Do you struggle to make money from your games? Don’t feel bad, because most of us do. Even the big studios have a hard time turning players into payers. But making money from your apps and games is not as hard as you might think. Here are 7 insider secrets used by some of the world’s most successful game developers to boost in-app revenue big time that you can put to work right now.
Mobile app developers are finding it more and more difficult to make money from their downloads. The competition in the Appmosphere (iTunes, Google Play, Amazon) increases daily and Paid Models don’t seem to work as well as they used to.
There has got to be a better way, and there is!
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In the meantime, Freemium seems to be the way to go and according to Distimo, an independent app-store analytics company, apps designed around the freemium model tend to earn more money than any of the other app business models, including paid models.
Freemium: Freemium is the combination of the words Free and Premium. It in the appmosphere, it’s a business model (a way of making money) where the mobile developer gives away the core application, be it a game or an app, at no charge. If it’s a game, the gaming experience is full and enriched, the gamer can experience and enjoy the gameplay without issue. Value-added features, premium products and enriched features are offered for sale within the application’s store. While the free gameplay experience is fantastic, purchasing certain items can make the experience even better.
Research has shown that the typical player spends $14 on in-app purchases. This is by far more money than what could be earned by simply selling the game. And if you’ve built an engaging, fun and exciting game, your players will come back to your in-app store again and again.
So how are developers just like you tapping into this sweet, sweet money nectar?
It all comes down to basic psychology. If you’ve already made and released a game, you’ve probably noticed that gamers can be incredibly passionate about the experience and how they choose to interact and engage with you. It’s that very passion and excitement that you should tap in to.
If you do it right, you can boost in-app revenue considerably. Do it wrong and you might just end up giving away everything for free.
The secret here is to focus on creating a fun and enjoyable gameplay experience. After all, you worked really hard to get the download and you want to make sure your gamers are having fun while committing their time to playing your game.
The more time they invest playing your game, the the more likely they’ll make an in-app purchase to make the game easier, more fun or to unlock new challenges that are otherwise not accessible.
McDonald’s is the king of up-selling. The burger itself is practically a lost leader. McD’s makes money by selling fries and soda. Did you know the soda costs less than 5 cents to make and deliver? That delicious syrup is pure liquid gold!
Find your liquid gold and give the burger away for free.
Your first challenge is to focus on creating a fun and enjoyable gaming experience. If it isn’t fun, engaging or enjoyable, you’ve failed as a developer and your gamers will respond by abandoning and deleting the game.
The next trick is to make the gameplay progressively more difficult with the more time invested. Look at Angry Birds. They’ve done an amazing job going from super easy to OMG difficult.
Each level of gameplay, or better yet…the levels within a level, should become progressively more difficult and challenging.
The psychology here is that in the early stages, players make great progress quickly. Not too fast, but not too slow either.
The further they go and the longer they play, the more they have to continuing playing if they want to see their gameplay investment pay off. The caveat is that it has to be fun as well as challenging. Too challenging and it just becomes frustrating, too easy and it’s boring. If you can balance the fun-to-challenge ratio just right, your gamers will become highly addicted.
The longer your gamers play, the more emotionally invested they become in the experience. The more emotionally invested they become, the more receptive they’ll be to helping boost in-app purchases.
This is a bit of a play off #2 “The More You Play, The Harder It Gets.”
The trick is to give the players a few basic and simple levels that help teach the gameplay, what’s expected of the player and what the player can expect in upcoming levels. Avoid the temptation to make the gameplay difficult at the start. Instead, the very early stages of your game should be super simple and really easy.
The big appeal of mobile is that games are easy to pick up and play, and equally easy to put down without losing progress. The initial experience should be 2 minutes or less.
Again…look at Angry Birds as an example of how to achieve this. This trick works for any of the 500+ different game genres and types out there.
Let the game become progressively and incrementally harder. The more experience gained, the more experience is needed.
Do you remember those old games that had a help mode you could tap in to for a quick rescue? Or how about those games that had a super kick-butt cheat mode? Nothing will boost in-app revenue faster! A great example was the Invincibility and God Mode in Doom, an old-timey game. Those cheat modes made the games more accessible and desirable to wider audiences, resulting in weeks of play time.
Another great example of the Rescue Me Now trick are the trainers for Command and Conquer. The hard core purists didn’t like it much, but the trainers and cheats changed what would have been an hour or two of gameplay to multiple weekends of fun and enjoyment. And after all, it’s an option. The Rescue Me No trick is a choice, not a requirement.
A Rescue Me Now button is a fantastic way of improving the gaming experience. It’s up to you as a developer to decide how it will work but a few ideas include:
Any Galaxy Quest fans out there? If you haven’t seen the movie yet, watch it after you’re done with this article.
The Omega 13 was a time machine that sends its users 13 seconds into the past “enough time to redeem a single mistake”.
Letting game players earn or buy their way out of mistakes is a great way of increasing engagement while improving the gameplay experience.
It’s also a great free give-away that can be rewarded for loyalty, achievements and more. Gamers appreciate and work hard to earn rewards.
Let gamers know it’s an option and what they have to do to earn it.
Everyone one loves a second chance. And what better way than with an in-app revenue boosting time machine purchase?
The Limited Time Offer trick can be used again and again in so many ways and for so many events.
The basic idea is that you’ll be giving something away, a free in-app purchase of value, a level upgrade, character upgrades, loyalty offerings … anything is possible. But whatever the offer is, it has to be immediately valuable and highly desired.
Triggers for a Limited Time Offer can be anything from special dates such as Christmas, New Years, Valentine’s Day, or achievements, levels, purchases or even an amount of gameplay time.
Limited time offers should be exactly that. A special discount offer that is valid for a limited time. Be careful with how many limited time offers you give. It has to be something of value and rarity so that missing out on it would be absolutely tragic.
Design your game to include consumable items. Consumable items are things that get used up and need to be replenished during the game play.
Consumables, by far, are the most purchased in-game items. Players love them because they help improve the gameplay experience, increase interactivity and engagement and can be awarded as prizes or limited time offerings. Consumables make it really easy for developers to boost in-app revenue quickly.
These are just 7 must do tricks that you can use right now to boost your in-app revenue significantly.
Want to know more about how you can build games that monetize, and how you can increase your income big time? Grab a FREE copy of our book “Gamification: The Industry’s Biggest Secrets Revealed”
The Game Industry's Biggest Secrets Revealed
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Tom Raycove is a technology entrepreneur. He has over 3 decades experience in the technology, software development, artificial intelligence, film, television and video gaming industries. He enjoys writing, teaching, and mentoring new talent. In his spare time, he dives with tiger sharks!