3 Timing Hacks to Boost Mobile Game Revenue | wappier
Seize the Moment: 3 Timing Hacks to Boost Mobile Game Revenue
Timing Hacks to Boost Mobile Game Revenue

Seize the Moment: 3 Timing Hacks to Boost Mobile Game Revenue

Not every mobile game is profitable — in fact, most fail to build sustainable economies. Real-time pricing optimization is the key to intelligent revenue management in 2019.

Today, mobile games represent a $63.2 billion industry — almost 50% of the global games market, and competition is fierce. User acquisition costs continue to rise, with developers paying as much as $71 to acquire a single paying iOS user. Meanwhile, churn is a veritable nightmare: A recent SOOMLA report shows that 33.5% of mobile gamers play only one session before signing out for good. Developers face more challenges than ever as they hustle to make their games profitable, and when it comes to making the most of every monetization opportunity, timing is everything.

At the user level, 1:1 personalized offers are the key to maximizing IAP spend, and it’s been our experience that knowing when to make these offers is one of the most important factors. Mobile gamers must be reached with the right offer at the right moment in order to make a purchase. Sophisticated machine learning technology can help predict player behavior — in fact, this is the foundation of the industry’s leading pricing optimization solutions. However, there are a few DIY tricks you can employ just by observing simple trends. For instance, spending spikes at certain times of the year and day. Data also shows that the first few days of a user’s lifecycle are often the most profitable.

When it comes to IAP monetization, these are three of the best timing hacks in a developer’s arsenal:

#1: Capitalize on seasonality

Timing Hacks to Boost Mobile Game Revenue: Seasonality

Free time correlates directly with engagement in the world of mobile games. A cursory glance at your fellow commuters or coffee shop patrons will confirm this: Our mobile devices are the first place we turn for distraction and divergence, especially if we’re on the go. It’s no mystery that mobile game engagement increases during the summer months, and around the holidays when most people are free to play their hearts out. 

According to a recent study of monthly trends from Liftoff, average IAP conversion rates peak at 8.35% in June, around the time school lets out. Meanwhile, players are also much less costly to acquire in the summer months. Holidays present a similar opportunity to drive IAP revenue.  Liftoff data shows that install-to-purchase rates reach their highest point in January, as people get acquainted with their new devices over Christmas. This data aligns well with Apple’s narrative: In December 2017, the company reported a record holiday season for the App Store in which consumers spend over $890 million in the week between Christmas Eve and New Years Day.

So what does this mean for mobile game devs? The holidays and summer months are the best times to run personalized promotions for IAP goods. Sales, bundles, and limited-time discounts are common tactics. A first purchase discount is also a strong option — it’s the perfect complement to that new device your user received as a holiday gift. Games that fully leverage the holiday season can increase revenue by 83% above the annual average, making it an opportunity not to be missed.

#2: Pinpoint “Prime Time”

Timing Hacks to Boost Mobile Game Revenue: Prime Time

Nearly half of all US consumers play mobile games for an average of 24 minutes a day, but when exactly do they squeeze the time in? Mobile usage peaks between 6 P.M. and 10 P.M. — between the times most people leave work and head to bed. Coincidentally, this time period roughly aligns with the time slots that the broadcast television industry has designated “prime time.” This is the time of day when the most eyeballs will be glued to the screen, which makes its commercial slots the most valuable. This segmenting technique, called “dayparting,” determines which content airs when. Here, mobile game developers can take a page out of the broadcast TV playbook. 

By analyzing behavioral data, developers can pinpoint a specific “prime time” at the user level. Several data points will be crucial to predicting a user’s prime time slot. How many sessions per day do they play? For how long? Have they made in-app purchases in the past? At what time of day? Game developers who succeed in identifying each user’s most profitable time frame can target them with specific, time-sensitive promotions. Machine learning models can then help optimize pricing based on behavioral economics, ensuring that the strongest offer is always on the table.

#3: Welcome the newbs

Timing Hacks to Boost Mobile Game Revenue: Welcome

A user’s first three days with your app are critical — not just for building loyalty, but also for driving IAP revenue. On average, 18% of an app’s monthly revenue comes from purchases made on the first day. Still, most users will hold out a little longer before whipping out their wallets: According to data from Appsflyer, the majority of first purchases occur on day 3. By day 7, only 10-12% of users remain active, and they won’t all be big spenders — only 37% of paying players ever make a second purchase. Loyalty programs can make all the difference here, but those first few days remain crucial. Mobile game developers must learn to seize the moment, doing everything in their power to convert new users into spenders.

