Episode 10: Game Economy Design and Monetization with The Mobile Game Doctor

Mobile GameDev Playbook podcast by GameRefinery

In the latest episode of the Mobile GameDev Playbook, we examine what it takes to design a profitable game economy. We uncover the best monetization strategies for mobile game developers, as well as how to plan and execute these strategies to boost a free-to-play mobile game’s potential revenue. 

From the planning of in-game economic structures to applying an enticing value exchange for players, this episode covers all the bases for developers looking to maximise their game’s chances of financial success. 

We’re joined by game design consultancy Mobile Game Doctor that specialises in bringing together experienced game designers from all over the world to help promote global game design health and creative well-being for its clients. 

Host Jon Jordan is joined by GameRefinery’s Chief Analyst Erno Kiiski and special guests Dave Rohrl, Founder and CEO and Raymond Holmes, Consulting Designer at Mobile Game Doctor

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Topics we will cover in this episode:

1. Free to play monetization trends

2. Monetization and tapping into player motivations

3. The importance of thinking about monetization from the get go

4. Pacing, giving players goals, and keeping players engaged

5. What we’re expecting to see over the coming year


Jon: Hello, and welcome to the Mobile GameDev Playbook. Thanks for tuning in for another episode. Remember, this is a podcast that provides insights into what makes a great mobile game. What is, and is not working for mobile game designers and all the latest trends. I’m your host, Jon Jordan, and today’s topic is mobile game economy design. No, no, no, come back. This is fascinating stuff. We’re going to talk about how developers can maximize their revenues by ensuring that the in-game economy is the best, and that’s the best for players—both players who pay money and players who don’t spend money.

Today we’re going to be chatting about some of these key considerations. When designers are thinking about planning their economies and then when implementing them and creating an ideal balance because it’s about monetization, but also that has to, with engagement and retention, everything needs to work together if you’re going to be successful. 

Joining me this week is Erno Kiiski, who’s the Chief Analyst for the US at GameRefinery. How’s it going, Erno?

Erno: It’s going great. Thank you. I’m good. How are you?

Jon: Ready for this one? Our expert guests are Dave Rohrl, who’s the CEO of Mobile Game Doctor and Raymond Holmes, who’s a consulting designer at Mobile Game Doctor. Hello guys. How’s it going?

Dave: Great. Thank you so much for having us on.

Jon: Good, good. Before we start off, let’s get a bit of background on our guest experts. Dave, you don’t have to go through your entire history, because that would be a whole podcast, but, can you give us a brief back history and tell us,  don’t be bored of telling us about crazy Dave because crazy Dave is a good story that listeners will be interested in.

Dave: All right, sounds good. I’ve been in the game industry now since about 1994. Got my start doing entertainment CD ROMs at The Learning Company back in the ’90s, wound up doing some successful games there, and managed the Oregon Trail brand for a while. Got excited about games on the internet in 2000, went to Pogo and was there for about six and a half years among other things. Started and ran their digital download business. Started PopCap’s first remote studio in downtown San Francisco. One of my teams there built the game Plants vs. Zombies, where they immortalize me as the character crazy Dave. That uses up about 14 minutes and 59 seconds of my 15 minutes of fame.

Dave: From there, I got excited about games on Facebook, was a Design Director at Zynga, worked on the word game portfolio and Zynga Poker. With the Facebook Gaming days, went to play them as an Executive Producer and Creative Director and then went to an early HTML5 gaming startup. When that went belly up, I got the entrepreneurial bug. In mid-2014, I started Mobile Game Doctor, basically flying around consulting on free to play mobile game projects, mostly on the design side.

Since then have been working on and in growing that business, helping game developers all over the world, improve their game design, product management, marketing and get better outcomes.

Jon: Thank you very much. Raymond, I realized I’ve done this in the wrong order because, in any other podcasts with 24 years of game design expertise, you’d be the veteran, but I’ve paired you against crazy Dave, which is probably the wrong way around. What have you been doing in 24 years of the game industry?

