What Is “APM” In Gaming?


If you watch real-time strategy or fighting games, the term “APM” will find its way to you. It’s a term that applies to every gamer out there, so it’s important to know what it is, why it’s important, and how a player can approve their own APM.

What Is APM?

APM stands for “actions per minute.” Put simply, it’s how many inputs a player can do on their controller or keyboard within 60 seconds. Of course, anyone can just mash every button on their controller for no reason to get a high APM, so the “actions” in APM are almost always associated with moves and actions pulled off rather than just button presses. Essentially, it’s how many correct inputs a player can do in a minute.

What Is The Importance Of APM?

The higher a player’s APM is, the more they will be able to do. Being able to consistently pull off more actions per minute opens up more possibilities in a match, and allows a player to do things that their opponent physically can’t. Assuming you’re playing a technically demanding game such as StarCraft, you’ll just be able to do more things in the same amount of time, which will exponentially give you the upper hand.

It’s not quite as simple as this however; in Super Smash Bros. Melee, Fox is a top tier character who requires an insane amount of APM to play at a high-level. Even still, you’ll see Fox lose to characters such as Jigglypuff, Sheik, Marth and Ice Climbers who require less APM to use effectively. 

Just because a player has a high APM doesn’t mean they’ll automatically steamroll anyone who doesn’t; it just gives them more tools for their toolbox.

Do I Need High APM To Play Competitive Games?

To play any game competitively, you’ll need to be able to keep up somewhat in APM to avoid being overwhelmed by the opposition. However, it’s not a necessity, and people who have lower APM can still have success in esports by surrounding themselves with the proper teammates and picking the right roles or characters that fit their slower style.

Having a lower APM can leave your hands tied when it comes to certain aspects of the game; in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Luigi players needed to mash his Cyclone move up to 10 times per second to make it a useful recovery tool. If you couldn’t do that, you could still use the character but you’d be operating as a severe disadvantage because of the loss of that crucial tool.

How Can I Improve My APM?

There’s no simple solution to improving your APM, but there are some things one can do that can lead to better APM over time:

  • Precision: Focus on being as accurate and consistent with your actions rather than how many actions you can do. There is no use in having a higher APM if a large percentage of those actions are done poorly. Start by trying to be as precise and consistent with your moves as possible, and then build from there.
  • Experience: Get lots of time in with the game you’re playing, and experiment with other characters that require different APM to play effectively. When the game starts to feel like second nature, pushing yourself to do more actions won’t feel like such a struggle.
  • Health: Physical health is very important to being on the ball in gaming. Drink lots of water, make sure you’re eating well and perform proper hand stretches to be at your best.

APM comes with time, practice and care; don’t shatter your hands just for a few extra button presses!