This post is the first of a long line of posts about players’ behavior in mobile games. We’ve been investigating this area for some time now and will share our insights through data reports and blog posts like this one.

Getting your users to pay in your game is never easy. Of course you need to have a great game with good Data Report Icongraphics and great design, but you also need to know how to target your payers when it matters. We’ve been asking ourselves: what if studios could find out at what time of day their users are likely to pay?


To study the spending trends, we sampled data from over 250 games from 17 different genres, spanning 188 countries  over a time period of one year. The sample contains over 1M purchases from ~240K different users.

Prefer the Evenings

People play mobile games at any hour of the day, with their morning coffee, while waiting in line, on the bus, in front of the TV and even while walking down the street (dangerous!), but when are they likely to pull out their wallet?

Looking into data from many different games, most in-app purchases happen between 3pm and midnight, with peaks at 4pm and 8-9pm. The ride back home from work or the after-dinner play time is probably when people play long sessions and reach points where they are willing to pay.

Number of Purchases:HourDistribution Through Countries

Looking more closely at the US and Russia, we found a clear trend with sales rising from 4am onwards and dropping again at late night. While 4am is consistently a low point across countries, in the US sales peak at 8pm and then start dropping, while users from Russia tend to buy more at 9-10 pm.

In other countries the trend is not that prominent. Sales go up during the day, but much more slowly. Interesting to note, in Great Britain the peak hour for in-app purchases is actually 4pm, followed by 5-6pm, with a decrease in sales thereafter.

Number of Purchases:Hour in Different CountriesSlicing the Day into Quarters

To simplify, we divided the day into four quarters. The following plot shows the number of users and the number of corresponding purchases in each quarter. As expected the 3rd (12-6pm) and 4th (6-12pm) quarters are the highest.

Number of Payers:Purchases by Quarter of day

Now, let’s take a look at how users behave with respect to the quarters of the day. We asked ourselves: Do mobile payers always pay in the same quarter or is it distributed over the day?

The results are conclusive. Over half of all users who paid more than once always pay in the same quarter of the day!

Number of quarters a user payed in Percentage of paying users
1 53.7%
2 35.7%
3 9%
4 1.6%

Similar patterns are observed when looking at the day of the week. As to be expected, users play and pay more on the weekends, with Saturday being the peak.

Number of Purchases:Week Day

It is also the case that 81.6% of all paying users and 53% of all payers who paid more than once always pay on the same day.

So…What’s In It  for You?

These results can lead to many conclusions. One of them can be: Offer your users sales and discounts in the days and hours they are likely to pay. How do you do that?

Grow Insights allow you to learn about the specific time your users pay and it’s done in real-time! Since all the information is cross-game, you can get info on a user even on his/her first visit to your game.

Or try our new God Mode Analytics in the dashboard which allows you to see the analytics of other games similar to yours and compare overlapping user behavior.

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Industry Forecasts, Research

User retention, user behavior, ad networks, the list goes on and on. Developers want solid user retention and acquisition. For that, you will need to search endlessly for useful data reports about what keeps users engaged, what buttons they are clicking, what time of day they are playing, and so on. Lucky for you, we compiled a list of the top ten mobile game data reports and a what they can do for you.

Check out our 2015 Q4 Mobile Gaming Data Report. It shows a unique synopsis of F2P games.

Download Now

The Apps Flyer Game Performance Index – May 2015

In May 2015, AppsFlyer found a few key insights on user retention.  Video networks produce a 130% higher user retention rate in mobile games compared to other ad platforms.

The full report answers questions such as:

  • Which platform has the highest user retention?
  • What is the best media partner for user retention?
  • Which advertising platform is best?

“Know your players and you will create successful and fun games”

Full Data Report

10 Killer Insights: deltaDNA GDC Session Slides – March 2015

Lack of Appointment Setting is the main reason players are leaving games. Appointment Setting is defined by DeltaDNA as creating “appointments” for users to come back. Good examples are special events, theme changes, tournaments, double points days, and Trivia Tuesday. Push notifications and emails are a great way to remind users of these events.

  • What percent of users are leaving my game due to lack of appointment setting?
  • What are other important reasons users are leaving games?
  • How should developers drive engagement?