Raymond: Yes. I started in games in ’96, with PC games and worked on Tetris. Did some early console work, and then about 12 years ago, I got a job at Zynga and that started my free to play journey that I have been pretty much on since I was the designer on Farmville, which is a dubious position in my mind, but there you go.

Free to play monetization trends

Jon: Cool. No, Farmville, very, very, very famous game. Cool. We have two absolute experts. That’s great, but to kick us off to get some high-level trends. Erno, do you want to tell us what’s been going on, more recently in the world of free to play monetization?

Erno: Yes, definitely. If we start by looking at the free to play monetization, I’m going to look like the different types of games and so on. Traditionally, of course, if you’re talking about casual games, casino games, and so on, those games have been monetized through that core gameplay. Basically, you have your match, three games with your boosters and continues, or you have your energy restrictions on gameplay and so on.

Then if we’re looking at the mid-core, hardcore stuff, most of those games had been monetized through the meta layers with collections on characters and items and upgrades. But if you look at the trends in recent years, especially in casual games, we have seen the rise of monetization. For example, look at any of the top-grossing 100 casual games nowadays, all of those have different collectable elements you are collecting.

For example, collecting some stickers or something completing collections and then get a reward from completing that. Those don’t actually have a direct impact on the gameplay, but it gives you this another progression layer on top of the core mechanics. Then, of course, some upgrading mechanics not coming to the casual gameplay.

For example, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is a good example of basically being like an interactive story, like a 2.0, so interactive story, game stories, the main element, but then you have lots of different upgrading elements, and then, of course, different ways to monetize through that. 

Then, of course, building stuff with Gardenscapes, Homescapes. Bringing these building metas on top of the actual match-three core gameplay. For example, one of the top hidden object games currently in the market, June’s Journey. They did not make the game, but it has a huge building meta on top of that and all the events that they are running, they are selling the special buildings that then you can build your own home garden and so on.

Then, of course, another trend on top of that on casual games is the increase of session length and engagement in the gameplay. Like I said, of course, the restrictions of gameplay have been quite heavy back in the day. Still, nowadays, if you look at, for example, the top match3 games, they have various different types of events constantly running on top of the actual gameplay, increasing the session length and then monetizing through the pain points with the events. For example, let’s say the winning streak events, which is basically in all of the top match3 games nowadays, you have your win streak events on top of the actual gameplay. Then, of course, through the fear of losing out your win streak, they can monetize it through that. 

“The top match3 games have various different types of events constantly running on top of the actual gameplay, increasing the session length and then monetizing through the pain points with the events.”

Erno talking about match-3 monetization

Looking at the mid-core stuff some more elements are also taken from the casual side. If you look at our statistics, for example, with the ad monetization mid-core games, in the West, and especially it wasn’t so common, but it’s getting more and more common. For example, games like Call of Duty: Mobile have already ad monetization stuff implemented in those games as well. Just going on as one example. Then, of course, through the huge increase in the shooter genre of battle royale games, and so on.

Those games, of course, are monetized through the cosmetic economies and then the cosmetic monetization. If we’re looking at the feature data and what kind of things are sold to the players, there are skins and different accessories and so on are increasing in popularity quite a lot. Then just that’s the last few data points from our system, for example, battle pass, everybody’s talking about it, different ways of implementing battle passes in the all-around genre. We, of course, saw the battle pass being a cosmetic economic feature on top of the battle royale genre, like Fortnite and so on.

Nowadays, if you look at the market we see it all around the genres and an actual number, if we are looking at, for example, the top-grossing 100, we see 37% of all the games in top-grossing 100 in the US iOS, nowadays have a battle pass and there’s a 24% year over year increase of utilizing this feature. Of course, why it works is because it’s an engagement feature. It’s a progression feature, and it’s a monetization feature. Yes, that’s some of the data points, for example, that we have seen in the trends following the market.

“37% of all the games in top-grossing 100 in the US iOS have a battle pass and there’s a 24% year over year increase of utilizing this feature.”

