What is a good store conversion rate and how much can it be optimized? Is it more or less dependent on the game itself or can it be raised a significant amount through ASO testing?
This will vary immensely from app to app and between different categories, and how much traffic your app is getting, and from where.
Apps that get nothing but search traffic installs will have much higher install rates than apps that have a high-volume user acquisition cannon shooting a torrent of cheap eyeballs at their store page.
I personally count 30% as decent, 50% as great, and 70%+ as amazing on the games we make, but certain traffic sources can crush those numbers down into the 5-25% range which can look really scary.
The main impactor your install rate is going to be the actual appearance of your app store landing page, and changing assets can change your install rate dramatically. When I run ASO experiments with new assets, I'm typically looking for a change of at least 5% more conversions than before.
I know google has the option to do store optimization tests with icons and screenshots. Is it best practice to do store tests on google play and apply them to iOS or better to use an ASO specific tool like SplitMetrics?
If you're just starting out, I'd say that testing on Android and applying on iOS is totally valid. Some people will tell you that it doesn't work, but those people tend to work for SplitMetrics.
The great benefit of using Google's integrated A/B testing is that it applies your variants across the entire store experience so you get to test with actual organic traffic. This means that you don't have to buy extra traffic to go to your store page.
Third party tools like StoreMaven and SplitMetrics are way too expensive for what they offer and if you use them you need to buy traffic to the test - which means you can only test the conversion rate of your paid users.
Does store conversion rate play a huge role in overall CPI for a game or is it still mostly down to performance of creatives and game itself?
Store conversion plays an enormous role in CPI! If you're paying $10 to reach 1000 people with your ads, get a 1% click through (10 people), and a 10% install rate, you've got 1 install at $10 CPI. If you just raise your install rate from 10% to 30% that would reduce your CPI from $10 to $3.33, which might make the difference between your business working or going bust.