App Monetization

Latest Mobile Game Monetization Strategies and Trends for 2024

October 19, 2023
5 Minutes

In the dynamic world of gaming, mobile game monetization stands out as a transformative trend, reshaping the industry's financial landscape. As players immerse themselves in virtual realms, developers seek innovative strategies to translate this engagement into revenue. But what lies beneath the surface of this burgeoning market? Dive in to uncover the intricacies of in-game advertising and how it's revolutionizing the gaming world.

What is Mobile Game Monetization?

Mobile game monetization refers to the strategies and methods employed by game developers to generate revenue from their mobile games. At its core, it's about converting user engagement into financial gain. 

Various models, such as in-app purchases, ads, and subscription services, have emerged to cater to diverse gaming audiences. As the gaming industry evolves, developers continually adapt and innovate, ensuring players receive value while also sustaining their business.

How Do Mobile Games Make Money?

Ever pause mid-game and wonder how that exciting mobile game in your hands makes money, especially when it's free? The answer lies in clever monetization strategies. From in-game items tempting you to purchase, to those short ads you occasionally watch, and even monthly passes offering exclusive perks - these are the dynamic ways games keep the cash flowing. 

To be more clear, they show ads to players, sell in-game items, or offer special features for a price, all of which bring in money.

Let’s dive in with us to explore the latest trends that are shaping the future of mobile gaming profits!

How Much Money Can I Make With a Mobile Game?

How much you earn from a mobile game can change a lot based on different things. If your game has only a few downloads, you might make $0-$1 each day. The most important point here is the audience playing your game and your patience. 

It is almost impossible for people to download a game you have just uploaded to App Stores without any marketing efforts.

But if more people, like 1000-2000, download your game daily, you could earn more. Using the best ads, you could get more money. So, to make good money from ads, you need many people to download and play your game.

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Mobile game monetization
Source: TechCrunch

Mobile Game Monetization Models

Mobile games span across genres and audiences and are monetized in a variety of ways. 

Developers can choose from multiple monetization options to drive revenue through their mobile games. 

If you want to know how to monetize mobile games, here are the top mobile game monetization trends to look out for.

Paid Games

The simplest mobile gaming monetization trend is adding a price tag to the game before players can start playing.  Paid games are generating significant revenue in both the Google Play Store and the iOS App Store. Some of the biggest games that are paid are Minecraft, Stardew Valley, Incredibox, Monopoly, and Bloons TD 6. However, by making the game paid, developers limit their audience numbers considerably, as the vast majority of mobile gamers never spend even a single penny on these games. On the other hand, paid games bring a high-quality audience that might not hesitate to spend more on the game. Overall, paid games work well for established design studios that have a huge player base ready to play their new games. Small-scale game developers often need to look at other monetization trends and keep the games free to play.

Mobile Gaming Ads

Advertisements in mobile games are one of the biggest revenue drivers for game developers. With a plethora of formats available, developers can leverage ads in mobile games to monetize their audience and increase their revenue. Mobile gaming ads have become increasingly popular, more so due to the sudden growth of the mobile gaming industry, driving millions of eyeballs to the smartphone screens and opening up a largely untapped audience for advertisers. Ads in mobile games are also beneficial to drive engagement and, with correct execution, offer an enhanced player experience. Here are some of the top ad formats developers can utilize in their mobile games:

Rewarded Ads

The most sought-after ad format in mobile gaming is the rewarded ad format. Rewarded ads offer a choice to the user, where they can watch a video ad and get a reward when it ends or skip it entirely. These rewarded ads offer users a chance to receive in-game currency, additional playing time, the ability to continue the level after failing, or even premium levels. Unlike many other ad formats, users prefer rewarded ads as they offer them a choice to watch or skip, which many other formats do not, and they get a reward once the ad concludes, enhancing their experience. Rewarded ads are a great method to monetize the audience, which otherwise would not spend any money on mobile gaming.

