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The average cost of acquiring a new mobile game user — formally called Cost Per Install, or CPI — is still below the average revenue companies get out of those users, according to a recent Distimo survey of the Chartboost network in Q4 2013.
In the West, it's a narrow (sometimes very narrow) margin, with $2.52 in revenue versus $2.17 per install in the U.S., $2.73 versus $2.42 in Canada and $2.33 versus $1.86 in the U.K. In other words, games in those countries are making between 31 cents and 47 cents per user, on average, from a combination of paid downloads and/or in-app purchases, the dominant business model of mobile games.
But in the East, it's a totally different story.