3 Quick Ways to Add Consumables in Your Game

If you have been following this blog, you already know that I’m a big supporter of adding consumables in mobile games. 80% of the revenue in the app stores is driven by consumables. It’s a great way to engage users with your game economy and it’s pretty much the only way you can get whales in your game. If your game is already designed and you want to add consumables, here are 3 quick ways to do that.

Renting lifetime virtual goods

If you already designed lifetime upgrades in your game, a really quick way to change them into consumables is allowing users to rent them. Let’s say you designed different cars in your game. Make the top car a direct purchase – sell them for $5 or even $10 dollars each but allow users to rent them. More specifically, let’s say that with a regular car your players earn 1,000 racebucks (or some other in-game currency you came up with) and with the premium car your players would earn 2,000 racebucks. You should rent the better car for about 1,000 racebucks to keep your game balanced. Your players will end up in the same place but with a much better story to tell.

Adding energy in your game is a quick and highly effective way to add consumables and it's effective to almost all games.

Adding energy or life in your game

Energy mechanics are applicable to almost any game and can be easily added without changing the visual aspects of the game. The concept is simple, you give users some energy, fuel or life points and instead of starting every session fully stacked the game remembers how much energy you have left from the previous session. The magic number here is 10. You want to be shooting for 10 sessions of game play before the user runs out and then allow the user to replenish by waiting or buying some extra.
Wait! Isn’t energy mechanic evil? Well, Not necessarily. It depends how you implement it. Yes, all energy mechanics include some waiting but the trick is not being too aggressive with that. You can also sell energy or life for in-game currency and simply use it as a mechanism to introduce users to the buying experience rather than trying to squeeze a buck or two every time the
 user runs out.

Lifetime virtual goods can be the source of consumable goods - just add ammo and sell packs of shots or bullets

Adding logistics – ammo to weapons, fuel for cars, food for pets

One of the easy ways to add consumables to a game with lifetime goods is to make it more real by adding logistics. It’s usually pretty easy to justify the narrative and the visual implementation might just be a floating indicator of how much you have left. Logistics for weapons is usually ammunition, for people or pets it can be food, for buildings it’s wood and blocks and for cars it can be fuel. It’s pretty easy to find the comparable in the real world and leverage that for some ideas about adding logistics.
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  1. I understand that you want to monetize games, but you are going about it in a way, which will permanently harm the company’s relationship to the consumer. You are essentially suggesting to turn mobile games into “pay to play” instead off “free to play”. There are still people stupid enough to play such games, but consumers are already starting to learn. One look in the comment section of any game will tell you what the developer is up to.

    • The goal of selling consumables in games is not to make money. The goal is to give your virtual coins buying power in the game world. Instead of the user collecting coins for no good reason he can have a use for the in-game coins – to buy consumable goods. This is a great retention mechanism as it creates loyalty in a similar way that loyalty club allows you to buy things with your points.
      Over 95% of the top mobile games have consumables. It’s not because users are stupid, it’s because the games are more engaging for them when their ingame coins have buying power.

      • Fair enough, but these systems just offer themselves to be abused and they offer no entertainment-value.
        Things you can offer for ingame-coins:
        – Concept Art
        – Art
        – Wallpapers (for your mobile device)
        – Sounds (for your mobile device)
        – Ringtones
        – Levels
        And that’s just from the top of my head. And these would be far more fun than ammo…

        I shouldn’t call them stupid. People who pay for (badly designed) games that make them pay repeatedly and endlessly don’t know better (games) and obviously haven’t done enough research to find better games. So they must be naive. Or they are too weak-willed to fight against rather basic psychological temptetions. Either way, not necesserily stupid. Maybe rather weak-willed or childish, or they are so loaded that they don’t care.


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