Game monetization trends
Source: GameAnalytics

In-Gaming Blended Ads

While many other ads are displayed over the game interface, in-game ads are blended inside the game itself, closing the gap between the game and the ad. This enables brands and developers to offer a better ad experience to users without disrupting their game experience. These native ads can be displayed using digital banners inside the game, branded in-game items, featured levels, and more. These ads are considered less intrusive by players as they do not hinder their natural game flow and generate higher subconscious retention and engagement. Moreover, these ads bring in premium revenue for developers, as they can directly benefit from a high-quality and quantity player base and charge higher ad rates. We are witnessing increased adoption of these ads as brands are using blended ads to reach their target audiences in-game.

Interstitial Ads

Ads that generally pop up in-game and cover the entire interface of the device are known as interstitial ads.

These ads often allow the users to either skip or exit the ad after a few seconds or otherwise run for some additional time. At the end of the ad, users can either exit the ad to continue playing or engage with the ad and reach its destination. 

They are often displayed at natural transition points, such as level changes, task completion, or sub-menu exits. While these ads offer better engagement than many formats and thereby higher revenue for developers, many users consider interstitial ads to be extremely intrusive, as they hamper the natural gaming flow.

Best ways to monetize mobile game

Playable Ads

Playable ads offer users a chance to try out a different game inside the game they are currently playing. These ads provide minimal game mechanics or storyline to lure the players into engaging with the ad and reaching its destination. While they can be used for any app, this ad format is most commonly used with mobile games. Advertisers often use these ads to drive engagement, increase conversions, and reduce their overall uninstall rate by helping users experience the game before they install it. Developers can get better revenue with playable ads as they are offering an already active and highly relevant user base to these advertisers.

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Subscription And Freemium Models

While the freemium model has been prevalent for a long time, recent years have also witnessed significant growth in subscriptions. In the freemium model, players need not pay any money to install and play the game. However, they get restricted access to the game, and they can enhance the experience by either doing any in-app purchase or paying a fixed amount for the premium version of the game. Subscriptions, however, are recurring payments made by the users to gain access to premium content, such as in-game items, levels, or limited edition game mechanics. One of the most common subscription payment modes is game operations or battle passes, which offer users the chance to participate in limited-edition game levels that only occur for a certain time. These battle passes often come with a standard payment, after which players can participate in the event and gain additional rewards and in-game items. Many major games have adopted the battle pass strategy, opening up the gates to regular revenue generation.

In-App Purchases

Another extremely common mobile game monetization strategy is driving users towards in-app purchases. In-app purchases enable developers to monetize the audience that may not pay a fee for the base game but might pay for in-game items and other elements.  Game developers can offer various in-game elements in exchange for real-world money. These elements can be used by players to enhance their gaming experience. 

Some of the key types of in-app purchases include game skins (weapons and player models), additional lives, in-game currency, weapon upgrades, and the ability to resume play after failing a level.

In-game purchases are the driving force of revenue generation for mobile games, and we are seeing many games adopt comprehensive strategies around these purchases. 

For example, many games offer newbie bundles at a steep discount for new players, thereby creating chances of revenue generation right from the beginning.

Moreover, many games also offer discounts and sales on their in-app purchases based on real-world events and festivals, including Christmas-themed bundles, a sale on green items on Saint Patrick’s Day, and more.

How to make money with mobile games

What is the Best Mobile Game Monetization Model?

Figuring out the best way to make money from a mobile game isn't a one-size-fits-all answer. Some games do well by showing ads, while others make more by selling in-game items. 

Then there are games that ask players to pay a one-time fee or a monthly subscription. To be more clear, the best model often depends on the game's type, its target audience, and how often players use it. By understanding your game and its players, you can choose the method that fits best.

But in general, We  can tell you that the most preferred game monetization models are the following:

  • Ads: Displaying short ads between game levels or sessions.
  • In-game purchases: Offering virtual items or features for a price.
  • One-time game purchase: Charging players a single fee to download and play.
  • Subscription models: Asking players for a monthly fee to access special features or content.

Mobile Game Monetization Strategies (step-by-step)

Monetizing a mobile game is more than just adding a price tag or inserting ads; it's about creating a sustainable revenue model while ensuring players have a positive gaming experience. 

