The app market has undergone significant changes in the last few years. Gone are the days where users fork over even 99 cents to install an app. In the current mobile app monetization ecosystem, developers offer free apps and still generate significant revenue. In fact, free apps tend to maintain a more profitable monetization strategy with in-app purchases and mobile advertisements. Developers can deploy multiple monetization methods simultaneously, ensuring more profit and improving the user experience- especially in gaming apps. Here are a few effective methods top gaming developers use to monetize engaged users in their free apps.
Induce Motivation: Play Hard to Get
Candy Crush implements drastic limits on users’ playtime to drive in-app purchases and app promotion. In America’s top-grossing app, users only get five lives at a time, blocking them from playing any further unless they progress to the next level. The time management method has become one of the pillars of mobile monetization. This approach might seem obvious, but before King implemented it in Candy Crush, the app industry didn’t fully comprehend how heavily it would drive in-app sales. The 30-minute “time-out” devilishly manipulates the brain into wanting, nay needing! more play time, especially if the user is having a hard time beating a level.
They can, of course, buy more lives or get a Facebook friend to grant them some; both options contribute to Candy Crush’s monetization and distribution success. The mandatory abstention will drive users to spend on in-app purchases or promote the app to a friend on Facebook, all for the sake of accelerating game progression.
Encourage Loyalty: Make in-app Purchases Valuable
The key to success for developers with the freemium business model is to make virtual items valuable and necessary for the user. The popular strategic game of Clash of Clans does this remarkably well. Players are given a plot of land on which they build a village, train troops and attack other players to earn gold and elixir. They start with an abundance of resources which eases them into the game and allows them to start developing their plot of land. This gives the user a sense of instant gratification because they can unreservedly buy and upgrade virtual items. But soon enough, resources run out and upgrades become expensive. Assignments become harder, updates take longer but their determination does not falter- in fact the more time users invest in the game, the more likely they’ll cough up the mere $4.99 to acquire 500 gems or a new builder to speed up their in-game achievements. Studies also show that once a user spends real life money on the game, they’re bound to do it again. In fact, the average time lapse between the first and second purchase is just an hour and forty minutes. An engaged user will clearly spend some real life currency to speed up his game success as Clash of Clans boasts an average of $36.99 per user on in-app purchases!
From Premium to Freemium: Reward Your Users
The future of mobile monetization clearly lies in ad-supported models. While the majority of users forgo in-app purchases, rewarded ad formats provide the ultimate solution to monetizing all users. According to recent studies, these creative ad units also improve user experience and retention. Rewarded ad formats are proving to be a new, lucrative category of mobile advertisement. Incentivized ads like the offerwall or mobile video awards users with virtual items or unlocks premium app features in exchange for the user’s’ interaction with ads. For example Epic Skater, a free skating game, implements both the rewarded video and the offerwall in the app to reward users with virtual currency.
Users simply watch a video or complete an offer to obtain free coins. These coins can be used to buy virtual items that enhance the user’s game, ie. speed upgrades, new outfits, cool boards or energy drinks. This monetization model allows a developer to incorporate an additional stream of revenue from ads without potentially intruding on the user’s experience. If you’re looking into this monetization strategy, choose an ad network that offers instant play HD videos, global fill rates and localized offerwalls to ensure high completion rates and competitive eCPMs.
Users won’t pay for something they can get for free. If we’re being honest, I wouldn’t either! A free app needs to purposely add to its value. Building a profitable mobile game starts with the early adoption of an original, effective app monetization strategy. This is how Candy Crush, Clash of Clans and Epic Skater made it big- now you can too! Implementing just one of these monetization methods will enhance your game overall and provide your app with the necessary components to promote its success.
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