mobile game monetization

What is Mobile Game Monetization?

Mobile game monetization refers to the process of generating revenue from a mobile game. Game developers employ various strategies and methods to ensure their games generate income. Developing a high-quality mobile game requires significant time, effort, and resources, making it a complex and costly endeavor. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that the game is profitable enough to cover the development costs. However, the ultimate goal is not just to break even but to make a profit. 

The success of a mobile game’s monetization can vary greatly. Some games become highly profitable immediately after launch, while others may take years to reach their full potential. On the other hand, some games may fail to generate revenue right from the start. The outcome depends on both the quality of the game and how developers handle the monetization process from the beginning. 

There are multiple ways to define monetize a game, and the key is to find the most suitable approach. So, we are here to help you in this endeavor. Below, we have compiled the most important tips for successful monetization.

Crafting a Successful Monetization Strategy for Your Mobile Game

When the topic of planning a mobile game comes up, most developers immediately focus on the game’s concept. While the idea is undoubtedly important, it’s equally crucial to consider how you’ll monetize your game. In fact, you should be thinking about monetization from the very beginning stages of development. By selecting a primary monetization model early on, you’ll establish a solid foundation for your game. 

The monetization model you choose will impact various aspects of your game, such as its layout, level of difficulty, and features. Therefore, it’s essential to think about mobile game monetization during development to ensure that your gameplay and monetization model complement each other. Neglecting this aspect can make or break your game. 

To avoid any mishaps, set and track monetization KPIs from the start. This will help you stay on track and ensure that your game is profitable.

Explained: The Profitable Mechanisms Behind Mobile Game Monetization 

There are various methods to generate revenue from games, particularly mobile games. To gain a better understanding of how mobile games make money, it is recommended to examine the current game market and mobile game business model. Currently, most games available are free-to-play games that generate revenue through microtransactions and/or in-game advertisements. 

Alternatively, there are paid games that require players to pay a one-time fee to install and play. However, in the early days of app stores, paid games dominated the mobile game market. Nowadays, players expect mobile games to be free, which is why this guide focuses on monetization strategies for free-to-play mobile games (F2P games). The biggest challenge in making money from F2P mobile games is finding a balance between satisfying both game developers and players. Developers want to earn money when players want to enjoy the games for free. 

The key to success is balance. 

Players understand that developers need to make money, so they expect to see monetization features in mobile games. As long as developers do not go overboard with these features, they will be able to keep and monetize their players. However, if developers neglect their players and prioritize revenue over user experience, players may become frustrated and uninstall the game.

Breaking Down the Earnings: Estimating Your Mobile Game’s Profit Potential

Many developers frequently ask how much money they can make from a mobile game. The potential for earning billions of dollars exists, but it requires creating an exceptional game and mastering game monetization. To begin, familiarize yourself with various mobile game monetization models.

Exploring the Foundations: Different Models for Monetizing Mobile Games

As previously mentioned, selecting a mobile game monetization model is an essential initial step in the process of monetizing a game. Mobile game monetization models refer to the strategies employed by developers to generate revenue from their games. When browsing through the app stores, you will observe that free-to-play game listings disclose the specific mobile game monetization models they utilize.

This transparency allows players to have a clear understanding of the monetization features they can anticipate in the game. For instance, they can determine whether they will be required to view advertisements or not. Now, let me walk you through the four most popular monetization models for free-to-play games.

Mastering In-App Purchases: Maximizing Profits in Your Mobile Game

In-app purchases (IAPs) reign supreme as the most popular way to monetize. According to Business of Apps, a staggering 79% of mobile games use IAPs to generate revenue. This model is commonly referred to as freemium, a combination of the words “free” and “premium”. Essentially, players can download and play the game for free but have the option to purchase premium features or items within the game. These purchases are also known as microtransactions or in-game purchases. 

