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Mobile Games: Played By Many, Paid For By Few

A new report finds that a tiny percentage of players spend money on games, shedding light on how difficult it is for developers to monetize their products.

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With all the buzz about Flappy Birds and the IPO filing by Candy Crush Saga maker King, it's clear that the mobile gaming market continues to be white-hot. But according to a study released this week, getting people to pay for games is actually a major struggle for developers.

The report from app-testing company Swrve found that a mere 1.5 percent of players spend any money at all on mobile games and that 50 percent of all in-app purchases on free-to-play games came from 0.15 percent of players.

The data suggests that mobile game makers are extremely reliant on players the gaming industry refers to as "whales"--those who spend huge amounts of money on in-app purchases while enjoying free-to-play games. Outside of these select few players, many game makers are having a hard time monetizing games, a potential business model flaw.

In other mobile gaming news this week, a district court dismissed a lawsuit filed against Zynga by shareholders who claimed the game maker misled them about its financial state prior to going public. 

IMAGE: Courtesy Company
Last updated: Feb 27, 2014

ABIGAIL TRACY is a staff reporter for Inc. magazine. Previously, she worked for Seattle Metropolitan magazine and Chicago magazine.
@abigailtracy




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