What Developers think about Android Monetization

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UPDATE (12th March) We’ve now asked 28 Android Developers, why it is still a problem to monetize Games for Android, whereas it seems that iOS developers are able to make a ton of money.

These were our three questions:

Q1: What do you think are the reasons why Android games lack monetization compared to iOS?
Q2: Will in-app-purchase (freemium) models solve this problem ?
Q3: What other solutions to this problem would you suggest or are working on?

And here are the interesting answers from Playandroid’s developer network:


Sasa Skevin / InstantCom:

What do you think are the reasons why Android games lack monetization compared to iOS?

As first applications on Android Market were free, so Android users are used to get them for free. It is difficult to change old habits.

Will in-app-purchase (freemium) models solve this problem ?

Partially. In-app purchase (IAP) is only one method how to reward developers for their content.

What other solutions to this problem would you suggest or are working on?

Having a model where customer have an ability to try the product, sounds like most fair. If he/she likes the product, then ‘buys’ it. It can be as IAP, mobile ads supported app, as incentive payment (TapJoy), lending an app, pay per usage, … anything that suits a customer. It would be ideally that customer is in a position to chose the way how to ‘pay for content’ (reward developer) for its app. So far we didn’t found a technology solution that can offer that all-in-one solution.


Steven Craft / Paw Print Games:

What do you think are the reasons why Android games lack monetization compared to iOS?

I believe part of the problem is that iOS was there first. Because of this, iOS set out a way in which developers can monetize on their platform. Although it has started changing more recently, the traditional methodology has been to release applications at a set price. When iOS launched the AppStore this worked rather well, the devices couldn’t install unofficial content without quite complex procedures so the vast majority of users would buy any games/application they wished to use. Back when the AppStore launched, there were less applications, more visibility and a lot of press about the many success stories of people getting rich from a single successful application.

We then fast forward to Android coming out on mobile phones and providing the market place for developer to distribute their applications. Initially only Java applications were supported, which further stalled most developers. But more crucially there were (and still are) no measures on Android to ensure users run legal content. As a result the piracy rate for premium titles is through the roof. Our recently released title, Battle Bugs (on Android) has over 98% of the users running an illegal (non paid for) version. There are options to enforce DRM, but this can be worked around, so on the whole, paid for, premium content on Android is hard to deliver as a financial success. This means a lot of games that were designed to monetize on iOS do not work so well on Android.

These days it is becoming more and more popular to find monetization strategies that allow the users to download the game for free, but it with advertisements, purchasable in game content or other more exotic methods for example TapJoy’s method of allowing users to download other titles in exchange for in game currency (where the developer gets a certain amount of money when the user downloads another application). Developers are still coming to terms (and struggling) with these new monetisation techniques. It is quite daunting to release an application for free, knowing that it is perfectly possible that you will make nothing at all from all the hard work. This is made even harder when you are a developer who isn’t making games for fun in your spare time, but instead are doing it as a living; it feels very close to gambling all your money on something you have little control over.

Will in-app-purchase (freemium) models solve this problem ?

Although Android does offer models that include in app purchase (called In App Billing on Android) it isn’t currently a complete solution. It isn’t supported in all territories, for example China (which counts for a huge amount of Android application downloads) does not support In App Billing. There are many other (non Google provided) solutions for making money from users all around the world, but from a developers point of view it is often hard to know which one to use. Should a developer use adverts, or In App Billing, or both? Should they use neither and instead use other mechanisms for offering some form of credits or sign up for a service that charges users for the amount of time they play any games in their catalogue? All of these services claim they can make the developer lots of money, but it is doubtful that many (if any) of them will deliver for the majority of developers.

Over time one would assume more developers will learn the best way to make money from the Android market. From all the various competing monetisation technologies currently available, some will appear at the top of the pile as the better choices and developers will learn how their applications should be made in the first place in order to stand a good chance to monetise well. Making an application that is designed to monetise well on Android is likely to work better than attempting to retrofit a freemium style model into an existing (non freemium) title.

What other solutions to this problem would you suggest or are working on?

