Yaniv Nizan

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

One of the critical factors in successful games is that players spend a big chunk of their time inside the store. In this post we will present a few strategies for getting them to the store and keeping them there.

The key elements of an irresistible store are:

  • Integration in the regular user flow
  • Having day to day items
  • The shopping experience needs to be interesting
  • Having limits on continuous game play

By combining a few of these elements you can improve the amount of time a user spends in the store and increase the revenue. Let’s drill down into each one of them:

Shopifying The User Flow

There are a few ways to make the users flow into the store more naturally as part of the game regular sequence. In any game that have levels, it’s possible to design a flow that brings the user to the store at the beginning or the end of every level.

Another type of game that allows adding a store to the user flow easily enough is the ‘survival mode’ games also known as the ‘endless runners’. In those games you can introduce a store every time the user ends a running session. These types cover a large portion of the games out there, but even if your game doesn’t fit into these categories, you can tie the store appearance to any event that happens regularly enough (such as an achievement).

Another technique that helps getting users to the store more frequently is using the store to select an active virtual good among a few purchased goods. This is also known as “equipping”, where an user can equip their character with only one virtual good. Making the store the interface for equipping adds another scenario where the user enters the store.

Although everyone hated EA for it, the in-game store was cleverly integrated into Dead Space 3
Although everyone hated EA for it, the in-game store was cleverly integrated into Dead Space 3

Daily ‘No Brainer’ Goods

The trick here is to design a simple consumption loop that repeats itself in short intervals of 1-3 levels or sessions. Ok, but what does this mean? Here is an example of such a loop: the user enters a level, in the level they collect just enough coins to buy a single-use virtual good that is a no brainer. Then they enter the level again with the goods and now they collect enough coins to buy the same good again but also save a few coins. You can clearly see how this loop will get the user to spend their coins in the store on a daily basis and get used to shopping in your game.

The purchase loop, detailed
The purchase loop, detailed

Let’s dig in a bit further about what makes a virtual good a ‘no brainer’ item:

  • It completes the game story (horse for a cowboy, surf board for subway surfer, …)
  • The user can collect enough coins to reach the item’s cost in a few minutes of game play
  • The item enhances the game play experience
  • It’s easier to collect coins with the item

Making Interesting Stores

Another key in getting the user to spend time in your In-App Purchase store is making them interesting. There are three parts to that: variety, mystery and freshness.

The best example for variety is probably CSR Racing which has a catalog of over 2 million items to buy.

Award for most varied store ever goes to...
Award for most varied store ever goes to…

Mystery can be achieved by using silhouettes until an item is available for purchase. This way the user knows that there are more interesting items down the line but they have to check back to discover what they are.Another way to have a mysterious element in your store is adding a surprise box in it.

Irresistible
Irresistible

Finally, keeping your store fresh is a combination of unlocking items, adding new items and featuring seasonal or limited items.

Limiting Continuous Gameplay

This last trick is a bit more dangerous, as it can be perceived as unfair by users. So you have to apply it with caution and measure the users’ reaction to different variations of it.

The idea is to have resources in the game that are consumed quickly in regular gameplay and can only be replenished as time goes by or with a real money purchase. This can be fuel, energy points or actual time in resource management or strategy games. The user then has a choice to quit the game and do something else while his resources are replenished or they can stay in the game and glare at the screen.

A trick that all freemium games have under their sleeve.
A trick that all freemium games have under their sleeve.

If you have implemented the rest of the given tips, the store should be a fun and interesting experience and the user is likely to go on a shopping spree to kill some time.

As mentioned before, implementing the last tip can be conceived negatively by the user, make sure that this is balanced correctly. A few ways to do that were discussed in the Game Economies blog post.

Yaniv Nizan

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

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