“The Cost Per Loyal User has a 39 percent rise year over year”

Fiksu Indexes for May 2015

Fiksu defines loyal users as users that open an app three or more times. In May 2015, Fiksu published indexes about the cost of maintaining loyal users, cost of acquiring game installs through advertising, and the cost of app launches.  The cost of acquiring a loyal user is increasing overall year to year in iOS apps.

  • What is the cost of acquiring a loyal user?
  • How do developers ensure that their games are making profit?
  • How does the cost per install compare between iOS and Android?
  • How does the cost per launch compare?
  • Is it worth it to spend more on one platform over the other?


Full Data Report

“In 2015 for the first time ever, over half of the US population will be mobile phone gamers.”

For Advertisers it’s Mobile Game Time – July 2015

In July 2015, eMarketer highlighted the importance of mobile games for advertisers. The mobile gaming audience consists of over 150 million different people in the US –  this broad, diverse audience is comparable to the audience of television viewers.

  • What does the large ever-growing mobile gaming audience mean for developers and advertisers?
  • How many mobile app users will pay for apps?
  • How many tablet users will pay for apps?
  • Is it worth it to develop games for tablets?

“The very first players of your game are your best. Invest resources in retaining and keeping them happy, the rest will follow as a result.”

The GameAnalytics After Analyzing 400+ Games – March 2015

Players that enter a game in the beginning have a greater chance of converting than if a player enters later. Players that downloaded a game in the first week and converted were likely to spend more in a game.

  • What methodology was used to acquire this information?
  • What is the Golden Cohort?
  • What do these numbers say about where developer resources should go? 

Included in the Full Report:

  • Key findings from TapStream, AppAnnie, Tune, Swrve, and InMobi.
  • Information that will help you improve your games.
  • Facts to consider to make profit.
  • Much More!

Full Data Report

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Research, Tips and Advice

(1200x600) Walls to Monetize Your Game

In 2013, we did a 7 Offer Walls Providers to Monetize Your Mobile Game, that laid out the top players for offer walls. Since then the industry has had its ups and downs and there offer-wallare some new players to pay attention to. Many of these companies offer various advertising platforms with offer walls being one option.

For game developers, one of the main questions is how to monetize the app. More often than not, paying users are only 1-2%. Most monetization comes from advertising be it through banner ads or native ads. Offer walls are one way for app developers to monetize their non-paying users and tap into the other 98-99% of users.




Top Offer Walls of 2015:

Fyber Official Logo

Founded in 2009, Fyber aims to help mobile game and app developers monetize their games by providing quality advertisements. They also assist developers execute smart monetization strategies such as utilizing offer walls. It currently serves over 320 million monthly active users. Fyber offers a Unity Plugin that integrates their Ad Monetization Platform and a Native platform for Android and iOS.


Tapjoy, one of the biggest companies in the industry, was founded in 2007 and currently has over 2 million daily ad engagements.  Tapjoy’s main objective is to help maximize the value for every freemium mobile app developer.  They achieve this through their Marketing Automation and Monetization Platforms, one example being offer walls. Tapjoy offers a Unity Plugin as well as an Adobe Air plugin for iOS and Android users.


SupersonicAds, founded in 2009, is a leading mobile advertising platform. They offer a cloud-based SDK for offer wall, video, interstitial, and mediation mobile advertising. Many of their ads are high quality and brand focused, so the advertisements are most likely to come from big companies such as Dove and M&M instead of Zynga Poker. Supersonic also offers a Unity plugin as well as SDKs for iOS and proprietary technology supports all major platforms (Android/iOS/Unity/Adobe AIR) and has a rich video inventory, as well as a large variety of apps and surveys. They focus heavily on the user itself, smart use of data and personalization tools – like gamification engine that helps to increase retention and LTV. Lately, has put a great deal of effort into monetizing emerging markets such as Brazil, India, Russia, and East Asia.

InmobiInMobi, founded in 2007, is one of the leading mobile advertising companies in the industry. Offering a variety of services such as a single SDK for ad monetization, an app-install platform, and a native ads platform. InMobi’s native content ads come in a variety of formats such as a content streaming, content walls, app walls, and as a chat list. All ads are seamlessly blended into your style of game and are relevant for your users. InMobi is compatible with a variety of platforms and offers an SDKS for iOS and Android and has a Unity Plugin.


Part of ironSource, mobileCore was founded in 2013 to offer app developers various ad formats and engagement tools that vary from traditional display ads. mobileCore believes that each app is different, so ads and the displays should be custom designed to each app. One of their features is the App Offer Wall, In-Stream ads, Top Page Widget ads, and Stickeez (custom developed by ironSource).