Erno talking about battle pass use in top iOS games

Jon: Quite a lot to unpack there. I guess broadly speaking we can see there’s a lot of cross-pollinization, whether that’s geographically and a lot mashing up of genres as well. Dave and Raymond, is that the similar things you see been happening?

Raymond: Yes, the nice thing about the battle pass is that it creates this feeling with the player that they’re losing out on something. Usually, it’s a very small amount that they go for and because it’s reoccurring, it’s a recurring charge, it’s pretty easy to see why it would be popular among other games.

“The nice thing about the battle pass is that it creates this feeling with the player that they’re losing out on something.”

Raymond on why Battle pass is so successful

Jon: Dave.

Monetization and tapping into player motivations

Dave: One of the things that’s interesting to me, I think we’ve seen a lot of rapid evolution in terms of the mechanics of monetization as Erno just called out. We’ve seen monetization with direct gameplay, we’ve seen monetization construction. One of the things that has really struck me over time and I’ve done a few lectures on this at different conferences is that there’s actually a lot of consistency around what the player motivations for monetization are or why players want to spend.

How we turn that into a transaction, I think it varies and grows over time, but I’ve got a little mnemonic that I use to think about why players are monetizing. The mnemonic is caps and that stands for cosmetics. How do players appear? How do they look? How do they show themselves and sort of peacock to other players? Access. How do you get to content? How do you speed up through a grind? Or how do you get access to exclusive content? Power. How do you gain an edge in a PVP match or how do you get a little extra boost to get through a difficult level? Lastly, status. What can you do that raises you up in the eyes of the community as a high achiever in the game?

“There’s a lot of consistency around what the player motivations for monetization are or why players want to spend.”

Dave on player motivations for monetization

In each of those four motivations has less monetization potential on a per player basis than the one that follows it. To me, one of the things that works really well about battle passes as a monetization approach is that they combine the cosmetic desire, the desire to be seen by other players, the want for players to check you out and say, “Hey, that guy looks cool. He looks impressive. He looks badass,” along with status because in order to get the top rewards, many battle pass systems, you’ve got to achieve heavily in the game.

You’ve got to play heavily, you’ve got to make progress. You got to play all the levels to get to those big rewards and be able to show off. For me, the fact that it’s both of those nerves is a lot of what makes it a really strong monetization technique.

Jon: That’s a good framework I guess we can use to think about that, because from the trends that Erno was talking about and what we’ve seen broadly in the last couple of years is what we thought of as casual games whether that was the right term or not. But, then there’s casual games taking on some of the monetization and similarly retention and engagement techniques that were broadly seen as being more engaging and for more core games. Do you think that caps framework, how does that change the push genre?

Because obviously, even though there is this mashup cross-pollinization happening, that there are still genres of mobile games that obviously have different audiences, they feel different audiences and presumably that also then feeds through to the psychological attractions that that audience have.

Dave: A lot of it, I think, goes to what players are looking to the game for. All of those motivations exist among all audiences. Everybody wants to show off; some games are better or worse at facilitating that. When you think about cosmetic monetization, there’s some really important design precursors. You need visibility of others. You want to be able to see the other players that are playing the game. Otherwise, what’s the point of looking good? You’re dressing up for yourself in a mirror.

All of those motivations exist among all audiences. Everybody wants to show off; some games are better or worse at facilitating that.”

 Dave on motivations for audiences

Ideally, you want to have some degree of self-visibility so you can see how cool you look. This is one of the things that Fortnite does really well, relative to let’s say Apex Legends. That third-person camera versus first-person camera really lets you see how cool you look as you go through the game. Some hardcore audiences are really focused on games as a kind of contest of skill and dominance are very resistant to power-based monetization culturally.

You start hearing a lot of noise about games being paid to win from more hardcore audiences. Although that same motivation is there, that cultural tolerance and acceptance of it, isn’t. That’s one of the reasons that you don’t see power monetization in a lot of MOBAs and a lot of more core head-to-head PVP kinds of games, and why they’re so cosmetic-focused because even though you can generally monetize power a little more strongly, the community is just not very accepting of the selling of that power.

