Maximizing Monetization: What Motivates Freemium Players?

Aficionados of our blog will remember our previous in-depth coverage of the best monetization strategies for freemium games and where to find the whales (the big spenders). Now, let’s take a look at what incentivizes players to spend money on freemium games.

Players come to your game for entertainment and amusement, so it’s a no-brainer that when making in-app purchases, they’re looking to enhance their game experience. A June 2016 study conducted by the Centre for Gambling Education and Research, at Southern Cross University of Lismore, Australia reported the most common reasons for making purchases within Social Casino Games:

21.8% - to increase the level of enjoyment

20.7% -  to take advantage of a special offer

19.5% - to get ahead in the game

18.4% - impulse decision to continue play

17.6% - because the game isn’t fun otherwise

16.9% - to purchase gifts for friends

16.5% - to avoid waiting for or earning credits

7.3% - Decorating or personalizing the game

Casual vs. Hardcore Players

Interestingly, different types of players are driven by various motivations to make in-app purchases in games:

The not so skilled, Casual players, who are often new to the game, are most likely to make small in-app purchases for immediate satisfaction. They play shorter sessions, come back to the game more frequently, are more content when able to progress in the game and speed up leveling and access to new features in order to avoid spending too much time “grinding” through the game.

On the other hand, skilled, Hardcore players are mostly driven by the desire to compete and win over other players, as well as to enjoy the social interaction of the game (sharing the experience on social media, etc.), and they tend to spend more than casual players. As one big spender, “Big Jim,” who spent over $30,000 on one game (We Heroes), simply put it in an interview, when asked whether he considered himself a hardcore player: “Any game I like, I play to win.”

Social Media and Spenders

Polling agency CivicScience interviewed over 5,700 adults in the US about how much they spend on average each month on in-app purchases in mobile games. One of the findings was that the most active social media users are also more likely to be mobile game spenders. Consequently, a key marketing strategy for many of these games is to incentivize players with in-game credits, or other rewards to share their results on social media and to invite their friends on social media to play too.

Aside from the presence on Facebook as shown in the chart above, the poll also found:

  • Mobile in-game spenders are 63% more likely than average to be daily YouTube visitors. Non-spenders also by and large visit YouTube, but less regularly overall.
  • The spenders are 90% more likely to visit Pinterest on a daily basis.
  • They are 81% more likely to use Twitter daily and 66% more likely to use it weekly.

The Freemium Mobile Game Demographic

According to CivicScience, the largest group of spenders is aged 35-54. Following right behind is the 25-34 demographic. Players who do not spend money on in-app purchases are 58% more likely to fall within the ages 18-25. The 55+ demographic are 39% more likely not to be playing mobile games at all.  For the two main groups of spenders, who are more likely to be employed and parents, the understandable main motivation to make in-app purchases on mobile games is to save time while still being able to progress in the game; these players are busy!

In closing, a 2016 study conducted by the University of Oulu (Finland), found that the vast majority of spenders are satisfied with the value of their purchases. They feel that the game was worth the money they spent on it, regardless of the different types of players and their motivation to make purchases in the game. Whichever demographic your target audience belongs to, keep them engaged by offering valuable upgrades, premium features, and add-ons! If you have questions about optimizing in-app purchases in your mobile game, please get in touch!