In 2021, mobile game development was the biggest gaming segment worldwide, with approximately $90.7 billion in annual revenues. The money flow in the gaming industry seems steady and intensive. That’s why this niche attracts plenty of stakeholders. Still, only a few know that game revenue depends not only on sales but also on monetization models and strategies.
How to monetize mobile games effectively? This question usually appears once the game is released. However, it’s better to start thinking of monetization channels when the concept of the game emerges.
We, at Whimsy Games, hold a many-year industry experience and are aware of all possible pitfalls. Therefore, we want to tell you more about monetization and its models. We’ll also highlight six effective monetization strategies, so you can choose and mix them to keep a balance and even profit.
Let’s get started!
What Is Mobile Game Monetization?
Monetization has become a buzzword in the digital world. In a broad sense, it refers to a process of revenue generation from assets, featuring advertisements, and other forms of content promotion.
When referring to the mobile game development industry, monetization covers strategies, tactics, and methods focused on making a profit from a mobile game. Mobile game monetization may meet your game development costs and serve as a partial, if not primary, revenue resource of the released game.
Mobile game monetization is as important as high-quality software or hyperrealistic user experience. Since the mobile app revenue is constantly growing and is expected to reach $116.4 billion in 2024, more companies and brands want to promote their products and services in the mobile play game ecosystem.
For this reason, mobile game monetization strategies are significant to scrutinize and implement at the initial stages of game development. Keeping monetization in mind when building a game from scratch, you can give careful thought to layout, strategy, levels, and features.
Let’s dive deep and find out what mobile game monetization models are worth implementing and why.
Mobile Game Monetization Models
If you’ve never used mobile game monetization models before, you should start with the proven ones. We suggest turning attention to in-game advertising, in-game purchases, and premium paid games models.
- In-game advertising
In-game advertising is a popular monetization model. Game development companies often use it because it allows to considerably increase games’ revenue. A November 2020 survey of mobile gamers in several gaming markets found that 53% of respondents had played free to download mobile games with ads over the last 12 months.
Game owners can monetize different types of ads with goods and services within gameplay. They are rewarded videos, banners, offerwalls, and interstitials. Thus, in-game ads become a part of the user experience that can also improve app engagement and retention rates.
- In-game purchases
In-app purchase is another effective model. Users buy items, weapons, features, extra coins to upgrade their game characters and move faster to the next level. There are no strict rules on when and where you can introduce in-app purchases. It can actually happen in any situation in the game. However, the best moment is when users need help or want to unlock the next level.
- Premium paid games
The premium paid game model is the right option for those users who want to enjoy the unique features of the game and experience a gaming process in an environment free from ads. You can integrate this model if your mobile game has a strong value proposition and top-notch quality.
You should also make sure that little to no competitors offer the same characteristics within the genre. It will help you keep high standards and provide a stand-apart game experience. As for users, they will pay for premium access when trying out the game before the purchase and finding it enthralling.
Now it’s time to look at the most popular app monetization strategies and reveal their nuances.
Monetization Strategies for Mobile Games: 6 Main Methods
Six tried and tested marketing strategies are used for profitable mobile game monetization.
Selling games is an obvious and widely used method of income generation. You get paid every time a game is downloaded. You offer an upfront price and should invest in marketing to promote the game in App Store, Google Play, or other platforms.
Although this way of monetization seems clear, it requires specific research and market knowledge. Therefore, it’s preferable to evaluate other games available in this genre and set the price according to quality, uniqueness of gameplay experience, and market relevance.
The main disadvantage is that many users may refuse to buy the game. Consider integrating paid game strategy with a freemium model.
In-app ads offer plenty of benefits for both publishers and developers. This game monetization strategy allows delivering ads within a game. So game developers get paid every time a user sees an ad. And instead, they provide free access to the game while scaling revenue and keeping game downloads high.
