Monetization indie games - continue experiments

    Almost half a year has passed since the launch of our debut mobile game on ( iOS ) and ( Android ), in which we made a bold but naive attempt to change the established approach to monetization. You can read more about the initial experiment ( here ), and about the results for the first month - ( here ).

    In short, the experiment failed, I was once again disappointed in people, and in subsequent updates we came to the banal scheme “payments + advertising”. But we managed to find such a balance between free content, premium content and unobtrusive advertising, which allowed not to disappoint the players (the average rating on Android is 4.75 with ~ 280,000 installations!), And recoup the development (about 150,000 rubles).

    Advertising is worth mentioning right away separately - in our case, it is exclusively “rewarded / incentivized video ads”. At the end of the article I’ll tell you what eCPM values ​​can be expected at ~ 10,000 impressions per day in Russia from platforms such as UnityAds, Vungle, AdColony and Applovin.

    I think I need to say a few introductory words for those who are not aware of the original idea and have not read previous posts.
    • Given : mobile game; small, high-quality, but with endless gameplay and low replayability, which cannot be transferred to standard free to play rails and in which you do not want to display banner ads.
    • Objective : recapture development costs without selling the soul to the devil and without upsetting the players
    • Solution ?

    Monetization at startup

    From the release in March to mid-July 2015. the whole game was almost free, coins and tips generously poured, but after passing the game we asked the player to pay. In fact, everything is a little more complicated, but I do not want to repeat myself.

    This did not work. Payments were, but very rare and few. At the same time, the audience liked the game, the number of installations grew and not trying to earn more would be stupid.

    Monetization at the moment

    Since mid-July, there have been such changes:
    - the in-game currency is not issued anywhere for free
    - the number of prompts issued after completing the level is greatly reduced
    - there are 4 premium levels (and 17 regular, free), each of them can be opened for only $ 1 or 100 coins
    - expanded assortment of the store
    - it became possible to get coins for watching videos - at the end of each level or at any time in the bank
    - prices in the bank were halved
    - only 3 payments out of 5 were left at the bank ($ 1, $ 2 , $ 3, $ 5 , $ 9)

    What did it give? Payments became more cheerful, but not to say that the situation changed dramatically - there were 3 times more paying players (due to tightening the screws?), But the average check decreased one and a half times (due to lower prices?), As a result, the average income per player increased by 1.5-2 times (interestingly, the same steps led to the same changes in relative metrics on both iOS and Android). And still, in absolute terms, indicators are far from values, short ones can be considered successful. But the video ad proved to be very good - in terms of one player, it brings 3-4 times more money and no one complains about it!

    Charts, metrics, earnings

    And now what everyone wants to see in such articles, but they do not always get - live numbers and graphs!
    Everything described below is relevant for the game in the Quiz category in the Russia region for 2015:

    In-game payments (for 5 months):
    Before updateAfter updateBefore updateAfter update
    ARPU (player revenue)$ 0.006$ 0.009$ 0.002$ 0.004
    Paying Percentage0.2%0.6%0.1%0.3%
    Average check$ 2.52$ 1.55$ 1.82$ 1.29
    Number of players75.90017.100178.50079.500
    Income (excluding commissions)$ 466$ 150$ 364$ 348

    Advertising (last month):
    _____iOS_____ ____Android____
    Medium eCPM$ 6.42$ 2.87
    ARPU (player revenue)$ 0.023$ 0.012
    Number of views per 1 player3.624.24
    Number of players13.00052.900
    Ad Impressions47.000220.100
    Income (excluding commissions)$ 302$ 632

    Monthly iOS advertising metrics:

    ECPM chart for iOS platforms

    IOS Platform Impressions

    eCPM by country on iOS

    Monthly Android Advertising Metrics:

    ECPM chart for Android platforms

    Android Platform Impressions

    eCPM Country by Android

    There are also metrics that you can’t see at all advertising sites:
    • UnityAds: Fill rate - 98%
    • AppLovin: CTR - 4.6%
    • AdColony: Fill rate - 100%, Use rate - 11%

    Future plans?

    - Release a paid version of the game
    - Porting it to Windows Phone

    I can later tell you whether it was advisable to launch a paid version and whether there is life on the WinPhone Store. Will it be interesting to anyone?


    I’ll summarize some intermediate results, though they rely on experience from only one specific game, so they don’t pretend to be objective:
    - players are not ready to pay for what they can get for free (thanks, captain)
    - when I asked to pay “it’s not a pity ", Often there were negative reviews in the key" how dare you ask for money for the game! ", After tightening the screws and introducing premium content, such complaints about payments and monetization almost completely disappeared
    - the rewarded video shows itself perfectly - worthy of eCPM and no negativity so users; Moreover, the players themselves advised adding reward ads, which means they understand and accept this model
    - don’t be afraid to experiment and monetize your work, the main thing is not to go too far, adequately assess the strengths and weaknesses of the game and understand your players

    Yes, there was no trace of past altruism and enthusiasm, I came to the standard “payments + advertising” scheme, but the devil in the details, as you know. Firstly, I like the way monetization is implemented now - it is understandable, fair, does not cause rejection among players and earns “minimally adequate money”, let's call it that. And secondly, at least I tried to follow the “naive path” and no one would allow me to perform such experiments on a serious third-party project. I am glad that I myself have come this way and am glad to share my experience with you.

    And in the end, we do not develop games for the sake of money, but to make the players a little happier! .. And the best reward for us is warm feedback from grateful players:

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