Making Money with RPG

Making money boils down to one question – why do we buy things? This essay attempts to provide the idea of using a Role Playing Game as the incentive to fund your projects.

Why RPG? Video games have graphics and sound which are great but limits how fast new versions can be produced. They are also limited to platforms (PC, Console, Mobile, etc..) A RPG just needs a theme, rules, dice and worlds. The characters and tech (or lack there of) can be adjusted according to play.

There are several ways that Apps use the idea of In App Purchases (IAP) to make a profit. For this essay they will be called Role Playing Purchases (RPP). One of these is to have the game provide incremental difficulty. it’s important to ease the user in to your app. Would you want to spend money in a game that you’re unfamiliar with? Probably not!

The user should be able to fully experience your RPG with very few constraints. By doing this, you achieve two things:
1. You raise the average user session time; that is, the length of time that people spend playing your game.
2. You raise the likelihood that whales — that is, people who are more likely to spend a large amount of money in your game — will buy expensive items as they progress in the game.

People that don’t want to spend money in your game will spend copious amounts of time to try and master it on skill alone. As users spend time in your game, you can take advantage of complementary revenue streams, such as ads, Tapjoy integration, SponsorPay, or other passive monetization methods.

Offer Unlockable Chapters
Offering additional “bonus” material that is only accessible to people who have purchased paid content can encourage players to make use of your RPP

Provide Samples of Your RPP Content
Would you spend money for an item if you don’t know how useful it might be?
Give your users a taste of some — or all! — of your RPP contents, both consumable and non-replenishable. For example, if users are able to use consumable power-ups in your game from the get-go, they’ll be more likely to buy more when they run out!

Make the Player Earn Your RPP Content
The technique or earning RPP is based on the concept that users should unlock successive RPP content as they progress in the game.

This strategy provides several benefits:

  • Increased focus on the RPP content of your app
  • Increased perceived value of your RPP content
  • Decreased annoyance to users who aren’t interested in your paid content

Get the Player Hooked! Basically, a hook has an affordable price and makes the player’s gaming experience far better by removing constraints, or providing a really cool power up.

Leverage People’s Curiosity – You can blur or hide the content until it is unlocked — this raises the player’s desire to see what’s behind the curtain, so to speak!

Make Use of the “Decoy Effect” – In an average theater of 100 people, here’s how the popcorn sales would differ between two scenarios:
Scenario A: No Decoy Effect — $7.00 * 13 people + $3.00 * 87 people = $352.00
Scenario B: Decoy Effect — $7.00 * 74 people + $3.00 * 26 people = $596.00

Just by adding the decoy medium size, the theatre earned an extra $244. Not too shabby!
The decoy effect is usually structured with three items with one of them acting as the decoy. The item you wish to drive people to must look like a terrific bargain.

Offer an Immersive Experience – The more time people spend in your game, the more opportunity you have to convince them to make a purchase.

Provide a “Remove Ads” Option – An RPG needs to show the storyline and this is where you could place ads. Many users really want to enjoy your app without the distraction of ads, so by having a way to remove them will drive people to “buy add less content”.

If in Doubt, Go With Consumables – If you only choose to use one strategy to monetize your RPG, pick consumable items. It’s your best bet in terms of conversion rates and perceived value.

Give Your Players the Statistics They Love. Gamers love the nitty-gritty details on how stack up against other players in the game. Give your users the option of an RPP that provides them the ability to see how they measure up against other players around the world!

Treat Time as Priceless – Gamers want to squeeze the maximum amount of gameplay out of every session. You can capitalize on this by selling them the gift of time. A great way to measure and adjust the effectiveness of your RPP strategy is to setup a server where you can monitor and change the length of the timed events in your game. In this manner, you can tweak the timings to find the best combination between event duration and RPP content sold!

Bundle Your RPP Content – If you have a stock of game items that could be linked and sold together as a group, do it! People love to buy in quantity.

Help Users to Feel Good. You can use a simple strategy to help your users associate a warm, fuzzy feeling with your game. On first launch, lead people to your store and give them a gift just for visiting. They’ll recognize your kind gesture and associate your store with feeling good. Users who associate pleasant feelings with your app are more likely to spend money later down the road.

Offer a Relic – Create some extra-special in-game content that is really expensive compared to other content. Cover it with diamonds; gold-plate it; do whatever you need to do to make it stand out from your other items. This will be your “Relic” — the one piece among your in-app content that is just beyond the reach of normal players.

Make Your Users Laugh! – Come on — who wouldn’t want to buy an improbability drive?

Provide Limited-Time Offers – Create some urgency with your in-app purchases by offering limited-time deals. Offering key items for 50% off — or more — raises the “buy” instinct in your users.

Offer the Right Tool at the Right Time – Special offers made to the right players — at the right time — are powerful selling techniques.

Create Beautiful and Useful Stores – One great option in this store is the ability to “try before you buy”. The Apple Store uses this to great advantage; when people can try out something before they commit to buy, the conversion rate tends to be much, much higher.

Use the Psychology of Color – Think about how you present your RPP contents, right from the store popup to the simple buttons people press to buy your content. How does color affect your users’ purchasing habits?

Here’s a few examples of how colors are commonly used to influence buyers’ behavior:

  • Yellow is often used to grab the attention of window shoppers.
  • Red creates urgency; try to combine it with time-limited deals.
  • Blue creates a sense of trust and security.
  • Green is the easiest color for our eyes to process, and is commonly used to help people relax. Maybe that’s why we like it so much on this site! :]
  • Orange creates a call to action.
  • Black is powerful and used to market luxury products.

If you’re using a relic in your store, associate it with black and gold to create a sense that the item is priceless.