To maximize that first-day value, developers have a number of tactics at their disposal. Firstly, they could leverage existing data to create a compelling first-time purchase discount. They could also set an IAP promotion to run once a user hits their first challenging level. Real-time bundles of negatively correlated goods will be most likely to trigger a purchase. They can also message the user directly to alert them to various purchasing opportunities. Note that contextual in-app messages are typically more effective than push notifications. As a general rule, push notifications ought to be used sparingly early on in the player lifecycle, but can be a valuable tool for reengaging lapsed player segments.

Next, developers must determine what low-friction, high-value offer is most likely to get that first-day conversion. 71% of all purchases are for single-use items, but 65% of revenue comes from lifetime items. If a user does purchase a lifetime item on their first day, they are more likely to keep returning to the game to make good on their investment. 

All that being said, it’s important not to be too generous. This first day is important, but your day 7 retention rate belies your game’s fate. A good D7 benchmark is a retention rate of at least 10%, with 10% of these players being payers. If your game is missing this mark, you may be giving too much away.

Seize the moment

From your users’ perspective, there will always be far too many apps and far too little time. As we know firsthand, games that sync with the behavioral patterns of their players will always win out in the end. Seasonal promotion, prime time pushes, and new player initiations are just a few of the many opportunities in a developer’s playbook.

Want to go even deeper and #automatigally adjust your IAP pricing per each country and per each player with the power of machine learning and predictive econometric models? Learn more about how we do it or, if you already know enough, just schedule a chat with our team to get started!

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Beyond Game Economy Design – Increasing Profit Through Intelligent Revenue Optimization


On January 21, 2020,  Ted Verani, VP of Business Development took the stage at Pocket Gamer Connects London as part of the Monetizer track to present Beyond Game Economy Design – Increasing Profit Through Intelligent Revenue Optimization.

Building a profitable mobile game takes more than a well-designed virtual economy. The most successful titles measure user-level behavior to create personalized retention and monetization systems that exist outside the core gameplay loop. True revenue optimization requires comprehensive analysis of every available data point to determine the ideal offers and ‘next best actions’ for each player. In this video, Ted shares how to build automated loyalty programs that improve engagement and retention across genres including hyper-casual, as well as tips on using Behavioral Economics to optimize IAP pricing strategies.

wappier @Pocket Gamer Connects London 2020

wappier in heading to London for Pocket Gamer Connects, January 20-21. 

Interview Title: “How Loyalty Programs can Improve Mobile Game Retention”

Our VP of Business Development, Ted Verani discusses Global Pricing, Intelligent Revenue optimization, and wappier’s AI driven approach to Loyalty & Retention with James Gilmour – Pocket Gamers January 22nd

wappier does #GDConnect2019 Flag: United States on Google Android 10.0


Our own Ted Verani moderated the Mobile Gaming Today panel with industry leaders at GameDaily Connect USA on August 27, 2019.

The mobile market represents around half of all global games revenues, and opportunities abound for savvy developers, but it is very challenging for game makers stand out from the crowd in app stores.  This led off a free wheeling conversation about how to not oly acquire players but to retain them,  as well as discussion on market trends and keys to success for the booming mobile space.  Our panel of experts shared perspectives and  vital points developers need to understand.





Ted Verani, Vice President Business Development, wappier

wappier featured @ PocketGamer.biz 📹

12 September 2018: Video Interview for PocketGamer.biz

Interview Title: “wappier on Using Dynamic Pricing in Mobile Games to Increase Spending and Retention”

Last September, wappier joined forces with Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki 2018 and was part of this amazing mobile gaming gathering. On day 2, our Founder and CEO, Alex Moukas, met with James Gilmour, Video Production Editor at PocketGamer.biz. Alex chatted with James about Dynamic Pricing and how we are using machine learning to automate the pricing of IAPs in mobile games leading to a positive impact on both user spending and player/payer retention.

wappier does #PGCLondon2019 Flag: United Kingdom on Apple

21-22 January 2019: Pocket Gamer Connects London 2019

Session Title: “Loyalty Programs – Increasing Engagement and Retention Outside of Gameplay”

Our Founder and CEO, Alex Moukas, took the stage this January and shared his insights on why app developers need to invest in loyalty and retention to make more out of their existing users.

Summary: Leading brands and organizations around the world use Loyalty Programs as a way to engage meaningfully with their customers. Why not in mobile gaming? Loyalty Programs are an easy and effective way to improve engagement and retention outside of gameplay. Even a 5% increase in retention can lead to 30-100% increase in revenue. Plus, it’s cheaper to retain an old customer than acquiring a new one.

