We have all come across games with in-app purchases, and I often wonder if it’s really all that effective. I don’t mind spending money on any app or game if it’s worth it, but when a developer designs a game that forces you to pay for something to succeed in the game, I have a problem with that. I would rather the developer give me a demo of the game for free with an option to purchase the full version or the remaining levels for a one time purchase. In-app purchases remind me of the 1-900 days in which they tried to lure lonely men into coughing a bunch of dollars and getting nothing in return. Why should I buy a special red ship that has more fire power? Let me earn it the old fashioned way.
According to a survey conducted by Swrve, it appears as though the majority of people aren’t falling for this trap. According to them, only 0.15 percent of mobile gamers contribute 50 percent of all of the in-app purchases. These people are referred to as “Whales”, but I have another name for them that probably wouldn’t be a good idea to say.
Harold Reynolds, Chief Executive of Swrve, said these “Whales” are in a sense financing the people who never drop any change. Basically the developers are profitable enough from the “Whales” that they continue to make games for the other “smart” souls. I am not sure I agree that there really is all that many people who play these games for any extended period of time and don’t pay. These type of games are so frustrating, that to me, it’s likely those that won’t spend the money stop playing them. As I mentioned previously, most of these games are impossible to succeed in unless you make in-app purchases, so if you aren’t going to pay, why play?
Swrve offered up a bunch of other stats such as 49 percent of those that make an in-app purchase will make only one purchase in a month. On the other hand, 13 percent will make five or more purchases. Most of the spending activity is within the first 24 hours of playing the game for the first time. If a player is going to make a second purchase, it is likely to be done within 1 hour and 40 minutes of the first purchase. It all comes down to the addiction, which is similar to the 1-900 scenario. The average value of an in-app purchase is $5.94, but the majority of people are spending between $1 and $5. One more interesting stat is that items that cost $50 or more account for only 0.7 percent of all purchases, but contribute to 9 percent of the total revenue.
So it doesn’t appear that in-app purchases will go away anytime soon and developers will continue to try to target the “Whales” in their marketing efforts. If they can attract more “Whales,” it will only mean more money in their pockets. It also means more crappy games for everyone else.
Now again, I don’t want anyone to get me wrong. I am for spending money with developers. I do so on a regular basis. Many times before I even try the app, but I don’t care for creating games that basically require people to over spend for something. Make a game that is playable and charge a fair price. Of course, developers will argue that most people won’t buy the game. So instead, they create a game with the free-to-play strategy only to tick off the ones that won’t fall for the gimmick. Let’s put it this way……if you make a decent game, people might actually buy it. What do you guys think about in-app purchases? Do you despise them as much as me?