, 2023

App Business

A brand new study reveals that midcore gamers are almost twice as expensive to acquire than casual gamers. Yet, their lifetime value can be substantially higher, according to Liftoff’s latest 2023 Midcore Gaming Apps Report. We’ll dive straight in.

Why are install costs twice as high for midcore gamers?

Based on programmatic data from over 30 billion ad impressions and 1.1 billion clicks across 5.5 million installs, the latest report finds that the average CPI for midcore games is approximately $2, which is double the cost of casual games at $1.

When it comes to cost-effectiveness, Android takes the lead with a CPI of $0.73 per install, making it roughly one-fifth of the cost of iOS, which has a CPI of $3.86 per install.

CPI overall and by platform

Source: Liftoff

“While casual games still dominate mobile, the challenges facing user acquisition, including Apple’s IDFA changes and rising inflation, have caused an increasing number of developers to set their sights on the midcore market,” explained Joel Julkunen, Head of Analytics at GameRefinery, a Liftoff company.

Additionally, midcore games exhibit a lower average day 7 ROAS compared to casual games, with a 4.3% day 7 ROAS as opposed to 7% for casual games. This difference can be attributed to the fact that midcore games require more time, beyond seven days, for their enhanced monetisation strategies to take effect.

Day 7 ROAS overall and by platform

Source: Liftoff

Interestingly, acquisition costs for midcore games show significant fluctuations throughout the year, with CPI noticeably higher during the summer months. In August, the CPI reaches its peak at $2.81. However, during the month of October, the costs become more favourable, offering the best deals with a CPI of $1.66 per install.

Additionally, from January to April, the acquisition costs for midcore games remain below $2, providing another period of relatively lower expenses.

The best deals are where?

When looking at the regional breakdown, EMEA stands out as the most favourable for user acquisition in midcore games. It offers a comparatively high day 7 ROAS of 4.4% and lower costs at $0.80 per install.

North America is the most expensive region, with a CPI of $5.45. However, despite the higher costs, North America still demonstrates a similar day 7 ROAS to EMEA.

On the other hand, Latin America has the lowest install costs at $0.27, making it the most cost-effective region. However, it has a relatively lower day 7 ROAS of 1.5%, indicating that the monetisation of midcore games in this region takes longer to generate returns compared to EMEA and North America.

ROAS by region

Source: Liftoff

When it comes to sub-genres, shooter games exhibit the highest CPI at $7.47, but they also generate the highest average day 7 ROAS at 6%. This indicates that while acquiring shooter game players may be more expensive, they tend to yield better returns within the first seven days.

On the other hand, strategy players are more cost-effective to acquire compared to shooter players, with an average CPI of $2.77 per install. Strategy games offer a mid-range option in terms of acquisition costs.

RPG games stand out as the most cost-effective option among the three genres, with a significantly lower CPI of $0.60 per install. However, RPG games also demonstrate a substantially lower day 7 ROAS, averaging around 1.7%. This suggests that while the acquisition costs for RPG players are relatively low, it takes longer for their monetisation to generate significant returns within the first seven days.

Key takeaways

  • Midcore games have a higher CPI of approximately $2, compared to casual games at $1
  • Android is a more cost-effective platform with a CPI of $0.73 per install, while iOS has a higher CPI of $3.86 per install
  • Shooter games have the highest CPI at $7.47 but generate the highest average day 7 ROAS of 6%
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