Setting Up In-App Purchase Products for Maximum Flexibility

This post is inspired by an email thread with one of our customers. It appears that the confusing terminology of Apple and Google never stops to puzzle developer and there are quite a few things to be mindful of when setting up your product IDs for the first time.

This guide is specific to mobile free 2 play games. Games that try to build a virtual economy with in-game shopping experience rather than just sell 1-2 upgrades. If you are not developing a game you should probably stop here. If you are developing a game and planning on monetizing it with In-App Purchase with no virtual economy you must read this article showing that 90% of top grossing games are selling coins and letting the user earn in-game coins.
So, assuming you are planning on developing a mobile game with a virtual coin system, you should follow the guidelines below when setting up your Products.
Types of Products
Both marketplaces offer many types of porducts: consumables, non-consumables, managed, unmanaged and different types of subscriptions. If this is not enough, google play also has v2 and v3 to make it a bit more complicated. The good news is that there is only one way to go here. If you are building an in-game economy, you want the control on your side. On Apple this means Consumables products and on Google play this means unmanaged with v2. Unfortantely, v3 doesn’t offer proper support for in-game currency yet. The reason you want to use these product types specifically is that they give you the most flexibility.
Product Pricing
Imagine the following scenario: you have a bundle of 50,000 coins that you are selling for $5, it is selling great and you want to optimize it a bit. The move here is to give the user another offer that has a lot more value. So you will have two offers:
  • 50k coins for $5 
  • 100k coins for $6 

This is an offer that most users will find hard to refuse and you should see 10% revenue lift from this simple move. However, this requires adding a new product ID, changing the in-game store to have that item and submitting an app update that can take a week to approve and forever for the users to download. 

This can be easily avoided if you prepare in advance. Instead of creating 5 coins packs of $1, $2, $5, $10 and $20. Create 50 products with prices of $1, $2, $3 … $50. Make sure to give them generic names that doesn’t include the number of coins – Ultimate Coin Pack rather than 50k coins pack. This allows you to sell at any price and determine the number of coins the user get without having to resubmit any new products. Combine this with a way to manage the items in your store remotely (like SOOMLA) and you have all the flexibility you need.

Here is a quick summary of the tips:
  • Virtual Good Types
    • Apple – select consumable products
    • Google – select unmanaged items with v2
  • Product Pricing
    • Create 50 Coin bundle products with generic names (Ultimate Coin Pack)
    • Develop/Buy a solution that allows you to show/hide the products and determine the amount of coins in each package dynamically
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