TrialPay, founded inTrialPay logo 2006, developed Evergreen, a single SDK that offers app developers the ability to leverage custom solutions and third party platforms to engage the right target audience. TrialPay’s offer walls have a wide selection of categories along with unique in-store offers and in app commerce.


Originally known as W3i and was then rebranded as NativeX to emphasize their focus on their native ad platforms approach. NativeX was founded in 2000 and has acquired over 1 billion users across 178 countries.  NativeX takes a unique approach to in-app advertising by giving mobile game developers a variety of reward and non-reward ad formats such as offer walls.SuperRewards offer walls

SuperRewards logo

SuperRewards, a subsidiary of Playerize, was a pioneer of virtual currency monetization of social games has grown since its founding in 2007.  The two main channels of monetizations are direct pay and offer walls. SuperRewards’ offer walls are highly-targeted advertisements and directed to the correct users.

Everbadge logo

Founded in 2010, Everbadge offers two types of offer walls: incentivized and non-incentivized. The incentivized offer wall is geared towards games that deal with virtual currency or have a point system in the game. The non-incentivized offer wall acts more like an added feature in the game showing off other apps.

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Events, Industry News, Research

e3Gaming and technology conferences are a great place for consumers and enthusiasts to come and get a sneak peak on what’s cooking in the near future. It’s also an instrument for developers and companies alike to showcase the results of hard work and get the much needed media exposure.

Just like everyone else, these technology conferences also live off sponsorship deals, often agreed with various game and software development studios. But just how big are the marketing budgets of such companies? How much are they willing to spend on a conference that promotes not only them, but also everyone else participating, including their competitors?

Getting the big picture

We tried to get a general image on the sponsorship deals, as well as who are the biggest spenders in the gaming and technology industry. We looked not only at some past conferences around the globe, but at future ones too, trying to understand who supports which conference, over a one year period (from late 2014 until late 2015) and to what extent.

As the results started coming in, we found that Unity, AdColony, and StartApp were the biggest spenders.

Unity was the only company with more than $100,000 spent, where both AdColony and StartApp spent more than $60,000 on various conferences. Even though there are events that haven’t disclosed the pricing of sponsorship deals, using only publicly available data, Unity spent a total of $135,000 over a one year period. With five conferences supported, Unity was also the most frequent sponsor, where AppsFlyer, StartApp and AdColony supported four.

Biggest events

The popularity of conferences can also be measured by the number of high paying sponsors willing to participate.

With such statistics, it’s plain to see that Casual Connect’s Amsterdam event (4-6 February 2015) was the biggest conference so far, attracting dozens of companies and having the biggest number of platinum sponsors (seven), out of 20 companies observed. Casual Connect’s San Francisco conference, planned for August 2015, comes as second best, with five companies willing to support the venue with platinum sponsorship deals.

Below is the table of top ten spenders in terms of marketing budget and the number of conferences attended. It’s important to notice that not all events share the prices for sponsorships, which is why these numbers are a (close) estimate.

Company Name Conferences Attended Estimated Minimum Conference Budget
 Unity Logo Unity 5 $132,500
 AdColony_Logo AdColony 4 $62,000
 StartApp_Logo StartApp 4 $60,000
 Admob_Logo AdMob 2 $50,000
 Supersonic_Logo Supersonic Ads 2 $34,000
 Appsflyer_Logo AppsFlyer 4 $33,000
 Tune_Logo TUNE 2 $27,000
 NativeX_Logo NativeX 2 $24,000
 PaymentWall_Logo PaymentWall 2 $22,000
 Mopub_Logo MoPub 2 $22,000

Getting the data

In order to get the bigger picture on the spending in this industry, we had a look at some of the biggest, as well as smaller conferences all around the world. We looked at how many sponsors they had, how the sponsorship tiers have been established, and how much each tier costs.

Most of these events have a pdf price list file with different sponsorship tiers and prices for each tier, available for download at their website. So, for starters, we looked at five Casual Connect events.

Even though every conference has the same pricing method (Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze sponsorship deals), every conference has a different pricing.

The Belgrade event, which took place in November 2014, had a four-tier system: Platinum ($15,000), Gold ($6,000), Silver ($3,500), and Bronze ($2,000). The Amsterdam event was more expensive: Platinum was €20,000, Gold €10,000, Silver €3,500, and Bronze was €2,500.

