Mobile Mavens

A dollar for 8 hours of gameplay is tough math for developers

Monetizer Mavens debate Amazon Underground

A dollar for 8 hours of gameplay is tough math for developers

Amazon has announced Amazon Underground; a platform which provides free games for consumers, while paying developers $0.002 per minute of gameplay generated in their games.

It’s an ambitious move which looks to build Amazon’s install base while attracting developers who feel they can no longer make money in a mobile game eecosystem dominated by F2P monetisation.

So we asked out F2P monetisation experts (and they are), the Monetizer Mavens:

  • Do you think Amazon Underground can work for companies other than those with deep portfolios and should indies experiment with new longevity-based gameplay design?
Tim Rachor Creative Director Evil Grog Games GmbH

I think Underground is ingenious. Amazon finally addresses the main problem when it comes to microconsoles: games not suited for couch gameplay. By rewarding games with longer play-sessions developers are encouraged to create great experiences for the living room on Android.

Mobile games are so focused on short-session gameplay, timers, energy system and other kinds of restrictions that I don't see anyone playing them on their Apple TV anytime soon. (Of course there are exceptions with premium titles like Banner Saga or Hearthstone that have longer
session lengths).

Amazon's argument why developers should be going Underground

Is this a good opportunity for established free-to-play companies?

Not at the moment. I see it more as an emergent market for indies that struggle to get visibility. If Amazon really pushes the "actually free" brand and achieves a higher install-base for their app shop, this
might be very lucrative to smaller studios with smaller marketing budgets.

I see it more as an emergent market for indies that struggle to get visibility.
Tim Rachor

But if they succeed to create a healthy ecosystem for microconsole games, the audience will follow. And if a critical mass is achieved revenues might even become interesting for big companies. Especially
when supporting the Underground platform is quick and easy if you are already on the Play Store.

And even if they don't support Underground they could still make money with their premium or F2P app on a larger install base of Amazon devices.

Will Underground lead to "better" games as sketched in a recent interview? I think that's just trying to sell the idea to indies and customers. Games with longer play sessions are not necessarily better and they are definitely not well suited for mobile gameplay on the go.

I recently submitted one of my own games to Underground out of curiosity and I've seen some downloads there.

Overall I would say it promises big success if Amazon actually succeeds in getting enough people to use their Appstore. But then Amazon might actually be the company to achieves with their market power, low-priced tablets and microconsoles.

A second established Android store would drive competition that's for sure.

Jero Juujärvi Founder Acquire, Engage & Monetize

Jero is a very business oriented and entrepreneur-spirited game developer focusing on combining game design, business and marketing.

CAUTION: If you engage this person with topics of game marketing or monetization, just clear your schedule for rest of the day.

I see potential in Underground for players who enjoy slow-paced games, rogue-like games, heavy story-based games, exploration games and other games that has great replay value if developers are able to keep the costs very low and replay value extremely high.

Will there be enough audience to move the needle?

The problem here may become that there may not be enough huge audience to move the needle and provide enough revenue for the developer.

It takes 8 hours and 20 minutes playtime to earn a single dollar. It would mean that if developer published an game to Amazon Underground, it would need 637,000 downloads with avg 12 days retention rate 40-20-17-15-13-11-9-8-7-6-5 + 4% retention till day-30 to make a $1 million revenue (if players plays 3 hours a day this game).

Is Amazon able to deliver that amount of players to a single game?

I believe it all comes down to how well Amazon gets players activated and interested to install and play games in Amazon Underground.


Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.


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