Our next title, Wacky Rapids, due out in the next month or so, has been designed as a free to play game. It offers the users various ways to both acquire and spend in game currency (it can be acquired via TapJoy incentivisation and also via In App Billing, and can be spent to purchase different playable characters, rafts, immunities and other gaming goodies). We are trying to give the user ample opportunities to use the in game currency by notifying them of potentially interesting items in the shop and giving them quick access to items they will want to purchase most often. I don’t want to be as bold as to say I suggest other developers follow what we are doing with Wacky Rapids. Once the game is out we’ll be in a better position to see how well Wacky Rapids monetises. We want to develop high profile, arcade style, games, which is not something that typically does so well in the freemium market. We are trying something a little bit different and are even keener than you to see the results. We are not against releasing a simulation style title that has proven to monetise well with IAP, but our games development experience is from more arcade style games, so we certainly have a preference to keep working in this direction.


Sergio Viudes:

What do you think are the reasons why Android games lack monetization compared to iOS?

iOS devices are more expensive than most of Android devices, so I think people with iOS spend more money on apps too. So Android developers are offering more free content, and Android users are used to download apps for free.
And most of iPhone users are Mac users too, or iPod users, so they are used to pay for apps.

Will in-app-purchase (freemium) models solve this problem ?

No. It helps to offer content to the user without download another app, but I think if a user won’t pay for the app, won’t pay for any content.

What other solutions to this problem would you suggest or are working on?

I think it really isn’t a problem… if Android users wants free apps, developers can offer free apps (monetized with ads), and can offer a paid version too (there are people who hate ads).


Gui Schvartsman / Best Cool Fun Games:

What do you think are the reasons why Android games lack monetization compared to iOS?

Google CheckOut (or is it Google Wallet now?! I don’t even know)  offers a very poor service for customers, in that there are way less registered credit cards, and customers are wary of paying via this system. Therefore, the ARPU of Android games is way lower. The fact that iOS devices are more expensive than the average Android device may help explain why Android users spend less than iOS users.

Will in-app-purchase (freemium) models solve this problem ?

Nope. The solution would be for Google to stop enforcing Google CheckOut or Google Wallet or whatever to all the Android Market developers and users. They are hurting the ecosystem once again by enforcing their lousy solution to everyone — skewed Google+ results at Google is a good analogy to make the point that a monopoly comes in expense of good service.

What other solutions to this problem would you suggest or are working on?

HTML5 guys! Stop selling on the Android Market! The leak that will rid us of the dominance of Google, Apple and Microsoft is the might web.


Christoph Aschwanden / Noble Master Games:

What do you think are the reasons why Android games lack monetization compared to iOS?

I believe one of the reasons is that there are simply too many low quality apps in the Android Market which shouldn’t be there in the first place. It’s difficult for good apps to make it to the top. You don’t have the same problem on iOS. Every app that makes it into iTunes went through quality control. In that sense, the iTunes store doesn’t just act as a distribution channel but is at the same time a trusted source for high quality apps and games.

Will in-app-purchase (freemium) models solve this problem ?

In the short run definitely. A freemium app currently shows up as free in both the Android Market and iTunes Store. Who doesn’t like “free” games?

What other solutions to this problem would you suggest or are working on?

The best option is to release a game in additional stores. Submitting an app to additional stores is a big time commitment although probably most stores probably don’t see it that way. I have had some good experience with the SKT Store in Korea and just of recent the Amazon Marketplace. Most other stores don’t usually justify the time I spend releasing there. The same was actually true for the Android Market when it just opened. It took about a year before it started taking off.


Tomas Rawlings / Red Wasp Design:

What do you think are the reasons why Android games lack monetization compared to iOS?

One of the downsides to an open marketplace, which the Android certainly has, is it can be seen by some as a bit rough around the edges.  The danger is that without any real curation, a good percentage of the apps that end up on the market are of a lower quality and this brings down the feel of the whole experience. That said things are changing but it will take a while until it feels more professional overall.

Will in-app-purchase (freemium) models solve this problem ?

Users (and we’re users as well as developers too) choices of spending money is driven by trust.  When you trust, you’re happier to spend.  Thus the question comes back to the overall experience of using a system and so how trusted it feels.  With freemium and in-app-purchase, you’ve had the chance to try before you buy and that is good.  However if these models become the only way developers can earn a living from making apps, then ideas that don’t fit these models can wither away.  For the best possible choice of app we need a healthy ecosystem of trust, development and reciprocation all round.

What other solutions to this problem would you suggest or are working on?