Next one up will be in Singapore in May, and its prices match Belgrade ($15K, $6K, $3.5K, $2K). The Casual Connect event in San Francisco will take place in August, and in order to become a Platinum sponsor, each company must pay $30,000. Gold is $12,000, Silver is $5,000, and Bronze $3,000.

The Tel Aviv event, planned for fall of 2015, has no data yet.

The PGConnects conference in London, which took place in January 2015, had a three-tier system: Platinum ($40,000), Gold ($16,000), and Silver ($8,000).

The Winter Nights mobile game conference, taking place in February 2015 in St. Petersburg, Russia, is one of the most expensive conferences. It is organised on four tiers: Diamond ($50,000), Platinum ($15,000), Gold (10,000), and Silver ($5,000).

Aside from these conferences, we also analyzed the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco and Cologne, the GlobalMGF (Mobile Games Forum) events in Asia (Hong Kong), and Europe (London), all of which decided not to publicly display the prices of their sponsorship deals.

The Global Mobile Internet Conferences in the Silicon Valley, Bangalore and Beijing had very little or none information about their sponsors on their respective websites, and when reached out to, decided not to reply.

The biggest gaming show, The Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, has a list of sponsors, but no prices.

Crunching the numbers

We looked at a total of ten conferences, spanning from November 2014 to November 2015, and every one of them has tens, some twenty and more sponsors.

We tried not to get lost in the forest of sponsors, so we focused on 20 companies we thought were the most relevant and / or most present in the monetization landscape of the mobile gaming industry.  So we paid special attention to Chartboost, Appsflyer, StartApp, TUNE, AdMob, NativeX, Vungle, RevMob, HeyZap, Flurry, AdColony, Unity, Playhaven, TapJoy, Supersonic Ads, SponsorPay, NextPeer, MoPub, PaymentWall, Inneractive and Fortumo.

Unlike Unity, AdColony and StartApp, which are fairly present in the world of conferences, companies like Inneractive, Playhaven, Flurry, or HeyZap have not been seen as sponsors at any of the examined conferences.  It’s very important to stress that these numbers might not represent the exact budgets of the companies involved, nor the exact prices of different sponsorship deals.  The numbers and data presented here are based on publicly available information and represent non-confirmed, estimation-only budgets.

The source data we collected is available in this Google Spreadsheet.

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Research, Tech Resources, Tips and Advice

Answering ERN authorization and other encryption questions posed by Apple for developers when submitting a new app

We’ve been asked a few times what games need to do in order to be approved for submission if they use encryption in their game. SOOMLA’s ios-store uses basic encryption algorithms to protect your on-device data so no one will be able to hack it and mess up your game related data.

The encryption algorithms used by SOOMLA

SOOMLA uses the AES algorithm for encryption. This algorithm is a standard symmetric encryption algorithm and we use it to secure the user’s data on the device. It’s a common approach to solve these kinds of problems.

Answering the ERN authorization question by Apple

SOOMLA’s main intention is to solve problems of game and gaming related apps. Generally, gaming apps don’t need to submit to “ERN authorization” so if you develop these kinds of apps you should answer “NO” when you see the “ERN authorization” question on itunesconnect. (You might have some specific encryption in your game. You should look into the itunesconnect FAQ to see if you need to submit your specific application to “ERN authorization”.)

One way to check if your app needs to submit to “ERN authorization”:

  • (from the FAQ)
    How do I know if I can follow the Exporter Registration and Reporting (ERN) process?
    If your app uses, accesses, implements or incorporates industry standard encryption algorithms for purposes other than those listed as exemptions under question 2, you need to submit for an ERN authorization. Examples of standard encryption are: AES, SSL, https. This authorization requires that you submit an annual report to two U.S. Government agencies with information about your app every January.
  • (from question 2)
    (i) if you determine that your app is not classified under Category 5, Part 2 of the EAR based on the guidance provided by BIS at The Statement of Understanding for medical equipment in Supplement No. 3 to Part 774 of the EAR can be accessed at Electronic Code of Federal Regulations site. Please visit the Question #15 in the FAQ section of the encryption page for sample items BIS has listed that can claim Note 4 exemptions.
  • (from
    Is the product described by Note 4?
    Items described by Note 4 are not controlled under Category 5, Part 2 of the EAR. See “What items are removed from encryption controls? ” for additional guidance.
  • (from “What items are removed from encryption controls?”)
    (a) The primary function or set of functions is not any of the following:
    (1) “Information security”;
    (2) A computer, including operating systems, parts and components therefor;
    (3) Sending, receiving or storing information (except in support of entertainment, mass commercial broadcasts, digital rights
    management or medical records management); or
    (4) Networking (includes operation, administration, management and provisioning);
    (b) The cryptographic functionality is limited to supporting their primary function or set of functions; and
    (c) When necessary, details of the items are accessible and will be provided, upon request, to the appropriate authority in the exporter’s
    country in order to ascertain compliance with conditions described in paragraphs (a) and (b) above.

