The Many Faces of Monetisation: Understanding the Diversity and Extremity of Player Spending in Mobile Games via Massive-scale Transactional Analysis

Date

2023-03-12

Advisors

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

ISSN

2832-5516

Volume Title

Publisher

ACM

Type

Article

Peer reviewed

Yes

Abstract

With the rise of microtransactions, particularly in the mobile games industry, there has been ongoing concern that games reliant on these obtain substantial revenue from a small proportion of heavily involved individuals, to an extent that may be financially burdensome to these individuals. Yet despite substantive grey literature and speculation on this topic, there is little robust data available. We explore the revenue distribution in microtransaction-based mobile games using a transactional dataset of $4.7B in in-game spending drawn from 69,144,363 players of 2,873 mobile games over the course of 624 days. We find diverse revenue distributions in mobile games, ranging from a “uniform” cluster, in which all spenders invest approximately similar amounts, to “hyper-Pareto” games, in which a large proportion of revenue (approximately 38%) stems from 1% of spenders alone. Specific kinds of games are typified by higher spending: The more a game relies on its top 1% for revenue generation, the more these individuals tend to spend, with simulated gambling products (“social casinos”) at the top. We find a small subset of games across all genres, clusters, and age ratings in which the top 1% of gamers are highly financially involved—spending an average of $66,285 each in the 624 days under evaluation in the most extreme case. We discuss implications for future studies on links between gaming and wellbeing.

Description

Keywords

in-app spending, monetisation, video games, mobile games, mobile gaming

Citation

Zendle, D., Flick, C., Deterding, S., Cutting, J., Gordon-Petrovskaya, E.and Drachen, A., (2023) The Many Faces of Monetisation: Understanding the Diversity and Extremity of Player Spending in Mobile Games via Massive-scale Transactional Analysis. ACM Games: Research and Practice, 1 (1) pp. 1–28

Rights

Research Institute

Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility (CCSR)