Why Web Stores Offer a Better Deal For Your Mobile Game VIPs
We’ve already spoken about the $30 billion+ opportunity in the mobile games market. According to data.ai’s State of Mobile report, the sector generated $110 billion from player spending on in-app purchases in 2022. But due to the hefty 30% revenue share taken by Apple and Google, publishers saw ‘just’ $77 billion of that—the rest was scooped up by the platform holders.
Much of this revenue, of course, comes from the minority of players, your VIPs. But the App Store and Google Play make engaging with these players and providing them with deals more challenging than it should be—and they, of course, take that 30% fee. That’s where an off-app payment system, or web store, can come in. Not only can this provide a much fairer deal for publishers—Appcharge, for example, takes just a 5% fee for powering transactions—but one of the biggest opportunities they offer is catering to those VIPs.
These users are the most engaged and highest spending players in your game. Ensuring a good experience, where they feel they are getting the appropriate rewards and perks for their investments, not only helps your title be successful, but can act as a reflection to how the wider playerbase feels about your game. As we noted in the Mobile Game Web Store Designer’s Playbook, building a community is a great way to keep players engaged and bring them together.
One of the best ways to do this (aside from in-game options such as clans, leaderboards, competitions, and various multiplayer modes) is to build your community outside of the app and onto platforms such as Discord, social media and even a dedicated website. These platforms let you engage with your players—and your VIPs—in ways that the App Store and Google Play don’t let you.
Through Discord, you can promote exclusive web store bundles, promote events with special giveaways available only out of the game, communicate directly with your players in a two-way conversation, and obtain direct feedback on specific features, updates, and what your players want to see most in the game. On Twitch, not only can the streaming platform help promote your title, it’s another way to share content and also promote exclusive web store offers. The same goes for social media—you’re meeting players where they are, while also having a platform to offer them the best deals, which you can’t do on closed mobile ecosystems.
It’s in these communities that you can build closer relationships with your highest spending players. Depending on your strategy, you could potentially communicate with players out of the game and through chatbots on Facebook, or via email marketing integration, to promote the latest and best deals. You could even offer limited-time discounts, bundles or even early access to new features, all through a web store that offers a better deal. By creating a direct-to-player monetization strategy, developers can increase their revenue and build a loyal fanbase outside of the restrictive app stores, rather than having to go through them.
A web store can work in tandem with your community strategy, particularly when it comes to VIPs. For starters, you have total control on the deals you can provide players and which price points to choose—and you are not at the mercy of any potential future policy changes by Apple or Google. This means you can provide better offers for players, who can get more bang for their buck when publishers don’t have to account for the 30% revenue share with platform holders.
For VIPs, you can offer a special loyalty program with better rates than in the app. What’s more, by linking platforms like Appcharge to your mobile game, you can segment your most important users and surface deals most appropriate to them. These deals can be personalised even to specific individuals, based on how they engage with the game and their current progress, and this entire process can be automated.
To attract players to actually engage with your web store, however, is no simple task. Many purchases in-game are made emotionally, an experience that is extremely challenging to replicate out of the app. That’s why building a community is important, and engaging with your top players to showcase the better deals on offer from your own store. The experience can also be improved by ‘gamifying’ the web store, making it look and feel similar to what players see in-game.
With AppCharge, developers can automate user segmentation, enabling them to create custom rules based on player behaviour, game progression, spending levels and habits, the country they live in, and preferred payment methods. This personalization means developers can create and surface the most relevant offers to players, helping to increase conversion, and therefore revenue. And this all happens in an environment where publishers can take 95% of the revenue, not just 70%. What’s more, this can all be done without an SDK.
A Fairer Deal
Web stores have the potential to be much more than a way to obtain a better revenue share than mobile platform holders currently provide. They can play a key role in keeping VIPs happy and engaged with your game, ensuring they get the best and most relevant deals for their money, a process made easier by having a web store you control and generate higher returns from. By building communities out-of-app, publishers are able to go direct to players, build better relationships, and provide the most value.
Mobile Games: $30 Billion Overestimated!
The global mobile games industry generated $110 billion from player spending on in-app purchases during 2022, according to data.ai’s State of Mobile report.
Despite representing a 5% decrease year-over-year—caused by factors such as Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) changes, global economic challenges and the post-pandemic return to normalcy—it’s still a sign of an enormous and wildly lucrative industry.