Games usually conform to Note 4 so they are not controlled under Category 5, Part 2 of the CCL.

READ THIS: This explanation is complementary. You shouldn’t take it as a rule or suggestion of any kind. SOOMLA doesn’t take any responsibility for any damage you may have by accepting or following anything we wrote here. You should check if your specific app conforms with EAR and submit to “ERN authorization” if you see fit.

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Open Source, Research, Startup Tips

Being an open source company, one of the challenges we face is explaining people a few basic concepts about open source. “No it’s not the same as non profit”, “Yes, you can defend your assets”, … These are some of the answers we need to repeatedly provide.

Can you sell an open source company

One of the misconceptions that are more rooted in logic are about selling open source companies. Once you try to analyze the potential acquisition as a build vs. buy decision it seems like the build option will be much easier for the potential acquirer as the code is already out there.

Open source success: large acquisitions

Open source companies get acquired for hundreds of millions of dollars despite not having any real way to protect their code base from being copied.

MySQL acquisition by Sun Microsystems

The largest acquisition of an open source company to date. in January 2008 Sun Microsystems announced they will buy MySQL for 1 Billion Dollars. At the time MySQL was one of the most common database choices for Web2.0 startups and was the ‘M’ in the all open source LAMP stack.

VMware buys SpringSource

This $420M deal was announced by VMware on August 2009. SpringSource was a provider of Platform as a Service solutions that can be either self hosted by enterprise customers or cloud hosted for web applications.

JBoss acquired by world’s biggest Linux distributor Red Hat

In 2006, one of the earliest acquisitions of open source companies occurred when one of the companies behind Linux, Red Hat bought JBoss, a middleware provider. The deal was estimated at $420M with a combination of stock and cash.

Citrix acquires XenSource

Citrix systems, which at the time specialized in remote access management made a move in August 2007 towards the virtualization space and acquired an open source company by the name of XenSource. The deal was valued at $500 Million and positioned Citrix in competition with VMware. Here is a link to the announcement.

Zimbra getting purchased by VMware

Zimbra is a really special case. It’s an open source company that got bought 3 times. In 2007 it was Yahoo who paid $350M for it. In 2010, VMware decided to start expanding from virtualization into other IT area and acquired Zimbra from Yahoo Inc. Zimbra’s last purchaser was Telligent who bought it from VMware – here is the announcement.

Why pay so much for publicly available sources

While the biggest acquisitions have been in the Enterprise IT space, there are many other smaller companies that got purchased for slightly smaller amounts and came from different spaces. The one thing that is common to all of them is that they all have different assets beyond their code base. It could be domain expertise, strong customer base or a huge user data base. At the same time, if you try to analyze mergers and acquisitions of closed source companies you will discover that very few of them are driven by a need to own the code base.
I hope this list will help those of you who are considering opening their sources. If you are reading this article, it’s likely that you are already convinced this is a good move but you might need the ammo to convince others so feel free to use this as reference.
If I missed a major acquisition that you think I should add to the list feel free to share in the comments or tweet me @y_nizan.


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Research, Tips and Advice

Getting your game to the top of the charts

Most developers are dreaming of making it to the top charts. Stories of how your game will naturally grow from there just from the exposure boost motivated bigger publishers to buy installs and spiked the imaginations of smaller developers. When we think of games that ‘killed it’ in the App Store and became very successful, they all appeared in the top charts at some point.
the app store is a place to get your game on the top charts for free to play games.In the early days of the App Store, the revenue was coming from paid apps and the top grossing chart was aligned with the paid chart. Since free 2 play games started dominating the space, the Top Paid Chart became irrelevant and there is a very big difference between the Top Free chart and the Top Grossing chart. In fact the difference is so big that only 2 games appear in both Top 25 charts. That’s 8% overlap for the record.

