Survey says: Mobile gamers prefer free games that are full of fertilizer

Survey says: Mobile gamers prefer free games that are full of fertilizer

Summary: The top money making games for Android and iOS are free. What? Here's a hint: it's not ads.

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TOPICS: Mobility
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Charging for apps is so last year. As of this writing, all of the top 5 top grossing titles in the Apple App Store are free games, and 22 of the top grossing 25 are games. On the Android Market, 4 of the top 5 grossing titles are free games, and 17 of the top grossing 25 are games. Most game revenue is now generated by free games, and this number is only expected to rise. How did this happen?

The new model is free games plus premium content equals "freemium". Apparently the key to making money is in-app purchases of, well, stuff (my editor won't let me use the first word that came to mind) that is quickly used up. At least that's the conclusion of a recent Flurry study that analyzed the data from 57 million in-app purchases from 2 million daily active users over the last year:

Here's what the terms mean:

As in the world of retail goods, the two main categories available for purchase in freemium games are durable and consumable goods. In freemium games, we define durable goods as items that provide a permanent gameplay benefit. Examples include buying armor to increase defense in a role-playing game, or buying a building in a city simulation to increase city revenue. By contrast, a consumable item is something that is depleted when used. Examples include a set of grenades in a war game, or fertilizer that helps crops grow faster in a farming simulation. Finally, we define personalization items as those that are durable but do not add any gameplay benefit (i.e., purely decorative).

Personally I stay away from games that require constant purchases. I don't mind the occasional durable item (can you say MIGHTY EAGLE!!), but all the nickel and diming really adds up. I ask my kids not to play them either. After all, my phone bills are high enough without having to worry about Smurfberries. Thankfully for the bottom line of game developers, it appears that I'm in the minority.

Barn image courtesy of Farm Story by TeamLava, LLC.

Topic: Mobility

Ed Burnette

About Ed Burnette

Ed Burnette is a software industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience as a programmer, author, and speaker. He has written numerous technical articles and books, most recently "Hello, Android: Introducing Google's Mobile Development Platform" from the Pragmatic Programmers.

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3 comments
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  • RE: Survey says: Mobile gamers prefer free games that are full of fertilizer

    "Personally I stay away from games that require constant purchases."

    Same here. It can certainly add up.

    I imagine it could potentially get as bad as gambling, if one is not careful.

    "(can you say MIGHTY EAGLE!!)"

    Huh?

    Oh, is that from Angry Birds or something?

    Tried it twice, just couldn't get into that game. I don't see why it's any more fun than anything else.
    CobraA1
  • Message has been deleted.

    cambalkon
  • RE: Survey says: Mobile gamers prefer free games that are full of fertilizer

    to make money... sell consumabls... that cost nothing... and use what the customers already own (eg time)<br><br>Result: online premiums ... and .... advertising <img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/happy.gif" alt="happy">
    mist42nz