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A Guide To Monetizing A Mobile Game App

Designing mobile video games has become a big business for developers. Mobile games are incredibly popular and relatively speaking, they can be easy to design and distribute. Designing and distributing a game doesn’t mean it’s going to be successful in terms of profitability, though. 

There are different ways to monetize a game, ranging from in-game payments to games that charge by the download. The following provides what you need to know about monetizing a mobile game app, and the different ways you can do it. 

If you’re developing a game, monetization needs to be a priority you keep in mind from the very beginning. The logistics of your game and its design are going to factor heavily into the type of monetization style that’s going to work best. 


While microtransactions aren’t always the easiest option to incorporate in a mobile game, it does tend to work well, which is one reason it’s worth mentioning first. 

With microtransactions, players can purchase additional virtual items. This might mean certain tools, currency, or cosmetic skins, as examples. 

There are different objectives a game player might have when it comes to in-game purchases. Some might want to boost their game performance, and others are just for cosmetics. 

Microtransactions work well as a monetization approach because they’re very tempting to dedicated game players. It can allow them to progress more effectively and efficiently and if a player doesn’t make the purchase it can feel like they aren’t getting the most out of the game experience. 


Advertising is simple and straightforward—you allow advertisers to use space on your game, and you earn revenue as a result. Most games with advertising are free.

There are different ways advertisements become part of a game. Display ads are the most common, and display ads might mean banners, videos or dynamic displays, as well as static ads.

Interstitial ads are shown at automatic intervals. These ads are a natural fit with games that have level-based progression because there is a break between levels and gameplay and the ad can fit in there. 

Incentivized ads offer an in-game incentive to a player who interacts with an ad.  An example of this would be a gameplayer earning in-game currency if they watch a video ad.

Contextual ads are integrated as part of a game. They can blend in with the scenery of the game itself. 

The Freemium Model.

The freemium model allows your users to download and ultimately check out your game app for free. Then, if they like it, they pay for access to premium features. 

This is fairly frequently used. Game developers might do a free lite version of their app for example. Then, if you want to advance in the different levels of gameplay, you would pay. 

The challenge here is making sure that your premium, paid content is interesting enough and unique enough that people are going to want to pay for it. 

What About Paid Apps?

Sometimes game developers will think it’ll be simpler to just do a paid app where the user pays when they download the game, and they can leave it at that. 

Paid apps are good for revenue in the short-term, but there are some issues with this option.

First, it’s going to be tough to get someone to pay for an app right off the bat that they know nothing about, especially when there are so many free options. With in-app monetization, you’ve already gotten people hooked on your game before you ask them to pay anything.

Additionally, monetizing a game within the interface can be better to make ongoing, long-term revenue rather than one-time revenue from the download itself. 

If you do research, you’ll find there are very few – as in under a handful – of paid apps that are in the top 200 rankings on the app store. 

If you develop a game, your original strategy for monetizing it might not end up being what you stick with. You may look at your analytics and study user behavior and find out that you need to shift your strategy. 

You want to drill down into the details when you’re using analytics to gain a better understanding of your customers. You should be looking at how each level of the game is being received by users, and work on identifying ways you can improve their experience.

If you can keep improving the user experience, there will be more opportunities for you to identify ongoing monetization options.


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