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credits: Nintendo

Mobile game monetization is a big topic in the industry.

From defining your game economy, crafting your shop to making sure the experience is as enjoyable in the first session as it’s challenging in the late game for your core players.

There isn’t one way to do it, it will actually depend on your game vertical, players’ behavior as well as your monetization strategy.

In this article, I’ll try to walk you through some of the best practices of the industry in improving the monetization for a mobile game.

⚠️Disclaimer: All the things I’ll talk about are not “this is how to do it”, it’s a mix between our thoughts, psychological triggers, data analysis and assumptions on what experiments you can run to improve your monetization metrics. The most important factor being a good, fun and rewarding game for your players.

I – Early Users Strategies
II – Engagement Strategies
III – Conversion Strategies

I — Early Users Strategies

1) First offer

Credits: Word Collect

A concept fairly simple to grasp, it’s the perfect opportunity to drive early conversion, as well as improving the player’s loyalty.

The hypothesis is simple: By offering a special offer to the player in their first day/week of playing your game, you’ll improve the conversion rate.

But behind this simple concept lies another complexity: You can also leverage this offer to educate the player to the act of purchasing an item.

This is an opportunity to also educate the player on currencies / items / chest available in the game. By doing so, players will understand how they work and will be ready to interact with them later in their lifecycle.

Complexity: 🧪🧪

2) First purchase

Credits: Lords Mobile

Offering a special gift to a player when they purchase for the first time can help you improve the conversion rate. It also helps introducing new concepts, heroes or currency directly to the player in their early stage.

Finally, you can use this as an additional touch point towards purchase.

Complexity: 🧪🧪🧪

3) One time first buy offer

This was a mechanic included in the first shop in Zelda (Super nintendo) where an old merchant asked you to pick one item between two different. Whatever item you’d pick, the other one would never be available anymore.

Clash Royale and Gwent are using a similar mechanic by letting you decide which item you want when you buy a chest:

Gwent — You have to choose 1 between 3 when opening a chest

This mechanic could also be applied as a special offer where you offer 2 different items at the same price tag, but the user can only purchase one (or one for free and the other one is paid).

Complexity: 🧪🧪

4) Progression Power up after game over

Based on distance to average score ( or best score) we want to offer the opportunity to the user to continue his game by purchasing a power up.

The main idea is that we would not trigger this every time, but only when they’re close to their best score but just lost ( we can use variables to calculate distance from best score).

I’ve seen this in some runner games (e.g. Temple Run) where this concept is aligned with the main game loop.

 Credits: Candy Crush

Complexity: 🧪🧪🧪

II — Engagement strategies

 

5) Daily (Randomised) Reward System

Integrating a daily reward system will incentive the user to come back every day as they’ll get a specific reward. The first wheel is free every day, giving the user one single gift / reward.

If they don’t get the one they’re looking for, they’ll need to pay (buy) a new spin.

 First free spin (left), second paid (right) — Credits: Coin Master

Complexity: 🧪🧪🧪🧪

6) Continue

 Credits: Languinis

For some games where there is a notion of unsaved progress (e.g.: if you lose you’re losing all your current progress), you can integrate a continue option if the user dies and wants to try another time.

This works really well for a try / loose / try again type of game loops like Archero.

Complexity: 🧪🧪🧪🧪

7) Pay to unlock now

If the user needs to wait to unlock specific content, but can pay to unlock it now (fortnite)

Complexity: 🧪🧪🧪

8) “A la une” shop

This is hard to set up but gives the player a great reason to come back in the shop every day. The idea is to offer different (random) content every day.

 Brawl Stars — Offers change everyday

Brawl Stars offers to upgrade different heroes every day for a specific price / power combination (E.g: 12 coins to get 6 energy for character A vs 42 coins to get 21 energy for B).

Complexity: 🧪🧪🧪🧪

9) Double Exp

Offering an item to increase the experience or coins (currency) collected during a specific game time is a great strategy to, not only improve conversion, but also increase the player’s engagement over time.

A good example is how brawl stars leverage this by offering a x2 coins bonus based on time played (and not on a specific timeline). You get double coins for the next 1000 coins, you can play whenever you want.

Credits: Brawl Stars

This double experience can also be a social reward for playing with friends. Fortnite used this strategy when they were starting as you get a bonus XP if you invite a friend in the game.

Complexity: 🧪🧪🧪

10) Daily quests / Missions

 Credits: Chess Rush

Offering daily quests to complete for rewards is a great way to give the player a reason to come back every day. It also allows you to educate players on different mechanics or game features they may have not experienced yet.

Complexity: 🧪🧪🧪🧪

11)Daily login rewards (to claim)

 
Coin Master — Daily login reward

Offering “login” rewards can help improve retention but also allows you to “give” coins to the player.

This is a great way to incentivize them to realize a purchase (even if they don’t need to “buy” anything and can use the collected coins).

Complexity: 🧪🧪🧪🧪

12) rewarded video

I won’t get into details regarding rewarded videos, but here are some of the use cases:

  • Offer specific amount of (paid) currency
  • Double coins obtained during a session
  • Double the daily reward
  • Reduce time needed to build something
  • Get a free “Spin”

Complexity: 🧪🧪🧪

13) item only purchasable once per day

 Credits: RAID Shop

The rookie pack is only available once per day in RAID, allowing users to come back every day to purchase it again.

Complexity: 🧪🧪

14) Free item in the shop

The idea is to offer a random item every day to the player (available in the shop).

