Yaniv Nizan

Yaniv Nizan is the CEO and Co-Founder of SOOMLA - Monetization Measurement Platform.

Making Money in Freemium

Planning on making a free mobile game? You are not alone. There are many developers who have switched from making paid apps to making free ones.

To help you generate revenue from your free to play game, I have put together a list of 42 tips and tricks to help monetize your mobile games and increase revenues. Hope you find it useful.

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Advertising

#1 Banner ads

These usually cover part of the screen and can turn $2-$3 CPM. Not a huge revenue generator and somewhat annoying for users, but they are very easy to implement.

Banner Ads in Angry Birds

#2 Interstitials between levels

These full-size ads turn higher CPMs that can reach $10. If placed correctly, they can be less annoying to the users compared to banners.

#3 More games button

An easy way to get money from bigger gaming vendors. The user clicks on the button and gets a list of related games he might be interested in.

#4 Game Exit

Once the user finishes playing, you can present him one last full size ad.

#5 Icon drop

This option is available only on Android. The idea is simple, your game is authorised to send push messages to the user and these can be used to promote other games. Airpush is one company who specialises in that.

#6 Selling data

Advertisers are on the lookout for consumer insights. In-game behavioural information can be used to predict user behaviour in the real world.

#7 Incentivized downloads / Offerwalls

Simple transaction where the user gets in-game coins in return for downloading and trying other apps. When this happens, you get paid by the developers of these apps. Here are a few providers of offer walls.

Tapjoy - Offer Walls
Tapjoy – helps you give rewards and enhance your app experience

#8 A Second Offerwall

Since offerwalls are actually offering value to the user (he gets coins) there is no risk of annoying them. Having two offerwalls will generate more revenue than having only one.

#9 Coupons offers

The idea here is to reward a user in-game by offering him a discount on something he might want. What could be more fun then getting a 10% pizza discount after beating that really hard level? Kiip is one company who will pay you to add this to your game.

#10 Videos

The user watches a video ad, he gets in-game coins, you get real cash. Simple and preferred by most users. Adcolony is one company that can help you get there.

#11 Search

This is an easy way to get an average of $12 per 1,000 downloads. The user will get a search app installed along with your game. Startapp is offering this. Android only.

#12 Branded virtual goods

For games that have virtual goods in them, you could offer a branded version of them and get paid by advertisers.


Selling Content (DLC)

#13 Premium version

If you just moved away from making paid games, this could be an easy option. You release a light version of your game and allow users to upgrade to the full version via an In-App Purchase.

Mario Run - Unlock Worlds
Mario Run – one of the most famous (and contentious) premium unlocks

#14 Level packs

This is an advanced version of the former item on the list. Break the game into a few packs of levels and sell each one independently.

#15 Worlds (visual customisations)

With this option you create and sell a customised version of the original game by modifying the look and feel of the game.

#16 Wallpapers

Some users will like your game so much, they will buy a wallpaper for their phone.

#17 Ringtones

If you composed an original music for your game you could sell it in your store.


Limitation Removal

#18 Remove ads

A popular item for many games. Once you have a version with ads in it you can sell a version without ads. Usually goes for $0.99.

#19 More Energy/Life/Turns

Energy mechanics means that your game is limiting continuos game play. Usually the limit will be at around 5-10 short sessions. Anyone that wants to go over the limit and continue playing needs to pay.

Buy Lives Mobile Game
The bane of every Candy Crush player

#20 More Time

Games that requires the user to finish the level in a certain time can sell more time to complete the level.


Virtual Economy

In-game economies are driving more than 50% of the revenue in mobile games, so they deserve a big chunk of the list. I tried to break it down to components that you can mix and match rather than closed models.

#21 Characters / Avatars

If your game has a character that users can identify with, it makes sense to introduce more options in this category. It works better if the characters have unique attributes – e.g. one is stronger while the other one is faster.

