Mobile game monetization models might be evolving
|Brittany Hainzinger in Monetize Thursday, October 1, 2020|
GameRefinery released its latest genre snapshot report that takes a closer look at mobile game monetization, and Strategy Genre, which sits within GameRefinery’s Midcore category, and is composed of sub-genres including 4XStrategy, Build and Battle, MOBA and Tactical. We caught up with Markus Ramark, the CEO of GameRefinery to talk about the reports and how.
GameRefinery’s database counts with more than 10,000+ analyses of top-performing mobile games. The company has recently acquired UK’s Reflection.io, providing them the capability to offer additional revenue and download data for iOS and Android games spanning 35 markets, in addition to its feature-level insights.
With a library of the latest mobile game data, GameRefinery explains how important it is for developers to have access to accurate information through each stage of the game development process in order to support decision making. Thanks to their expert game analysts and ongoing trend-watch, GameRefinery also provides insight into how they see mobile game monetization evolving in the near future through Battle Pass systems and incentivized video ads, as well as which other game design shifts we should keep an eye on 2020.
ADM: GameRefinery has just acquired Reflection.io, which specialises in download and revenue estimated for iOS and Android games. What is the strategic motivation behind this decision?
Råmark: Our analysts are currently tracking 200+ features for every game we add into our database of 2 000+ games and 10 000+ analyses. This analysis is primarily focused on game features and engagement. Thanks to the acquisition, we can now combine this data with Reflection.io’s data on installs and revenue - thereby connecting features to monetization.
The strategic motivation behind the acquisition was to position GameRefinery uniquely in the market, by being able to provide our clients with a distinct combination of datasets that they cannot obtain from anywhere else. For example, we can combine revenue and downloads data with our genre taxonomy and feature-level mobile game data, in addition to demographics - explaining what features will drive the most revenue for specific genres and target audiences.
ADM: Moving onto more mobile game specific themes, how would you say mobile game monetization models might evolve in the near future?
Råmark: The two biggest trends regarding monetization at the moment are Battle Pass systems and incentivized video ads. This is due to the fact that both mechanisms can be implemented without having to affect the core game experience or economic balance. Many games across all genres have started to use them recently to support the traditional IAP-model - and we expect them to keep trending up in 2020.
The Rise of the Battle Pass can be seen in the US where it has gone from being in less than 5% of the top 100 grossing games to almost 30% in the space of one year.
ADM: How important is data in the creation of successful mobile games?
Råmark: Game development has become more and more expensive - making being able to enter the market with the right product at the right time extremely important. That is why having the right data available to support not only game development from the initial concept to the end product, but also company-wide decisions is crucial.
Secondly, you don't only need to know what game to develop but who you are developing it for while understanding your competitors and market trends. GameRefinery’s data can support all these key decisions, providing developers with very powerful insights regarding their target audiences, latest features and market-level shifts.
ADM: Are there some examples you can share of how your data can be used as part of a development process, and what you think an ideal ‘data stack’ might look like?
Råmark: The development process is comprised of a series of staged decisions. This concept fuels how we structure our data, so that we can provide the right data points to developers throughout each distinct phase: from conception to pre-production, production and LiveOps.
As an example, it’s not always clear which features developers should set out to build during production without the right information. This is exactly where our data steps in. If your top competitors are all quicky introducing certain features, such as loot boxes, then it’s a no-brainer to jump on the wagon.
The same applies to LiveOps, which we can support with insights into how competitor updates have performed post-launch. Developers can then roadmap and pace the introduction of new features and content based on what the market is dictating.
The ideal 'data stack' is really one where you have all your bases covered with the data to support each decision-making point throughout the development process. In the current market, this requires accurate data from market intelligence to analytics, which will allow you to test and hone feature implementation.
ADM: Looking forward to 2020, what do you think might be some interesting trends in terms of mobile game development to keep an eye on?
Råmark: Firstly, games are becoming increasingly social. Players are looking for shared experiences with both friends and new players. This phenomenon acts as a solid foundation for communal game features such as guild mechanics and co-op playing to became part of all genres - not just mid-core and hardcore games. During 2019 we saw this trend gaining momentum, as many top casual games (Gardenscapes, Yahtzee with Buddies, Slotomania…) started implementing guild mechanics and various co-op modes with great effect.
Secondly, another big trend that will surely remain as a key component for success is live events. Being able to bring fresh new content to keep your audience engaged and excited is crucial for retention. With exclusive live event rewards, gachas and other event-related benefits, game developers are also able to increase average user spending significantly - Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle is a good example of this trend. Combining live events with the aforementioned guild mechanics and co-op playing is a mix that more and more games will most likely adopt during 2020.
About Markus Råmark
Markus Råmark is the CEO of GameRefinery. Based in Finland, Markus is a veteran in the game development industry. He has broad experience across different company types and sizes, having worked for the likes of Nokia and founded several other start-ups.