“Some hardcore audiences are really focused on games as a kind of contest of skill and dominance, very resistant to power-based monetization culturally.”

Dave on monetization of hard-core audiences 

The importance of thinking about monetization from the get go

Jon: That makes sense. In terms of your role as the Mobile Game Doctor, Raymond, when companies are bringing you in, there’ll be lots of specific things based around the specific game or the genre that they’re trying to do, but on a broader level, are there any things that you basically see a lot of game designers getting wrong about economy? Is there any top-level stuff, that’s the low-hanging fruit that you just see all the time?

Raymond: I would say the thing that I see the most is that people don’t realize how much of their economy they can model beforehand and have a full understanding of where all of their sources and sinks are, what the flow of the game is and tracking all the components. One of the things I often help them with is figuring out how to model that usually in Google Sheets or Excel to create a tool where they can check out these numbers. I think the other thing that I see a lot is the whole kitchen sink theory, where they see something in another game that’s doing really well and they want to throw it into their game, even if it doesn’t fit the style of their game or if it’s tacked on as opposed to being integral into the game flow.

Jon: There’s fashions in monetization as much as there is fashion in everything. You guys, you spend a lot of time, obviously, analyzing games. How quickly do you see that someone does that innovation, some of the battle passes and then how quickly are people trying to crowbar that new thing in?

Erno: Quite quickly. Like Ray mentioned, getting a feed, you’re seeing a trend in the market, then just blindly saying that, “Okay, that’s cool. That’s something that a lot of people are doing.” Some of them are successful with it. There are plenty of cases we are looking at, for example, in terms of battle pass that it didn’t really have any impact or even had a negative impact in the games economy after they implemented it. 

It can really be a good addition for your game. It can be really good to boost up your engagement, boost up your monetization and so on, but there are also dangers and you really have to think about how you implement that.

Jon: Dave, the role of a consultant is fairly wide, but I imagine, you’re probably getting called into projects that have gone somewhat awry, rather than being called in at the start of a project. Would that broadly be correct?

Dave: Varies quite a bit. Certainly, the most typical use case for our services is a project where either it’s in development and somebody’s realized that they’re in a bit over their head or the product is actually at market, say in soft launch and is underperforming, people bring us in for that. We have more and more customers, particularly folks that we’ve worked with over a number of years that will now bring us in fairly early to check weaknesses in their concept, system design, help evaluate prototypes, really help them think about how to evaluate prototypes in the games. We love coming in early because it allows us to have a much greater impact on the outcomes of the game.

Jon: I imagine by the time the games in soft launch there’s always tinkering you can do and obviously, live ops is now, a lot of things you can do with live ops, but once something’s in soft launch, sometimes it’s probably easier just to say, “Maybe this game, it shouldn’t be launched,” which is maybe a hard thing to say to anyone, but maybe it’s easy. Maybe they bring you to tell them that.

Dave: It happens from time to time and honestly, sometimes that’s the best piece of advice that you can give a client. You can look at them and say, “Look, you can spend another $500,000, $1 million, $2 million in development funds on this project, but you’re fairly unlikely to recoup it in any meaningful margin. Sometimes it’s better just to take the learnings and move on. Software is theoretically an infinitely plastic medium. We can make the game and do whatever we want if there is an attached, engaged community, there’s always real risk in terms of shifting a lot of the core of the game.

Generally, once a game is in soft launch, we are looking to smooth out the imperfections, maybe add on some ancillary systems to crack a couple of things that don’t make sense, do some UI/UX refactoring. The earlier we can come in, the more we can shape the system to be effective in performing.

Jon: If I’m a game designer and I’ve roughly decided what I’m going to do, how detailed should I be getting into my economy in this pre-prototyping phase? I guess the temptation is to get really focused on detail, and not going down some really big rabbit holes that I think are going to be big wins for me. Presumably, those should be the things that happen right at the end. You should be looking at the basic flow of how people are coming in and going back to those motivations. What the basic motivations I should be building and making sure there’s some really good foundations and that bit is working before I start getting all carried away in my soft launch.

