In Analytics insights, Data analysis, Free to play, Game monetization

F2P game developers are always looking for the latest techniques to monetize their games, yet many games may be inadvertently using a pay to leave monetization mechanic which is killing their chances to monetize effectively.

Quite simply, P2L is the phenomenon of non-spending players having longer session lengths than paying players. Just think about that for a moment. People are spending money to play a game less. We’re in the business of giving people enjoyable experiences, and incentivising players to have even more enjoyable experiences, either through carrot or stick approaches, so it feels perverse that people would spend money to leave earlier. And worse than that, it’s most definitely undermining overall monetization efforts.

While time blockers can artificially increase the session times of non-spenders, the added value enjoyed by a spender who is by-passing the time blocker should more than compensate for this. And if it doesn’t, you have a game balancing challenge on your hands.

Fundamentally, paying players must receive a significantly better experience for their investment, while non-spending players should see the potential to have a much better time, if they were to spend. If they can easily grind their way to having essentially the same experience, there’s not enough of an incentive for them to convert.

In P2L situations, there’s often an over-reliance on time blockers being enough on their own to encourage monetization. This ultimately means that non-spending players receive too much support and generosity from the game. Monetization should be made to feel like a natural progression that enhances the experience. Successful games like War Thunder and World of Tanks provide paying players with additional rewards or progress boosts in return for monetizing. Other games limit non-spender progression through the requirement to evolve your character to survive longer sessions, eventually encouraging hard currency payment, or significantly reduce progression through placing restrictions on available rewards or XP, for example.

This naturally leads to good repeat monetization as the model basically becomes more like ‘pay to play’ for engaged players, and session times become proportional to spend status. Non-spenders shouldn’t receive the same experience as Whales, but they should always have something to do in the game.

So, if you think that long non-spender sessions are a sign that time blocker mechanics are doing their job, you need to think again. If you are using them on their own to increase non-spender session length without the mechanics that reduce the full extent or pace of their experience and reward spenders, you are missing out on a huge monetization opportunity as you will also see a suppression of repeat payments and a reduction in the number of Whales you are able to generate; vital components to making up a healthily monetized game.

If you like this article, try out “What the best games know about analytics” to discover the recipe for successful game monetization

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