Player retention still key to game monetization for subscription models like Apple Arcade

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Dominique Busso – Apr 12 – Published on Medium

For several years now, the freemium business model has been predominant in the mobile games market. This model generates much more revenues than the premium model, but the impact on game design is important: the monetization strategy needs to be fully integrated into the game design and crafted carefully to balance a fun game play and a steady revenue stream. Once your freemium game is well tuned, a good player retention is key to a great monetization.

In recent years Apple has been doing a great job at supporting premium games on its App Store. In premium games, studios have less constraints on the game design. However the global revenues of premium games is well behind those of freemium games (usually the Top Paid Games are ranked at best around 50 in the Top Grossing list). Good player retention is useful in premium game (the more you play, the more likely you will recommend other players to download and play), but not key to their monetization.

The subscription model has been around for several years now, especially in the educational games market. At Happy Blue Fish we worked a lot with Fingerprint Digital, a San Francisco-based EdTech which publishes a white-label platform that offers subscription based educational games. The subscription model will certainly expand in the coming years for all games, as key contenders are entering the ring.

Apple announced the Apple Arcade with a great video showing the impact on studios and game designers: like with premium games, they will be able to innovate in game design without having to bother with a monetization strategy based on In-App Purchases and/or In-App Ads.

How will mobile game studios monetize their games on this plateform?

Each month, Apple will bill the players registered on the Apple Arcade, and the studios with games on the platform will get their share of revenues based on the usage of their games by the players (like Daily Active Users of each game for each day of the month). This means that the longuer players will stay in your game, the more you will make money.

Therefore, as for freemium mobile games, Player Retention is key to monetization of subscription-based games. Getting a good player retention takes time and strong competencies in data analytics. That’s why we created askblu.ai, a plug@play SAAS solution to improve Player retention in Mobile Games. This solution helps studio tune levels, conduct soft launches and optimize the difficulty level of each stage.

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