How to increase mobile game revenue

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How to increase mobile game revenue

Mobile games revenue is what makes game developers and investors to focus on mobile. While AAA games take 2-5 years to develop and hundreds of specialists involved, mobile games need a little budget and a small team to make a huge profit.

The mobile market is highly competitive and sometimes great games generate almost no revenue. The reason is not the quality of a game, but the cost of development and average LTV. Inexperienced game developers may offer brilliant game mechanics but it will fail without adequate monetization and addictivity systems.

mobile game revenue

We know some tricks to make good profitable mobile games. In this article we will tell you how to minimize development cost and earn more money without lowering the quality of final product.

Fact: the players want to play

In 2014 PlayStation got a new game: The Order 1886. It had unreal graphics, physics and animations, good gameplay and interesting story. But there was one flaw which ruined the user score and revenue: it was too short.

The players had to pay $60 for only 8 hours of fun. At the same price they could buy Far Cry 4, Assassin’s Creed: Unity or Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor with a minimum 20 hours of gameplay. These games had worse graphics than The Order 1886, but managed to sell 3-4 times more copies.

order 1886 landscape

The mobile games are in the same situation: nobody wants to finish a good game in a few hours. Most players want something to play and enjoy for a week or even more. Greater playtime is vital for free to play mobile games because every hour of gameplay means revenue from ads and microtransactions.

The mobile developers try to increase the length of the game by making new levels, unique content and complicated game mechanics. This raises the development cost and the revenue growth makes no difference in total profit.

In sum, we have a problem: to increase the time the player will spend in a game. And we also have 6 tricks to do this at low cost.

#1 — Levels of difficulty

Many games do the difficulty wrong: they offer players to choose the difficulty at the start and then change it mid-game. The difficulty choice meant to help players to play the game in the most enjoyable way: to one-shot everyone or to risk game-over at every second. The difficulty mechanics does this thing well, but it gives no motivation to replay the game.

Mobile games can do it better by offering only “normal” difficulty and unlocking higher one after beating the level once. Marvel StrikeForce and RAID Shadow Legends use this mechanic very effectively and offer the same level for 10-15 times. But the players aren’t playing it because it’s harder and promises good rewards.

devil may cry difficulty levels

In Devil May Cry you unlock a harder difficulties by finishing game once. On Dante Must Die the enemies get special attacks, on Legendary Dark Knight there are twice more enemies, on Heaven or Hell you’ll die from one hit.

Why does it works? Because the players don’t know what to expect from higher difficulty. And sometimes they feel like the game appreciates their skill and challenges them intentionally.

#2 — Change the conditions

If you can’t just increase the difficulty then change the conditions and rules to force the player to change playstyle. For example, in Metal Gear Solid V you can unlock special operations. They are the same missions from the beginning but either Snake has no weapons or the enemies are very tough.

In mobile games you can change conditions too. If your game has abilities — limit them. If it has power ups — give the player unlimited power to beat one level. Limit the player in time, slow him down or let him play only with 1 HP left. The player won’t be offended because he will take this as a funny challenge he must beat.

#3 — Free battle pass with rewards to increase game revenue

The players used to think that the battle pass is pure evil: you need to pay to get permission to grind for a small reward. But in reality battlepasses appeared long before Fortnite and Call of Duty: the daily challenges.

To do the mobile battle pass properly you need to make it free and set valuable expandables as a reward. Also you need to give the player some interesting tasks, for example, to kill 5 enemies with bow, to mine 25 chunks of iron ore or to make it to the TOP-5 in a multiplayer match.

The best thing about daily tasks is that they are almost free from the developer’s point. You don’t need dialogues, NPCs and script — only fun ideas for everyday quests.

daily challenges to increase game revenue

As a result the player will return to the game just to collect rewards and finish the tasks. And to give you money from watching the ads.

#4 — Force the player to grind

Most MMORPGs don’t have a good story or at least good graphics. But it doesn’t stop millions of playing them. The secret is in high level content. It is very hard to get, it has unique looks and it makes its owner a godlike creature.

But the high-end content is very expensive and the player needs to grind hard to get it. If the core gameplay is good and addictive, they will grind. RAID: Shadow Legends, Clash of Clans and Pokemon GO are built on top of the grind and feel perfectly fine.

#5 — Upgrade Pyramid as a new game revenue mechanics

The concept is simple: to make a level 2 item you need to merge two level 1 items. The said item could be anything: a weapon, armor or character. It is the evolution of grinding and the players like it.

The point of the upgrade pyramid is to get away from grinding game currency and accidentally spending it on cheaper things. Compare this:

  • you need to raid the boss and pray for it to drop a lvl 3 Sword of Heaven with 1% chance;
  • you need to raid the same boss with guaranteed drop of lvl 1 Sword of Heaven and fuse some of lvl 1 swords into lvl 3 one.

upgrade pyramid to increase revenue

The second way looks better, because you surely will get a wanted sword. Yes, you’ll need to defeat the boss 4 times, but it is a more convenient way to get it than a 1% drop chance. Most players think in this way and play the fair game with hard confidence.

#6 — Increase amount of rewards by dividing them

If the player demands new activities, you can give them more things to grind. For example, a character’s maximum level is 15 and to get it you need to play for 10 hours. So to get from lvl 14 to 15 you need to grind for 1 hour straight.

But what if we double up the level cap without doubling the experience needed to reach maximum level? Then the player will get rewards more frequently. You can divide the rewards in half: currency, items and skill points.

Also you can increase the amount of skill points to invest in skills. For example, let the basic “Cleave” have only 3 levels with 100, 300 and 1000 damage points. You can easily divide it into 10 levels per 100 DP for each level.

This system seems strange, but it works. In the old days a character from D&D RPG system had only 8 levels. But in modern RPGs you get a 100+ level cap and some players say that they want more.

#7 — Force the player to start again and make your game revenue grow

The player has reached lvl 100 and lost interest in playing: he won’t get stronger. Smart developers will offer him to start again from lvl 1. Why would the sane player accept this? Because you can offer him to save one of his passives or to “teach” his character to use skills and weapons from different classes. Let him create an orc thief or an elf with a double handed axe and use related skills and items. It is called a NG+ trick.

ng+ dark souls

It is common to Dark Souls and Soulslike games. After finishing the game you can start over with saving all your stats and inventory, but the enemies will be much stronger and will drop upgraded items.

If you aren’t making a RPG game you can still use this trick. For example, in clicker games you can offer to double the income if the player agrees to abandon all of his upgrades. Or to give him one of the best skins in the game if he will start from the bottom again.

Conclusion

If we were game journalists, we would be bashing these mechanics because they force the players to play and donate more than they really want. But we are the developers and must think about revenue — or we won’t get money to make a new game.

Feel free to use these mechanics, they will help you to increase revenue, if used properly.

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