Improving Your Mobile Game Monetization Strategy

December 11, 2023
December 7, 2023

With downloads increasing by 8% in 2022, mobile games have never been more popular. However, with consumer spending dropping during that same time, increased popularity isn’t always translating into increased profits. How can you keep your bottom line healthy when consumers are tightening their purse strings? The answer is to improve your mobile game monetization strategy.

Key Takeaways:

  • The mobile game market continues to grow, but to be profitable, gaming companies must implement the correct monetization strategy.
  • Popular monetization strategies include download fees, in-app purchases, advertising, subscriptions, and branded partnerships.
  • It is important to tailor your strategy to your game and your players. You can improve your strategy by including monetization in the early development phases, focusing on player engagement, personalizing offerings, experimenting with ads, and providing real value for money.

What Is a Mobile Game Monetization Strategy?

A monetization strategy for mobile games is a plan for generating revenue from a mobile game through a mix of revenue models. The ideal monetization strategy balances revenue generation with the player experience, generating profits for game makers while also providing value to customers.

What Are the Most Popular Monetization Strategies?

Most games need to generate revenue in more than one way to succeed. The exact mix of revenue models that works best depends on factors such as genre, player preferences, market trends, and financial goals.

Download Fees

With a download fee model, you charge an upfront fee to download your game. This is the traditional sales model for video games, but fewer than 10% of mobile games currently use this pricing model.

Many mobile game players are resistant to paying a fee to download a game because there are so many free games on the market. However, this model can work for high-end titles that offer significant value to the user.

In-App Purchases

Mobile game monetization through in-app purchases allows players to enhance their gameplay experience by purchasing optional items, such as premium content or in-app currency. When implemented correctly, players can still enjoy the full gaming experience without ever buying anything but can enhance their enjoyment by spending money in-game.

In-app purchases generate significant revenue for mobile games. However, most players won’t buy anything, so it is usually necessary to supplement this revenue source with other monetization strategies.

Screenshot of in-app purchase in the mobile game Candy Crush


Most free-to-play games feature some form of in-app advertising. Ads allow you to generate a profit without the need for players to spend money. Most players understand that ads are necessary for them to be able to enjoy free games; however, some players dislike watching ads.

You can accommodate ad-averse players by offering the option to pay a one-time or recurring fee to get an ad-free version of the game. Choose ads that are engaging and offer players incentives to watch them. A good ad strategy can improve retention, while a bad one can cause you to lose players.


Subscription-based mobile game monetization models charge a recurring fee for access to a game or to exclusive content or perks that non-subscribing players don’t get. Subscriptions have the benefit of providing a steady and predictable stream of income, making it easier to forecast your long-term revenue.

In-Game Sponsorships and Partnerships

Partnering with a compatible brand can increase your audience and provide another source of revenue. As an example, Pokémon Go partnered with the McDonald’s fast food chain to drive business to McDonald’s by making restaurants PokéStops and increase engagement with the game by providing exclusive McDonalds themed content to players.

These types of partnerships can boost engagement and brand awareness for both brands. Some brands may pay you to feature their name or branded merchandise in your game as a form of advertising.

Images from the Pokémon Go and McDonald’s brand parternship

How Can You Improve Your Mobile Game Monetization Strategies?

Choosing the right mix of strategies is a good place to start. There are other steps you can take to improve your overall monetization efforts.

Match Your Strategy to Your Game

Players of hypercasual games don’t usually make in-app purchases. If your game fits into this genre, ads may be a better monetization choice. By contrast, hardcore gamers tend to resent the interruption to gameplay that ads represent but are more likely to make in-app purchases.

Implement a Monetization Strategy From the Start

Think about how you plan to monetize your game before you begin development so that you can build your game with your monetization strategy in mind. Set goals and measure your performance. Tweak your strategy as needed if you aren’t accomplishing your goals.

Focus on Player Engagement

Whichever mobile game monetization strategies you choose, they are only effective if players keep playing your game. Keep players engaged by providing a steady stream of new content and utilize liveops features, such as tournaments and time-limited events to keep players interested.

Personalize Your Offerings

Use machine learning, artificial intelligence, and data analysis to discover your players’ preferences. Use what you learn to determine what kinds of ads they want to watch and what sort of merchandise they want to buy.

Experiment With Ad Placement and Format

Rewarded and playable ads can boost engagement by incentivizing players to interact with ads. Intrusive ads can cause churn. Aim to place ads at natural breaks in gameplay and don’t overuse them. Rotate through the types of ads so that players don’t get tired of seeing the same ads all the time.

Provide Real Value for Money

Ads should feature products your players want to buy. In-app purchases should enhance the gameplay experience. If you are charging a download or subscription fee, players should feel like they are receiving content they can’t get from any of the free games on the marketplace.

When working with branded partners, choose brands that align with your brand values and the interests of your players. Thoroughly research the market and use what you know about your customers when setting prices. Always be transparent with players and make sure they know exactly what they are buying.

How Can Sonamine Improve Your Mobile Game Monetization Strategy?

Sonamine offers retention, engagement, and monetization services that will help you achieve your financial goals. Our analytics team can help you devise a winning mobile game monetization strategy and our liveops and other services will help you implement it. Contact us today to get started.

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