Regardless of the terminology used, the concept remains the same – players spend real money to acquire virtual items or features. Examples of popular in-app purchases include extra lives, coins, weapons, moves, and boosters. When deciding what to offer in your game, it’s important to consider your players’ needs and desires. For instance, if your game is focused on progression, it may be more beneficial to offer items that help players advance rather than additional content.

Targeting Profitable Ventures: Where to Focus Your Selling Efforts in Mobile Games

The in-game store serves as the focal point for the economy in nearly all games. Typically, players can easily locate the in-game store by selecting an icon on their home screens. Within these virtual stores, players have the opportunity to browse and purchase various items. It is worth noting that certain stores exclusively offer items for sale with real currency, while others provide a combination of options that can be obtained either with real money or in-game currency.


The most frequently encountered in-app purchases in mobile games is the consumable item. Once purchased and used, these items disappear permanently. Examples of consumable items include in-game currencies, boosters, and health. In-game currencies, such as gems, diamonds, and coins, are the most common type of consumable item found in mobile games. If a player purchases gems and uses them to skip wait times, for example, the gems will be consumed and cannot be used again unless repurchased. It is important for games to provide small amounts of consumable items through gameplay as well.


Non-consumable items are the complete opposite of consumable items, as they provide players with permanent access. These items, such as selling access to a new level, game characters, and cosmetic items, are not used up or depleted after purchase. 

In many games, players are initially given a basic set of characters, and as they advance through the game, they gradually unlock new ones. However, if players desire a specific character that they have not yet unlocked, they have the option to obtain them instantly. Once acquired, these special characters belong solely to the player and do not have an expiration date.

The Player’s Choice: The Most Desired In-App Purchase Features in Mobile Games

In addition to understanding the different categories of in-app purchases, it is beneficial to be aware of the various forms in which they are presented. 

  • Time-limited offers: One common type of in-app purchase feature found in mobile games. These offers provide discounted prices for a limited period, typically 24 hours.
  • Bundles: Another frequently utilized in-app purchase feature. Bundles consist of multiple items packaged together for purchase, often at a discounted price.
  • Skip-the-wait options: Many games incorporate wait times for players to complete certain tasks. What is monetize for this waiting period? Games often offer the option for players to pay and skip the wait times, allowing them to continue playing without delay.
  • Purchasable boosts: Popular among players who desire to progress quickly in games. These boosts directly assist players in advancing through the game at a faster pace.
  • Cosmetic items: Commonly purchased by players, even though they do not contribute to gameplay progression. These items, such as clothing, hairstyles, and weapon skins, alter the appearance of characters or in-game items.

These examples represent just a few of the in-app purchase features that can be found in popular mobile games. For a more comprehensive list, we recommend checking out our compilation of the top game monetization features.

In-App Ads 

In-app ads have become a popular method for game developers to generate revenue. This model allows developers to earn money by displaying advertisements to players while they enjoy the game. Although players can access all the game’s features for free, they are required to watch ads during gameplay. Typically, these ads promote other mobile games or non-gaming applications.

The ad-serving process involves three parties: players, publishers, and advertisers. Players generally accept this monetization model because it allows them to play the game without any cost. Developers, on the other hand, aim to maximize their earnings by displaying as many ads as possible. Advertisers are also satisfied with this model as it enables them to showcase their ads to potential users.

However, it is crucial to approach ad monetization with caution. Players generally do not appreciate ads and merely tolerate them. Additionally, there are always some players who strongly dislike ads. If you decide to monetize your game through ads, be prepared for numerous negative reviews regarding the excessive number of ads in the app stores.

Mobile Game Ad Formats 

If you choose to incorporate advertisements into your game, you have a wide range of options available. In-game ads come in various types, known as ad formats. Publishers have the flexibility to utilize one or multiple ad formats simultaneously. It is worth noting that each ad format has its own average eCPM, which determines its potential for generating revenue for the publisher.

Now, let’s delve into the top five ad formats commonly used in mobile games.