Indie Games

The top grossing chart rarely includes games by smaller studios. It’s common to see indie titles make it to the top free chart. If you take a snapshot of the free chart in a given day, it’s likely you will see 10-15 out of the 25 top games coming from smaller studios. Part of it is the focus of bigger companies on monetization and their genre selection. Another reason is that a game that makes it to the top grossing charts quickly turns the company who launched them into wealthy companies who grow quickly and move out of the Indie category.

Game Factory Studios

Game factory studios, mobile app games

Another interesting trend is that the top free chart includes games that were created by companies who adopted a factory approach to game development. These companies will create a few titles every month and will focus on popular genres. The approach allows them to cross promote new games in a large number of self-owned titles and reach quick distribution with low investment.


While the top grossers tend to stick around for long periods, the top free charts have rapid changes. Top grossing games usually reach a positive LTV-CPI number and allow their publishers to increase investment in user acquisition. This gives them means to maintain their leadership position.
the top of the charts for free to play games in the app store



Any major news outlet shared a story about some kid draining his parents’ credit card account by purchasing virtual goods via In-App Purchases. Reality, however, shows that games that focus on kids are much more common in the top of the free chart. It could be that kids are quicker on the trigger with downloading new apps. I’m also giving some credit to the app developers who focus on kids. They try not to trick them into making unintended purchases.


free to play games get on the charts because they become popular with kids or because of a good storyline.The top free chart contains more sequels than the top grossing chart. I’m attributing that to two things. First, sequels enjoy free publicity and often get featured in the App Store. Second, the publishers cross-promote them in the original titles. Combine that with a positive level of trust from the users and you can see how these games can get over 100K downloads in the first few days. it seems however, that many of them don’t deliver on the hype and fail to engage the users enough to be top grossers.

Casino Games

Casino games, card games, slots, bingo and other gambling oriented titles dominate the top grossing charts. You can’t see them at all in the top free charts. The main reason is the high LTV these games return. This is a bit sad to see.

Strategy Genre

Strategy games are also much more common in the top grossing charts. I’m referring to simulation games where the user builds an empire. These games normally require a high time investment from the user but at the same time the revenue from a paying user is much higher. These mid-core games are appealing to users who are more ‘gamers’ and are more used to paying for their games.

Hollywood, TV & Sports

Some of the games in the top free chart are based on a popular movie or TV show. This is pretty obvious. Users are more likely to download, press is more likely to review and Apple more likely to feature. You can see some games with strong external IP in the top grossing charts but they are more dominant in the Top free.

So what do we think about all that?

