32% of mobile gamers plan to spend less on in-app purchases in 2024 | Mistplay

Mistplay has delved into gamer spending with a report that unlocks data on why mobile gamers spend money on in-app purchases (IAP) in games. And a key finding is that 32% of spenders – and 41% of high-value spenders – are planning to reduce their in-game spending and shift towards more budget-conscious decisions for discretionary spending.

Montreal-based Mistplay, a popular loyalty app that rewards mobile gamers for their engagement, has unveiled its 2024 Mobile Gaming Spender Report, offering a comprehensive analysis of the factors in the market that are key to sustainable growth in today’s market.

The report chronicles how player spending may change in the future, and what factors may influence further investments. With these findings, the broader mobile gaming industry, including leadership, product, monetization, and acquisition teams, will have a deeper understanding of the modern mobile gaming spender, enabling them to implement informed strategies to overcome the onset of industry challenges, said Jason Heller, CEO of Mistplay, in an interview with GamesBeat.

Mistplay’s 2024 Mobile Gaming Spender Report.

“A new reality is setting in for the mobile gaming industry and there will be a disproportionate number of
winners and losers among gaming publishers, as spenders plan to reduce in-game spending, user acquisition becomes more competitive and expensive, and companies continue competing for a limited share of IAP wallet,” said Heller.

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He added, “This is the inaugural release of an annual report that we hope will empower mobile gaming publishers with strategic insights that will help them to scale their businesses sustainably. I firmly believe that those who can successfully execute on three key drivers – diversifying user acquisition, strengthening product market fit, and nurturing long-term loyalty – are going to outperform those that do not.”

Spending insights

How much big spenders spend in a month.
How much big spenders spend in a month.

Mistplay’s 2024 Mobile Gaming Spender Report provides a holistic view of mobile gaming spenders
based on tiered spender cohorts, including high-value spenders, and core personas based on top
mobile game genres.

Key findings are that mobile spenders will be more discerning with their spend in 2024. The landscape of mobile game spending may witness a discernible shift this year as players spend less than they did before.

“This means that the share of wallets of IP spend is going to be concentrated, and there’s going to be more winners and losers than there are today,” Heller said.

With insights gathered from over 500 games and millions of players across its platform, Mistplay’s report introduces the Mobile Gaming Loyalty Index, a metric that quantifies and ranks the loyalty value of various mobile gaming genres based on key metrics such as retention rates, repeat purchase rates, and average sessions per user. The survey was based on interviews with 2,000 mobile gamers.

Make me an offer

This type of player will spend less.
This type of player will spend less.

The report said a good (personalized) offer goes a long way. Optimizing the usage of in-app purchase offers and discounts can be a viable strategic approach to encourage investment, given that 33% of spenders indicate they will spend if they encounter a deal too good to pass up, and 40% would be influenced to spend more if given personalized offers.

A leading motivation for spending among high-value spenders is to make progression in the game.

“If you have the ability to motivate a user with the natural progression in the game. And then you layer on top of that personalized offers, you get the compounding effect of what these users are telling us are the motivations that drive them,” Heller said.

Social factors influence installs, not always spending. Community is a powerful lever at the top of the funnel, with mobile spenders ranking word-of-mouth recommendations as a top-3 discovery channel and 31% downloading three or more games from referrals in the past year, but it may lose importance further down the funnel, as a majority of spenders (69%) report that social factors don’t influence their spending decisions at all.

“We really want to help publishers understand how to navigate the changes in user spending that are happening and that will continue to happen,” Heller said. “We spent a lot of time thinking about what are the mechanics of user behavior and motivations that drive user behavior user spending. What does it take to win your fair share of that market? Consistently, we’re hearing — not just in the study, but we do other research that primary research against high value spenders fairly consistently — that the heyday of spending because of relaxation and escapism is reverting to something more practical.”

Getting a piece of the pie

How much big spenders spend in a month.
How much big spenders spend in a month.

To get a bigger share of the discretionary income spent on this activity, it’s going to take more capability and skill on the part of the game industry, he said.

“Publishers aren’t just competing against each other. They’re competing against every other form of entertainment and distraction,” Heller said. “There were a few years in the pandemic where maybe that wasn’t so true because the easiest thing in the world to do is hop on your phone, download a game and get lost. Users who were willing to spend and experiment with those things are starting to slow down. Every so often, you get a Monopoly Go. But there will be a rude awakening for a lot of companies that we will see in the next year.”

The report also found that loyalty bonuses are powerful tools to engage spenders. Spenders are looking for ways to make their discretionary spend go further and will engage with brands that help them do so, as a majority (79%) not only engage with a variety of loyalty programs but will also spend more in-game if doing so earns them extra points or monetary rewards (51%).

And engagement with ads relies on relevant, real gameplay. A majority of spenders will download a new game after seeing ad impressions for a few days or less – and while 72% of mobile spenders will be interested in ads that have appealing gameplay, they are often frustrated with misleading gameplay.

The future of user acquisition

Spenders who make in-game purchases.
Spenders who make in-game purchases.

“We understand that the attitudes and behaviors of those gamers who are spending is going to be changing,” Heller said. “We put this report out there for the publisher community to understand how to navigate that changing landscape when ultimately the highest value spenders are seeing that they’re going to spend less frequently in fewer games.”

Heller said that user acquisition is getting more expensive, especially in a privacy-focused era.

“The independent studios and independent publishers don’t have the kind of budgets for user acquisition that they used to,” Heller said. “And so diversifying user acquisition, creating a better product market fit, making sure that games resonate with users so that you can convert more of those free users into paid users — that’s key to developing loyalty.”

And once you acquire a user, you can drive more value over the lifetime of that user. Those who can do that will be the disproportionate winners in the industry.

Mistplay’s background

Mistplay is delving into mobile gaming spending.
Mistplay is delving into mobile gaming spending.

Mistplay debuted in in 2016 and it has climbed the ranks as an Android-focused media source for game publishers because it has a community of millions of engaged mobile gamers who opt-in to its rewards and game discovery.

The company grew fast and it was acquired by a growth-focused private equity firm, GrowthCurve Capital, in 2021. The company is in nine major markets around the world and it has two million users. It has around 270 employees. Right now, the company is good at attracting spenders in games to its platform and then directing those users into different games that they like.

Spender behavior
What spenders do when they see an ad.

“We want to actually help drive growth across the entire lifecycle of our clients users, which we don’t do today. Today, we’re mainly more on the user acquisition side,” Heller said. “We have some products coming out that will focus on more of the lifecycle of the user.”

Heller said the company does its business in a privacy compliant way, where Mistplay ensures that the only way user data is used is to serve up relevant personalized experiences. That’s very different from an ad network, where the goal is to drive monetization.

“We’re fortunate we are not an ad network. We’re a community of users,” he said. “We’ve invested a lot of time and energy making sure that we are with our clients. The value prop that we represent to our users is that we really use first party data, their behavior, for the sole purpose of making better recommendations that are relevant for them.”

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