These factors affect the popularity of in-app ads that rises year over year. Thus, the global free-to-play mobile games market grew from $73.8 billion in 2020 to $75.6 billion in 2021. The tendency will continue to grow in the following years, and more in-app ad formats will be extensively used in monetization strategies for mobile games.
What are the in-app ad formats?
This ad format allows users not only to watch a video. They can also get a reward within the app when engaging with an ad.
Interstitial ads are full-screen ads that cover the interface of the game. Interstitial ads are displayed between activities, pauses, and levels in a game. Game players can skip an interstitial ad in a few seconds and return to the game or continue watching it to its destination.
Playable ads are interactive. They may be free demos of the game. Playable ads allow users to check out the main functions of an app or game before downloading it.
Native Banner Ads
Native banner ads match the look, feel, and function of the media in which they appear. This format allows providing a customized experience when promoting services and goods.
An offerwall is also known as a rewarded advertising unit. It lets players earn a reward when being engaged in ad display. For example, users may take surveys, complete quizzes, try out new games or even get access to new apps.
In-game purchase is an effective monetization strategy that should be well-thought once you start building a game from scratch. You can offer a game player to buy assets, features, weapons, and many other items to improve a character and advance the playing experience.
Game producers change real-world money to virtual ones so that players can use them to buy everything they want in the game. Thus, in-game purchases can be integrated into free-to-play games and serve as a lucrative way of mobile game monetization.
Premium In-Game Subscriptions
A premium in-game subscription makes game producers sure that they will get regular payments from users. Besides, they can build a loyal customer base and improve the retention of subscribed users.
However, game makers should offer some value instead — additional, unique perks for mobile game players. It can be special in-game content, features, and gameplay activities offered during set subscription periods.
Mobile game players can choose the subscription model as a component of in-app purchases. While the games remain free to play for all players, purchasing premium access allows experiencing new, vivid gameplay. It means no ads and push notifications. Moreover, a gain of a premium subscription may provide special tournaments, unlocked levels, and other types of unparalleled content — all may be available for a small monthly or annual fee.
And one more point to consider, you can offer a short free trial period. It will let users compare the differences between free and premium access and choose the best one for them.
SMS marketing strategy resembles an email marketing approach. You have to think over the message, as it should be short and polite. It should convey the most important information and also contain a bit of humor.
SMS marketing approach allows reaching and retaining high-value users. When having a phone contact base, it’s possible to send promo codes, inform about contests and updates.
E-mail marketing remains one of the chief advertising tools. In 2020, the global e-mail marketing market was valued at $7.5 billion, and it is expected to reach $17.9 billion by 2027. Therefore, mobile game developers keep drawing on this channel of goods and services promotion and reaping from it.
E-mail marketing offers a vast space for creativity. You can mix text, images, GIFs, videos to engage your audience. This strategy also lets you stay in touch with your users and inform them about different activities, deals, and updates. Besides, you can also update users about their achievements and motivate them to pick up where they left off.
Affiliate marketing is a less traditional but highly effective marketing strategy that drives sales and generates significant online revenue. Affiliate marketing strategy allows promoting products or services within the game in exchange for a commission when a user downloads the app, buys, or engages with a product or service. You can choose the right network and stakeholders to benefit from a mobile game affiliate program.
How to Start Monetizing Mobile Games?
Eric Schmidt, an American technology businessman, and software engineer said, “In technology, if you own a platform that’s valuable, you can monetize it.” A mobile game is a platform that allows you to earn extra money. All you need is a well-thought, complex approach to both game development and monetization. And it’s better not to put the latter on the long finger.
Our Whimsy Games team holds specialists in different fields, and their knowledge helps us build a competitive mobile game. And for you, it’s a chance to start monetizing the game right after the release. We can choose the best strategy for you and enhance the mobile game experience to make advertising less distracting for users. In addition, we provide top-quality software with no hidden fees. Unique approach and professional expertise are the cornerstones of our mobile game development process that help us grow the base of loyal and new clients.
Build the right mobile game monetization strategy, and we’ll develop the game!