This sponsored post is produced by deltaDNA.
How can I change my game so that it makes more money?
That’s the million-dollar question in the free-to-play game industry, and one that I’ve been asked nearly as often. And while no single formula for success exists, games that monetize best are where the publisher or developer has adopted a player-centric approach focused on engagement.
Bottom line: If a player isn’t engaged, they won’t spend.
At the core of every commercially successful game, you must have an outstanding creative idea, with great game design and expert development. If you’ve got those things in place, you’re 90 percent there. The final 10 percent is about how well you have balanced the in-game economy, how you’ve structured rewards and at what point the monetization triggers kick in. Get any of these things wrong and your game won’t reach its full potential.
Good monetization in F2P games is not about forcing your players to spend — quite the opposite. It’s about giving them the opportunity to add value to their playing experience. Harsh monetization is still commonplace in F2P game design as the industry learns on its feet, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
DeltaDNA has studied the games design and monetization mechanics of over 100 F2P games to understand the top 10 reasons why players do not spend in-game.
1. Trying to monetize too early
With retention rates typically low in F2P, the classic mistake that publishers and developers make is hitting players up for cash before they’ve had a chance to become engaged.
If fact, 62 percent of the games we analyzed had this problem.
Putting players in a situation where their only option is to pay money will only have one outcome. You need to design games so that players can reach the end without spending a single dollar; this will foster better engagement and ultimately increase spending in the long term.
2. No gambling or ‘magic box’ mechanics
The random chance to win is an easy way for players to potentially get a very expensive item for free or for a much smaller amount of in-game currency. Players who don’t want to spend will be happy with the free chance. For those that do spend, this will encourage them to return or purchase additional magic boxes in order to win the rare items.
It’s a vastly underutilized mechanic, one which 93 percent of games fail to offer.
3. Lack of signposting
From the games we studied, poor signposting was evident in the large majority (63 percent). While it may seem obvious, if players can’t easily find the in-game store, they won’t buy anything from it.
4. Poor store layout
Just as in the mall, if your store isn’t laid out well, players will get frustrated when trying to find a particular item. Stores need to feature simple categories, ideally with a separate one for real-money purchases.
5. Poor inventory range
Having just a handful items available may result in a few players making purchases, but the novelty will soon wear off with players, sending revenues south. Well over two-thirds of games lack a good ranger of inventory. More is more!
6. Lack of expensive items
If players are enjoying a game, they’ll want to spend money to augment their experience, especially if it sets them apart from other players. Premium items for highly engaged players need to be really special and worth the investment; something that will make the player stand out from the crowd. We’re not talking about a $50 worth of gems here.
7. Poor whale management
It follows that a game’s most engaged players are going to be its biggest fans and spenders. So reward them, or they’ll leave and take their money elsewhere.
8. Lengthy purchase process
Nobody likes waiting in line to make a purchase, and if the process takes too long, it can result in an abandoned cart. This is a really easy one to address, yet we found in 48 percent of games analyzed the process was poor.
9. No bundle offers
Offering players bundle deals presents real value to players. For example, promotions such as a free character when buying a pack of resources or offering a weapon and vehicle together for a discounted price keeps players happy, and happy players are loyal players — and maybe your next whales.
10. Lack of customization options
Status is everything. Paid cosmetic items are a great way to drive both engagement and monetization, something 52 percent of games now feature. Give players as many different ways to customize their gameplay — it adds immediate value and loyalty.
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