Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Which In-App Things are Players Buying?

Flurry recently posted on their blog about the shift of revenue from paid apps to freemium (free with in-app purchases.) They noted that 65% of all revenue generated among the top 100 games now come from freemimum games.

They then posted that freemium players spend an average of $14 per transaction for in-app purchases.

Their latest post is about what players are actually spending money on based on a year’s worth of data of 57 million purchase transactions across a set of fermium iOS and Android games that averaged over 2 million daily active users.
Their data broke down as follows:
Personalization: 2% - lasting item that has no gameplay benefit and is purely decorative.

Durable: 30% - lasting gameplay benefit such as a piece of armor that your character wears.

Consumable: 68% - non-last benefit such as a health potion that is gone after you use it.

I have a small problem with how they broke this down. I want to see in-game currency and time separated out.

They state in the post that they included in-game currency as a consumable item. A lot of games only sell in-game currency. Players use that in-game currency to buy everything - personal items, durable items, and consumables. How much would that data change if we could see how much of that consumable percent was in-game currency and/or the data adjusted to show durable items and personalization bought with in-game currency?

Second, I also assume they have lumped time in as a consumable. For example in some games you can spend money to speed up tasks. A lot of times this is a a different in-game currency, such as energy, which you can buy separately from your main in-game currency.

Tiny Tower ONLY sells their in-game currency, Tower Bux. You use Tower Bux to move the floors in your tower, speed up the construction of new floors, buy new elevators, paint your floors, speed up sales of items in your stores and move a new tenant into an apartment. You can also convert Tower Bux into coins which you use to buy new floors, stock your items, and customize your tenants. According to the Flurry data, all that is getting counted as the player buying a consumable even though the player is using that consumable to buy durable goods, personalization, time and another currency which he can then use to buy other durable goods, consumable goods and personalization.

Another problem people have pointed out is that durable and personalization items can only be purchased once. Once you have bought a durable item, you have it and probably don't need a second one. Also if you game isn’t social/multiplayer, your players are probably less interested in spending money on personalization, because nobody else is going to see it. I remember reading an article about Farmville during the height of its popularity (which I am not going to spend hours trying to find.) It talked about how the main motivation of players was the perception of what other people might think of their farm when they visited. What percent of player purchases are for personalization in a game where you can show that sort of thing off, as opposed to a non-social game?

In the end I am NOT saying that consumable items that the player will want to keep buying isn’t the big money maker. I am just saying that it isn’t as cut and dry as the chart suggests. I really wish I could see their data based on game type.

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