Virtual Currency 101
Virtual currency is the key revenue driver among free-to-play games on the AppStore. But how exactly does one monitor and make sound economic decisions in order to maximize profits?
Once you’ve integrated virtual currency into your game you’ll have to follow key metrics in order to improve your revenue. To follow such parameters, you’ll need to design and integrate deep analytics events, that monitor everything from purchases all the way to how your user interacts with your store. You might find that changing the orders of items in the store will improve daily revenues or perhaps different icons can trigger better purchase hits. Furthermore, performing A/B testing on your store can show you what’s your weakest link.
As a game developer you should be aware of pricing strategies and economics. Taking one of our games as an example, we implemented a virtual currency called ‘Hearts’. The game sold ‘Hearts’ using different packages. Below is the chart for the amount of ‘Hearts’ along with their price and the amount of sales (amounts altered but reflecting the same rate).
We came to the conclusion that the 1 USD category (a single package of 200 Hearts) wasn’t managing to yield enough revenue. After further examination we came to the conclusion that dropping the 1 USD category will probably end up increasing our total sales. In the end, that’s exactly what happened, and even though there were fewer sales profits actually increased.
Being able to analyze your sales, adapting business intelligence and optimizing your prices in real time can make the difference between a losing game and a sustainable business.
If your game uses in-app purchases then another thing that should be taken into consideration is security. You should, by all means, perform receipt validation, use a secured server connection and store all the data in a secure fashion.
Some users will try to work the system and as your game gets to be more popular you will probably find some weird youtube videos on how to hack your game. So don’t be naive and be sure to protect your business model.
Also, know that users love to see customization, so if you planning to do a X-Mas sale you better have a mechanism to change assets on the fly, so that your store will be X-Mas ready. In our experience, customized stores can really help to boost revenues.
For a typical scenario. let’s say that after examining data you decide to run a ‘weekend sale’ for your least sold item. If you will not let your users know about the sale, it will be difficult to drive them into that particular menu. Our studies have shown that sending a simple push notification message improves store engagement and revenues as well.
Moreover, targeting the right users is also essential for sales. If a user has just purchased a big stack of coins he or she will probably not be too inclined to commit another purchase. However, a user which has already examined the store and has small amount of coins might find your offer a lot more attractive.
In conclusion, integrating consumable virtual currency into your game could be a bit of a hassle, as you need to take care of security, analytics, real time optimizations and of course tight product integration. Fortunately, several 3rd party services can be utilized to make your job easier. What’s even better is to have all those services under one roof, and that’s exactly what we decided to do when we created Nextpeer. Our goal, is to make your life easier as a developer.