How Are Mobile Game Apps Monetized?

Mobile gaming depends on an ecosystem – the developers design games, players play them and revenue streams sustain the business. But, with the vast number of mobile games that can be downloaded free of charge, how does such an application make its money?

Choosing the Right Model

The best monetization model is relative to the type of game, its audience, and its production cost. Some games would be better suited for micro-transactions, while others would be better off with a subscription-based model. Players do not want to be continuously bombarded with requests to spend money or feel like every feature requires a purchase.

It is very important for anyone who wants to be involved in mobile gaming, whether as a developer or a player, to understand these different monetization models. Understanding how games make money can be useful in understanding the strategies that help support your favorite mobile games. For those gamers seeking to find other like-minded mobile gaming enthusiasts, resources such as the one found in the 55club app can be of use.

Now, let us examine the most popular methods of monetization in mobile games that most game developers employ.

1. In-App Purchases: A La Carte Upgrades

IAPs are the primary product of the freemium model, in which the basic game and its core features are offered for free. However, the player can spend money on upgrades, features, or items that would help them improve their gameplay. Such additions may encompass new characters and power-ups, skins and levels, and other related features.

IAPs enable players to enhance their game and advance through the levels faster as they pay for them, while developers profit from the extra sales.

2. In-App Advertising: Viewing Ads as a Form of Reward

The advertising strategy in mobile games is that the advertising is placed within the game itself. They could experience video ads, banner ads, or playable ads while playing the game or during the breaks between levels. These ads can be intrusive, but developers often offer players a choice: complete a level and get a bonus, like a prize or a gift, for example, a free ad or additional lives.

3. Subscriptions: Monthly Membership Perks

The trends in mobile gaming have developed to include subscription models. Subscriptions could be daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly, and could grant users additional content, and features, or even remove advertisements. This could be in terms of extra levels, other characters, in-game currency, or even extra benefits or incentives. Subscriptions guarantee a stable income for developers and allow players to get access to all the content of the game for a certain amount of money.

4. Freemium with a Twist: Few Lives of Energy

Certain mobile games use the freemium model with a twist. The basic game is free but the player is only allowed a limited number of lives or energy, which hinders his/her play time. To play again, they must wait for their lives or energy to replenish, watch an ad video to restore it, or buy more lives or energy to continue playing with real money. It makes players spend money to continue playing without putting pressure on them to spend money at every level or turn.

5. Freemium Plus: The Combination Approach

It is also important to note that mobile games often use more than one monetization model by integrating them. A game might be free to download and play but it will have some items that you can purchase within the game. It might also have a paid model with no advertisements or additional in-game bonuses that players can purchase. This combination approach helps developers to address the needs of players by spending money on in-game assets or playing the game with limitations.


It is evident that as the mobile gaming industry continues to expand, new monetization models are going to be developed. B2C communities of game developers/enthusiasts can also be helpful in discussions and the sharing of experiences on mobile game monetization. Perhaps, the new wave of monetization will emerge from one of these communities or from an idea that was shared there one day.