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Gaming subscription vs. in-app purchases – What is better for you?

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The mobile app industry is currently growing at a voracious speed. There are millions of live apps on Google Play and the iOS App Store, and thousands more are launched every week. According to a study, when people are on their phone, they spend most of their time on apps. These apps mostly include social networking apps, games, and news apps.

As apps are becoming more valuable to the users, app developers are having a hard time choosing the right monetization technique and pricing strategy for their apps. In this post, we will look at two pricing strategies for gaming apps and see which one works better for users. The two strategies are gaming subscription and in-app purchases.


In-app purchase:

An in-app purchase is a fee than an app may ask for, once a user downloads it. Many apps on the App Store and Google Play are free to download, but they have in-app purchases, which cost users some money on game add-ons, premium features, and more. These charges are optional and can go straight on credit cards, even without informing the owner.

Is it worth it?

Creating an account on the App Store or Google play requires you to enter your card number so that they can charge your account in case you download a paid app. This also makes in-app purchases dangerously easy as you do not often need to re-enter your credit card number or even your password.

This is quite challenging for parents who allow their children to play games on mobile phones. They can be easily lured into making an in-app purchase if an option to ‘unlock a new character’ or ‘finish a level’ pops up on the screen. These small sums can quickly add up, especially for those who do not check their credit statements often. Fortunately, both the iOS App Store and Google Play clearly state if an app has in-app purchases. Hence, you know, even before downloading these apps, if you have to spend money on in-app purchases or not.

An example of such a game is the Pokémon GO, which makes it easier for users to level up or score higher if they are willing to pay a little money. Many similar games won’t cost money initially, but if you want to get the major bragging rights, you will have to put some money towards your goal.

Since these apps are free to download and often have a free trial, users do not hesitate to use the app. The Gartner survey revealed that more and more people are inclined towards in-app purchases for apps that cost more than $15. This is because once a user is satisfied with an app, he/she will be more likely to pay for add-ons and premium features in the app. On the other hand, If users don’t know much about an app, they are less likely to pay for it.
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Gaming Subscriptions:

Gaming subscriptions is another app revenue model that has caught the attention of users in recent years. Subscription-based apps have become more popular and prevalent because of certain benefits that they offer. When users subscribe to your app, they will pay a fixed amount of monthly fee to use the app. Some apps offer discounts and incentivizing features to users who subscribe to the app for longer periods.

Looking at the popularity of subscription apps, Apple also introduced a change in its app store revenue split by emphasizing the app subscription model over others. According to the new model, Apple offers developers a revenue split of 85/15, instead of the standard 70/30 split, for a subscription that lasts more than a year.

The pros and cons of gaming subscriptions:

The subscription model has attracted more people towards gaming apps and websites because most of these apps provide access to hundreds of games for a minimal subscription fee. Several gaming services have adopted the subscription-based model as users can enjoy playing their favorite games for a monthly fee less than a cup of coffee.

One such gaming service is the Unlimited Gamez Mo which gives users unlimited access to hundreds of games on their mobile phones. The good news is that most of these services provide an ad-free gaming experience, which is not possible in most applications with in-app transactions (unless you pay for it). What makes this gaming subscription different from gaming apps found on the app stores is that you get access to a diverse and extensive list of games that suit your mood for a minimal fee and no hidden charges.

GameStash is another subscription-based app that provides gaming services to Android users. The app offers uninterrupted and ad-free gaming experience for a specific monthly fee. The GameStash library has over 300 games which users can download and play after paying the initial subscription fee. Other subscription-based gaming apps like Playphone and Vortex provide similar services, but subscription-based services also have a downside to them.

Gaming subscription does look weaker in a few cases. These services suit those gamers who have enough time to take advantage of the extensive gaming libraries. If you are someone who is always short on time or who prefer to stick to a single game for weeks and months, you may not find it a cost-effective option. They might be better off making in-app purchases instead of paying for a huge catalog of games. Since users pay a recurring monthly fee, they expect developers to provide updates and add new games and features on a regular basis.

The verdict:

It can be quite challenging for users to decide a pricing strategy that works for them. But given the recent trend, popularity, extensive gaming libraries, and minimal monthly charges, gaming subscriptions seem a real deal for most of the gamers.

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