My first thought is that it’s a very good sign for smaller developers. Being in the top 25 downloaded games even for a few days still means you are killing it and that opportunity is open for small developers. More over, small developers can adopt the Game Factory approach which is more likely to succeed over time.
Being a top grosser requires focusing on parameters that are beyond pure gameplay. The good news is that these can be learned. Indies that want to step up to the next level and are prepared to invest time and efforts can certainly make it to the top grossing charts as well.
Focusing on slightly bigger companies – there is a way to be successful at both top charts and really knock it out of the park by adopting one of the following methods:
  • Partnering up and licensing Hollywood or TV IP and then building a strategy game on top of that.
  • Licensing the rights for a sequel game but focusing on a grossing genre
  • Combining casino elements in casual games like King has been doing with Candy Crush and Pet Rescue Saga
Would love to hear more thoughts about these findings. Feel free to share in the comments.
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Industry Forecasts, Research, Resource
We love hearing good news about the In-App Purchase market growing bigger so we were very excited to hear about the new research from Gartner .
For those of you who aren’t familiar with this type of company, Gartner is a research firm that tries to predict how different markets will preform over the next year. Their projections usually come true and many companies and financial institutes really on their reports for making big decisions.
The last year was a pivotal one in terms of the mobile app market. This year In-App Purchase not only proved to be a viable model but actually proved to be the fastest growing area in the mobile industry. Gartner’s report is the first one to reflect that change so it’s interesting to see what they came up with.
Here are some interesting predictions made by the report:
  • The number of app downloads in 2013 will reach 102 Billion
  • 90% of the downloads will be for free apps.
  • By 2017 Gartner expect the annual app downloads number to reach 268 Billion
  • The expected revenue generated by mobile apps in 2017 is expected to be $77 Billion
  • Out of that total revenue, In-App Purchase revenues are expected to be 48% or $36 Billion
  • The advertising revenues in mobile apps are expected to grow drastically from $1.85 Billions in 2013 to over $10 Billions in 2017
We put the numbers on a chart to illustrate how big the growth in this market is:
App Market Growth
You might also find the detailed revenue numbers useful. Here are the figures projected by Gartner for the next few years:
a table of in app purchase sales and revenue
The report also provides detailed app download forecast in the table below:
Table 1. Mobile App Store Downloads, Worldwide, 2010-2016 (Millions of Downloads)
Free Downloads
Paid-for Downloads
Total Downloads
Free Downloads %
Source: Gartner (September 2013)
As expected, free apps will continue to dominate the market in the next years. If you are considering making a mobile game these days, what the growth in the numbers should tell you is that you still have a very good shot of making it. Markets that are growing quickly present more opportunities for small players and challenges for the bigger ones. The trick is to look for the sections that grow really quickly and try to innovate within them. Let’s see which section is growing at the quickest rates in the chart below.
App Market Growth worlwide, in millions of dollars
The obvious response is that the place to be these days is a free app with In-App Purchases. If you are making an app like that, you are in the right place. SOOMLA has many other resources for free to play design, In-App Purchase coding examples and more. Feel free to explore and let us know what else you need.
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Industry Forecasts, Research, Tips and Advice
As a company who strongly believe in the democratization of mobile game development we are constantly looking for signs that indie developers are winning. Traditionally the video games industry was controlled by giant corporations that didn’t leave room for anyone else. Mobile games changed all that and these days any small studio can make a game and what is most important is that they can make it to the top 25 as well. The next big hit can be yours so don’t stop believing.
Want some more data? First of all you should look at what it means to rank in the top 25? According to research firm Distimo, the top 50 app is being downloaded 23K times per day. We are interested in games (not all apps) so here is the data:
  • 1st place ~ 72K installs/day
  • 10th place ~ 47K installs/day
  • 25th place ~ 20K installs/day
So who made it to the top 25 downloaded games? Some titles are familiar names like: Where is my water 2, Grand theft auto and Candy crush saga but along with them there are 11 games by small developers. The charts can be quite dynamic but we could count 8-15 indie titles in the iOS top 25 of pretty consistently and over 15 in Android. Here is a snapshot from September 18th 2013.

the top 25 most installed mobile games list


Another interesting conclusion one can make by combining these numbers is that the top 200 free games only account for less than 10% of the total downloads. Please check my math:
  • Each top 200 games average 10K installs/day
  • Total game installs for top 200 games is 2M/day
  • In a full year that’s 730M
  • Total game installs/year for iOS is estimated at 8B

The number of 8B game app installs is based on these 3 articles:

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Research, Store Analysis, Tips and Advice

In our line of business, we are always talking with game developers and designers. Some of them ask us for advice on pricing purchases for virtual goods in their in-App Stores and in-Game economies. This is an important question. On one hand, if goods are priced too high, people will buy them less often, but if they are priced too low, your mobile game may not be earning as much revenue as it can.

Real Life Examples of how to price in-app purchases with soomla

How to Set a your Goal ARPU

Your APRU (Average Revenue Per User) is a key metric in free 2 play games and managing your game towards an ARPU goal is as important as navigating your ship towards its destination. Ask yourself what is a good target APRU? What amount of revenue per user would make your game economy a big success? There are several ways you can approach this question to figure all this out.

  • First, figure out how valuable your game is to the average user? What’s it worth to them? Is it worth 25 cents? How about 50? or $1 or even $5? Whatever you think it is worth, just say it. This number is a good indication of where your target ARPU lies.
  • What amount of ARPU will provide you with enough money to promote your product into the future by giving you enough to spend on new user acquisition? The amount of money for getting a new user to play your game is often referred to as cost per install or CPI. After gathering data from over 20 ad networks I can tell you that the lowest CPI you can get is $0.5 and some companies even pay as high as $2 CPI. When your ARPU is higher than your CPI, you can be confident that the money is there, letting you scale your product up the ladder quickly.
  • Additionally, ask yourself, who else is cutting into my average revenue per user? Perhaps you, like everyone else give 30% off the top to Google and Apple? If anyone knows a way around these guys, please let us know :-). What about other service providers or game publishers? If you have any of these, you will need to find more ways to increase your game’s ARPU so you can stay profitable.