  1. Interstitial Ads are full-screen ads that appear during natural pauses in gameplay. These ads have the potential to disrupt and annoy players. On average, interstitial ads have eCPMs ranging from $4 to $6, according to ironSource.
  2. Rewarded Video Ads, on the other hand, are opt-in ads where players voluntarily watch ads in exchange for in-game rewards. These ads have been found to boost engagement and retention and are preferred by 68% of players, as reported by TechCrunch. The average eCPMs for rewarded video ads range from $10 to $50, according to ironSource.
  3. Playable Ads are interactive ads that allow players to experience a mini version of the advertised game. These ads are engaging and interactive and offer higher eCPMs compared to interstitial ads. However, careful selection is necessary to avoid displaying competitors’ ads.
  4. Banner ads are rectangular static advertisements strategically placed on specific areas of the screen during gameplay. These ads, although once popular, have seen a decline in popularity due to their lower eCPMs (effective cost per thousand impressions). However, they are often combined with other ad formats to maximize their impact and reach.
  5. Offerwalls are mini-shop-like advertisements that offer players the opportunity to complete certain actions in order to earn in-game rewards. These ads provide a wall of actions for players to engage with, creating an interactive and rewarding experience. From a publisher’s perspective, offerwalls have the advantage of generating high eCPMs, making them a lucrative option for monetization.

Understanding the different ad formats and their respective advantages is essential for maximizing revenue and enhancing the overall gaming experience.

Unlocking In-Game Benefits: The Power of Subscriptions in Mobile Gaming 

Mobile game subscriptions have evolved from being a type of in-app purchase to a separate monetization model due to their increasing popularity. These subscriptions allow players to access extra content through a one-time purchase, but they must regularly pay fees to remain subscribed. The frequency of payments is determined by the developer, who can offer weekly, monthly, biweekly, or other plans. Subscriptions are often used in addition to the main monetization model, providing an additional revenue stream for the game. This model is most effective for games with engaged user bases, as players who commit to a subscription should receive good value for their money. 

From Battle Passes to VIP Treatment: Understanding Different Mobile Game Subscription Categories

There are some of the most common types of subscriptions in mobile games.

  1. Battle Pass

  • Description: Popular subscription type across various game genres.
  • Mechanism: Players pay a fee for access to rewards over a defined period.
  • Versions: Free (limited benefits) and Paid (premium experience).
  1. “Remove Ads” Subscription

  • Description: Found in ad-driven mobile games, allows users to eliminate in-game ads.
  • Variations: Temporary subscription for a specific duration or one-time purchase for permanent ad removal.
  1. VIP Subscription

  • Description: Offers exclusive benefits for a designated period to provide VIP treatment to subscribers.
  • Benefits: Can include daily rewards, ad removal, and special in-game currency stash.

Understanding these subscription types is crucial for developers aiming to provide players with enhanced gaming experiences and personalized benefits.

Hybrid Monetization

In the realm of mobile game monetization, it is possible to utilize various mobile monetization models simultaneously, allowing for a combination of different approaches. This approach, often referred to as a hybrid monetization model, enables developers to mix and match different strategies to maximize revenue. 

By incorporating multiple models, such as in-app purchases, in-app ads, and subscriptions, developers can target different groups of players. In-app purchases cater to those willing to pay, while in-app ads cater to non-paying players. Subscriptions, on the other hand, are designed for engaged and highly valuable players. 

When combining these models, it is important to designate one as the main model, serving as the core of the monetization strategy and the primary source of revenue. The other models should complement and enhance the main model, acting as supplementary sources of income. 

The hybrid monetization approach allows developers to tap into multiple revenue streams, thereby increasing the potential for monetizing a larger number of players. By diversifying the monetization strategy, developers can optimize their game’s revenue potential.

Common Combinations  

When considering the combination of monetization models, it is important to explore various options that have proven successful in the gaming industry. Here are some commonly used combinations that have yielded positive results for many games in the market.

