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Game Monetization: A Little Goes a Long Way

Jackie Micucci
Tuesday, Sep 13, 2011 at 10:00 AM

I admit I’ve participated in social gaming. I’ve dabbled in Farmville, Mafia Wars and We City, among others, on both social sites and my smartphone. I’ve gotten sucked into the battles and have created various virtual worlds. But I never crossed the line to make an in-game purchase so I could expand my city or add money to my Farm Cash account to get to the next level more quickly; however, I do admit to being tempted. That said, many people are more than tempted, which is why micropayments, small payments for in-app/game purchases, are experiencing big growth.


micropayments image

Here are some eye-opening statistics:


  • Mobile gaming revenue will grow to $11 billion in 2015 on the strength of in-game micro-payments.
  • In-game purchases will overtake the traditional pay-per-download model as the primary source of monetizing mobile games by 2013.  

  • Overall, mobile payments—which, along with games, include such items as music, ringtones, publications and event tickets—are on the rise:


  • Worldwide mobile payment volume will reach $240 billion this year, according to Juniper Research. (This forecast included both remote mobile payments and payments made with a mobile phone at the point-of-sale).
  •  By 2015, Juniper predicted, worldwide mobile spending on remote and POS payments would rise to $670 billion, nearly triple this year’s figure.

  • It should be noted that while researchers do not agree on the market size, they do agree the market is growing greatly. So there is certainly the potential for macro money to be made from micropayments.


    Social Gaming Gets Serious


    The free games people play on social sites were at one time shunned by serious developers. But as more players opt to pay for new weapons, higher levels and other virtual goodies, developers and companies are taking notice. Europe’s largest social game developer, Wooga, has seen the number of people who play its free games on Facebook rise from more than 3 million active users in January 2010 to over 32 million in June 2011. That means more potential users who are hooked and willing to shell out micropayments to gain a competitive edge.


    Monetizing Games With Microsoft Tag


    Tag can definitely improve the gaming experience and is certainly an easy way to help monetize games. Tag could be used to unlock special levels in a game after scanning a Tag and then making a micropayment. Brands could also track how many times a person is playing via their scans and device ID (more about that on Thursday) and offer either more opportunities to purchase game elements or discounts on those elements. "The more you play, the more you save" as it were.


    Have you ever made a micropayment while playing a game? Let us know us know with your comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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