Players are more likely to buy "disposable" items

Flurry Analytics analyzed 57 million purchases of items in freemium games on iOS and Android platforms. During the first half of 2011, freemium games (also known as free-to-play – you can download them for free, but for a faster passage of the game you need to purchase various items and artifacts) became leaders in revenue among the top 100 apps in the App Store. They account for 65% of transactions, while paid applications have faded into the background.

So what do users of free-to-play mobile games spend their money on?

Flurry Analytics analyzed 57 million purchases of items in freemium games on iOS and Android platforms.

All transactions can be divided into three categories:

• purchase of “eternal” items (for example, buying weapons to increase the level of protection and strength, or buying a building to increase the profitability of the entire city being built in the game);

• purchase of “disposable” items, i.e. items that can only be used once (for example, shells or fertilizers);

• personalization (elements that do not affect the gameplay, but allow you to create a unique look of the player)

It is logical to assume that players are willing to buy only what really affects the development and complexity of the game. The study confirmed this: the elements for creating a unique look of the player were only 2%.

But 68% are items that the player can use only once. The most popular purchase in this category is the internal “premium” currency of the game. It allows you to purchase items that cannot be purchased with the basic in-game currency, and move faster in the game.

“Perpetual” items and artifacts accounted for 30% of all transactions. From the very beginning of work on the game, it is important to think through a variety of items in this category so that the user has something to choose from. The acquisition of such items allows the player to feel the progress and satisfaction of the game. Moreover, by offering more “advanced” items, you allow the player to pass levels and achieve goals and even change the gameplay strategy … in order to make more expensive purchases in the future.

Of course, it’s worth noting that the ratio of “eternal” and “disposable” items in the game varies depending on how much they affect the main plot of the game. For example, in a game in which a city is being built, progress depends on the number of buildings built (that is, on “indefinite” items). But the farmer, whose development is influenced by the volume of the harvest and the accumulated base currency, will have to buy seeds and fertilizers more.

Considering that the total revenue in the United States from iOS and Android apps in 2011 will be $1 billion, game developers need to understand well what users spend most of their money on. Today, only freemium games are in the top 5 apps in the App Store, and there were 22 of them among the top 25.

As a free-to-play business model, it will only gain momentum.  Therefore, it is important to understand the psychology of the people who use it. In such applications, players experience a powerful charge of positive emotions. They get pleasure and satisfaction by progressing in the game, achieving goals, developing their unique world, and sometimes even bragging to friends. In return, they are willing to pay their hard-earned money, and often a lot.

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