Fewer than 3% of players pay in F2P mobile games

Fewer than 3% of players pay in F2P mobile games
Aaron Lee

By Aaron Lee

April 10th 2014 at 11:50AM

Report also claims that the majority of revenue comes from the top ten per cent of spenders

Fewer than three per cent of players spend any money on free-to-play mobile games, according to new research.

App testing firm Swrve tracked the behaviour of more than ten million players for 90 days, starting in November 2013.

Swrve’s report found that only 2.2 per cent of players spent any money at all in the 30-plus titles on offer from its network.

Furthermore, 53 per cent of the games with money spent surveyed occurred in the first seven days after users started playing, which is a steep drop off as paying customers disappear.

Of the paying users, 46 per cent of the revenue came from the top ten per cent of the spenders.

In response to Swrve’s findings, free-to-play and DeNA head of European game studios Ben Cousins said he’s not surprised by the figures.

“40 per cent of players returning on the second day is great numbers, a sign of a real hit,” Cousins tweeted.

He added: “Sounds like Swrve are trying to paint a depressing picture to sell services. Those numbers are totally normal, can drive success.”

Other findings in the report, first spotted by Re/code, included that 19 per cent of the new players opened the games only once and 66 per cent had stopped playing after the first 24 hours. On average, players spent about 45 cents over the course of the 90 days.

Swrve’s angle is motivated by its core business, app testing and user segmenting, and it argues that employing such methods can improve retention and monetisation. Some of its clients include Activision, Epic Games and Gameloft.

While those with stake in mobile monetisation are pointing out the large number of non-paying players and the loss of potential revenues, the European Union and the UK’s Office of Fair Trading have begun to crack down on in-app purchases, prompted by disgruntled mobile users who’ve seen their bills soar thanks to these potentially “misleading” F2P titles.

In a recent interview with Develop, veteran developer Peter Molyneux said he “hates” the way “free-to-play is burning through our consumers and the tender shoots of new gamers”.