The nature of mobile games continues to evolve each year, and Facebook’s recent rebranding to Meta is likely to have a significant impact on the future of these games. Facebook played a major role in helping mobile games gain popularity in the first place, and visions for what a new emphasis on 3D and virtual reality games in the Metaverse may look like has the potential to rapidly cause older methods of earning money from these apps to fade in favor of newer monetization trends that integrate more smoothly with the functionality of newer games.
The Fading Trends
The rise of the Metaverse and the impact it is predicted to have on the world of mobile gaming is likely to push many of today’s most popular mobile game monetization trends out of style as newer and more innovative alternatives that work better with new mobile games that were created with the modern setup of Meta in mind. Although many of the trends that are expected to become obsolete in the coming years were among the most popular and profitable options as recently as planning for 2021, the introduction of Meta and its potential to transform basic mobile games into a general preference for 3D and virtual reality games is likely to mean that they will not work as well within the context of new releases and may eventually fade out entirely.
Paid games must be purchased in order to download them from Google Play or the App Store. Although paid games and other apps are downloaded much less frequently than free apps are, they are more upfront than freemium games that require players to pay later on and frequently do not include ads or other forms of monetization. At this time, only around 3 percent of Apple apps and 7 percent of Apple apps are currently paid, but this percentage has the potential to change in the future as the quality of mobile games improves.
Few people are willing to pay upfront for a mobile game that they do not know enough about to feel confident that it will be worth the money and most mobile games that are currently available are much more basic and less likely to be worth paying for than traditional video games in other formats. However, Meta’s planned shift toward introducing much more complex games has the potential to eventually make paid games more common than they currently are, which may naturally lead to a decline in free and freemium games.
The freemium strategy provides free access to a limited version of a game that encourages players to purchase the full-paid version. This type of monetization builds players’ interest by introducing them to the majority of what the game has to offer and letting them play it enough for free to make them realize they like it and want to continue playing it, but they will eventually need to pay to continue playing. This strategy is most frequently used by offering a limited number of free levels when players download a game, often without informing players when they first download the “free” app that they will not be able to play very much for free and telling them that they need to purchase access to the premium version to continue playing the game once they reach the end of the free levels.
Although many types of paid digital and other subscription services are becoming more popular over time, paid gaming subscriptions are generally not one of them. TV and music streaming subscriptions, ebook subscriptions, grocery delivery subscriptions, and even meal delivery subscriptions are quickly gaining popularity as they enhance their consumers’ lives, but many are not sticking with the paid gaming subscription model. Instead, many mobile game players prefer to play free games or make one-time purchases if they are willing to pay for a particularly high-quality game. The idea of having to continue to subscribe to a service in order to keep access to what is generally the same game over time is beginning to die out because this model does not appeal to many players.
Although in-app purchases are unlikely to die out completely, they are becoming less popular than they used to be because most people do not buy them. Many older games included some type of power-ups or other bonus features that could only acquire with real money instead of by using in-game currency, leveling up, or by other means within the course of gameplay. However, these features have been largely unsuccessful because the majority of players only use the free features of the game, which make up the majority of most games that are free to download, and have decided not to spend money for features that add little to the experience of playing the game.
These options bring in some additional money from the very small percentage of players that love a particular game and are willing to spend money to do as well as possible, especially when the bonus features allow them to progress through levels significantly faster than they would if they only played the free version, but they are generally a far less successful form of mobile game monetization than the ads that all players see. Approximately 5 percent of all mobile game players make in-app purchases, while the other 95 percent prefer to only utilize the app’s free options. For this reason, many in-app purchases are not as profitable as their app designers expected them to be, and app designers have begun to rely less on this form of mobile game monetization than they initially intended to.
Although in-app advertising has been one of the most successful sources of revenue for many developers of basic games since their inception, the distracting nature of these ads is not a good fit for the immersive direction that mobile games are heading in. With this form of mobile game monetization, app developers allow brands to place ads in their apps in exchange for payment. This payment is generally based on the number of times an ad is clicked on, rather than the number of views it gets, which means that ads are sometimes strategically placed in an effort to get users to accidentally click on them.
Hybrid monetization allows app developers to make money from a combination of in-app advertisements and in-app purchases. Although this has frequently been the most successful option in the past, it is also likely to become somewhat less popular as the evolution of Meta transforms the future of mobile gaming. Most in-app purchases and in-app ads that are placed randomly instead of strategically are less able to fit the needs of modern mobile gamers, which means that the concept of hybrid monetization as it is today will likely shift to a more modern version of hybrid monetization as the landscape of mobile games evolves.
Interstitial ads are the popup ads that appear prior to accessing the content you expected. This type of advertisement is frequently found when entering websites, as well as between levels in certain mobile games and other apps. Although these ads are successful in forcing users to view them and often wait several seconds to allow users to close the ads, they are one of the most disliked forms of monetization among many players of mobile games. This type of ad frequently takes up the majority of the screen, which makes it frustrating for mobile game players that would rather stay focused on the game and may simply close the app once an ad pops up and forces them to think about something else.
Because overuse of this type of ad can discourage players from using the game as much as they might if fewer ads were used, this option has begun to lose its popularity among many app developers. Although they may continue to be used to some extent, they are unlikely to regain the frequency with which they were used when they were first introduced.
Audio ads are generally a more successful form of monetization for podcasts than they are for mobile games and other apps. The audio aspect of video apps tends to be problematic for users when an ad’s sound unexpectedly comes on in public, especially when ads are frequently much louder than the game itself. Although these ads are likely to continue to be used as the primary form of monetization among podcast creators, they are a less ideal option for mobile games.
Rising Monetization Trends That May Replace Older Alternatives
The nature of the changes that are likely to come to mobile games in the coming years means that older trends are likely to become less profitable and less common over time, but there are also several up-and-coming monetization trends that have the potential to replace them. These newer options for monetizing mobile games are likely to make more sense within the context of a trend toward virtual reality and 3D games that are likely to become more common than basic 2D mobile games as Meta develops into something bigger than Facebook and changes the standards of the mobile games it played an important role in creating.
Immersive ads that are integrated directly into the experience of playing a 3D game have the potential to replace traditional ads that are frequently found at the top or bottom of the screen while playing a game. This strategy involves placing ads within the game itself in places that make sense within the real-world context of the game, such as on a TV screen, billboard, or marquee graphic. This option makes the ads less intrusive and more relevant to players because they can be viewed in a way that is easier to absorb and does not directly interrupt gameplay.
App developers have looked to integrating offerwalls into their game experiences for their users to find an alternative method to continue playing without having to pay real money for more “lives”, “gems” or other in-app currencies. Offerwalls are not intrusive towards the experience of playing a mobile game, and are usually a positive addition as users would prefer to watch a rewarded video ad or download an advertised app for the sake of more in-game riches. Thus the game developers monetize smartly and don’t risk losing their user-base as mentioned with outdated advertising formats.
Diversified Revenue Sources
As app developers experiment with new forms of mobile game monetization, they do so with the understanding that not every new idea will be successful. For this reason, diversifying revenue sources is likely to be an important trend when it comes to making sure that app developers are able to bring in a profitable amount of income. This trend will give developers more flexibility to test multiple new ideas to see what new monetization options that may not have even been released yet work best with a lower overall risk to the business.
At App Samurai Inc., we prioritize helping app developers find the most profitable options for monetizing their apps as well as user acquisition. Sign up for our dashboard today to speak with a customer service representative about what older monetization techniques may no longer be a good fit for your mobile game and what newer options may be the most profitable replacements!