Dave: That’s right. Bad game designer, no cookie. We go through a lot. In addition to our consulting business, we have a co-development business that we work on. We do games from kickoffs through completion and we put a lot of emphasis on doing system visualizations and thinking through core creative direction issues very early in the process. I am a big fan of whether you do it by hand or you use something like machinations or even lucid charts in terms of really mapping out your game systems visually. Understanding what your loots are, understanding where your player motivations are focused and what success means in the game, where you’re applying friction and putting on the brakes.

Once you start laying that out visually, it helps a lot. Before I even do that and start laying out the system bricks, for me, I like to focus on what is the core fun, what’s the player motivation, what are the three to five things we want to make amazing in this game and how do we make them shine through, and then build the system that supports that and leverages it, but I want to see laid out on paper before I start doing any prototyping. What do I think is the entire system of the game, what are all the key entities, how do they interact with one another?

I’ve just found mapping that out incredibly beneficial. It helps you ensure you’re putting friction in the right place, it helps you ensure that you don’t have any open loops in the game, which is a typical rookie mistake. You have these endless spirals. One other thing I like to look for fairly, I’m hinting at this. When you look at a game that principally rewards engagements rather than skill, you always have an upward economic spiral. The canonical form of a poor game loop is do X so you can get Y so you can improve Z so you can do X better.

You’re getting better and better, winning more and more and more. It’s a positive feedback loop. If you want the game to retain a sense of challenge and engagement, it’s really important that you think about what’s going to apply the downward pressure on that loop. What are the brakes that the game is going to put on to ensure that the player doesn’t just accelerate out of control? Getting that right so that the player feels a consistent sense of challenge and engagement is a really tricky business.

There is some stuff that you can do in terms of best practices. What kind of spreadsheet modelling that Ray was talking about, understanding how quickly your spiral goes up, but there’s also just a lot of experimentation and playtesting and iteration that goes into getting that right.

Pacing, giving players goals, and keeping players engaged

Jon: I guess to a degree, that’s the economic inflation problem that I guess is quite well-known now that as players play for longer, they get more stuff in the game, and so currency becomes worthless so you need bigger, bigger and bigger things to spend it on. Otherwise, they’re sitting there on millions and millions of in-game currency. I play a lot of RPGs. In some ways, it’s interesting when you talk about changing the velocity, speeding up and slowing down.

There’s always that thing with RPGs where you have to collect. To get level one, you level them up and then you have to consume one character to get to level two and then level two, it’s like two characters. By the time you get to level six and seven, it’s like years of work to level up all these characters, to level up the one to the next level. Actually, it feels like quite an accomplishment to do it. In some ways, that model feels quite good, but I like a lot of grinding RPGs.

Dave: Well, there’s a lot of design traits that go into making that feel right. If every single character in the player’s inventory is going to take years to level up and it’s six months before you hit the next level up of anything, that’s when you start to lose people. That’s why you balance the inventory with a mix of higher level and lower level characters while you’re constantly producing new stuff into the mix so that while the player is chasing these big goals, it’s really important that they have some intermediate goals to chase as well.

Jon: Another good thing you mentioned, and obviously a key thing really, even more important than monetization is fun. I guess some game designers are brilliant in building monetization and they forget the fun and that’s a bit pointless. Raymond, do you find that mobile game designers in the free to play space are now so good and these techniques are so sophisticated that sometimes fun is the thing that is squeezed out of the equation?

Raymond: I haven’t really experienced that with people that I’ve worked with. They generally want it to be fun and they look and focus on the fun. It’s hard particularly for people that are new to free to play to understand that, I guess very specific not-fun moments of the game is what you need. You need to intersperse these pinch points in order to have some motivation for the player to want to spend.

Within terms of what Dave was saying about having different short-term, mid-term and long-term goals and level ups and things, you remember you want to have a game that is going to last for years hopefully, but you also have to remember how fast your team can produce content for it. One of the other things that we do is to try and gauge and balance the speed at which the players consume the content and the speed at which they level up so that they’re kept interested in the game. All those things combined together.

