5 Mobile Games That Design for Monetization

Insights & Best Practices

October 2, 2015


min read

Some developers think about monetization after the fact ? post-design or even post release. Not so for perennial top-grossing titles like Clash of Clans and Game of War. These successful titles were designed for monetization from the start, a strategy that's clearly paid off.?In my three years as a monetization design consultant, a critical problem I ran into over and over again was developers not working out their business design early in the process," says Ethan Levy of game monetization consulting firm Famous Aspect. ?The sooner a dev can start answering these critical questions in software, the better chance they have of meeting their goals. What repeatable purchases will the player make at the end of week one? What about month one? What about year one?"At each of these milestones, Levy says, it?s important to ask some follow-on questions, too: How will the game's design motivate a player to keep playing and to want to make purchases? What will they want to make the game play better or easier? How will this motivate them to spend?We looked for some successful mobile games that have asked and answered these questions well. Although they're not the only games who've gotten it right, they are definitely killing it at mobile game monetization. Here's how:

1. Tap Titans ? Giving video ads value

Tap Titans is a great example of a game that uses rewarded video well. Letting players earn in-game coins by choosing to watch videos gives those 30-second slots an intrinsic sense of value. And they provide a nice break from the constant tapping.It's similar to the rewarded ad system used so effectively in the indie mobile sensation Crossy Road, who's co-creator Matt Hall says, ?If there's no good reason for [players] to click that ad, they will never, ever click it."[caption id="attachment_10427" align="aligncenter" width="900"]


Image via Daniel Crawley[/caption]

2. Game of War: Fire Age ? Evoking peer pressure

Machine Zone's big strategy hit isn't shy when it comes to in-game purchases. And dedicated players buy-in big time, wanting to keep up with their peers.Pepe Cantos, chief monetization officer at social game developer Social Point, describes Game of War as a money-making machine. ?Your colleagues or 'allies' constantly put more pressure on you to collectively reach the next milestones," he says.[caption id="attachment_10426" align="aligncenter" width="900"]

Image via Kotaku

Image via Kotaku[/caption]

3. Marvel: Contest of Champions ? Offering surprise

Kabam's big comic-book tie-in game lets players unlock mystery rewards with crystals that they can earn or buy. Not knowing what's inside is what draws players back time and again."These Crystals are the most important design decision that Kabam made," says game designer and blogger Adam Telfer. "Each crystal gives a chance of what you want. No crystal ever gives defined rewards. This is gacha done perfectly."[caption id="attachment_10429" align="aligncenter" width="900"]

Image via Mobilefreetoplay

Image via Mobilefreetoplay[/caption]

4. Clash of Clans ? Offering a value proposition

Clash of Clans excels at educating new players in the value of its hard currency: gems. By the end of the tutorial ? which is fairly generous in dishing out gems ? you're left in no doubt about how valuable they are, and that pays off down the line."Every player understands why gems are desirable and are already getting into the habit of using them," according to Virtual Economists. "The generous supply of gems given in the beginning lasts some ways beyond the tutorial and when they finally run out, a strong desire for more has already been kindled."[caption id="attachment_10430" align="aligncenter" width="900"]

Image via YouTube

Image via YouTube[/caption]

5. Candy Crush Saga ? Providing visual goals

King's popular match-three game visually lays out player progress in a tantalising, winding map that makes you want to keep playing , with the constant draw of beating your friends as you move up the screen."Candy Crush's virality and compelling goal-oriented gameplay make it built for monetization," writes analytics firm Insight. "Its players just don't know it. They're too busy trying to outdo their friends and/or finish every level. So to them, throwing down a few dollars here or there isn't that big of a deal. This is organic monetization and it works."[caption id="attachment_10438" align="aligncenter" width="900"]

Image via Keen Gamer

Image via Keen Gamer[/caption]