There is an argument for Google taking more control of the apps submitted and rejecting those that try to confuse the user or some how get they to pay without being honest about what they are and how they earn their money.  It’s back to trust again.  When an unscrupulous developers try to make money, they need to be stopped.  However users can help too by rewarding honest developers with reviews and custom.


Pascal Bestebroer / Orangepixel:

What do you think are the reasons why Android games lack monetization compared to iOS?

I think monetization is already picking up on Android. It might still not be at the same height as iOS, but I think the main reason for that is the fact that Apple users are easier in paying for content, and Apple has payment down perfectly thru iTunes with creditcards already entered or simple gift cards and other such solutions.   Let’s just hope Google can get their direct-billing up and running soon, so that people can buy apps using their phone-bill.. that should be a huge improvement.

Will in-app-purchase (freemium) models solve this problem ?

I don’t think Freemium model has anything to do with the monetization problems on Android.  It’s just another model to get people to play your game and earn money from it.  However there are various other payment-solutions attached to freemium service providers (paypal for example), and those solutions could be easier for end users then the default Android-market payment services (creditcard with google wallet/checkout)

What other solutions to this problem would you suggest or are working on?

I’m hoping Google is already extremely busy getting their direct-billing solutions up and running, but I can imagine this is a time consuming process negotiating with operators worldwide.   Giftcards and Paypal as payment solutions would be great to finally hit Android market and should really boost sales.


Sam Redfern / Psychic Software:

What do you think are the reasons why Android games lack monetization compared to iOS?

Actually, my experience is quite the opposite: my games have made *more* money on the Android than on iOS. I think this may be because the search
facility on the Android market is better than on the iPhone app store, and therefore it’s more possible on the Android to be found even if you’re not
ranking high in the charts.

I think there probably is a difference in attitude between iOS and Android users though. People who use Apple devices are used to paying for stuff. If you use a Mac, for example, you have to pay for OS updates which anyone else (even Microsoft) would call a service pack and give you for free.

Also, Apple force you to enter your credit card immediately, even to get free apps, whereas Google don’t. So you’re one step closer to buying apps from the very start. Many Android users never enter a credit card at all.

Will in-app-purchase (freemium) models solve this problem ?

See above: I think the problem may actually be going away already, as Androids take more and more of the market share. I think we’re seeing things change right now, but most commentators haven’t yet noticed.

I don’t think in-app purchase will have a different response to regular app purchase: the problem is getting people to buy anything in the first place.

What other solutions to this problem would you suggest or are working on?

I think the problem is less than people think..


Niels Jørgensen / Boa|Neo

What do you think are the reasons why Android games lack monetization compared to iOS?

Basically, I think the fundamental difference can be found in the fundamental difference between Google an Apple: one is a company that make a living from giving everything away for free and cashing in on affiliation. The other sells products. The primary and immediate problem is that it only works on a very large scale (I.e. it works for google and the top 10 devs, everyone else is getting screwed).

If you are a small developer is just a helluva lot more attractive. The secondary problem, and I think this is really going to bite android long term, is that it breeds an Eco system population of free-riders that don’t want to pay for anything. Eventually that will make even affiliated income hard to come by – why advertise to people who don’t buy anything?. The third problem is the complete lack of quality control. The freedom of android comes at a very high price, IMO, but this is a minor issue compared to the other two.

Will in-app-purchase (freemium) models solve this problem ?

And no, in app purchases will not help.

What other solutions to this problem would you suggest or are working on?

Sorry, I really wanted Android to work, but … Until Android users realize that there is no such thing as a free lunch, I don’t have much faith in it…


William Shelor / Brain Damage Studios:

What do you think are the reasons why Android games lack monetization compared to iOS?

The thing about the iPhone is that it’s more about the apps.  Android is more about short use- widgets, email, and the like.  In my opinion, there are a few reasons for this.  First, in early years, the varieties of products running the Android operating system has made it so that most users don’t trust Android apps to work on their systems, and are more hesitant to spend money on apps (though free apps are still pretty commonly used).  The second reason Android isn’t really about apps is that apps are very forgettable- if the company doesn’t deliver a continual and consistent user experience, most users will move on.  Apple had Angry Birds and iPad bands, which highlighted the usefulness of apps to users.  Android, on the other hand, has had very few if any prominent apps that users feel they need; because of this, the App Store is much more prominent than the Android market.  And finally, I think the iPhone relies on its apps a lot more than Android.  Every time you use an iOS system, you are reminded about apps; they are your only way of interacting with it.  Messaging, phone, maps, and other features are their own separate apps.  On the Android, you have your home screen customized with widgets and links, and apps aren’t really a regular part of that.  That’s why I believe Android makes less than iOS.
Will in-app-purchase (freemium) models solve this problem ?