In this session, Alex Moukas will demonstrate how game developers can get revenue and retention boosts of 30%+ by enabling an Automated Loyalty Program for their existing players on top their game. He will focus on specific loyalty tactics, how to set up a program without affecting the underlying gameplay, and share case study results from over 30 mobile games.

wappier does #GDConnect2019 Flag: United Kingdom on Google

28-30 May 2019: wappier part of GameDaily Connect London 2019. With over 7,000 attendees each year, GameDaily Connect, ex Casual Connect, is one of the largest mobile gaming trade shows across the world with events in China, Serbia, Kyiv, Tel Aviv, London, Seattle, Anaheim, San Francisco, and more.

Panel Session Title: “Mobile Gaming Today”

Awesome Panelists:

Awesome Moderator: Our own Ted Verani, VP of Business Development @ wappier

The mobile market represents around half of all global games revenues, and opportunities abound for savvy developers, but how can today’s game makers stand out from the crowd on the App Store and Google Play? How can they not only acquire users but retain them? What are the keys to success and what lies ahead for the booming mobile space? Our panel of experts will discuss the vital points developers need to understand.

wappier does #PGCHelsinki2019 Flag: Finland on Google

1-2 October 2019: wappier proudly being part of Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki in October 2019. The mobile gaming industry was there and so were we! On day 1, our Ted Verani, VP of Business Development at wappier, took the stage to wow the crowds.   

Session Title: “IAP Pricing Optimization: Timing and Place”

Summary: Knowing the right price in the right location at the right time is the first step towards maximizing revenue from in-app purchases. This tour of factors proven to impact IAP purchasing decisions will offer attendees a collection of low-cost, high-impact techniques for developing profitable mobile gaming environments combined with a case study on Global Pricing (per country optimization) results.

wappier @ PocketGamer.biz YouTube Channel

wappier featured @ PocketGamer.biz 📹

23 January 2018: Video Interview for PocketGamer.biz

The wappier team traveled to London this January to take part in Pocket Gamer Connects London 2018.

Interview Title: “wappier on Improving Mobile Game Monetization by up to 50%”

On day 1, Alex Moukas, Founder and CEO at wappier, gave a very insightful interview to James Gilmour, Video Production Editor at PocketGamer.biz. Alex shared with James his insights about the mobile gaming industry and how wappier is here to help it by building a cloud-based platform that optimizes revenue for mobile apps and games through Engagement and Loyalty Programs and Dynamic Pricing.


wappier @ White Nights St. Petersburg 2018

wappier does #WN2018 Flag: Russia on Apple iOS 13.2

4-5 June 2018: White Nights Conference @ Saint Petersburg

Alex Moukas, Founder and CEO at wappier, took the stage last June and shared his insights on why it is crucial to starts investing effort and intelligence on post-acquisition.

Session Title: “Users Acquired … Now What? Mastering Your Game’s Loyalty & Pricing”

 Summary: Established industries, multinationals, the Fortune-500 companies around the world use Processes and Systems that deliver 30-50% revenue increase from existing customers. Why are they literally non-existent in the Mobile Gaming World? It’s cheaper to retain an old user than acquire a new one, right? For the first time in history, 50-people companies are called to manage 50 million users, this cannot happen with typical marketing automation, segmentation, and workflows. Case studies show it’s time to start thinking of ways to reduce user churn and increase revenue from existing customers.


Title of vid


wappier @ Dev.Play Bucharest 2018

wappier does #DevPlay2018 ✈️

4-5 October 2018: Dev.Play Conference in Bucharest powered by the Romanian Game Developers Association (RGDA), wappier was there!

Our VP of Global Business Development, Ted Verani, was there to talk Mobile Gaming and explain how wappier’s Intelligent Revenue Management Platform is transforming the way app developers and marketers maximize consumer revenue with powerful AI that moves beyond marketing automation.

Session Title: “Users Acquired … Now What? How to Use Loyalty Programs and Pricing Optimization to Maximize Revenue”

wappier @ Casual Connect Belgrade 2018

wappier does #CCBelgrade! ✈️

1-3 October 2018: Casual Connect this October 2018 in Belgrade was just awesome! Ted Verani, wappier’s VP of Business Development, was there to meet old and new industry folks and moderate a #NotToBeMissed panel with:

Panel title: “Designing Games for Optimal IAP”

What did we talk about? While the vast majority of mobile game revenue is earned through in-app purchases, designing games for optimal IAP remains a major challenge, requiring deep knowledge of UX design, virtual economy tuning, pricing economics, and many other disciplines. Featuring experts across these fields, this panel will give attendees concrete and proven advice for designing free-to-play, IAP-driven mobile games that consistently drive IAPs without alienating the player base.