I was looking for some data on Cost Per Install (CPI) for games in Japan and a friend of mine who runs a large studio there sent me this link, a blog post by InMobi that I missed in January. It basically sets out the relative cost of mobile installs worldwide. While it isn’t exclusive to games, we can use it to decipher regional costs. To get started, I went over to one of my favorite CPI sites, MobPartner, to check out their scrolling list of live CPI transactions. If you like to watch CPI bidding, it’s the best place to watch the action. Here are a couple pics to illustrate the CPIs today:


As you can see, Empire: Four Kingdoms is buying a lot of installs and they are ranging in the U.S. between $1.90 and $2.40 and hitting $3.05 in the U.K. I would guess the higher priced acquisition in the U.S. is on a better performing network, or more proven ad channel that provides players that either convert a bit higher, or have a higher Lifetime Value (LTV). You need to balance cost with volume in any acquisition campaign, but that’s probably obvious.

So now let’s dig into the InMobi data. We know that their numbers are not just games, so we need to create a reference point.

U.K. 174 $3.31 3.05
U.S. 100 $1.90 $1.75

The 174 is a number from InMobi on the relative cost per install in the U.K. related to the U.S. Since we know what Goodgame Studios is paying for their users we know the numbers in bold to be true. The InMobi numbers don’t quite match up yet. The difference is 160.5 instead of 174, which is roughly 92.2 percent of the difference. I broke down the numbers with the Relative CPI (R CPI), the Adjusted Relative CPI (AR CPI) and came up with the Actual Game CPI (AG CPI) below. It looks about right to me in terms of acquisition costs. I hope it’s helpful for you too.

U.K. 174 160  $  3.05
Australia 127 117  $  2.22
U.S. 100 92  $  1.90
New Zealand 95 88  $  1.66
Malaysia 87 80  $  1.52
South Korea 84 77  $  1.47
Vietnam 84 77  $  1.47
Japan 81 75  $  1.42
Hong Kong 77 71  $  1.35
France 75 69  $  1.31
Singapore 71 65  $  1.24
China 60 55  $  1.05
Germany 56 52  $  0.98
India 40 37  $  0.70




According to SuperDataResearch:

  • In 2012, the cost per install on iOS increased 22% from the beginning to the end of the year (around $2)
  • The average conversion rate (from a non-spending to a spending user) in October was 4.68%
  • The average revenue per paying user for mobile in the US is $21.45
  • CPI is expected to be between $7-$8 this holiday season

All this is to say that acquisition costs are now greater than the LTV (Lifetime Value) of the acquired user. To combat this, mobile game developers should look more deeply at cross-promotional opportunities with other developers of similar titles. Exploring acquisition from a rev share perspective should be more cost effective than buying them in the open market and in our experience, the engagement is higher with users acquired through cross-promotions.