I believe this is a valuable way for users to deal with the issue of compatibility, and gives users the chance to try out an app before buying it; however, in the end, it’s very difficult to make the sale; for example, my non-game app has just over 1% purchase rate of those who download the free version, and I feel that this is about what can be expected from a system like this.

What other solutions to this problem would you suggest or are working on?

One of the important ways that users can counteract this problem is by doing good advertising.  Know who your target audience is, and work to reach that audience.  Make your internet presence visible, and users who discover your app just might keep it around; users who don’t discover your app will never be regular users.   But perhaps almost as importantly, create regular updates (weekly if possible, monthly at least) that add enough content to make them feel worth downloading.  I get excited when I see the monthly update of Cut the Rope, because it always adds content that I enjoy.  If apps- especially games- build things like this into their system from the beginning, users will be much more likely to remember the game- and then recommend it to their friends.


Luke Finlay-Maxwell / Gustavo Costa:

What do you think are the reasons why Android games lack monetization compared to iOS?

The Android market is not as sophisticated as the iPhone market, the iPhone app store has an immediate usability which the Android market sorely lacks. In addition, the fact that Android phones come in all shapes and sizes while the iPhone is one standard model means that Android games encounter many more performance issues then the iPhone. Games are optimised for one machine on iPhone as opposed to five or ten for Android.

Will in-app-purchase (freemium) models solve this problem ?

The freemium model is definitely the next step in casual games, but it requires a large and loyal user base to be profitable. It will not solve the problem, but hopefully Indie developers will manage to gain some more income.

What other solutions to this problem would you suggest or are working on?

To solve the problem the marketplace needs to make the user feel special. iPhone manages this because there is one model and one app store, the user feels part of a special club. The Android marketplace needs to have a menu overhaul and insert stricter submission guidelines. While its great to have equal opportunity, the amount of low quality titles that flood the marketplace mean that the user is more skeptical and will second guess their purchases more then an iPhone user.


Rick Walsh / Us Vs Them Games:

What do you think are the reasons why Android games lack monetization compared to iOS?

IPhone users are often more affluent. IPhone users are already used to paying Apple for things via their phones. For example, itunes. It’s very easy to download any game for free on Android I.e. piracy.

Will in-app-purchase (freemium) models solve this problem ?

I hope so. We are going to be using this approach in the game we are currently developing. When cow and pig was a paid app, we only sold 100 copies. Within a week of making the game free we now have 5000 downloads.

What other solutions to this problem would you suggest or are working on?

We arent!


Saša Meden / Syrmtech:

What do you think are the reasons why Android games lack monetization compared to iOS?

Well, my opinion is that people who can spend money on iPhone or iPad just have more money to spend on games and, of course, a head start in mobile marketplace plays a huge roll in this situation.

Will in-app-purchase (freemium) models solve this problem?

Personally I hate games that give some kind of advantage to people who can pay for something inside that game.  I would never do that with any of my games. Same rules and same advantages for all users of the game is the way to go. Same goes for ads in games – they piss me off (sorry for my language).

What other solutions to this problem would you suggest or are working on?

Solution is time. There are already many android devices that just kick iPhone and iPad with their hardware and as soon as iOS users see the light, situation is going to reverse. Android is way more opened then iOS and sooner or later this will be a major deal when it comes to content. Porting games to multiple platforms is at the moment only thing developers can do to get the most of their software.


Cristian Sava / RomBots Team:

What do you think are the reasons why Android games lack monetization compared to iOS?

This is mainly because of Google’s business model, they forced their market to be filled with free apps (with ads), as opposed to Apple, who encourages all types of strategies (but especially putting a price on an app). Along with an uncontrolled app market and with a huge number of mobile devices, Android became the free (cheap) option, while iOS is the expensive one – it all comes down to the targeted people.

Will in-app-purchase (freemium) models solve this problem ?

The freemium model will help the Android market, but just a little – this is not the complete solution

What other solutions to this problem would you suggest or are working on?

