Why it's significant Kabam has gifted all The Hunger Games' players $0.14

Switch from monetisation to retention

Why it's significant Kabam has gifted all The Hunger Games' players $0.14

In a very candid press release, Kabam has formally announced that it's changed the monetisation in some of its games.

Taking about how the company had transformed during 2014 it said it was:

"Easing monetization requirements on several games to generate greater long-term customer loyalty."

In some ways, it's a remarkable volte-face given that Kabam operates some of the most successful F2P mobile and web games in the world.

Four of its games have generated $100 million in lifetime revenues, while 12 games grossed more than $1 million in a month in 2014.

Overall, 2014 sales were $400 million, up 11 percent year-on-year, but much lower than the $550 - $600 million it predicted in April 2014.


Yet from the players' point of view, Kabam games have always been highly monetised - in economic not moral terms.

Certainly as we pointed out with respect to in-game reciprocity - one key element of engagement and monetisation - Kabam games have tended to be parsimonious in terms of how much hard currency they give to players.

This is important as gifting players with hard currency encourages them to enter the game store and start experimenting with the in-app purchases.

With this in mind, Kabam's statement suggests that the wider F2P gaming ecosystem is changing, with players however unconsciously requiring more encouragement from the games they play to keep playing.

Given the massive oversupply of content in app stores, the increasing marketing costs required to launch a game, and a general switch among developers to release fewer, higher quality games, it's a move that makes complete sense.

Like many other companies then, Kabam has dialled down its monetisation to focus on retention and engagement, in the hope this will eventually lead to a higher life time value per player.

Hunger pangs

In terms of how this change is being experienced in practice, one small example can be seen in The Hunger Games: Panem Rising.

Until the most recent update, the game didn't gift players any hard currency (called sparks); the meter in the top right corner firmly read '0'.

Now, however, players have been retrospectively rewarded with items and soft currency via an achievements system, as well as 10 hard currency units.

Technically, this is a symbolic amount; the game's exchange rate is 70 sparks to the dollar so 10 sparks are worth a mere $0.14.

But it's a start.

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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Alex Lin Founder, CEO at LVL6, Inc
I love the smart guys at Kabam, but the problem with this title isn't purely a question of "retention." The demographic of people who like Hunger Games is heavily skewed teen female, and wrapping a HG skin on a card battler (skewed 20's male) was an ill advised decision (though an easy mistake to make.)

I'm hard pressed to find another IP title as big as Hunger Games not break the Top 200 grossing. Another companies looking to use Hollywood IP to hack UA should keep that in mind.
Fraser Ross MacInnes Product/Design Director at Danke Games
I haven't played any Kabam games in ages, but is it really the case that it has not been in the habit of gifting currency to players over time via various means (i.e., not just at the outset while attempting to onboard the player)? If so, then colour me surprised as most F2P games seem to have been doing this for quite some time already.
jon jordan
A subjective view (although I've played most Kabam games), but no, it's almost been one of its games' defining characteristics.