HTML5 Games – The Challenges of User Acquisition

The rise of mobile gaming during the pandemic has been historical, but user acquisition for HTML5 games is no cakewalk.

HTML5 has rapidly taken over a market share that was once enjoyed by Adobe Flash Player to create multi-platform games. The gold standard in web development for decades, HTML5, has increasingly become the go-to platform for modern-day game developers to create cross-platform game titles. Far more customizable and lighter on the device, HTML5 web-based games can actively be converted into Android and iOS games, opening it to billions of users.

Challenges of User Acquisition for HTML5 Games

The very premise of contesting HTML5 games against potentially 1 Million+ game titles on the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store can be harrowing. Depending on organic growth is nothing short of hoping that pigs fly one day, especially when the system is rigged against it. User acquisition is a reality you have to come to terms with if you want to create the next great HTML5 game with millions of active users, but how do you get started?

Poor Organic Install Rate

In recent times, inorganic user acquisition has become the topic debate for game developers, but they often miss out on the fundamentals. Every year, user behavioral reports signal the same pattern – LCV (Lifetime Customer Value) of an organic user is far higher than an inorganically acquired user.

Solution – It all begins with App Store Optimization (ASO), which is essentially SEO for the app stores. Exercise the correct practices on your app store page, highlight related keywords in the description, and create an engaging tone for the content. In combination with direct social media interaction with users, ASO opens doors to high-value users landing on the app store page organically, reducing the bounce rate.

The Decline in User Retention

The 2019 data study on app user retention paints a grim picture, suggesting that the user retention rate of non-organic users decreased in 2019 by more than 60%, with overall numbers less than 5% on Day 30. Even a high install rate will mean very little when there’s intense competition from all ends, along with low engagement.

Solution – Data suggests that iOS users are more likely to bring back a better retention rate than Android users. Although the cost of acquisition is higher for iOS users, it results in higher ROAS (return on advertising spend), so investing in iOS users may lead to better user retention. Additionally, app retargeting is known to improve low retention rates since app retargeting is more cost-effective than acquiring a fresh user and is far more successful.

Working on Low eCPMs

The current financial state globally impacts the way game developers and marketers are managing the user acquisition budget. Investing in paid social media campaigns and in-game advertisements to draw new users requires a considerable amount of capital. Since the burn rate for marketing is limited, it may end up restricting your ability to reach out to users through inorganic mediums.

Solution – Developers with multiple game titles will benefit from cross-promoting the products with in-app advertisements. Being the advertiser and the publisher, you save money and help bridge the traffic from one game title to another. Another tried and tested promotion method on a budget would be referral marketing.  Developers can offer the users unlockable content for bringing their friends on board, reward power users, and actively invite sharing their achievements on social media platforms.

Final Words

Despite user acquisition being a universal issue among HTML5 games and others, there are certain benefits that you must consider. The natively cross-platform nature of HTML5 games makes them ideal for smarter means of promotions. The ability to create playable ads is inherently unique to HTML5 games, which is a tried and tested marketing method to boost new installs.