As specified before: a controlled app market, supporting developers from all over the world, focusing on more then advertising


Derk de Geus / Paladin Studios:

What do you think are the reasons why Android games lack monetization compared to iOS?

This has 3 reasons:
1 – Android users don’t have an easy way to pay (Apple has a good system with linked creditcards, iTunes gift cards, click & buy etc)
2 – iOS players (and Apple users in general) have a different mindset towards paying for software
3 – iOS users are “educated” that content is something you pay for from the start, because Apple requires a payment method to download anything at all. This means they are set up for payment when they get their hands on their phone, while Android users can play around without even having a payment method at all. This educates Android users that you can get stuff for free, and it is a barrier for their first paid download.

Will in-app-purchase (freemium) models solve this problem ?

Yes and no. Yes, in that they will have better incentives to pay for ingame content (they are hooked on the game, and the barrier to pay for extra stuff is lower because they know what they will get). No, in the sense that freemium models reinforce the idea that games are free. So it works great for freemium games, but it could potentially make it even worse for paid games. Also, freemium games will work better on the platform with the best payment mindset. And that’s iOS.

What other solutions to this problem would you suggest or are working on?

Developers need to be brave and put a fair price tag on games that they think are worth it. Android phones should have a clear and easy payment system, and it should be part of the user experience from the start.


Matteo Conti / Kemco:

What do you think are the reasons why Android games lack monetization compared to iOS?

We, as a developing company don’t feel there’s much difference in monetization between our iOS and Android games. It’s reason is mentioned in the following answers.

Will in-app-purchase (freemium) models solve this problem?

We believe it could be one of the solution to that problem, but not the only one. We strongly believe one of the most important element for a successful game, is to be a well-made game, that is to say to have a good game content. It’s very simple. If the game is good, the monetization would reflect its quality.

What other solutions to this problem would you suggest or are working on?

As we already explained in the previous answers, the most important thing to develop a game, is to make it very attractive and full of worth playing contents. In our case, these could be the story, battle system, characters development and so on. We just concentrate on those features and the result will go after them!


Rodrigo Lago Manteira / ARDtroia:

What do you think are the reasons why Android games lack monetization compared to iOS?

In my opinion this is an error inherited from the beginnings of Android. It’s just what had to happen, iPhone is more than a mobile phone, it is a brand and its users are fully identified with it. Not everyone can buy an iPhone and those who can enter their credit card from the beginning. Next step: spend money! Android phones were made for the masses. Not everyone could afford to Android, but we can, and for free! We can not expect that those users also spend money on applications cause they don’t have money…

Will in-app-purchase (freemium) models solve this problem ?

No. This model allows you to take advantage of those users who actually spend money. This is a good patch but not the solution to the problem itself.

What other solutions to this problem would you suggest or are working on?

I don’t have the solution of this problem 😛


Thomas Nind:

What do you think are the reasons why Android games lack monetization compared to iOS?

I think there are many reasons Android makes less money than iOS.  The mindset of people who buy Apple products is different from those that buy Android.  Android is the “free, open source” operating system vs. the expensive locked in Apple culture.

When I last investigated developing for iOS the cost was £99 developer liscence but required mac (£1000+).  You have no control over whether your application is arbitrarily rejected.  The cost of development for Android is £20 (Android Market access).  For iOS I think this breeds a corporate atmosphere and drive to make money.  When there are so many high quality free apps it becomes harder to justify buying an application.
(I think it is now possible to develop on a Windows machine use HTML5 / Flash / similar third party tool)

I think the current Android Market is not very optimised for browsing to discover new apps, instead it seems to push you towards the most popular and those with large advertising budgets from major developers.  The fact that it is slowed down by bandwidth heavy Flash is also very annoying.

Will in-app-purchase (freemium) models solve this problem ?

People don’t want to buy something without first trying it out, so having either in-app purchases or a free demo/limited version is a must.  This can be as simple as paying for a version without adverts, one of the first games I paid for was cyberlords, I was so impressed by the first 5 minutes of the game I bought the ads free version.  For this to work you need to firstly have a very good first impression then you have to have the adverts be in an annoying place.  This game however has 500,000 free users and only 10,000 paying users so it’s in no way a sure thing.

What other solutions to this problem would you suggest or are working on?

I don’t currently have plans to monetise my game as it is built as a hobby.  I think if you set out to make money as an Android developer you will most likely fail, instead you should build what you find fun and you think is original then if you have a substantial following you can introduce paid apps/versions.


