Two-thirds of in-app game buys have fleeting value

Recently Flurry Analytics did some research on how much mobile gamers spend on and within Android (s GOOG) and iOS (s AAPL) games, the data showing that the average in-app purchase amounts to about $14 per transaction. On Tuesday Flurry gave a deeper dive into what those in-app transactions are for. Two-thirds of the items bought within an app are virtual goods that are consumable, as in they have no lasting value.

The firm looked at 57 million transactions and found the following:

The chart shows that over two-thirds of all items purchased in iOS and Android freemium games are consumable, goods that users deplete. Measured another way, approximately half of all real dollars spent within all apps are for game items consumers don’t keep.

That means, for instance, that most of the time people are buying fertilizer in a farm game or grenades in a war game as opposed to durable goods, such as a building or armor, which you don’t use up.

But the most popular consumable item people buy really shouldn’t be any surprise. It’s “premium” currency, which is usually a way to buy your way into advancing faster in a game. Game makers like it because it prevents players from abandoning games in frustration, but it also lines their pockets. Games that offer these consumable goods make a lot of money for developers, and they are “the best ROI” for game developers, according to Flurry.

For developers looking for the best investment, look no further than free games that offer virtual goods via in-app currency, according to Flurry.

 While the consumer is indeed purchasing virtual items that are most often consumable, what’s most important to understand is the psychology behind these games. In freemium games, consumers are experiencing compelling, immersive entertainment. 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.