According to a recent report by Juniper Research which investigates the impact of mobile games on the wider video games industry, tablet gamers are expected to spend over $3.03 billion on in-app purchases in 2016. This number is over ten times the $301 million figure calculated for 2012.
The report found that there had been a clear migration of users from dedicated portable gaming devices across to tablets, and to some extent, smartphones. The freemium model, which is being embraced by tablet users, cannot be implemented as easily on portable gaming devices, as games have to be purchased upfront and the devices themselves often do not allow for a 3G or 4G connection.
As per the report, developers are using virtual currencies to monetise their handset or tablet games, rather than offering in-game items or pay-per-download titles. This can increase users’ engagement with the game, as once the virtual currency is purchased, it can only be spent within that game. Developers are now beginning to focus more on the stickiness of their game, as they realise that creating a high-quality game is not enough to guarantee a profit.
The report also found that free-to-play casino style games were beginning to see increased profits from in-app purchases, even though users are not playing for real money stakes. Games such as Slotomania, Poker by Zynga and Texas Poker were seeing a sharp increase in the number of users buying chips and other in-game items, in some instances spending as much as $100 in one transaction, to allow for a lengthy, uninterrupted gameplay session.
Furthermore, the report forecasts that the majority of in-game purchase revenue on tablets will be made in the Far East & China and North America, which will account for over 86% of users’ spend in 2016. According to the report, smartphones will remain the primary device which users make in-app purchases on, with more than $6 billion spent on them in 2016, over double the amount spent on tablets.