How to Utilize Subscription Model to Benefit Your Mobile Game
Subscriptions are gaining their popularity and recently there is a great upsurge of the new interest in this monetization method across different platforms. Mobile games are not the exception. Hybrid monetization method is attracting more and more mobile game developers because it combines all the benefits from the other monetizing methods such as in-app purchases or in-app ads with subscriptions.
In this article we will give you some advice about how to integrate subscriptions into your game, how to engage players to buy your subscriptions and also we’ll look at games that have already used this monetization method successfully.
How to Integrate Subscriptions into Your Mobile Game
Subscriptions can be used for two things: additional content and premium access. Therefore, it’s important to provide it, not just leaving players with free-to-play mechanics. There shouldn’t be any ads, push notifications, constant IAP offers etc. Also it means that you need to offer additional features such as special levels, tournaments, rewards, characters, cosmetics and their features.
Create Persistent Benefits
There are several mechanics that you can use to convert your players into subscribers: Access, Multipliers on rewards (typically seen in battle passes), and Vanity features that make people stand out.
- Access is quite a straightforward benefit to get. You provide your players with the opportunity to unlock certain levels or access to multiplayer functionality. Usually it is designed as an non-consumable IAP
- Multipliers are presented by increased XP and soft currency rewards, better ‘drops’ etc as seen in battle passes. Such subscription complement how people play games and offer players a way to invest more to get more
- Vanity features are usually related to the add-ons to special game characters or tools such as unique skins or special improvements or a gold-plated name tag. Such things are only relevant when other players can see it, because there is no point for games to have the coolest character look if no one will appreciate it.
Usually consumables are not the strongest drivers for converting to subscriptions, however, they are a useful tool for increasing engagement. For example, you can offer them on regular basis as a daily allowance, which will be increasing if the players will log in every day
Create an Engagement Loop
While designing IAP and subscriptions you need to remember that while IAP is about ownership, where players keep what they buy, subscriptions are about access to different additional experiences that you can gain or lose. Therefore the most effective way to utilize it is to make subscribers earn these unlocked benefits with their time, progression and skills. This way an engagement loop can be created, which encourages players to increase their in-play time and retention.
Rewards based on the engagement (how much time players spent in the game) and spending (how much money players spend on IAP) can also create a nice loop. In this case subscribers get discounts on IAP, leading to more IAP spending, which then unlocks higher subscription tiers and leads to better rewards which also leads to a bigger incentive to spend more on IAP.
Create Evolving Benefits
Subscriptions can be designed as a program, such that the benefits of it will evolve over time. This way players will invest more time, effort, skills in the game or will buy additional IAP. This is basically how battle passes works
Also subscriptions can be designed to provide benefit’s value to the player’s in-game levels. It can be done through the introduction of a reward program, point system and a separate VIP point system to create interest among players to reach a certain level in game, because definitely level 100 will be more rewarded than level 10. A milestone reward also can be a good idea. For example you can cheer players by giving them a special valuable one-time reward for being an active subscriber for some time: 3 month or 6 month or 1 year etc.
Appreciate High Value Users
As a game developer you want to target high-value users. So such players can be motivated by the ability to access a premium experience, prestige and rewards for their commitment to your game. That is where VIP subscription is most useful. You can offer your VIP subscribers extra currency, exclusive tournaments and competitions, early access to new content and access to special durables that will strengthen over time
Think Strategically About Offered Rewards
While deciding what to offer firstly think about your players, what do they crave, what aspects do they find important. Most of the time they want a hard currency so it’s a good option to reward them with it. However, be careful about it because in case you give out too much of them your IAP may suffer. If your gamers enjoy exclusive cosmetics, you should try to get the most out of it. For example you can offer special skins that players can’t get any other way or you can go further and to introduce unique skins with every new subscription, which makes it time-exclusive and therefore more valuable for players.