Make Your Store Easy To Find – Try to create several ways for users to find your store. The easier it is to find your store, the greater the chances are that people will buy something.

Offer One-Time Deals – One time offers are incredibly appealing, but they get really, really annoying if you present them to the user too frequently. Don’t show your “one-time deal” on every application launch, just once in a while to make the user think the deals are sparse. But when you do present your one-time offer, make it worth their while by offering the user a really cool item or giving them a great deal.

Grab The Player’s Attention With Bling – If you want things to stand out such as relics, or the button users click to access your store, use some shiny effects or embellishments to grab people’s attention.

Offer Multi-Buys – Offering something for free if a user buys a certain number of items is a technique frequently used in supermarkets to encourage multi-buy behavior. However, don’t overdo it; if people become too accustomed to your “bargain basement” deals, there’s a chance that you may risk cannibalizing other RPP contents.

Create Your Own Economy – Build an economy composed of achievable and premium virtual currencies. An achievable currency is the one that a player can collect during game play and redeem for in-app items. Premium currency is available only to users who use real money.

You should either allow your users to collect achievable currency through playing your game a lot (thus capitalizing on other streams like ads), or allow them to purchase and exchange premium currency for achievable currency.

It’s important to remember that all users are different; you can’t sell the same way to everyone. Keep track of user behavior:

  • Spending habits — those who spend almost nothing, up to “whales” who spend a lot.
  • Usage habits — those who play very little to those who play obsessively.
  • County of origin — consumption patterns change based on the countries and cultures your app services.
  • Demographics — modify your in-game offers by age and gender of the user.
  • Offer RPP As a Reward – When you offer an RPP asset to a user as a reward for performing a certain action, your offer will usually be received with gratitude. As well, it has the added effect of strengthening your brand credibility.Manage the Difficulty of Your Levels – If your game is level-based, you could provide an RPP to allow users to skip levels that they find difficult. You need to be careful when changing the difficulty of your levels; if you frustrate your users, they’ll exit from the game prematurely and the likelihood of them returning will plummet.

    Adapt to Different Demographics and Tastes – If you have some type of player characters in your game, keep your users happy by allowing them to buy customized clothing, or giving them the choice of an avatar that they feel represents their true self.

    Offer Assistance in the Heat of the Moment – As the saying goes, you don’t realize that you’ve run out of toilet paper when you’re standing in the supermarket. Instead of making your players load up on in-app purchases before they start your game, offer them assistance when they need it most — in the midst of battle!

    Make Purchase Recommendations
    As players negotiate through your levels, they’ll often think “Shoot! I should have bought that weapon before I faced this boss!” You can make your players’ lives easier — and increase your RPP conversion rate — by offering some hand-picked items for sale before every new level.

    Sell Real-World Merchandise – Most RPGs don’t achieve quite this level of success, but if you have a critical mass of loyal gamers, you can offer such real-world items as T-shirts or mugs through your game.

    Keep An Eye on Top-Grossing Games – Top-grossing games are built by companies that have mastered the art of engaging players and maximizing purchases. Play their games with an analytical eye to see what makes them so addictive — and what cues they use to encourage people to buy!

    Leverage In-App Content for Non-Purchase Objectives – Although the majority of people won’t spend money in your game, they’ll still love to receive virtual currency in exchange for their services. Ask users to perform actions that have some value to you, and reward them with some in-game virtual currency.

    Some things that you can reward your users for doing are:

  • Inviting friends to the app via email, SMS, or Facebook
  • Completing quick actions that generate value for you, such as Tapjoy or Sponsorpay
  • Sharing scores on social networks
  • Logging in to their social networks
  • Subscribing to your mailing list
  • Creating an account in your game
  • Money isn’t the only thing of value in a monetization strategy. A mention on a social network , as well as building your marketing list via email signups, are both actions that have a great deal of value.Create Big Content for Big Spenders – On average, less than 2% of your user base will purchase your RPP content.

    According to W3i researches, content priced between $0.99 and $1.99 only generates 6% of your game’s total revenue. However, content priced between $9.99 and $19.99 generates 47% of total revenue.

    You can try to optimize your content and try to entice casual users to make more in-app purchases, but the reality is that RPP is not a long-tail game.
    The numbers show that users who are willing to spend money will go for the big purchases. Although you will likely sell a lot of content at the 99¢ price point, in the long run you will make more money on the big-ticket items — even though you’ll sell less of them.

    Ask Politely – When it comes to customer satisfaction, there is nothing more powerful than kindness. When you want your user to do something, like perform an action in exchange for virtual currency, or purchase an in-app upgrade, always use the nicest language possible.

    Analyze and Optimize Your Strategies
    Even if your business is already successful, there’s always room for improvement. Three questions to ask yourself are:

  • How can I increase the effectiveness of my IAP strategy?
  • How can I make my IAP content more appealing?
  • How can I make my content easier to purchase?
  • Use Powerful Marketing Words- Language is an incredibly powerful tool when it comes to selling.Here are a few choice words that have an amazing influence on consumer behavior:
  • Sale – consumers are 52% more likely to enter a store that displays “Sale” signage.
  • Guaranteed – consumers are 60% more likely to buy a product that is associated with the word “Guaranteed”.
  • Free – doesn’t everybody love free stuff?
  • Never, EVER, Annoy Your Users – Last, but definitely not least, never do anything purposely to annoy your users.Unhappy customers will not buy anything from you. Even worse, they may quit your game entirely, preventing you from capitalizing on your side streams of revenue such as advertising. Word of mouth referrals will make or break your reputation, so focus on offering a really compelling game experience and prevent greed from ruining your game.