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When it comes to monetizing mobile games in Germany, it’s increasingly the little things that count.
Micropayments for virtual goods and other add-on purchases in free-to-play games were up by double digits, while revenues from purchases of games themselves fell by a similar amount, according to GfK data released by computer and video game industry association Bundesverband Interaktive Unterhaltungssoftware e.V. (BIU).
The data showed that revenues from purchases within PC, console, smartphone and tablet games by players in Germany reached €659 million ($731.1 million) in 2016, up 17% from the €562 million recorded a year earlier.
Micropayments made in mobile game apps increased by 33% to €392 million ($434.9 million), making them largely responsible for 2016’s increase.
By comparison, revenues from in-game purchases in browser-based online games were flat in 2016, staying at €267 million ($296.2 million) for the second year in a row.
At the same time, revenues from purchases of mobile games in Germany fell 15% in 2016 to a scant €17 million ($18.9 million), a decline that helped in-app purchases’ share of overall mobile game revenues rise to 95.8%.
BIU attributes the growth of in-app purchases in Germany to an expanding number of players of free-to-play games, as well as increased average expenditures within them. The country’s community of free-to-play game players swelled by roughly 18% in 2016 to 3.9 million, according to BIU figures, and monthly average outlays on in-game purchases rose nearly 13% from a year earlier to €13.57 ($15.06).
“Free-to-play games are an absolute success model and a significant innovation,” said Felix Falk, BIU’s managing director. “The opportunity to play free-to-play games free of charge invites you to try out and explore. Corresponding titles must convince you when playing to [make a purchase] in order to be permanently successful. This makes free-to-play games not only extremely customer-friendly, but also [financially] successful. Within a few years this segment has become a mainstay of the overall market for games.”
Germany isn’t alone in seeing rising revenues from mobile gaming, regardless of whether that income is coming from the purchase of games themselves, or in-game payments.
In the UK, mobile game sales increased by nearly 17% in 2016—the largest gain of any type of gaming software and well above the UK game industry’s 1.2% increase in overall sales in 2016, according to data compiled by UK interactive entertainment trade group Ukie.
In the US, mobile gaming was forecast to be the second biggest source of video game revenues in 2016, behind only consoles, according to Newzoo estimates. Mobile gaming was projected to be responsible for 29% of a total $3.8 billion in expected revenues in 2016.
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