Top Three Mobile Game Monetization Models

When it comes to creating your game, there are many details that must be taken into consideration. How will it play? What platforms will it be available on? How will it look and sound? Not least of all, how will you recoup your development costs and see returns on your investment of time and money? There are many models and strategies available and which one you choose will depend on the nature of your product. Mobile marketplaces are crowded competitive places. But with so many potential players, the right monetization strategy can earn you a foothold in the market. Here a few of the most common and effective ways to monetize your game.

Dugout Dice Baseball Mobile Game

One-Time Fee

The most conventional transaction available between a creator and their clients is a flat, one-time purchase for a game. In the early days of app markets, this was the typical way game creators would sell their titles. For some games, this model can still work. Typically larger budget games from AAA publishers are still sold for a single flat fee. These include titles like Grand Theft Auto, Final Fantasy, and X-COM. However, smaller indie studios have found success selling their games too, like Desert Golfing and SpellTower. The downside to this approach is that it relies on powerful brand recognition and marketing efforts. After the game is initially released, sales decline sharply, forcing game makers to rely on sales and promotions to move more units of their products.

Mobile Apps One-time Fee Listing


This purchase model makes the initial application free, albeit it without the full functionality of the app. Super Mario Run is an excellent example of this, as it can be downloaded for free and includes several playable levels. However, to play all of the levels, users must then pay a flat fee to unlock the game’s full functionality. This approach models old shareware strategies from the 1990s, which gave users a few levels to try, and then asked them to purchase the full game directly from the publisher. The model still succeeds today and allows consumers to experience what they’re purchasing before they commit to spending money.

Mobile app monetization purchase model


If there is a single direction mobile games are moving towards, it’s in-app purchases and microtransactions. The core game is available free to download like the previous approach. However, functionality, cosmetic items, and in-game currency are all purchased with real funds. In many MMOs, players can buy ‘doublers,’ allowing them to gain resources and experience points at an increased rate for a set amount of time. Some games offer exclusives cosmetic items, like pets and costumes for their characters. Best of all for game creators is the ability to continually refresh their game with new purchasable content. Not only does this approach generate revenue from the player base, but it can drum up interest in a title that’s been released for some time.

Mobile Apps in-app purchases and Microtransactions

Choosing the Strategy That Fits Your Mobile Game

Even the best idea for a game can stall without the right guidance or revenue model. What separates successful titles from missed opportunities is a solid team of experienced mobile game developers and designers. If you’re considering bringing your game idea to market, you should work with experts that can deliver your vision to the market. Zco’s teams have extensive experience in the industry creating games of every type and scale. We offer unparalleled in-house services, ranging from 3D animation to concept art and UI/UX design. Make sure to browse our catalog of previous work and call today for a free quote on your game design.