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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.

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.

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