Smartphone Games Summit 2010: Monetizing Smartphone Games

Monetization is an important topic for any developer looking to profit from a hit game. The final panel of the day was joined by reps from Tapjoy, Boku, Zong, Greystripe and Google – with Charles Hudson moderating. The panel was over all helpful, keeping the audience engaged througout the discussion. The key topic puzzling people is how to adapt to new models such as hybrid models especially if their game’s format isn’t a natural fit. Creating demand for virtual goods is tricky and developers will have to take pages out of social gaming companies’ playbooks to figure out how to navigate this freeconomy.

What should people focus on as far as monetization?

- Google: We do display advertising – no intersection with virtual currency etc. yet. As far as guiding game developers, the answer came down to trying a bunch of things. All the various players have made a lot of things that developers can try to see what works. The hybrid model – using a free/lite version to upsell a paid version has worked well in the eyes of Admob/Google.

- Tapjoy: display ads as well as in-app purchase is a huge revenue stream for most developers. In games that have virtual goods and currencies if you add in an alternative such as Tapjoy, you will see increased revenue of 30 to 80 percent.

- Think about the flow of your game so you know if interstitials and other formats fit nicely

- The conversation has evolved from ad placement techniques to focus mostly on creating good content and interactivity.

- A lot of experimentation and direct payment integration can be expected with emerging technologies. As game publishers, we want higher engagement factors and customer lifetime values so direct payment will be an important focus for developers.

Direct payment has been a difficult area in Android. What to do?

- Don’t be evil and let everyone play on the platform. Android truly has the potential to be truly open and allow ads to direct payments although its unclear how thigns will exactly play out.

- The word for Android is: fragementation. Android is very diff. from iPhone. Apple is a little bit of a black box as far as marketing is concerned. As developers you need to actually develop relationships with carriers so there can be integration.

- Brand advertisers / agencies are tapped a lot by options on where to advertise – so u need to have atleast 1-2 M in reach

What are the differentials and monetization rates on mobile vs web?

- You won’t see people filling out large forms on mobile as they do on the web. As far as updating monetization rates it’s too early. However, on the consumer for the potential to improve is there.

How about the international market?

- Expectations in mobile is higher in the international market due to a matured market although the smartphone penetration is less.

- Developers ask whether they should localize their content for international markets and they can but the market may be too small to matter for some countries as the long tail of countries is insufficient

- If developers want the best bang for their buck it’s best to pay per install. Some developers will opt for ‘burst campaigns’ where the devel. tries to spend a lot of money in a short period of time. Apple determines current rank based on downloads of last few days, compared with a ‘sustained campaign’ where people spend little money over time.

- Look at algorithms of the marketplace and put blast spends out then the companies like

Will prices eventually become free?

- There will always be room to pay for premium content.

- Sometimes even high price points like $99 will work out

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