Yasen Dokov / Enless Soft:

What do you think are the reasons why Android games lack monetization compared to iOS?

I’m not very familiar with the iOS market. People who like Apple are more willing to pay maybe, and Google’s all about open-source free stuff, so maybe people using an Android just expect things to be free and with iOS it’s the opposite (I guess there are other factors, but as I said, I’m not very informed about this.)

Will in-app-purchase (freemium) models solve this problem ?

Freemium is very perspective for various reasons. If you have only a paid app, most people won’t even look at it. You could have a demo version, but for some reason people don’t like the idea of downloading a demo – it feels like downloading just a small part of something and that if you like it you’ll have to pay for it eventually. With a freemium game, the feeling is more like: downloading the full game, and there are just some bonus features that are paid.
Another problem with having two apps is that the ratings are separated, so you may have a lot of good ratings, but it won’t show up on the first pages of the market, because of this separation.
Also, ads aren’t very perspective for most games. You can’t show them on the actual game screen, because it takes some space, it’s annoying to see ads while playing and no one would click an ad while playing. If you show ads only on the menus then the users will rarely see and click them.
So I think Freemium is a good way to monetize a game (better than the others), but the problem that people with android devices maybe aren’t the paying-for-a-game type still stands. I guess in iOS Freemium will still work better than in Android, but in iOS there are also other strategies that work.

What other solutions to this problem would you suggest or are working on?

I can’t suggest other solutions at the moment, but we’re working on releasing paid (freemium) content for our first game – Helicopter 360. And that’s what we’ll most likely do for our next projects.


Andrew Wilson / The Rampant Mango Collective:

What do you think are the reasons why Android games lack monetization compared to iOS?

I think the difference between the two platforms are the customers and their attitude to the consumption of electronic media. Although I hate to do it, this calls for a bit of generalisation. Generally speaking, iOS users are a bit more tech savvy and are also a bit more affluent, which leads to extra, “disposable”, purchases of games or apps. Conversely, Android phones are often acquired by users who are less tech savvy, or just got the phone because it came cheap with a phone contract, these users may see app purchases as a luxury, or simply feel like they shouldn’t have to pay, especially when these days so much electronic media is delivered for free. Of course this is a generalisation, I’ve seen plenty of iPhone users who don’t know what the App Store even is, and the power users within the Android community are abundant and well known.

Will in-app-purchase (freemium) models solve this problem ?

I can actually speak from experience as our game, Critter Rollers, uses in app payments to let people purchase extra levels. Our decision to implement in app payments was to let the user play a section of the game and give them the ability to continue playing without having to install extra data (such as with the Lite model). This isn’t what I would call a Freemium model though, personally I hate that term and the tactic that goes with it, nickel and diming players, charging them to progress in a game that was promised as free or god forbid selling them extraneous items such as hats or decorative items is not the way to go. Players aren’t idiots, they know when they are being ripped off and they will be very wary of this tactic in the future. We are very upfront with Critter Rollers, we allow the user to pay a full price to unlock everything so there are no suprises, but we still believe people are wary of in-app payments and avoid them because they simply do not understand them (a lot of people think that in-app payments do not migrate from device to device, when they do), to combat this we are actually looking into creating a standard paid-for version of Critter Rollers. It will be interesting to see the difference in sales.

What other solutions to this problem would you suggest or are working on?

We have been looking into alternative revenue streams recently and one we decided to implement was a virtual coin store provided by TapJoy, implemented by Swarm (which also provides us with Leaderboards and Achievements), this allows users to purchase levels with virtual currency earned by fulfilling promotions. It is still very early to see whether this will be effective or not. At the end of the day though, despite the customer base, type of customer or delivery method, people will only buy games or apps if they are good and worth the asking price. Plenty of Android games have seen success, but because they were good games with inviting content that added value to the user. Users want to be excited and enriched by their experience with a game, a lot of games, Android or iOS just don’t achieve that.


Aki Koskinen / Second Lion:

What do you think are the reasons why Android games lack monetization compared to iOS?

I can think of two reasons but I don’t know how relevant they really are.

