Mobile Gaming: In-App Monetization and Purchase Offerings

 In Advertising & Monetization

The mobile gaming market is as colossal as the stories and characters in the games themselves. According to eMarketer, mobile game revenues are expected to grow 16.5% and surpass three billion in 2015 alone. Different publishers, however, adopt different monetization strategies. While some publishers choose a purely ad-based model without in-app purchases, others choose an in-app purchase model without ads.  Either way, mobile gaming is money, and we’re delivering the data on in-app purchase offerings.

Top 10 Games Ranked by Price of Top In-App Purchase

One of the most effective forms of monetization for mobile games is in-app purchasing. Game of War – Fire Age, Big Fish Casino, and Double U Casino – Free Slots have the highest price points for their top inapp purchases at $99.99, $19.99, and $18,99, respectively. In August, Summoners War had the highest time spent pers user with a top in-app purchase at $9.99. Other games that have similarly high time spent and relatively high value for top in-app purchase include Big Fish Casino and Clash of Clans. Additionally, Machine Zone Inc.’s Game of War – Fire Age tops the list when looking at the value of top in-app purchases made by gamers. Their “28000 Gold” package at $99.99 is the most popular, and it dwarfs Clash of Clans, whose most popular in-app purchase is $4.99. However, out of all these games, only Clash of Clans made it to our Top 30 Index in August.

Interestingly, five out of the top 10 games ranked by price are Casino games.

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Top 15 Mobile Games by Reach

The free-to-play mobile game industry continues to grow, and publishers are expanding their reach to consumers by increasing choices. Out of the top 15 mobile games by reach, all but one offer in-app purchases with prices for their top in-app purchases ranging from $0.99 to $9.99.

Our data shows Candy Crush Saga leading the chart in terms of reach with over 20M users in August 2015 while King.com remains the “king of small purchases”. All four of their games in the list have $0.99 in-app purchase prices as the top purchase among their consumers. King’s monetization model is quite different than what Zynga has adopted for Words with Friends.  The top purchase for Words with Friends is a relatively expensive once-in-a-lifetime purchase, while King’s games top purchases are smaller and more frequent, a tactic that makes gamers feeling like they’re paying less.

Notably, Words With Friends “No More Ads” package at $9.99 is the most popular among its in-app purchases. Given that Words With Friends was the second most popular game in August 2015, it is surprising to see how many gamers are willing to pay to get rid of ads.

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Top Genres by In-App Purchases and Price

It’s a five-way tie when it comes to which genres are on top for average number of in-app purchases available. Trivia, Farming, Sports, Racing, and Board game genres are the most popular. Among the five, Board games lead the pack in terms of average top in-app purchase price at $4.51. Strategy games top the  overall list for the average value of top in-app purchases offered at $17.21, as strategy gamers seem to be the most willing to invest in building their empires. Although not on the same level, Role Playing, Casino, and Word game consumers are also willing to invest money in their games with the average value for the top in-app purchase at $7.32, $6.89 and $5.85, respectively.

Of note, card games are the game genre with the least average number of in-app purchases. This is not a surprise since MobilityWare, who publishes five of the nine card games appearing in the top 100 games, dominates the card gaming genre, and their monetization model is based on ads and no in-app purchases.

It’s All About the Money and Model

From Game of War to Clash of Clans, the ever growing chart-topping battle proves that mobile games are here to stay. Publishers wanting to succeed in the mobile market need to adapt the best monetization model for their game while still enticing consumers to play.

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