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7 May 2015

Key Things To Consider When Thinking About Monetizing Your Mobile Game

Everyone wants to know the best approach to monetizing their mobile games – everyone! The best methods to monetize are always evolving as well, meaning that know matter your expertise, you need to not only stay up-to-date on the latest happenings in monetization, but also you need to know the core concepts of monetizing your mobile games appropriately. Chartboost has an awesome post about how Social Point’s Chief Monetization Officer Pepe Cantos approaches the monetization of the team’s mobile games, and the key things he focuses on is something every indie developer needs to keep in mind. It’s the topic of today’s post, so let’s take a look at a few of them!

What makes the game fun?

Have you ever played a mobile game that placed monetization first, which forced the fun of the game to take a backseat? The fun aspect of your mobile game should always be first, and for good reason: sacrificing fun for any other aspect of your mobile game actually kills the fun factor altogether! Cantos states that you need to be certain that you are creating the experience that you have in mind for your users before you even begin thinking about how to monetize your mobile game.

That means before you do anything else, be sure the game is fun! This begins by regularly playtesting your mobile game to see if it does indeed need to be improved. Playtest regularly and find the fun factor, then you can monetize!

Analyze initial in-game purchases

Cantos also states that you should keep an eye on the first in-game purchases (made with actual cash) and look for patterns:

“Take a look at what the users buy with the hard currency acquired. Understanding the first item bought by a user just after his or her first purchase can give you a good hint about the motivations of those users.”

Blizzard is a perfect example of doing this perfectly. When I initially began playing Heroes of the Storm, I went into it knowing that I probably wouldn’t buy anything (it’s just how I approach every free-to-play game). I have never purchased gold in Hearthstone with real-world cash, so I figured HOTS would be the same. I was wrong. While I’ve only made one initial purchase, it was very early in the game due to the IAP being only a few dollars. It opened up a new class, a character that looked awesome (and it is), and it only cost me less than a cup of coffee versus a few hours of my time.

The crazy thing about it? This has been the case for every friend I’ve invited to play the game! It falls right in line with Cantos’ advice of, ‘considering giving players the chance to buy more content early.’ It has the chance to hook players early, and by giving them a taste of buying an IAP that has value, they will be more likely to make IAPs later on!

Hook them

Finally, be sure that you combine the first two tips into one and hook players into coming back for more. Going back to Blizzard a moment, Hearthstone and most recently, Heroes of the Storm does this incredibly well by giving players daily quests. Upon completion, players are rewarded with in-game currency – and it adds up quite quickly.

To hook players even further, Cantos mentions that you should essentially make your game a destination that your players need to frequent regularly – even if it means enticing players with deals. According to Cantos, the free-to-play game Heroes Charge does this very well with its monthly cards feature that allows players to unlock in-game currency (called gems) for use in-game:

“[Heroes Charge has] a really interesting monetization feature, because it not only gives a lot of gems to the user for a super-cheap price, but it also forces the player to come back to the game every day for a whole month to make the most out of it.”

It’s one of the best methods of ‘hooking’ players that we’ve seen in a long time, and is essential to every monetized free-to-play game. Hook them early, and your in-game ecosystem will have a better chance of flourishing.

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