Majority of Spending in Mobile Games is on Consumable Items, Flurry Says

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Consumers who make in-app purchases in mobile games are spending most of their money on consumable goods that are used quickly to speed up gameplay or attack opponents, according to mobile analytics and monetization company Flurry.

The company categorized more than 57 million transactions across freemium iOS and Android games that on average have more than 2 million daily active users (which isn’t a large pool of titles considering the criteria). Overall, Flurry is betting that Android and iOS games will pull in $1 billion in revenue this year through all of the various revenue models from freemium to paid to advertising.

In analyzing the purchases in these larger freemium games, Flurry said that there are three main categories of goods that consumers buy:

  • Durable goods, which deliver a permanent benefit. Examples include armor to increase defense, or a building in a city simulation game that can increase revenue.
  • Consumable goods, which are depleted when used. Examples include grenades or bullets to attack opponents or virtual currency that’s used to speed up an order or task.
  • Personalization items, which are durable but have no gameplay element. Examples include decorative stoves, furniture or plants in a sim game.

It shouldn’t be terribly surprising to freemium game designers, considering Apple’s app store exposes the most popular items in every game.

Flurry says about two-thirds of items that players buy are consumable. The most popular type of good is a “premium” in-game currency that can be used to buy items inside an app. Again, not surprising. Anecdotally, we often see that the most popular in-app purchase items are packs of virtual currency at the $4.99 or $9.99 price points.

Flurry says most of the top games use premium currency to speed up orders or tasks. In many of the virtual zoo or city builder games, players spend currency to quickly build park exhibits or building. In farm games, premium currency is used to speed up harvesting.

After consumable items, durable goods make up a little under one-third of all in-app purchases. Usually these are items like a new set of animals or an exhibit in a virtual zoo game or a new, more advanced cooking stove in a restaurant simulation. Flurry says companies use these to create a sense of accomplishment in games by offering goods or armor players can level up to over time. Game designers can use durable goods to establish quests.

The last and smallest category of virtual goods are ones that help with personalization, like decorative goods that let players customize their avatars or virtual spaces.