Monetizer Special: Comparing three F2P games with 7-band IAP economies

Further adventures in virtual systems

Monetizer Special: Comparing three F2P games with 7-band IAP economies

As I pointed out in a previous Monetizer Special, the vast majority of F2P games use an in-app purchase system with either 5 or 6 transaction bands.

Typical price points are $4.99, $9.99, $19.99, $49.99 and $99.99 for the 5-band system, with a lower starting price of $0.99 or $1.99 added for a 6-band system.

However, there are a very few number of titles that use a 7-band system, and that's the focus of this piece of research.

Seventh heaven

US publisher Pocket Gems fully understands the mechanics of free-to-play gaming so despite its Epic Empire being one of the few 7-band IAP systems, in this context, we can treat it as our industry standard.

It has IAP transactions at $0.99, $1.99, $4.99, $9.99, $19.99, $49.99 and $99.99.

So using our new Monetizer metric, it has an average IAP price of $26.85 (that is $187.93/7).

(You can read about Epic Empire in more detail in one of last month's Monetizers.)

Applying Epic Empire as our base, we can compare it to another 7-band game, OMG: TD! a tower defence game from Chinese developer Red Rocket and Chinese publisher Yodo1.

Its IAP economy is interesting as it ignores standard IAP prices such as $19.99 and $49.99, instead going with $14.99, $29.99 and $54.99.

Doing the maths, we can see because of this it has a higher average IAP price than Epic Empire; it's $30.99.

Fly me to the moon

However, the most interesting 7-band game I've seen so far is IGG's Galaxy Online II. Again, this is a Chinese-developed game, although I'd need to analyse a lot more games before claiming that 7-band IAP systems are particularly Chinese in nature.

When it comes to IAP prices, Galaxy Online II is different to Epic Empire as it shifts the $19.99 price point up to $24.99, and adds one at $74.99. Peculiarly, though, it drops the maximum IAP price from $99.99 to $94.99.

The result is a high average IAP price of $37.42.

We can see how these three games compare in the graph showing the price of each of the 7 IAP transactions (as above), while the variation in average price is shown below.

Limitations and opportunities

Of course, with this sort of analysis, we're just looking at what we could call the 'static IAP economy'. We're not looking at how each game uses the in-game currency you purchase.

In fact, the three games are different in scope as Galaxy Online II is a standard time/resource city-building and (space) combat sim, while OMG:TD! is a level-based tower defence game, and Epic Empire is an item-based RPG, albeit with some light city-building levels.

As an aside, commercially, neither of the three has been successful in the west, although when you compare its top grossing chart position to its download chart position, Galaxy Online II appears to have generated a relatively high ARPU in some territories.

More significant, at least for me, however, is using this type of analysis to quickly compare F2P games, particularly if we want to rank games within the same genre, or compare the different strategies developers and publishers are using.

Of which, more later...

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.