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How to choose a web store platform for your mobile game

In 2023, nearly every major mobile games publisher launched a web store - payment and platform expert AppCharge explains why - and how to go about creating your own
How to choose a web store platform for your mobile game
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The bandwagon is well in motion: nearly all top mobile game publishers developed a web store in 2023, and many more will follow suit in 2024.

Some publishers chose to build their web store in-house from scratch, but the vast majority of mobile publishers chose to use an external, white-label platform to build and manage their web store.

However, with several white-label web store platforms to choose from, it can be challenging to identify the ideal option for your game.

It’s a crucial decision - migrating to a different web store platform later on will likely be a major headache. That’s why we’ve written this article - to help you understand the key considerations when choosing a white-label web store platform. Let’s get started.

What is a mobile game web store?

A web store is a direct-to-consumer store in which developers and publishers sell digital items and bundles to their players. Web stores are not a replacement for the in-game stores we’re all accustomed to; rather, they’re an additional game monetisation channel.

Web stores exist outside of the Apple or Google ecosystem, which means developers bypass the traditional 30 percent fees in every transaction.

So what do developers pay, we hear you ask? That depends.

Larger publishers may choose to build their own web store in-house from scratch and act as their own Merchant of Record, which would see them earn most of the royalties from their sales (minus payment fees). This approach requires significant investment in both time and money, which you can read more about here.

Most publishers, even larger ones, however, will leverage white-label web store platforms and existing Merchant of Records. Such platforms often take care of all the tech and payment infrastructure, and in return take a share of the sales royalties - anything from 5 to 15 percent, depending on the company.

Can you build your own web store tech?

Yes, you can build your web store technology internally. To do this, generally speaking, you’d need:

  • A team of specialist engineers and product designers
  • A lengthy runway - it can take a minimum of 4 months to globally launch a basic web store from scratch
  • A payments team (or external vendor) to handle Merchant of Record functions, such as refunds, chargebacks, invoicing, and fraud
  • A commitment to investing in frequent development work to optimise and update your web store, so it’s as dynamic as your game

These are just the base components - there are a whole host of other requirements that come with building your own web store in-house - which gives you an idea of the scale of the task.

That’s why publishers are increasingly turning to white-label platforms for their web store needs. With that in mind, let’s look at your top considerations when it comes to choosing the right platform for your game’s web store.

How to choose the right web store platform for your game

From Appcharge to Xsolla, there are various companies offering plug-and-play web store platforms for mobile game developers. Choosing the right platform is an important decision.

Here are 3 key considerations:

Make sure they have reasonable, transparent fees

In return for getting an out-of-the-box white-label web store, you need to share some of your margins with the web store provider to ensure mutual incentive. If you choose the right vendor, this fee is well worth the money and time you save on assembling a team of engineers to build a store from scratch.

However, some white-label web store providers take up to 15 percent per transaction, while others have many types of hidden fees that lead to lower margins than expected.

While these fees are still significantly lower than Apple’s commission, it’s important to choose a white-label web store that is transparent in its pricing terms to ensure you are building for future scale.

Make sure you get a detailed breakdown of the fees before making any decisions.

Ensure they’re reliable and customer-oriented

You don’t fully own your web store when you’re using a third-party solution. You also don’t control the operations behind it.

Should the vendor get hacked, close down, or go through any other kind of mismanagement - you could be at risk of experiencing interruption to your web store and the revenue it generates.

This can be avoided by working with a boutique web store provider run by people you trust. Do your research about their security practices, read case studies, and talk to the platform’s team to ensure you are as confident as possible about their reliability, security, and support.

Check they’re gaming-first

As a game publisher, you ideally want the team behind your web store platform to come from gaming backgrounds. Better yet if those individuals have experience working in LiveOps. That way, you know you’re working with people who truly “get” your needs as a developer, the needs of your players, and the ins and outs of the games industry.

Taking this a step further, you want to be working with experts who know how to push you forward and suggest revenue-boosting strategies.

Without this, you risk being on different wavelengths with your point of contact and missing out on growth opportunities in your web store.

To avoid this, make sure you choose a web store platform that has been built by games industry experts. The Appcharge team, for example, includes leaders with backgrounds at top mobile game developers like Moon Active, Rovio, Tilting Point and more.

Choosing a web store for your mobile game: Final takeaways

In 2024, the rise of web stores is not just a paradigm shift; it's a strategic imperative for game developers seeking autonomy and financial resilience.

The choice of the right web store platform becomes a linchpin in this journey, determining not only the trajectory of your game but also the extent of your independence in a rapidly evolving gaming ecosystem.

With several web store platforms on the market offering similar products, looking for differentiating factors that will provide you a competitive edge is important.

Transparency, financial legitimacy and reliability are two key areas to dive into during your decision process, but perhaps the most important factor is if the web store platform is made by game industry veterans.

The right web store platform is more than a service provider; it's a collaborator with a deep understanding of the gaming realm. Opting for a platform crafted by industry experts ensures a synergy of goals, where your success as a developer aligns seamlessly with the strategies and insights provided by the people behind your web store platform.

Learn how the Appcharge platform empowers you to scale paying user growth here.