DNU and your Publishing Strategy

One of the misconceptions of the mobile market is that the best mobile games are found in the top grossing chart of the app store.  I mean, why not.  In any other industry, the top grossing product usually gets all the accolades and respect in the industry.

This is not necessarily true in the mobile space because this space ‘IS’ the internet.  A place where not everything looks as it seems. The only thing that is true in the Gross Ranking List is the fact that the top grossing games are actually grossing the most amount of money. And that’s it.  It doesn’t necessarily mean its the most popular, its the most downloaded, it just means that its grossing the most out of all the games in the app store (that day).

As the mobile app space becomes more and more saturated in the North American market, users are having a harder time discovering new apps as the app store gets cluttered.  Its reported that over 100,000 new apps or updates on a weekly basis. This is an insane amount of new content flooding into the appstore and for all the small studio who release their own apps, those organic installs is not something you can rely on anymore, or build a viable business model anymore as your organics dwindle down to single digits.

Recently, Daily New Users (DNU) is KPI metrics that majors publishers are strategizing around and working towards effectively maximizing this number.  

Ill delve into DNU strategies in a separate post for the purpose of not making this post 50 pages long and for shorter reading sessions.  (another objective im trying to achieve with this blog)

As organic becomes an issue in the North America, strategizing your mobile deck for next fiscal year around a DNU centric strategy will help keep your company relevant or a float for years to come.

If you haven’t noticed yet but Marvel, Square Enix, Namco Bandai are all making their IP library available on a non exclusive deal for all developers. I’ve defined this movement as Gorilla Branding in the mobile space because Ip holders are aware of how the market is shifting as user demand strengthens and become less patient with new content.

DAU is the sum of DNU and returning users.  Where returning users are dependent on your Retention numbers, this being your 1 day, 7 day, 14 day and 30 Day.  (Again, further explanation on this is required, but, not in this post)

As the frequency of game innovation becomes less frequent, and as the market maturizes, new genres become harder to create and certain players will establish themselves as the top tier in these specific genres. (Market Fragmentation). Which is a completely natural phase and market maturation but what this causes is for smaller dev studios and independent devs to get eye balls onto their game as market dominance takes shape.
Fundamentally, the market shifts to a more publishing, branding position and build up enough visibility for the word to spread.  You may have heard this before but word of mouth is usually the best form of advertising and organic users is just ‘that’ in the mobile space.  But how mobile creates these organic users are more predictable than your traditional form.

Because these genres are established, retention also become a more of a benchmark developers look to achieve, to sustain their DAU  ie

RPG Retention (1 day 30%, 7 day 20%, 14 day 15%, 30 day 10%) or

Match 3 Retention  (1 day 50%, 7 day 25%, 14 day 20%, 30 day 15%)

These number decay on a yearly basis as players get bored of these genres, but fundamentally, don’t change too much. What this means is that if game genres are established and retention has certain caps and thresholds per genre, then the only metric that can be manipulated by the publishers are DNU.

For RPG type mobile games, what i found interesting was the correlation between DNU and DAU with respect to the RPG genre.  What you find is that your DNU you can effectively predict your Avg. DAU. on the assumption that your rpg game sits in the range of the standard benchmark Retention for a RPG game.

DNU:  10,000 DAU:  50,000 – 100,000

DNU:  20,000 DAU: 100,000 – 150,000

DNU:  40,000 DAU:  300,000

DNU:  50,000 DAU:  400,000
For those that are looking to enter or adjust to the new trends in the mobile strategy and keep up with how other publishers are manipulating the top grossing charts,  first in foremost, you must look, realistically at your organic growth strategy with your game and from their it might be a lot easier to predict your revenue and your earning potential.

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  • 15+ year mobile application industry veteran, probably product managing multiple apps. If he's not busy running this website, you can probably find him at the gym shooting half court shots, while playing the latest mobile rpg game.

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