This balance is achieved through a combination of understanding your game's audience and implementing monetization strategies effectively. Below is a step-by-step guide, detailing each stage of the process to help game developers navigate this intricate journey:

Step 1: Deep Dive into Your Target Audience 

Before diving into monetization, it's vital to understand who's playing your game. Identifying their preferences, habits, and spending tendencies will shape your subsequent strategies.

  • Research and Surveys: Kick off with comprehensive market research to pinpoint player demographics and behaviors. Surveys can offer direct insights.
  • Player Profiles: Construct detailed profiles of your players, analyzing their playing habits and durations.
  • Spending Habits: Determine how often and how much your audience is willing to spend within the game.

Step 2: Selecting the Ideal Monetization Model

Once you've grasped your audience's mindset, the next step is to choose a revenue model that aligns with their preferences and your game's design.

  • Ad-based Monetization: This works best for games targeting a broad audience. Decide between different ad types like banner, interstitial, or rewarded videos.
  • In-game Purchases: Effective for games with a committed user base, offering items like power-ups or cosmetics.
  • Premium Version: If your game offers a unique experience, consider charging a one-time fee.
  • Subscription Models: These provide continuous fresh content or benefits, ensuring ongoing player engagement.

Step 3: Harmonizing Monetization and User Experience 

Monetization should feel natural, not forced. It's crucial to strike a balance where players see value in spending, without feeling pressured or interrupted.

  • Seamless Integration: Ensure that ads or in-game purchase prompts don't disrupt gameplay.
  • Value Proposition: Every purchasable item should have a clear benefit, enhancing gameplay or aesthetics.
  • Feedback Loops: Create channels for players to share their feedback on monetization, showing them their opinions matter.

Step 4: Continuous Analysis and Refinement 

The mobile gaming landscape is ever-evolving. To stay ahead, it's essential to keep an eye on performance metrics and be ready to adapt based on data and player feedback.

  • Performance Metrics: Track metrics like Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) and Lifetime Value (LTV).
  • A/B Testing: Test different monetization methods with subsets of players to find the most effective strategies.
  • Updates Based on Feedback: Use player feedback and analytics to introduce new items, adjust pricing, or change ad displays.

By approaching monetization as a holistic process and always keeping the player's experience in mind, developers can achieve a win-win: a profitable game that players love. Apart from the top game monetization trends mentioned above, there are many other trends that can be leveraged as secondary revenue generation avenues. For example, many games have built recommendation pipelines, where they recommend certain games to their users and charge the recommended game a fee for advertisement. 

Many games have also opted for paywalls, where players can start playing the game for free, but it is only available for a certain period. 

After the free period ends, users can pay a fee to continue playing the game. Games are also adopting paid ad-free access, affiliate marketing, sponsorships, and even real-world merchandising.

However, there is no best mobile monetization strategy that works for all games, genres, and audiences. 

When picking a monetization strategy, developers need to be wary of how their game will work with the model, how the players will react to it, and how much their revenue can scale through the model. This can be achieved through user segmentation and testing along with thorough competitive research.

With so many options available, it might get confusing for developers to find the right revenue-generating strategy for their mobile games. 

Fortunately, they can adopt a hybrid strategy by combining many of these trends to churn out the optimum strategy. With meticulous segmentation of players, games can drive higher revenues. 

For example, while a group of players generates revenue through in-app purchases, another group drives rewarded ads, and this strategy is complemented by a group of players that pay a premium subscription to receive an ad-free experience.

Some of the most common combinations in a hybrid monetization strategy include in-app ads and in-app purchases, subscriptions with in-app purchases, and the combination of all three. 

Conclusively, through a hybrid approach, developers can utilize the best strategies and scale their mobile gaming revenue.

With a suite of extensive next-generation tools, iion makes it easy for game developers to monetize their mobile games. 

With a pool of ad formats, we enhance the player’s gaming experience to drive conversion and increase retention.


iion ensures you scale your revenue while securing brand reputation through premium advertiser quality. 

With an easy and seamless deployment process, you can get started with iion in no time!

Interested in getting our next-gen solutions and monetizing your mobile games? Request a free callback today!

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