Joe Arkley, MD, Melodi Global Mobile Solutions outlines why subscriptions are driving mobile gaming – and why they are great value for money for all involved
Since the advent of smartphones, the popularity of mobile gaming has increased gradually over time. Gamers are typically younger and globally those under 35 are more likely to own smartphones presenting a perfect fit. That said Gaming is no longer a hobby exclusively enjoyed by the young, some 21% of gamers are 50 years and older.
It is no surprise that smartphones are significant sources of gaming entertainment. There are 100’s of millions of Gamers and 100’s of millions of those own mobile phones. Gradually game developers have leveraged new technologies to improve accessibility, user experience, and developed great mechanics for touch screens and mobile phones as gaming devices. This has significantly developed the mobile gaming industry and increased revenues. For instance, in 2019, the global revenue from gaming apps was $65.8 billion, and the amount is expected to reach $74.6 billion in 2020.
What Drives the Popularity of Mobile Gaming?
Did you know that 62% of smartphone owners download a game within a week of purchasing their device? Whether you are on the bus, train station, or waiting for a friend at a restaurant, playing a game on your phone will keep you entertained. The game’s components are designed to cordon off the rest of the world, and you can focus all your attention on the game. Gaming gives you the same peace you would get from reading a novel. Therefore, whether you crush candy for hours or shoot objects for fun, you will get the stress relief you need. The escapism that these games provide has increased the use of mobile gaming apps.
While most users are driven by the desire to play, the truth is that the majority of the games in the app stores are quick downloads and many appear to be “free to play”.
I’d argue there is no such thing as a free game. We spend a fortune on in-app purchases or are bombarded by advertising in order to enjoy our “free” game experience. It is no surprise that mobile games contribute to 51% of the global income in the gaming industry.
Games account for an overwhelming 74% of spending on the app stores with 50% of app users spending their time on games, mobile gaming apps have become a hugely popular category in both Google Play Store and iPhone App Store. Downloads in the games category have hit 2.4 billion in iPhone App Store and 8.7 billion in Google Play.
However, the games that require outright purchase or in-app purchase are affordable compared to console games. Therefore, most users are willing to spend a small amount and enjoy these exciting games. Some users choose to endure the advertising to avoid paying with their cash in preference to pay with their time and data.
There are no free games you pay with money or your time/data. Games developers need to make money to enable them to keep creating this great content.
On What and Why do Gamers Spend Money?
NPD Group shares information breaking down gamers’ purchasing habits. They show that in the first half of 2019, 28% of players aged 13 – 54 purchased additional content for at least one game. Of those who purchased items through in-game microtransactions, 31% bought weapons or tools, and 28% bought power-ups of some sort. Circa 37% of people who made purchases did so to have fun, with 8% buying items to save time. Most gamers spent approximately $53 over the last three months. People who play more than 10 hours per week tend to spend an average of $64 on extra content.
What About Gaming Subscriptions?
There seems to be a negative perception in the Value Added Services sector that games services are not good value for gamers, but this makes no sense to me. Games subscription packages offer an alternative model for consumers. Gamers pay a set weekly / monthly fee for access to a catalogue of games content. Games offered in subscription based packages are free from advertising and all in-app purchasable content is already unlocked, meaning users are given the fully unlocked premium version of each game.
Usually, the vast majority of the games in these subscription services are also available on Google Play, so when you consider that in some games the in-app purchases could total $10, $20 even $50+ subscription services can be a great alternative way for gamers to pay for games.
Furthermore, some games subscription services also offer access to a selection of games that are exclusively available in that service, allowing users to get access to unique and exclusive content.
Many subscription services additionally offer a package of related content curated specifically for gamers. These often include gaming news, trailers, reviews, as well as guides, cheats, hints and tips. Some even include social features allowing gamers to challenge each other and build communities.
Due to the dominance of Google, Apple and the lack of a high profile mainstream subscription services consumers are forced to seek out services run by smaller providers and that is where the VAS content providers and our clients step in to fill the void.
In conclusion gamers love to play games on mobile devices. When you consider most gamers spend greater than $17.5 each month unlocking items/power-ups and time savers in games. I’d argue, Mobile Games Subscription Services that give access to that content included in the cost offer great value for money. For a few dollars per week players gain access to sometimes 000’s of fully unlocked games and game items, with no advertising, access to unique and alternative games content as well as digital magazine style news, hints, tips and gamer communities.
Joe Arkley is MD, Melodi Global Mobile Solutions