This is great because it gives a reason to the player to come back to the shop (and create some habit), it can reduce the “pay to win” feeling as anyone can get a specific item with enough time.

Many games are doing this: Raid (see previous screen), Brawl Stars, Clash Royale, etc..

Complexity: 🧪🧪

15) Battle pass

The Battle pass is a big trend in the mobile industry at the moment, many games like Clash Royale, Empire of puzzles, Raid, and others are crafting new progression-based reward journey for their player base.

We won’t get into details on battle passes as this will require another article, but you can see it as a great opportunity to increase engagement as well as monetization metrics, if you can provide great content in a timely fashion for your most engaged players.

You can usually find two main types of battle passes: level-based battle passes and reward based.

Level based let you unlock new content as you progress in the game (e.g.: Fortnite) where reward-based will offer you different items / currency as long as you log in the game to collect them (e.g.: Empire of puzzles)

Empire of puzzles offering you rewards everyday if you purchase their VIP (Battle pass)

Complexity: 🧪🧪🧪🧪

III — Conversion strategies

16) Shop Highlights

Credits: Clash Royale

Some players will be focused on your main game loop and will forget about other features instantly, including the shop.

By highlighting it, you’re providing a visual cue to the player, therefore increasing the engagement you can expect towards the shop.

Some games just add a notification badge, others will include an animation or a visual color change (e.g.:silver to gold).

As you need a reason to do so, you’ll need to keep a good shop rotation by including new items every time you want to highlight the shop, but you can also do so on the first session (and as long as the player never visited it).

In some games, the percentage of players that never visited the shop (or just once in the onboarding) can be as high as 30/40%, even after more than a week of activity.

Complexity: 🧪

17) Time boxed / quantity deals

 Credits: Clash Royale

Offering special offers, only available for a certain period allows to generate scarcity among players. It also helps keep the shop fresh with items rotation.

You can either limit the quantity per player (or in total) or add a time-box (only available for X hours) with a countdown. What matters is that you keep it visual and that people can understand it’s limited just by looking at the offer.

Complexity: 🧪🧪🧪🧪

18) Value added

 Credits: Brawl Stars

Displaying how many times you’re getting your value out of a pack allows the player to project himself and understand how much he’s saving.

Complexity: 🧪🧪

19) Crossed price

 Credits: Brawl Stars

Crossing a previous price, will emphasis on the opportunity for the user to save money as well.

Complexity: 🧪

20) % off

 Credits: Head Ball 2

Complexity: 🧪

21) Content peak

 Credits: Clash Royale

Complexity: 🧪🧪

By displaying some of the cards (or items) available in a chest, ideally aligned with the cards the player is missing (using variables), they may be more likely to buy this chest.

22) Value proposition

 Credits: RAID

Explaining why this pack is interesting to a specific player is a great way to tweak the messaging and align the value with the player’s behavior.

If they’re just starting, “progress faster” or “starter” will make them understand that it’s to speed things up.

In the late game, you want the messaging to be aligned with what the player need (competitor / leaderboard / etc..)

Complexity: 🧪

23) (Progress based) packs

     

Archero — For each finished chapter, you get a pack offer (increasing in value & price)

Players don’t need the same type of items at every stage.

Based on what level they’re in, how strong are their enemies and what they need (in terms of gear), you can craft offers that are aligned with the current player’s progress.

The idea is to deliver a growing value for each new pack, so the player feels that the shop is improving as they progress in the game.

Complexity: 🧪🧪🧪🧪

24) Shop hierarchy

By organizing the shop / hiding some content , we’ll only display what the user would be interested in based on their current progress, or have some space to display new offers.

 Credits: Archero

Complexity: 🧪🧪

25) Unlockable purchases (e.g.: based on time)

     

Credits: Empire of puzzles

Specific offers are unlocked after a defined amount of time. Purchases are limited (quantity) as well as being available for a specific time range.

This allows to create a content loop integrated in the shop, giving the player a reason to come back to the shop every day, to discover a new deal.

Complexity: 🧪🧪🧪

26) Only now

If you display a specific offer that is only available now, the player needs to decide if they want to purchase or let it go.

Text translation from Piffle offer:

  • Tag: “Last chance!”
  • “Special offer”
  • CTA: “Say bye to the puppy”

Complexity: 🧪🧪

27) price in currency / price in money

Displaying the price in euros instead of using the game currency can be a good incentive for players in purchasing a specific item / pack.

Complexity: 🧪

28) & 29) Best value / popular , (trust us) & x% extra

Giving the impression you cherry-picked an offer can reassure the player that they’re getting value for their money, especially when you’re offering a long range of offers that can end up being confusing for the player.

How much more value am I getting from this offer? Displaying this value can help players make their decision between the currency total they need and another (a bit more expensive) offer available but that gives them free material.

Complexity: 🧪

30) Offering different scale in offers

Displaying two offers at the same time give the player a choice and allows them to understand which offer can give them the best value at their current stage. It’s also a way to give them the opportunity to compare the two offers in terms of price tag / value.

Complexity: 🧪🧪

31) floating pack . / offer in home page

     Credits: Candy Crush

Leveraging the home page or other screens of the game to display offers / specific deals, allows you to increase the number of touch points with the shop.

It’s important to keep these offers aligned with the current player’s progress, and limit the number of times / frequency when it’s displayed.

Complexity: 🧪

What is 2ndPotion?

We are a mobile growth agency focused on retention & monetization strategies for games. Please send us your game! We’d be happy to try it 🙂

Cheers.⚔️🧙‍♂️

Thanks to Hicham Massamba Wa, Andy Carvell