Best Strategies to Monetize a Mobile Game: a 2022 Guide
So you want to make a mobile game, but you also want to pay your bills. Makes sense. Monetization can be a crucial part of a mobile game's design, mostly so that you can keep your development studio afloat while simultaneously not aggravating your players. Let's talk about the best ways to monetize your mobile game in 2022!
How to Monetize a Mobile Game
There are a few ways that we typically see games monetized:
- In-game purchases
As you'll see, having a fun game pays off. At the core of all good monetization strategies are good games. The longer someone spends on your game, the more often they play it, the more opportunities there are to show ads, deals, and in-game purchases. But, none of that exists without first having a fun experience.
At the core of all good monetization strategies are good games.
While I have a whole article breaking down the different types of advertising in mobile games, here's the general gist:
It's no surprise that in 2022 in-game advertisements will continue to be a huge part of mobile game monetization strategy. Advertisements are getting more sophisticated, more targeted, and more interactable with playable ads.
However, there is a definite tradeoff between mobile ads and experience. How much will users accept before calling it quits, and what types of ads are really worth showing?
How Much Money do Mobile Advertisements Make?
According to IronSource.com:
For rewarded video ads, the average revenue per impression in the US is $0.02. The average revenue per completion is $0.16 for interstitials and $2.50 for offerwall.
You'll see rumblings online that you make on average about $0.01 - $0.02 per player. Without being able to find a source for that information, I can at least back up with my own mobile game statistics.
How Much Advertisement Money did I make from my 1st Mobile Game?
For my first release, Color Crush, I made about $0.01 per player. It should be noted that I only used interstitial ads (with Unity Ads), and advertisements were only shown once a player lost.
You read that right folks, $3.70. The hardest $3.70 I've ever earned. However, just because my ad revenue isn't going to pay the bills, because I have nearly 300 device acquisitions, that does make this data statistically significant.
Read it and weep, Mom.
In-game purchases are in-game items that are bought with real-life money.
Candy Crush is a prime example here since they made $1.33 billion USD from in-game purchases in 2014. You read that right. In-game purchases can be outfits, boosters, extra lives, extra moves, special add-ons, you name it.
In-game purchases work for a few reasons:
Reason #1: You can't beat the next level without assistance. You want to keep playing a game, but you need something to achieve the next level. Think extra lives and boosters. This territory breaches very closely into the "dark pattern" arena.
Reason #2: You love and view a game as an extension of yourself. Why not get that cool armor and gear?
Reason #3: Competition. It feels good to have that new skin, that cool banner, or that unique armor when you're playing against other people online or showing off your game via social media.
In-game purchases only really work if you have a fun, lovable game. If your game isn't up to snuff, users may sit through some ads to get away from their taxing day jobs but they won't be willing to cough up a dime.
This is less common for mobile games, although it does exist and I'm sure will become more commonplace as time goes on. Subscriptions are something that a player pays monthly for to get an advantage of some kind. Whether that be an actual advantage to win the game, something cosmetic, or something that makes your players' gameplay a little easier, that's where subscriptions come into play.
Think battle passes and premium subscriptions that give your players an edge.
- Call of Duty Mobile
- Fallout 76
Some games and apps will give you the option to buy an ad-free version (like Wordscapes), or upgrade to a Premium account. This is typically seen as a way to get rid of ads or to reduce the amount a player has to "grind."
Closing Thoughts on Mobile Game Monetization
It's best to have a well-rounded approach when it comes to monetizing your games. Monetization should not be a quick add-on at the end but built into the scope and strategy of your game. While I would love to say that displaying ads is enough, it's only significant if you have thousands of users. However, specific types of ads combined with in-game purchases and other ways for your players to upgrade can make a fruitful, well-blended strategy.