Megalodon - Hungry Shark Evolution
Megalodon is the biggest shark in Hungry Shark Evolution. It ‘only’ costs 900 gems, or 50000 coins.

#22 Training / Tuning

If your game has characters, you can allow users to buy training. If your game is about cars you can sell tuning.

#23 Advantage giving items

Weapons or gear that give the user more abilities can be sold for real money transactions. Be careful with this one. It might bite back. Here is how to prevent pay to win.

#24 Upgrades for virtual items

Games that has items the user can own will benefit from allowing the user to upgrade these items.

#25 Customisations

About 20%-25% of the users are interested in customising the look and feel of their character, car, weapons, …

#26 Resources

Resources are items that can be accumulated and consumed by the user. They are usually the life blood of a game as they get users engaged in the shopping experience. They can also serve as a balancing mechanism.

#27 Manufacturing items

These are usually buildings that allow the user to obtain resources automatically over time or convert one resource to the other over time.

#28 Double coins

Adding a double coins ‘cheat’ to your game for $0.99 can help you squeeze a bit more revenue. Some games allow the user to double more than one time.

Coin Doubler Mobile Game
$4.99 to double Temple Run coins – it’s an investment, right?

#29 Save me

“If you must cheat, cheat death”. Games that requires the user to start from square zero every time like endless runner would normally be a good candidate for this.

#30 Discoverable items

While most items users buy are owned by them, discoverable items require the user to also find them in the game.

#31 Surprise boxes

Users buy an item but don’t know whey they will get until they purchased. These are big in the Far East.

#32 Limited editions

Once you have a good set of items users like you can sell a limited series of one of the items. This gives the buyer an opportunity to feel special. You could also combine it with an auction.

#33 Seasonal items

Use the holiday spirit to boost sales. This trick is especially easy to implement if you use a SOOMLA store.


Billing

While Google and Apple provide the main billing services, they don’t have full coverage in international markets. Most people in Brazil, for example, don’t have a credit card, so making in-app purchases becomes very hard for them.

#34 Carrier billing

This option is available only in Android. The purchase is added to the bill users get from their carrier. Fortumo is one company that will help you get there quickly.

#35 Vouchers

Codes that can be purchased offline or online and redeemed in the game for coins. Supported by both Apple and Google.

#36 Wallet Payments

Think PayPal. Users might have a balance they are looking to get rid of. This option is available only for Android. If you are interested in this option, you might want to partner with an aggregator like PaymentWall.


Merchandising

#37 T-shirts

Your fans want to show how much they love your game? You can sell t-shirts in your game.

#38 Lunch boxes

Popular Merchandising option with kids games.

#39 Branded cases

What could be a better match for a game then a shield for the user smartphone.

Rovio Merchandising - Angry Birds
From keychains and plushies to action figure sets, speakers and costumes. We all want to be in Rovio’s shoes.

Social

#40 Duels

Even a game that is completely free can turn into a cash machine when you let users compete for prizes against each other. Nextpeer can help you get there quickly.

#41 Tournaments

An extension of Duels with more participants. Requires a bigger user base or some marketing efforts. Works best when the game simulates a real world game that has real world tournaments.

#42 Gifting

Give users the option to give coins or virtual goods to other users. Spending $0.99 on a gift might make more sense to some users compared to spending it just to get ahead in the game.


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Wrapping Up…

Think we missed one? It’s entirely possible. Please reach out to GameAnalytics on Twitter to share any suggestions of your own. If you have a specific experience (good or bad) with one of the options in the list feel free to share as well.

P.S. I received a comment (via email) about a 43rd method: Caller ID advertising. This is an Android only option that basically puts an ad when you make or receive a call from an unrecognized number. It’s a nice way to get paid with no impact on your app experience.

? Further Reading: 10 Essential Mobile Game Monetization Tips

Yaniv Nizan

Yaniv Nizan is the CEO and Co-Founder of SOOMLA - Monetization Measurement Platform.

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