Careful and smart subscription design also allows to avoid IAP cannibalization. Offering multiple subscriptions targeted at different gamer segments can help here. You can target subscriptions that can be more valuable to new players or older players or to those who spent a lot on IAP.
Mobile Games Subscription Success Stories
As subscriptions in mobile games gain popularity there are lots of successful examples of its implementation among different game titles.
Call of Duty: Mobile
Call of duty uses a battle pass subscription and it’s introduced to players as soon as they start to play and finish their first battle. Battle pass in this case is integrated into the tutorial so gamers can see a free and paid rewards track and then they’re directed to the “buy” button to purchase the premium version. Not many games use such a way, but it still makes sense because gamers get used to the rewarding experience right away.
Moreover, this battle pass comes in one free and two paid versions. It allows Call of Duty: Mobile to appeal to three different segments: players, who don’t want to pay anything, those who can pay a small price and players ready to spend more to get most of the game. Price of the paid version depends on the season so the basic version costs 560 COD Points, that is around 6$. Buying this version allows players to unlock all the premium rewards. The upgraded pass version costs approximately 12$ and offers additional features with the focus on cosmetic items.
Talking about the longevity of the battle pass season, COD established a six month season that is pretty long. Such a long time allows great retention rates, long player lifespans and gamers are more motivated to keep playing.
Boom Beach is a strategy category game from one of the top mobile publishers – Supercell. The main monetization strategy that they use is through in-app purchases. However, in addition to different packs of in-game currency and others, they also add two subscription options: instant training and extra building. They cost $2,99 and $9,99 respectively. Instant training provides access to training troops and extra builders allow gamers to build two buildings at the same time or upgrade. Both of them are monthly and auto-renewable. These subscriptions are not huge, but still represent value to gamers and are a good complement to their IAP.
Wheel of Fortune
Wheel of Fortune is a word puzzle game that has some casino features. The game is free to play and it monetizes through a mix of ads, in-app purchases and subscriptions.
VIP All Access Pass costs $9.99 a month and provides such benefits as: no ads, bankruptcy protection, loss a turn protection, exclusive VIP frame and five ticket cap increase. All of these are called a “Jackpot of ongoing benefits” and players get all these benefits at a discounted rate: typically for the same amount of money players can buy a IAP – Bag of diamonds, but subscription here comes with more value for money. However, you can’t get a subscription offer until you win a few rounds. Game developers utilize it wisely and introduce subscriptions early enough so new players keep high engagement and this forms their future playing habits to encourage new players’ engagement and potentially their future playing habits. VIP All Access comes with a one-week free trial that automatically turns into subscription if it wasn’t canceled within 24 hours prior to the end of trial.
How Qonversion Сan Help?
Qonversion provides a complete infrastructure for in-app purchases and allows you to create and restore purchases, validate receipts, and provide your app with an accurate subscription status. You can send your subscription events data to 3rd party services such as Appsflyer, Adjust, Amplitude, and others. So it means that you can get accurate IAP and game subscription analytics that will allow you make managerial decisions about your mobile game monetization strategy and growth and development decisions.
Moreover, Qonversion also allows you to test and engage your players. A/B testing feature may help you to test your paywalls or to compare different price options or find out which in-app purchase bundle or subscription brings you the highest revenue. Automation tool will send personalized notifications to your players telling them about trials, special discounts and subscription offers as well as notify about new battle pass seasons etc. This feature is a great tool to increase your game’s revenue and retention, provide cancellation insights, reduce subscriber churn, and improve your subscribers’ user experience.
Overall, subscriptions are widely used in different games. Successful subscription model requires to be centered around providing players with unique benefits, features and access. So try to provide simple options, create a loop to make your subscribers play more, provide evolving and persistent benefits, appeal to new players and reward your VIPs. Moreover, don’t forget that subscription is about creating trusting relationships with your players: only when your subscribers feel thas relationship you can count on long term cooperation and stable revenue streams.