The year 2023 has been remarkable for the mobile gaming industry, with new trends and significant revenue gains defining the landscape. According to the analytics firm's State of App Revenue 2023 report, the store spend breakdown was 50% iOS, 27% Google Play, and the remaining 23% comprised third-party stores in China.
All but 2% of mobile games revenue came from in-app purchases. One mobile game, Evony: The King's Return, encapsulates the essence of this transformative period. At the end of August 2023, Evony amassed $216.8 million in revenue and welcomed nearly 25 million new global downloads. Evony has designed two methods for in-app purchases, allowing players to choose between buying packages directly or purchasing and stockpiling Pink Gems, which can then be used for quick purchases of various premium content.
Shifting to Subscription-Based Models and Loot Boxes
While one-time in-app purchases still dominate the market, subscription-based models are steadily gaining traction. These offer exclusive content or benefits to players at a recurring monthly or yearly fee, thus providing game developers with consistent revenue streams.
Loot boxes, another controversial but highly lucrative trend, present a gamified approach to in-app purchases. These virtual boxes contain random items and rewards, heightening the excitement but also drawing criticism for their resemblance to gambling.
The Crucial Role of User Experience (UX) Design
Evony's success stems not just from its in-app purchase strategy but also from its focus on top-tier player experiences. According to David Guo, the CEO of Top Games Inc., the company that developed Evony, a great game must prioritize user orientation and deliver top-level user experiences. This philosophy mirrors a wider industry understanding that excellent UX design is essential for sustained user engagement and, by extension, in-app purchase volumes.
Gamification as a Motivational Tool
While monetary rewards like discounts and promo codes are often expected in gamification strategies, personal motivators can be equally compelling. For instance, a health-conscious individual may never opt for a McDonald's meal, even if it comes with a chance to win a TV.
User loyalty can also be gamified, creating a cycle where players are consistently rewarded for engagement, further enhancing the user experience and increasing the likelihood of in-app purchases. The key to success lies in ensuring ease of access to these gamified elements, without overwhelming the user.
Measuring Game Success and Future Outlook
Games typically employ various metrics like completion rates, points, levels, and badges to gauge their success. These elements work in tandem to create a compelling experience, which then drives further engagement and, consequently, in-app purchases.
As we move further into 2023 and beyond, it's clear that the relationship between in-app purchases and UX design will continue to shape the mobile gaming industry. Companies like Top Games Inc. are leading the charge, leveraging innovative purchase models and UX design to not just meet but anticipate the evolving demands of a global gaming audience.