Pokémon GO vs. Clash Royale: Who Wins the User Engagement Battle?

Pokémon GO is easily the year’s most hyped mobile game. With record-breaking user numbers and revenues ($500 million and counting), the game become a global phenomenon, attracted major brand partnerships, released its own wearable device, and landed a coveted spot on the Apple Watch.

But looking beyond the hype, how is Pokémon GO performing sixty days after its original release? And how do these numbers compare to other hit mobile games, such as Clash Royale? While the Supercell game has never been able to attract Pokémon GO’s user numbers (at its peak, the game had about 5 million monthly users among U.S. adults, ages 18+), it just surpassed Pokémon GO as the top-grossing iOS app, six months after its March 2016 release.

Verto Analytics’ App Watch data reveals three takeaways about the relative popularity of each game – and what may be next for Pikachu and friends.

Takeaway #1: Pokémon GO user numbers reveal that downloads are slowing.

As we previously reported, user numbers for Pokémon GO peaked on July 15, with more than 30 million users (among U.S. adults, ages 18+). And while the game’s August user numbers initially seem promising – the game reported more than 27 million players over the month of August – a look at the daily data shows users shrinking to just about 10 million by the end of the month, with a sharp decline in user numbers occurring during the second half of August.

Are these numbers a harbinger of further declines in Pokémon GO’s user base? Pokémon GO still has some numbers working in its favor: despite its loss of user numbers, it’s still the top game in our ranking of most popular mobile games. And 10 million daily users is still almost 5 times the number of Clash Royale users during the same period (and nearly double the amount of Clash Royale users at the game’s peak).

Takeaway #2: Pokémon GO retention is high, but engagement is low

The mobile games audience is a notoriously fickle crowd: according to our recent report on mobile games, 40%-60% of all users drop off within the first 24 hours following a download, and less than 20% keep playing beyond the first 30 days of download. However, Pokémon GOs’ 30-day retention rate has stabilized at 35%, which means that 35% of all users are continuing to play the game on a daily basis, even a month after downloading it. While this places Pokémon GO far ahead of its peers, a closer look at user engagement data tells a different story.

Stickiness is Verto Analytics’ way of measuring user engagement with a given app or website, by comparing daily users to monthly users to quantify the most engaged users. While Pokémon GO is also maintaining its stickiness – in August, it had a stickiness rating of 38%, a slight improvement over its July rating of 36% – it’s still lagging far behind Clash Royal, which reported a stickiness rating of 66% in August. User engagement is a key metric for any app developer, but it’s especially important for mobile games: according to our latest report on mobile games, only three percent of mobile gamers make in-app purchases. Keeping users engaged is vital to a mobile game’s ability to generate ongoing revenue. So despite its lower overall user numbers, Clash Royale may have engaged a more valuable set of core players.

Takeaway #3: A month after launching, Clash Royale gained new users at twice the rate of Pokémon GO

During its first two weeks on the U.S. market, Pokémon GO enjoyed stunning success and spiking user numbers. However, Verto Analytics data shows that after the first 14 days following Pokémon GO’s launch, things started to decline dramatically: compared to its first 14 days on the market, over the third and fourth week (or 15-28 days after launching) only about 15 new users joined the game for each 100 users that joined in its first two weeks on the market. Moving into Pokémon GO’s second month of existence, the numbers decline even faster: less than five new players joined the game in the first weeks of August for each of 100 that joined during the first two weeks after its launch.

This loss of new user momentum is especially concerning when compared to a game like Clash Royale, which enjoyed a similar rush of user interest immediately following its launch in the U.S. this past March and has been able to retain a greater percentage of users even after that crucial initial launch window.

As shown above, Clash Royale also experienced a steep dropoff in momentum of new users after its first 14 days on the market. However, Clash Royale was able to mitigate its losses and stabilize its numbers much faster than Pokémon GO: four to six weeks after launching, Clash Royale was still gaining nearly twice as many new users per 100 who originally downloaded the game compared to Pokémon GO during the equivalent timeframe. And the disparity appears to be getting worse with time: by six to eight week post-launch, Pokémon GO was only attracting one new user for every hundred downloaders who joined in the first two weeks.

What’s Next for Pokémon GO?

Pokémon GO is still reporting impressive user numbers around the world, if not the U.S, which may provide a generous buffer against ongoing user losses, and ultimately may buy more time for Niantic and Nintendo to develop more engaging gameplay elements to drive up Pokémon GO’s stickiness rating. Niantic has seemingly leapt at many promising opportunities – in addition to the Apple Watch, the company just rolled out its own wearable device intended to encourage additional gameplay, and it’s lined up high-profile partnerships with the likes of Softbank and McDonalds. But is it too little too late? In most major markets, Pokémon GO has already passed those crucial 14-day and 30-day milestones – will these new engagement and marketing efforts be able to win back former users while retaining new ones?

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