In-App Purchases: How to Monetize through Merchandising


Monetization is a top priority for anyone creating mobile games. How can publishers and developers be sure they’re doing everything they can to keep this number as high as possible? Rhett, Evan, and Chris have a few helpful suggestions and observations on optimizing in game merchandizing, and monetization trends.

Q: IAP sales are pretty important when it comes to game monetization. What are some things developers need to consider to ensure they are optimizing their in-game merchandizing?

Rhett: I see a lot of games on the app store that haven’t put much thought into the price points and currency values of their IAP store. The last thing you want is for a player to second-guess their purchase. Common mistakes are; setting price points too low, inconsistent amounts of bonus currency, not relating IAPs to specific in game items (see the Builder in Clash of Clans). This article goes into greater detail on the matter.

Evan: Keep price-quality relationship in mind when scheduling sales and other monetization events. Running sales too often can devalue your digital commodities.

Chris: There needs to be some finesse in the way you push IAP sales. Having a good way to segment these players by the packs they purchase can be a great tool to help improve monetization early and often. Were you able to get the player to spend on a discounted $4.99 bundle at $2.99 in their first few sessions? Great, you have covered the first and biggest hurdle in getting players to monetize and have built your first segment. Now it is time to see if the next pack up interests them. Find a good point in the game where the player may need a little help and offer them the next pack up at a discount to that same segment. This ladder approach gives you a good opportunity to keep these players converting and growing your ARPU and ARPPU.

Q: What trends in monetization methods have you seen emerging? Are there any new methods appearing?

Rhett: I’m really interested in the movement towards using more “mystery boxes” in games as content delivery systems. For example; card packs, treasure chests, or Japanese style Gashapon. It encourages collection and can deliver the exciting “near miss” effect. A “near miss” gives the player a feeling of success even if the reward isn’t received. Think of getting two cherries followed by a bar on a slot machine.

Evan: I’ve seen more games build virtual merchandising in to the game’s internal cannon, rather than the traditionally immersion-breaking, GUI based storefronts. I’m very curious to see how a state of suspended-disbelief affects player spending behaviour.

Chris: No longer just for a rewarded advertising option, video has emerged as an extremely strong revenue earner on the non-reward side of advertising in games. Placement still matters however so make sure you find the right place at the right time.

Diana Aquino
Creator, Problem Solver, Professional Shopper.

Contact her on Twitter @diana__aquino