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App Monetisation: Paywalls 101

July 22 Sandra Wong

game design - paywalls

App Monetization: Paywalls 101.

A paywall is a system that prevents users from accessing content without paying first. There are many types of paywalls in content management which include ‘hard paywalls’ where there is almost no access to content without paying and ‘soft paywalls’ that offer limited content.

Many companies outside of gaming have aleady moved away from an almost complete reliance on advertising, taking their lead from many game publishers where a majority of revenue comes from in-app purchases, not advertising.

As more and more company’s turn to paywalls as their main content monetization strategy, we are starting to see more creative ways in which companies are introducing paywalls to their customers. In the times of ‘big data’, words like conversion, retention and customer segmentation work in harmony to paywalls when designing an app monetization strategy.

Today we are going to talk specifically about paywalls in games/apps.

Mobile games/apps can be categorised into two monetization groups: pay-to-play (one must pay before downloading the app & accessing any content) and free-to-play (free to download with content/features access gated through in-app purchases).

4 types of Paywalls in mobile games you should be aware of

1) The Classic Paywall – This is the simpliest of them all. It features usually a single one-off payment that unlocks a defined set of content that you can just never get access to without buying.

2) The Patience Wall – This one is a bit more strategic as it plays on a users value for time. Purchasing at a patience wall removes timed obstacles a player needs to advance in the game. While users can indeed wait to gain access to content, paying buys you time.

3) The Pressure Wall – Highly linked to social motivators, this paywall plays on the psychology of humans to be competitive and stay relevant to their peers. A mixture of social, time saving and advancement, this paywall gives you a way to ‘pay your way out’ to relieve your in-game stressors without actually ‘paying your way to win’ when designed well.

4) The AdWall – The game has to make money from you somehow and sometimes free content means you have to ingest content you don’t want to ingest. Adwalls want you to pay to remove the ads, and unless you are a 6 year old, with no credit card and have all the time in the world to play, this Adwall is most likely going to lead to app deletion. Although in some cases, this might not be a bad thing if you position the adwall strategically to segment out your non-paying players.

With the mobile games/app industry in full maturity, monetisation techniques on extract value from customer is only going to get more innovative. When designing your content monetisation strategy, just make sure you don’t do it at the expense of your user because at the end of the day, traffic is king to content.

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