Conspicuous Consumption In Mobile Games Is The Rule


Mobile game developers are finding increasing success with the concept known as “freemium,” or games that are free to download but require payment for additional features. And the best part about this trend? People are buying disposable virtual goods.

That’s the conclusion reached from a study of game developers on iOS and Android by Flurry, which helps app developers put advertising within their apps. Of the real dollars spent on virtual goods over the last year, 68 percent of those dollars went toward disposable items, like fertilizer for your Farmville ranch or ammunition in a shooter game, Flurry said. That’s great for developers, as they can bank on a steady stream of income as players replace those items.

Only 30 percent of the dollars spent in those games went towards “durable” items, which is kind of a funny term to use in talking about video games but represents items that stick with a player through the duration of the game. And an a barely noticeable 2 percent of real money in games was spent on personalization features, according to Flurry’s research.

That means that developers pursuing the freemium angle should make sure they have plenty of disposable items that are vital to the game yet don’t give players the impression they are being gouged. It also means that games and other apps looking for capitalize on demand for virtual goods should be designed around disposable items from day one.

“In freemium games, consumers are experiencing compelling, immersive entertainment,” Flurry’s Jeferson Valadares, general manager for games, wrote in a blog post. “They feel gratified when they progress, accomplish goals, create a unique world, and in some cases, show off to their friends. In exchange for this gratification, they are willing to spend real money, and lots of it.”

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