No, we have not gone into human trafficking. We are talking about user acquisition of course. Acquiring a mobile gamer costs. And if you want them to pay (which presumably you do if you paid to acquire them), it costs even more. But how much? And do all users costs the same and/or are worth the same? A recent report from Liftoff gives a glimpse into the economics of mobile game development.
On average, games publishers spend $4.09 per acquired mobile gamer. That is higher than straight CPI costs as reported by the likes of Chartboost, but the Liftoff reports looks into the entire life cycle of acquisition – i.e. how you convert them to paying, which encompasses more than just purchasing installs.
And costs are not the same across the board. As expected, acquiring iOS users still costs more (73.8% more actually) than Android users. More surprising is perhaps the gender differences. It costs less to get an install from a male user, but more to convert them to paying. More females register and spend within games, making them more cost effective: But more important than gender, seems to be the region. It is significantly more efficient to target North America based users, who have nearly 12% install to purchase ratio, than European who are only slightly above 3%:
And what type of game you develop matters as well. For instance, mobile card game players are significantly more likely to pay for apps (12.02%), especially compared to those in the action/adventure category, where very few end up purchasing (3.52%). While this may not influence your product development strategy it certainly should guide your marketing and distribution strategy. Regardless, do read this report!