How to Structure In-Game Purchases

Game Purchases

The online gaming market is worth billions and only getting bigger. As the industry grows, developers are having to find new ways to acquire revenue from users. One of the most popular ways of doing so is in-game purchases.

In-game purchases allow the user to buy only the parts of the game they want. This not only allows for a more enjoyable, personalized gaming experience, but it helps gaming companies offer above-and-beyond content to their core users. 

You can’t ignore a potential revenue stream, but you also can’t be careless when it comes to structuring in-game purchases. Here are six tips for how to make your in-game purchases effective:

1. Define your target customer

Understanding your customer is the first step toward building great in-game purchases. As is true of every product, if you don’t know who you’re marketing to, you won’t be successful. Ask yourself the following questions:

What are the demographics of my primary audience? 

Consider age, gender, race, sexual orientation, educational attainment, household income, and any other attributes relevant to your game’s content.

What are the psychographics of my primary audience?

What does your customer believe? How do their values and interests align with your game? Use these answers to understand why they buy and how they play.

When do the majority of people download my Game Purchases?

Gamers tend to be most active in the evening and at night. Release new content around your customer’s peak gaming hours to create an adoption snowball effect. 

How much is my customer willing to spend on in-Game Purchases?

Using your records, as well as those demographic and psychographic clues, decide on a price range for in-game purchases. Perhaps your customer is willing to pay at least $1 but no more than $10 for extra content. 

Answering questions like these will help you align your in-game offerings with your audience’s expectations. From there, you can make better decisions about how you structure in-game purchases.

2. Make payments the easy part

When structuring in-game purchases, two things should be at the top of your mind: How can I make it as seamless as possible for players to make purchases? And how can I ensure players want to make these purchases? 

It’s critical that you offer some sort of incentive for players who do choose to make a purchase; otherwise, they won’t want to and they won’t continue to make purchases. Look for ways to leverage peer pressure. For example, perhaps a certain powerup they can purchase makes them more valuable to multiplayer teams. 

Just as important as what your players can buy is how they can pay. Give your players various payment options: PayPal, credit cards, debit cards, and even bitcoin are great options to include. 

3. Streamline the purchase process

Gamers like to play, not shop. Don’t make them hunt through your store to find what they’re looking for. An in-game purchase opportunity should fit naturally within the player’s gaming experience. 

In-game purchases should be simple. If a user does decide to make a purchase, it’s going to be in their moment of need. And in many cases, it will be within their first dozen hours of gameplay. If the process is too complicated, you may lose a sale or, worse, lose them as a customer altogether. 

4. Offer a multitude of choices for Game Purchases

When building out in-game purchases, you shouldn’t just have one option for users. Not only is it a boring way for you to integrate purchases into your game, but it won’t do much to boost your bottom line. 

When it comes to in-game purchases, offer dozens of different choices. Users want to feel like they’re making the game their own customized experience. Having multiple purchase options keeps them coming back to discover what else is available. 

5. Standardize your price points

In-game purchases that are all over the board in terms of cost can be confusing and overwhelming. Decide on the criteria you’ll use to price each purchase, and don’t be afraid to mix and match.

For example, you might split your in-game purchases into categories, such as “new maps” and “equipment upgrades.” For each of those categories, either keep everything the same price, or use pricing tiers. 

For tiers, make it clear as to why the user is paying more for a certain item. Maybe content that took you twice as long to develop costs twice as much.

6. Avoid notification overload

For your company and its gamers, in-game purchases can be exciting. But don’t get so excited about the money that you bombard your players with notifications. The last thing you want is to ruin their gaming experience. 

The right way to use notifications

Notifications work well when they are structured more like reminders. Maybe there’s a sale or new items available for purchase. This would be a good time to hit a user with a notification. 

User-specific notifications can also be mutually beneficial. For example, if a player is running out of lives in the game, buying additional lives could save them. Notify them of this option without forcing it on them. 

How not to use notifications for Game Purchases

If your notifications are constant reminders about the same thing, they’ll get annoying quickly. Players are most likely already aware that they can make in-game purchases. They’ve probably noticed it while playing your game. Don’t overwhelm them, or they might just decide they’d rather play a different game. 

To be sure, in-game notifications can be a great way to increase revenue. But by not following best practices, you’ll only hurt yourself and the experience of your players. Put time and thought into them, and you’ll make your boss as happy as you do your user base. 

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