You’ve got to make sure that there’s this core thing that you’re doing that you have some enjoyment out of, but at the same time, things will be fast in the beginning and then start to slow down so that you’re encouraged to spend to speed them back up again, but you can’t let that go completely off the rails or you will lose all your free players.

Jon: That’s a good point, is it? It’s still the case. I don’t know. I know you have the figures, but it’s still a very small percentage of people who are playing these free to play games ever spend any money at all. Obviously, there’s now billions of people playing these games. Potentially, that’s to be expected because the audience has got so big. I think if a game’s getting 3% of its audience to monetize, that would be seen as fairly successful in the genre I suppose.

Dave: It depends very much on your definition of too monetized. In our experience, if you have a game that has robust monetization systems, it’s really not that uncommon to see say 3% of daily players converting on any given day in a well-monetized game. If you think about how many players will convert over the course of their lifetime, obviously a lot of those are repeat purchasers, but you’re looking often for a number that’s more like say 10%, maybe a little bit higher of players will convert at some point for at least one transaction. That 3% figure I think is a little bit misleading. People assume that that’s the number of people who ever transact, but we see games that convert 3% a day.

“If you have a game that has robust monetization systems, it’s really not that uncommon to see 3% of daily players converting on any given day in a well-monetized game.”

Dave on monetization and conversion rates 

Jon: That’s much higher. Still, I’ve never heard of, so that’s good. That’s good news.

Raymond: The other thing to remember too is that the longer the player stays in the game, the more likely they are to eventually monetize. That longevity, keeping that interest going is also very important for monetization.

“The longer the player stays in the game, the more likely they are to eventually monetize. That longevity, keeping that interest going is also very important for monetization.”

Raymond on monetization and length of play

Dave: That said though, you want to make sure that your game is not exclusively focused on late monetization.

Raymond: Right. Definitely.

Dave: When players monetize early, they have more of a tendency to retain. Once you start paying for a game, you start to feel invested, you want to stick around, you want to retain and make good on that investment and some of your players simply won’t retain. Even really high retaining games have lost whatever 70%-75% of their players after a week. You do want to make sure that you have some monetization opportunity in place for those players who balance. For the long term health of your game, to be able to convert it into a hobby, you really need those deep recurring spending opportunities for players that have been playing months and years.

“Even really high retaining games can lose 70%-75% of their players after a week.”

Dave on player retention

Jon: What sort of player are you when you play a game? Are you someone who goes in and goes for the obvious, is the really cheap pack that gives you loads of value and see how experiences or are you more canny with your money? You want to play for a bit and see?

Erno: Yes. For me, personally, well, basically, for my job I have to play so many of these games so it depends a lot, and it needs quite a special game, to be honest, for me to retain that for a very long time, even in my free time. I would say, I think, again, this is the same story all over again. Again, going back to the battle passes, and if you have, for example, listened to the great video that the Supercell guys made about their approach to Clash of Clans battle pass.

Which is something, basically, they were talking about the amount of players that converted after they implemented the battle pass because it gives you a good first step for many of the non-payers in the game to go for the first transaction. Then, of course, getting more engaged in the game, and so on. I would say, personally, those types of features I like because as a player, I’m a huge sucker for anything to progress in or giving me more and more layers to progress in.

That’s why, for example, battle pass is probably a feature that I have bought in most of the games that I have played or played even a bit more because it’s usually an easy first step for the non-payers and then it gives me that sense of a progression or having another progression layer for the game and giving me the satisfaction of completing milestones and so on.

Jon: I guess what’s interesting about battle pass is it does create a unified shop front that even if you’re not spending money, you’re still part of the battle but you have the free option. I guess, in this way of getting a balance between people who want to pay, the battle pass is good and the people who don’t want to pay, get some of the battle pass. But also the reason it’s been successful in the genres, is because it is a very good incentive to take some of the non-payers into the paying option particularly because it has this limited time frame as well.

We all know how retailing works. If it is a closing down sale one-day only sort of thing, that just drives us to FOMO.

