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What's the sweet spot for mobile game purchases?
What's the sweet spot for mobile game purchases?
October 11, 2012 | By Eric Caoili

For consumers who play most of their games on smartphones or tablets, $3 is the optimal price when charging for a mobile game or a premium upgrade on a free title, according to a new study.

That's according to survey results in The NPD Group's latest report, Mobile Gaming 2012. The analyst firm found that "app gamers," or people who play games primarily on smartphones or tablets, on average believe they will receive a good value for a mobile game at around $3.

"Many mobile gaming consumers have grown accustomed to gaming for free, making it essential to find the sweet spot for pricing that encourages purchasing by as many consumers as possible," says NPD analyst Liam Callahan.

There's plenty of room for mobile developers and publishers to increase their conversions of non-paying players to paid users, as the report found that only about 30 percent of app gamers are willing to make in-app purchases or pay for premium versions of their free-to-play apps.

The group also notes that app gamers on average spend 59 percent of their total game time on smartphones or tablets, and nearly a quarter only play on mobile devices. Those who favor playing games on tablets are more likely to purchase or upgrade games than those who prefer to play on smartphones.

Looking at changes in the sector over the last year, NPD found that almost half of all gamers are playing smartphone and tablet titles more in 2012 than they did in 2011, mostly due to the availability of free apps and the convenience of mobile games.

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Ziga Hajdukovic
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Articles like these really make my day. So it happens - $3 is the new $0.99.

Rolf Moren
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Well, usually in marketing research there is a difference in what you say and how you act. I doub't that the pure stats show that 3 is the magic number. Price elasticity is almost impossible to pin point through surveys but rather needs statistical analysis of pure sales numbers under different conditions.

Marc Fagin
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I can only guess that the survey was done quite some time ago and then by the time the data is analyzed and the report released, the market has changed already. IMO, and I'm new to this having just released my first game Operation Smoochy on the App Store just like a week ago, but unless you are a large publisher with a track record (or you're the super lucky one), the market is free or $0.99...with more likely to be free in the future.