1. I’ve understood that the barrier to get into buying anything on iOS is set really low. You basically need to give your credit card number in order to even use the phone. After you’ve done that the buying happens with a one-click process. Android devices can be easily used without starting to use the Google Checkout system. In other words the user isn’t “forced” to give their credit card number while starting to use Android. Hence the barrier to do the first purchase on your new Android device is a bit higher than on iOS. I think a lot of users just don’t go over that trouble – and hence they never actually buy anything from the market. Once the payment method has been set up both platforms are pretty equal from that point on. iOS just forces the user to go through the trouble a bit more than Android does.

2. Although the number of Android devices is skyrocketing it is rarely mentioned what kind of devices people buy. I think that quite a many of the purchased Android devices are actually these 50-200 € low end devices. Although these add up to the total number of devices in use I think these users are just interested on a device with which they can make phone calls and send SMSs. It wouldn’t even come to their mind that they can enhance the features of their devices by downloading new apps – they just simply don’t miss that. The device already has everything they wanted. On the contrary everybody who goes for an iOS device is looking for a high-end device. Nobody who just wants a device to make phone calls will go for the more expensive iPhone. This means to say that anybody who purchases an iPhone is almost by definition also interested in doing other things with the device than just making phone calls. And that includes downloading new software and even paying for that privilege.

When you combine these two scenarios the number of people that are just about to do their first app purchase to their new device is considerably lower among Android users than with iOS.

This is my analysis of the subject. But I’m just speculating and I might be completely wrong about it too 🙂

Will in-app-purchase (freemium) models solve this problem ?

No. The common understanding is that freemium is the most interesting monetization model on mobile platforms. But this goes across all the mobile platforms. It’s the same whether it’s Android or iOS or anything else. The reasons given for question 1 still apply. So even if freemium will be more profitable for Android apps in the future, it will be more profitable in iOS too and Android won’t catch up with just going freemium.

What other solutions to this problem would you suggest or are working on?

The whole spectrum of Android devices are targeting a much larger audience than iOS devices are. Great part of that audience aren’t really potential customers in great amounts at any point. Perhaps during time more and more people are willing to pay for their apps (or do IAPs) but there’s no short cut there.

All kind of Android devices will outsell iPhones in a short while – and are doing so already. This also means that the segment of Android users that buy the high end devices and are also willing to pay for their apps is growing. So I think as time goes by the differences between Android and iOS will even out. But it will still take some time.


Robert Richardson / aT Games:

What do you think are the reasons why Android games lack monetization compared to iOS?

By my thinking there is several reasons Android is not as much a gold mine as iOS. For one, the Android Market is not as good at getting new games by new companies in front of the users as the Apple App store is. For another, there is a much lower bar of entry into developing Android apps. Its much cheaper and easier to publish. As such, the Android Market is flooded with free games, forcing the prices down of the apps made by others.

Will in-app-purchase (freemium) models solve this problem ?

They might be able to do that, to some extent, but not all genre’s are best suited for freemium models.

What other solutions to this problem would you suggest or are working on?

Video based advertising is what I am looking into currently. After a set amount of time, say every hour, the user has to watch a video. Paying a flat rate will remove all videos. Its a mixture of add-based revenue and in app purchase. I am guaranteed a small amount of income from the ads, and I have the possibility to make up to the amount I set to remove the ads. It is not a complete solution, and has the same restrictions as any ad based revenue.


Roy van der Veen / Firedroid:

What do you think are the reasons why Android games lack monetization compared to iOS?

We think the main reason stems from the fact that non-US users can only pay with a credit card, which a lot of us don’t have. It’s not a very common form of payment in, for instance, Europe. Some providers handle the billing for you, but those platforms never seem to have many users. Compare this with iOS, where you can link your Apple account to your bank account to purchase apps, creating an easy payment option for all users. Apple’s activation process also puts much more focus on linking
your iTunes to a credit card or bank account, making it seem like a very normal part of activation. This might tune the users to purchases, thinking it’s just part of the device or platform.

Will in-app-purchase (freemium) models solve this problem ?

Probably not. We don’t have any experience with the freemium model ourselves, but we think it suffers from the same malady as paid apps do: Android users generally don’t spend money or don’t have the means to buy an app. Having in-app purchases in not going to solve those issues, it just shifts them around. That said, freemium models do have their place in the Android ecosystem, mainly because some game concepts are just better suited to periodic purchases. Using a freemium model for your game might increase your profits, but that’s not necessarily because freemium “just works better”.

What other solutions to this problem would you suggest or are working on?