But the headline figure and top success stories mask a hidden truth in the sector: as much as 70% of that figure actually represents expenses to developers and publishers. Partnership deals, tech licences, service provider fees, user acquisition costs are all a weight on profitability, albeit necessary ones.
But the biggest chunk of revenue loss is the 30% share taken by Apple and Google (while in China this fee can in fact be greater). Off the bat, as far as developers and publishers are concerned—the companies fueling this industry—the mobile games market is actually worth $77 billion, minus the further costs of running a successful business.
It’s still a hefty sum, but the platform holders are arguably holding the industry back from delivering more for the creators themselves.
There are signs of a sea change, however, with the 30% revenue share by Apple and Google facing significant challenges in recent years. Perhaps the most famous example is Epic Games’ lawsuit against Apple over the fee, as well as other complaints, which came after the company introduced its own payment system into battle royale hit Fortnite in August 2020, a move that broke App Store rules. Apple summarily removed the title from its store—despite having generated $1.2 billion on the marketplace, according to Sensor Tower—leading to a lawsuit that has since put the 30% platform fee under the spotlight. Governments and regulators across the world have since taken increased notice, and more importantly, are taking action.
Different remedies have been put forward by Apple and Google across different countries to appease local laws, and while the platform holders have been resistant to loosening their grip on these highly lucrative marketplaces, the genie has been let out of the bottle. It may take a long time, but the 30% fee has come under immense pressure, and change could one day be on the cards to lower this substantially—though not without a fight first.
Some of the world’s top publishers aren’t waiting around, however. While current rules mean that game developers can’t direct users to pay off the platform, that hasn’t stopped them opening web stores to navigate around the fees. Scopely has launched a web store for one of its hit titles, Star Trek :Fleet Command to PC and browser, with purchases able to be accessed within the mobile game. Plarium’s flagship title RAID: Shadow Legends, which has accumulated an estimated $1 billion+ on mobile, can also be accessed on PC and Mac through Plarium Play, with purchases under a user’s account accessible across devices.
Even Supercell now has its own web store, available in select countries, for players to purchase in-game currency such as gems in its blockbuster titles like Clash of Clans and Clash Royale.
But it’s not just an opportunity for the largest companies in games to take advantage of. Any sized developer can and should be able to leverage a web store to help spur on greater returns. That’s why we founded Appcharge, to make web store creation accessible to everyone, while only taking a small cut of about 5%. If you don’t make any money, neither do we.
Appcharge’s founders have extensive games industry experience with top games companies such as IronSource and Moon Active, giving the team inside knowledge of the potential of web stores for developers, and what it takes to build and manage them successfully. To that end, Appcharge has built a direct-to-player platform that helps studios unlock the full potential of their business by selling digital goods and building stronger relationships with their players outside of the app stores.
But how do we plan to achieve this?
A web store means you won’t have to split your revenue share with Apple and Google. Using Appcharge’s platform, you only have to pay a share of around 5% of revenue from player spending.
Appcharge provides an off-the-shelf, mobile native web store built specifically with games in mind, with developers able to completely customise templates to their own needs. Developers can also integrate pricing tiers to any amounts they like, rather than be restricted by set steps and tiers required by platform holders.
We also aim to provide mobile-first, ‘gamified’ solutions to the web store pages, ensuring they look like a marketplace you’d find within a mobile game, and not just a boring, run-of-the-mill web storefront. To make a web store successful, it’s important to translate that in-game experience over to wherever your players are, particularly when they are making purchases. What’s more, our payment solution doesn’t require an SDK, making it easy to integrate into your game;s economy.
As well as operational functions, Appcharge acts as a payment and billing solution, taking away headaches such as invoicing, VAT, fraud, localised payments, tax and documentation, effectively acting as the merchant of record for any transaction through the store.
Appcharge also enables segmentation, allowing developers to personalise store pages to individual players, rather than offering users generic bundles.
There’s a clear opportunity for developers and publishers around the world to diversify their revenue stream, earn more for their efforts, and engage directly with their players. It’s time the industry knocked down the walled gardens and put more of that $110 billion market value into the pockets of developers and publishers, rather than the platform holders.
Interested in finding out how Appcharge can help you build your own web store? Contact us today. Our team can provide you with a demo and further discuss the benefits of adopting privacy-compliant practices and leveraging new technologies. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to stay ahead of the curve and position yourself for success in 2023 and beyond.