Mobile Games University - Monetisation Design: The psychology behind game monetisation

Learning how players think

Mobile Games University - Monetisation Design: The psychology behind game monetisation

We’ve already looked at the different types of game monetisation, which can vary from free-to-play to premium and subscription, plus all the various different types of those various models, such as gachas or Super Mario Run’s free-to-start model.

But when it comes to getting players to spend money, games need an enticing hook and compelling reason for them to do so. But what exactly are people after? What are they willing to spend their hard-earned money on?

Below you’ll find a number of articles that delve into the psychology behind game design and monetisation, and how some of the best apps engage with their players over the long-term.

The seven rules of monetisation design

Oscar Clark espouses his expertise on the psychology of game monetisation and the seven rules you should follow.

Opinion: Why your next hire should be a Chief Psychology Officer

An older article but one that explains the importance of learning about psychology for your game’s design,’s Jon Jordan takes a look at how players think in free-to-play games.

Cyber-psychologist Berni Good talks free-to-play gaming
At Pocket Gamer Connects 2014, we spoke to psychologist Berni Good about free-to-play games. She discussed the importance of the perception of value for gamers and the new research that's being done in the sector.

Psychology of video game play - low hanging fruit!

Over at, Berni Good also wrote an article about the science behind game flow.

The four MMO player types

University of Essex Professor Richard Bartle was the forerunner on the idea of four distinct MMO player types – the reason certain types of people player games the way they do. While focusing on MMOs, his findings are relevant for a myriad of multiplayer games and are useful to keep in mind when it comes to how your game will monetise.

As well as the article above, you can watch the video on Bartle’s Taxonomy, courtesy of Extra Credits, below.

The Psychology of Video Games

There’s an entire website dedicated to the psychology of video games, which features podcasts and articles, while the site’s authors have also written a book on the subject. Some particularly useful insights for monetisation design include:

Book - Getting Gamers: The Psychology of Video Games and Their Impact on the People who Play Them

Podcast: Envy and Microtransactions


Psychology, Monetization, and Video Gaming

Mark Griffiths delves into why gamers buy 'virtual assets'. While not a look at mobile games, the article offers an insight into the psychology behind players' buying decisions.

You can also view the full research paper, that this piece is based on, here.

Chasing the Whale: Examining the ethics of free-to-play games

An old but excellent article on Gamasutra looks into the ethics of free-to-play games monetisation and the psychological tricks developers use to get people to part with money. A lot has changed in free-to-play in the following years, but it's a good reminder of the ethical considerations devs should consider when asking players to pay money, and the effects F2P techniques could have on people.

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Senior Editor

Craig Chapple is Senior Editor of and He was previously Deputy Editor at Develop and Online Editor at Nintendo of Europe.


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