The days when game developers could only get 99 cents for a mobile game are fast disappearing. Now they’re figuring out new ways to make money. OpenFeint and Adknowledge are launching a new platform today called OFX 2.0 which rewards players for taking certain actions like installing a game.
It isn’t a new idea, but it certainly shows that game app makers won’t be hurting for ways to monetize mobile games. It is one more way that the mobile gaming market could take off and become as lucrative as the multibillion-dollar social gaming market on social networks.
This is how it works. Developers create their games with the OpenFeint social mobile games platform. The OpenFeint software carefully tracks how far a user gets into a free-to-play game, or one where a user can start playing for free. When the gamer crosses a certain threshhold, OpenFeint offers an option for the gamer to pay in order to make further progress. The user can pay, or they can pursue a different path.
That’s where Adknowledge comes it with its offers, or alternative payment options which are really special ads. The player can receive free virtual currency — which the player would otherwise buy with real money — in exchange for doing something like signing up for Netflix or installing an app. The latter is called “pay-per-install” distribution, and it will now be offered as a standard monetization path for the game developers and publishers who use OpenFeint.
Game developers can use pay-per-install distribution to boost the sales of their own games. They can, for instance, put an ad into another game that rewards those players with virtual currency if they install the game developers’ app. The game player uses the virtual currency reward to buy goods in a game that they would otherwise have to spend real money on. OpenFeint keeps a slice of the revenue for itself. But developers wind up with a new way to make money.
Rival mobile distribution firm Tapjoy has also created what it calls a “pay-per-action” monetization platform, which goes a step further. That system uses analytics from Apsalar to figure out how far a gamer gets into a game. It then gives them rewards for being more engaged in a game. Flurry also has a variation on the same business with its AppCircle app recommendation engine, which recommends games to players and then gets a cut of the business if the user installs the game.
“Mobile is the new frontier for game developers looking to reach the next wave of gamers,” said Chris Smutny, general manager for Adknowledge. “The free-to-play phenomenon that became popular on Facebook is about to explode on mobile.”
OpenFeint has more than 4,800 developers using its software development kit and those developers have more than 66 million game players. One developer that will use the new OFX 2.0 platform is CrowdStar, a sister company of OpenFeint’s (both are funded by YouWeb). The OFX 2.0 platform will be available on March 7.