ASO Review #1: Call of Duty® vs PUBG MOBILE

Todd Simonsonby 
Former ASO Expert at AppTweak

7 min read

Starting with this post, we are beginning a series of deep dives into the actual ASO efforts of industry leaders in the mobile world, analyzing apps and games alike. Some of the biggest developers rely on ASO to augment their user acquisition efforts and maximize visibility on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

In this first head-to-head matchup, we’ll be comparing two games with enormous clout and market share on both the stores – Call of Duty®: Mobile and PUBG MOBILE.

What does successful ASO look like? The factors that are going to be the most important to look at will be the app name or title, the subtitle for iOS, and both the short and long descriptions for Android apps. Across both app stores, we can best measure the effectiveness of an app’s optimization efforts through App Power, category ranking, and estimated downloads from keyword rankings.

We’re going to start by comparing the overall App Power and download estimates of these apps, taking a look at each game’s keyword rankings, and then considering each game’s category performance. Finally, we’ll give you the verdict on which title takes the crown in this head-to-head matchup.

App power & download estimates

From an overhead perspective, both games have extremely high App Power scores. App Power is generated by AppTweak and indicates the authority an app has in the store. The higher the App Power, the more authority the app has, and the easier it will be to rank on certain keywords. The App Power takes into account daily downloads, overall category ranking, and competitiveness between different categories. In six months, the App Power score for PUBG MOBILE has moved up and down from 95 to 97, but Call of Duty® has been 99-100.

Looking at the daily download estimates from AppTweak for both games, we can see that each app easily receives thousands of downloads per day. PUBG MOBILE receives anywhere between 10,000 and 20,000 downloads each day, but Call of Duty® typically receives 25,000 to 35,000 a day, and occasionally crosses 50,000! With such stellar downloads and overall authority, Call of Duty® wins this round.

Comparing daily download estimates for Call of Duty® and PUBG MOBILE on the Apple App Store in the US.

Check out how our data scientists estimate daily downloads

Metadata updates

How have these games been able to increase their daily downloads, and rise all the way to the top of the chart rankings? Looking more closely at organic store performance, we can dig deeper into recent metadata changes for both apps in the last twelve months with our Timeline tool.

Metadata update frequency for Call of Duty® and PUBG MOBILE on the Apple App Store in the US.

Call of Duty® has updated its screenshots, promotional text, featured video, subtitle, description, and icon but has not modified its title recently. PUBG MOBILE has done all-around updates on each of these areas at least twice.

Focusing specifically on the title and subtitle, PUBG MOBILE recently changed both on November 11th, with the launch of a new map and season of gameplay.

The metadata that was implemented includes a set of new keywords across the title and subtitle: “metro”, “royale”, “all-new”, themed” and “gameplay”. In the last year, PUBG MOBILE has changed its title 5 times and subtitle 6 times, letting us know that they are actively considering which keywords can fill this impactful space.

Textual metadata updates for PUBG Mobile in the US Apple App Store in the last 12 months.

Call of Duty® last changed its subtitle at the end of April to include “battle royale”, “sniper” and “5v5”, and has kept this for the last several months.

Textual metadata updates for Call of Duty® in the US Apple App Store in the last 12 months.

On top of this, we don’t know how often either game has changed its hidden keyword field, so we can only analyze the visible metadata changes. What effects do these metadata changes yield?

Keyword rankings

In order to determine which game has experienced a greater impact through their ASO efforts, we can look back to April, before Call of Duty® updated its subtitle, and compare keyword install growth since then for both games as PUBG MOBILE has also implemented changes since then.

Since April, both games have increased the total number of ranked keywords in the US Apple App Store, but they did lose organic search installs.

Learn more about AppTweak’s All Ranked Keywords Performance feature to find out which keywords are driving most organic downloads to your app

A side-by-side comparison shows that, in fact, both games have lost organic installs from keywords in the last few months since April. While the total number of ranked keywords has increased for both games, the number of daily organic, keyword-based installs has decreased by 2,766 for Call of Duty®: Mobile and 2,750 for PUBG MOBILE. How does this make sense?

The pandemic this year has caused widespread effects and mobile game downloads certainly spiked from March to May. But the way users search for games has changed. For example, for these specific games, we noticed that; installs from “branded” keywords have decreased for each game (to different extents) but daily installs from “generic” keywords have actually increased by 564 for PUBG MOBILE and decreased for Call of Duty®: Mobile.

Change in daily organic installs from branded vs generic keywords: April 1 vs. November 12.

So which keywords did these games gain rankings and downloads on since the metadata updates? Both games have increased rank on genre-specific keywords, such as “epic games”, “battle royale”, “new game” and “gun games”. Call of Duty®’s top growth keywords are more significant because both “battle royale” and “sniper” were included in the subtitle update the game made in April.

Call of Duty®: Mobile – Top Growth Keywords (Generic) –

PUBG MOBILE – Top Growth Keywords (Generic)

PUBG MOBILE did increase on some keyword rankings, but the keywords in the title and subtitle are less valuable keywords with lower volume, such as “new” and “themed”, although the title keyword “metro royale” did help increase rankings for “battle royale games”. Overall, although PUBG MOBILE has made more subtitle and title updates in the past few months, Call of Duty®: Mobile has managed to outperform PUBG and utilize the subtitle space better. The last time the game updated its subtitle was in April, but the keywords that were added have led to actual installs and increased keyword rankings. This round is just narrowly won by Call of Duty®: Mobile.

Category ranking

One final place to look for the impact of ASO on each game is in the top free chart category rankings for each game. As of September 1st, Call of Duty®: Mobile ranks #2 in Action Games, while PUBG MOBILE ranks #8. Although Call of Duty®: Mobile is positioned higher within the Action category, PUBG MOBILE is actually also listed in a secondary category, Strategy Games, where it ranks #6. This is certainly a win in the box for PUBG MOBILE, because it wouldn’t take much effort for Call of Duty®: Mobile to appear in the same category as well.

Both games rank in the top free chart for all Games as well as All Categories, and it is clear that each game is very powerful and well-positioned in the overall gaming market.

The winner

Call of Duty®: Mobile is ranked higher in Action games and the greater Games category, has a higher amount of daily installs, and has chosen keywords that make the game more visible to users looking for a new game. Although PUBG MOBILE has been proactive and updates its metadata often, the title and subtitles are too brand-specific and do not capitalize on the opportunity to index for high-volume keywords.

Achieving the #1 position in a category is no easy feat, and PUBG MOBILE has actually experienced growth in App Power and increased generic keyword installs in the last four months. While PUBG MOBILE is a big name among gamers, it has done well to get this far by competing against the even more well-known Call of Duty®.

Stay tuned for the next edition of AppTweak’s ASO review series, where we’ll take a deeper look into two more apps to measure the effectiveness of ASO and how industry leaders update their store listings.

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Todd Simonson
by , Former ASO Expert at AppTweak
Todd was an ASO Expert at AppTweak with passion for technology, science and language. He has experience in mobile advertising and growth hacking, and solving challenging problems.