We feel the most impact could be gained from offering users the option of using their preferred payment method, like iDeal/paypal/bank account link. Right now, payment options are very limited and this hampers transactions. Secondly, Android users seem hesitant to spend their money. We need to make them feel comfortable with the idea that apps cost money and that buying them is a natural process. This might be accomplished by introducing and getting familiar with payment options during the activation process.


Jordi Puigdellívol / GloobusStudio:

What do you think are the reasons why Android games lack monetization compared to iOS?

The main reason is the people behind it, people that owns and iOS device, is much more easly used to pay, the devices has higher prices than any android one.
Another reason is that every app in iOS is tested, so if you pay for it, it will sure work, thats not the case in android, and it makes you think twice before buying anything

Will in-app-purchase (freemium) models solve this problem ?

I don’t think it will solve the main problem, but is a good way to sell the app, and I’m pretty sure, it can increase the monetization for the developers

What other solutions to this problem would you suggest or are working on?

I think a good way is creating the lite and full version, so if the users likes so much the free version, he will be eager to pay for the full one, but most of the people will have enough with the free one.


Łukasz Stąporek / Rejected Games:

What do you think are the reasons why Android games lack monetization compared to iOS?

For us the main reason is, that we even cant’s sell our games on the Android Market. Selling applications is not supported for our country. We can also see that there’s a huge amount of android users, although they are not so willing to spent their money like iOS users.

Will in-app-purchase (freemium) models solve this problem ?

It depends on a game. Some games are more suitable for this model than others. By the way, not every game should use this solution.

What other solutions to this problem would you suggest or are working on?

Opening Android Market for more countries would be a great idea. For example there is a huge amount of users in China, but we can’t reach them now.


James Coote / Crystalline Green:

What do you think are the reasons why Android games lack monetization compared to iOS?

I think actually a lot of iOS developers struggle from the same problems of how to effectively monetise their apps. The problems are just more acute on android because of the difference in demographics between iOS and android users (android users are more ‘price conscious’).

Will in-app-purchase (freemium) models solve this problem ?

It’s part of the solution. There is a danger players feel they are in the casino and have to keep feeding the slot machine coins to continue to play. They have to go big to be truly competitive, or otherwise are just a cog in a money making machine.
It doesn’t have to be like that, but the temptation for developers is to try and make anything they can get away with paid for rather than things that genuinely add to the game .
Also the in-app purchase ‘stores’ are getting better, but are still very primitive. Developers should learn from retailers about how to run a shop.

What other solutions to this problem would you suggest or are working on?

Most devs seem to see monetisation as a chore and take the attitude of ‘pick one monetisation system and make it work’ or that the problem lies out of their hands.
I’d suggest giving the players as many options on how to pay as possible. Maybe you find the one that really works and concentrate on it, or more likely, different people prefer to enjoy (and pay for) the game in different ways.
My company is looking at a couple of exotic solutions as well, including subscriptions to use real-world data in-game, and asking players to sponsor new content through donations.


András Csikvári / Blind Logic:

What do you think are the reasons why Android games lack monetization compared to iOS?

Android phones and tablets are available for a much broader range than Apple devices, and that demographic has different opportunities and tendencies when it comes purchases.

Will in-app-purchase (freemium) models solve this problem ?

It provides more incentive for purchases, but it doesn’t fundamentally solve the problem. That said, I’d like to point out that this isn’t necessarily a problem. If the service cost is reasonably low, the size of the potential userbase might compensate for this.

What other solutions to this problem would you suggest or are working on?

You have to build on the strengths of Android, build a large userbase, aim for longer gametimes.


David Goemans:

What do you think are the reasons why Android games lack monetization compared to iOS?

All iOS devices are premium products at a premium price, and as such all iOS users are used to and willing to pay a lot of money for things.

Will in-app-purchase (freemium) models solve this problem ?

Partially, since this model relies on a small amount of very high spenders. This is something Android has, as the variety is from low end, cheap devices, to high end super phones.

What other solutions to this problem would you suggest or are working on?

I think Free-to-play is the (near) future of all gaming, mobile, pc and console ( with console lagging behind ). Valve have demonstrated this on PC with Team Fortress 2, and the Smurfs Village game has shown this to be the case on mobile. In my opinion, this trend will continue, as statistically it’s been shown to be the best model for both developer and player.


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