DeltaDNA recently released an article talking about the changes in payment patterns in free-to-play games. There’s lots of interesting news in there, but one exciting number really stood out to us at Mobile Game Doctor.
According to DeltaDNA, over the last 3 years the percentage of paying players in North America has increased by ⅓ (and in Europe by ⅕). This trend is incredibly healthy for mobile game developers as it shows developers are getting better at monetizing a wide base of players and reducing their dependence on whales.
As many developers can tell you from hard won experience, making your living off a small number of whales can be extremely dangerous. A few people changing their mind can significantly impact your game’s revenue stream. And if those players organize themselves, they can effectively hold your game hostage, demanding changes that may or may not be healthy for the overall game and community. Moreover, too much focus on those whales can make teams focus too much on elder game content and features, stealing resources that might be better used to improve parts of the game that more players will see.
Focusing on efforts to convert more of players to payers (gently, positively, and willingly) has some other positive impacts on your game as well. Players who pay – even a small, one-time payment – tend to engage and retain significantly better than players that don’t. And players who pay once have a much higher propensity to buy again than players who have never purchased. This comes partially from the fact that players who love your game are much more likely to buy something, and partially from certain cognitive biases (like the Sunk Cost Fallacy) that come into play once a player has spent.
So getting that first purchase can be a crucial piece of building a strong relationship with player. It’s important to present things like having a great new player offer, making sure that early purchases offer substantial value to the player, and making sure that players understand what that value will be even before they purchase. Following these kinds of best practices will help get you more payers, keep your game healthier, and get you in line with important industry trends, so make sure you implement them in your game. Doctor’s orders!
Dave Rohrl is the CEO and Founder of Mobile Game Doctor. He’s a 27-year game industry veteran with deep experience in game design, production, and studio leadership. He has run teams, studios, or lines of business for The Learning Company, Pogo, PopCap (where he was immortalized as Crazy Dave in Plants vs. Zombies), Zynga, and Playdom. In 2014, Dave founded Mobile Game Doctor to bring some of the finest minds in free-to-play gaming to bear on some of the mobile gaming’s toughest design problems.