How to Find Your Purchase Ratio

It’s important to know just how many of your users end up buying your app. Do you know your Purchase Ratio? Most games have purchase ratios between 0.5% to 5%. Getting the highest ratio depends on several factors. But it’s not set in stone either, a game’s purchase ratio can increase as your game’s reputation grows and becomes more recognized, or if users end up spending a lot of time playing your game.

The target ARPU, the ARPPU & your Purchase Ratio – A Benchmark Formula for Pricing for In-App Purchases

The best way to explain how this formula works is by giving a few examples from actual game developers that we’ve been fortunate enough to work with. Once, a developer came to me for advice with his initial thoughts for monetizing his newly developed free-to-play game. He told me that he could sell an extra level for $0.99 and have another option to remove banner ads for dollar. In the future, he told me that he planned to develop more levels and sell them too as level packs for $1 each. Let’s assume that he makes 4 level packs, this would mean that the maximum revenue he could make from a user is $5, with the average being something lower, more like $2. For the sake of figuring out the benchmark for the formula, let’s call this $2 value the ARPPU (Average Revenue Per Paying User). Having an ARPPU of $2, combined with, let’s say a healthy Purchase Ratio conversion rate of 2%, means that his ARPU will only be $0.04 – not even a dent in the revenue bucket these days. If I would have asked him to guess what his ARPU rate really was, he would never have come up with that number!

ARPPU (avg. rev. per user) x Purchase Ratio (%) = ARPU ($$$$)

Another example from a developer is from someone that came to me for advice about selling packs of “Save Me” cheats in his store. I told him that, from my experience, selling cheats is a dangerous practice when it comes to F2P games – it’s a double-edged sword, in fact. His suggestion was that he would sell 25 “Save Me” cheats for $1 in his store. My opinion was that when you allow users to easily buy cheats, you risk making your game too easy to play which causes players to lose interest quickly. My response was that the cheat pack would probably be the last purchase that player will ever make in his store. I told him that once a player has real cheating power, he will lose interest soon after and no longer find the game challenging. In this case, his ARPPU was only $1, making his ARPU at most be $0.05 – even if his purchase conversion ratio has a maximum of 5% – that’s just not enough to make back what his game cost him in effort to develop.

Pricing Strategies for Developing a Robust ARPPU (Avg. Rev. Per Paying User)

Finding the right Average Revenue Per Paying User really depends on the kind of game that you’ve designed. To calculate a Target ARPPU, first figure out what target ARPU you want to reach. Say for the sake of example, you want an ARPU of $0.50 with an expected Purchase Ratio of 2%, this means that your average paying player will need to pay $25 and that some people will pay upwards of $50 for your game (Yes, ARPPU’s get that high – don’t be shocked).
The next step is to start figuring out different options and scenarios, by testing them out with users before they are launched in order to see how to better develop your ARPPU as your key benchmark value. Here are a few things to remember as you maximize the potential of your in-App purchase items:
  1. Selling single-use virtual items or consumable resources in your store results in higher player engagement, more addictive game play, longer player retention and ultimately a consistent stream of revenue from your paying users.
  2. Developing an Energy Mechanics in your store. Something as simple as selling lives in your games can have a similar impact to that described in #1. This trick alone is known to boost your revenue by 10% to 30%.
  3. Sell upgrades for items in order to give players a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of progress. For as long as they feel like they are getting somewhere in your game, they will continue playing, which in turn, might lead to them making more purchases in the future.
  4. Remember to balance the power metrics of the virtual items you sell in your store with the difficulty curve you’ve developed in your game.
  5. Give players lots of options to choose from when shopping, but limit it in a way that makes them think wisely about spending upgrades for the purchases they make, and remember to never allow any player to accumulate enough gold coins to purchase everything in your store.
  6. Repeat point #5 above for paying users as well. As odd as this might sound, even paying users are at risk of getting bored, never let them be able to buy everything and anything they want in your store.
If you are interested in getting some feedback and advice for pricing your F2P game, you can submit your game for review here [], or drop me a line on twitter @y_nizan.

This article was originally featured and published on Gamasutra.

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SOOMLA - An In-app Purchase Store and Virtual Goods Economy Solution for Mobile Game Developers of Free to Play Games