How Long Does It Take for Free-to-Play Mobile Gamers to Pay? - eMarketer
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How Long Does It Take for Free-to-Play Mobile Gamers to Pay?

Strategy and action gamers spend more money faster due to monetization strategy

July 24, 2015

How long do free-to-play mobile game downloaders stick around—and which ones stay long enough to spend some money?

Performance Metrics for Free-to-Play Mobile Games Worldwide, by Genre, June 2015

June 2015 research by deltaDNA looked at usage data for more than 1,000 US and Android mobile games with 100 million players worldwide and found that strategy and action free-to-play games had the best day one retention rates, at 30% and 29%, respectively. However, the two dropped to the bottom of the list by day seven. Here, social casino games moved to the top, with a retention rate of 15%, followed by puzzles (11%). deltaDNA noted that these games may have better retention due to their typically simple game loops, allowing them to have more long-term “playability.”

But retention isn’t everything. Thanks to their appeal among mid-to-hardcore gamers, strategy and action games saw far more impressive average revenues per user, at $1.80 and $1.40, respectively. While the two had similar rates for percentage of downloaders who converted to spenders, strategy games saw far more spenders convert during the first session, which deltaDNA attributed to the genre’s usage of time blockers—if players don’t pay, they have to wait.

However, don’t discount the value of puzzle and social casino gamers. deltaDNA noted that their smaller value was likely lower in the study due to the short window timeframe. These games take a longer-term approach to monetization, with low-value transactions over a long period of time instead of a couple big purchases early on, like strategy and casino games.

Number of Monthly In-App Purchases Made by Mobile Gamers* Worldwide, Jan 2015 (% of total on Swrve's network)

How frequently do purchases take place? In January 2015, Swrve analyzed freemium mobile game activity on its platform and found that 44.0% of mobile gamers made one in-app purchase within a freemium mobile game during the month. On the other end of the spectrum, 20.3% made five.

eMarketer estimates that this year, there will be nearly 165 million mobile phone gamers in the US, equating to more than half of the population. Fully 113.0 million consumers, or 43.5% of internet users and 35.2% of the population, will play games on tablets. At the same time, we expect US mobile game revenues to rise 16.5% to reach $3.04 billion, representing 30.9% of total mobile download and in-app revenues.

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