Erno: Exactly. Definitely there’s the FOMO effect on it also as you see that, “Okay, I have completed the 50 levels of it already, now I’m getting even more value out of it.” Then again, something that we have seen in the market, be the battle pass implementation, for example, is different companies have now been starting to implement more and more a subscription type of elements to the battle pass. The players would convert in the very early phase of the seasons and so on.

For example, a lot of Playrix does this with their Gardenscapes, and Homescapes, and Fishdom battle passes, you get the special Playrix for the duration of the season. It’s not just like the rewarded tiers that you progress in but do you actually have these slight, small elements of subscription plans with the battle pass.

What we’re expecting to see over the coming year

Jon: Good. We’ve covered a lot of stuff there. How do we think this is going to play out over the next year? Do we think the same trends are going to continue? Is there going to be this mashing up? Is there going to be, just having a greater level of sophistication of how these economies are being built?

Or do we still think there’s a good opportunity for something quite disruptive to come into game economy design and really change the status quo? Dave, what do you think?

Dave: Well, it’s kind of a tough question. Disruptions are always waiting in the wings but the way of these disruptions is there’s something that’s maybe on one or two people’s mind, they execute it, they demonstrate success, and then the market rushes in and fills the void. Battle passes weren’t really super prominent until we started seeing them really roll out in Fortnite and battle royales broadly, where they started getting a lot of traction, and then casual game designers looked at it and said, “Hey, I can see how this maps in.”

There is a constant of crazy experiments out there or even how many millions of mobile games are live right now. As those get traction, we’ll start to see come in, I do think we’re going to see a lot of evolution in existing mechanics, especially around the battle pass. They’ve rolled in elements of a lot of older monetization mechanics like currency subscriptions, it’s now rolled in, VIP programs have rolled in there. I think we’re going to see a lot of iteration there. In terms of what the next breakthrough is, I’ll know it when I see it making a bunch of money.

Jon: There’s a good point that there’s plenty of innovation out there, there’s plenty of smart people thinking about these things and trying it out. Part of the acceptance comes from audience acceptance as well because if an audience doesn’t really understand what something is, then it’s obviously not going to monetize. Whereas if suddenly the audience gets it, then it becomes the audience almost want it in their game as well. Do you think that’s correct, Ray? Should we be also going full circle and putting the audience into part of this in terms of what they can actually get their heads around?

Raymond: Yes. Certainly, when you put these features in your game, we want to track them and see how they do. It really depends on what you think your audience is or who your audience is with your game, but I’ve seen lots of cross-pollinization in places. Talking about battle passes coming from Fortnite, and then seeing it in Clash Royale, there’s a long-standing feature in casino games, social casino games, the piggy bank. Now you’re seeing the piggy bank in idle games and some other sorts of things.

There becomes this cross-pollinization where people go, “Well, maybe my audience would like that feature, would accept that feature, and we can put it in and see what happens.”

Jon: The good game designer is borrowing or stealing from everywhere, I suppose they’re not just playing their own genres, they’re going widely across the world of mobile games. Well, thank you very much, gentlemen, I think that is a wrap for today. We’ve covered a lot of stuff, I’ve certainly learned things. That’s good. I can only hope the audience has loads of things as well. Thanks for your time, Erno.

Erno: Thank you.

Jon: And thanks, Dave, and Ray for your expertise.

Ray: Thanks so much for having us on. It was a lot of fun.

Dave: Thank you for inviting us.

Jon: Of course, talking of audience acceptance. Thank you, listeners, listener acceptance. We hope you’ve enjoyed that we are releasing new podcasts on what’s going on in the world of mobile games and all those trends every month. If you haven’t subscribed already, please do so, we’re available through the usual podcast channels. If you like us, write a review, that’s really good and that helps other people find us as well. Thank you very much for listening to this episode, and come back next time and see what’s going on in the world of mobile games then. Goodbye.

Did you like the episode? If you haven’t listened to our previous one yet, you can find it here: Episode 9: IDFA and the future of the Mobile Gaming Ad Industry, featuring AdColony

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