In-App Ads + In-App Purchases:

  • Balanced approach for both paying and non-paying players
  • Opt-in ad formats like rewarded video ads maintain user experience

In-App Purchases + Subscriptions:

  • Tailored for players focused on enhancing gameplay
  • Appeals to engaged players seeking additional in-game benefits

In-App Purchases + In-App Ads + Subscriptions:

  • Wide-ranging strategy catering to different player groups
  • Balance among the three revenue streams is key to success

What Is The Best Mobile Game Monetization Model?

Unfortunately, providing a definitive answer to the question at hand is not possible. However, there are a few factors you should know to help in making the best decision.

When selecting a monetization model, it is crucial to take into account the genre of your game. Different genres necessitate different approaches to monetization. 

For instance, hyper-casual games predominantly rely on ad monetization. This is because players engage in these games to pass the time and have fun, resulting in short play sessions. To generate revenue quickly, hyper-casual developers incorporate ads into their games. In-app purchases are not typically viable for such games. 

On the other hand, hardcore and mid-core games often rely on in-app purchases. These games offer more content, and players tend to engage with them for longer durations. Consequently, there is a higher likelihood that players will spend money on these games. 

Additionally, it is important to consider your competitors. Your main competitors are the games within your genre. It is essential to observe successful games that share similarities with yours closely. By playing these games and evaluating your experience as a player, you can gain insights into effective monetization strategies. 

Analyzing the monetization strategies employed by your competitors should provide you with valuable insights and ideas for your own game.

Mastering Mobile Game Revenue: Effective Monetization Strategies

Here are some general tips for monetizing a game.

Strategize from Day 1:

When developing a game, it is important to have a clear monetization model in mind. This will ensure that the integration of monetization elements into the user experience and core gameplay is seamless. By prioritizing the integration of in-app purchases, ads, and subscriptions, you can enhance natural engagement and generate revenue effectively

Retaining Players Is Critical:

In order to maintain a strong player base, it is crucial to focus on both user retention and monetization strategies. This means placing a strong emphasis on engaging gameplay elements that will keep players coming back for more. Implementing proven retention techniques such as push notifications, social features, in-game events, and daily rewards can greatly enhance player commitment and satisfaction.

Test Everything:

During the beta phase of development, it is essential to conduct extensive A/B testing. This will allow you to optimize monetization features and refine the gaming experience based on testing results. By adjusting and removing features that are not effective in generating revenue or satisfying users, you can ensure that the final product is both profitable and enjoyable.

Stay Away From Pay-to-Win:

Creating paywalls that hinder gameplay progression can lead to an unfair advantage for paying players. It is important to avoid this and instead ensure that in-app purchases serve as optional bonuses rather than prerequisites for gameplay advancement. By fostering a fair and enjoyable gaming environment, you can attract and retain a larger player base.

We Believe Every Game is Unique!

Slavna Games Studio is a team of experienced and passionate game developers who are dedicated to helping you enter the mobile games market. 

We understand that creating a successful mobile game requires a combination of creativity, technical expertise, and a deep understanding of the gaming industry. That’s why we have assembled a team of experts who are committed to delivering high-quality games that are engaging, addictive, and fun to play.

Our team has years of experience in developing mobile games for choosing suitable mobile monetization platform, including iOS and Android. We use the latest technologies and tools to create games that are visually stunning, easy to play, and optimized for mobile devices. We also understand the importance of user engagement and retention, and we work closely with our clients to ensure that their games are designed to keep players coming back for more.

At Slavna Games Studio, we believe that every game is unique, and we take a personalized approach to each project we undertake. We work closely with our clients to understand their vision and goals, and we use our expertise to help them achieve success in the highly competitive mobile games market. Whether you are looking to create a casual game or a complex multiplayer experience, we have the skills and expertise to bring your vision to life.

If you are interested in developing a mobile game app, we invite you to get in touch with us for a complimentary consultation. 

Feel free to contact us to learn more about creating your Mobile Game App.

We will work with you to understand your needs and provide you with a detailed estimate of the expenses involved in developing your game. With Slavna Games Studio, you can be confident that you are working with a team of experts who are committed to delivering high-quality games that will captivate and entertain your audience.