Why Mobile Games Must Look Around the World for Revenue

Posted on Posted in Blog - Insights

I often tell mobile game publishers that they need to think about how their games can be monetized not just in their top 5 markets, but throughout the entire world. Here are a pair of images which illustrate the point. The first shows a daily density map of user payment activity from an Android game, showing where the most in-app purchases for it are being made -- in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific Rim:

Eurasian PurchaseDensity

Unsurprisingly, most IAPs come from Western Europe and South Korea, with a smattering in other parts of the world. But this actually tells just a small part of the big picture.

Compare that with this picture below, which shows all of the daily traffic in the same part of the globe, for the very same game:

Eurasian Traffic

This is how many people around the world love this game -- not just in Western Europe and South Korea, but throughout Russia and Southeast Asia, with a smattering of players across Africa (with Google Play blocked in China, we didn’t track this game there).

Most notably, perhaps, this game is extremely popular in India - a country of 1.3 billion people, about 300 million of whom own Android smartphones, while about 20% of the population have at least some English fluency (i.e. they can probably play a non-localized game with English-only text.)

This is one of the big opportunities that game developers miss when they only think about monetization in their top 5-6 markets (if you look a little to the right on the Asian map, you can see the traffic in Thailand and Indonesia as well). The mistake is assuming other markets aren’t buying IAPs simply because they don’t want to. A key part of the equation is pricing -- making an in-app purchase which costs the local equivalent of $2.99 USD has vastly different implications in different parts of the world.

Both Google and Apple have become aware of this problem in recent years, and have been tiering IAP payment levels below 99 cents in different parts of the world. (In India, for instance, it’s now possible to price Google Play IAPs as low as 10 rupees -- roughly 15 to 16 cents USD.) And so it’s become even easier for developers to monetize their games around the world.

Where? In the next few weeks, I’ll be focusing on some key regions, sharing some data we have on their traffic and IAP activity -- and offering some advice on better monetizing them. Stay tuned - and follow us on Twitter for updates.