Making Money with In-App Purchases: Tips on Implementing in Android

What are in-app purchases? These are one of the most common types of monetization in mobile applications, which involves the acquisition of virtual goods within a mobile application, such as bonuses, additional levels, virtual currency, bonus characters, accelerations, etc. It should be noted that, according to statistics for the past year, this type of monetization is one of the three most profitable.

Unlike any type of in-app advertising, the free-to-play (F2P) monetization model, upon which the whole in-app purchases concept is based, is extremely unobtrusive and allows using the basic functions of the application for free. Naturally, stimulating users to buy anything requires additional effort. We are going to discuss some methods of such stimulation in this article. In addition, we would like to offer you a brief manual on how to implement in-app purchase (IAP).


Some Ways to Stimulate Demand for IAPs

Build a Coherent In-app Economy

The economy of the application is the heart of its reward structure and the necessary imperative of success. Build a coherent economy based on common and premium internal currencies (‘soft’ and ‘hard’ currencies). The common currency should be easily received during a regular gaming process.

Premium – bought with real money or earned. It is very important to make both soft and hard cash useful for the users. Remember: 80-90% of players would buy something with hard currency and the hard currency itself quite rarely if at all. They will accumulate the hard cash to buy something outstanding. Therefore, the soft cash should also have an application. It can and must be some kinds of upgrades or even rare proposition to some premium feature, that can be bought otherwise only with hard currency, with a huge sum of soft.

Create a Gradually Decreasing Flat Progress Curve

F2P assumes that some players may be intent on not spending any money while playing. These players reach the high results with everyday grinding and skill. To create an incentive for such players to spend money at least from time to time, a speed of progress should decrease gradually and a possibility to speed it up using IAPs (buying premium equipment or some sort of upgrades, for instance) should be provided. One should keep in mind, though, that the slowdown must not be very abrupt or the game will turn into a so-called “pay-to-win” kind and may lose most of its audience.

Provide a Possibility to Try Out the Premium Features

The user should have a possibility to evaluate paid features of the game. Usually, it is done through an introductory tutorial. It allows getting the player acquainted with basic mechanics and controls of the game and let them taste the benefits of the paid features.

Offer Content Packages

If you have a set of game elements that can be connected and sold together as a package, do it! People like buying things wholesale. Draw Something is a pretty good application that offers unlocking colors and groups of colors with real money.

Suggest the Time-limited Discounts

Offer your users discounted goods in your store with a time limit for the transaction. Proposing to buy a product with a 50% discount you increase the interest of the users to make more in-app purchases. A countdown timer on discounted goods creates an urgency effect.

The Most Popular and Profitable Kinds of IAP Content

IN-APP PURCHASESAdditional Attempts

The most trivial kind of in-app purchase incentive is the desire to extend the time in the game. Let us look at the ubiquitous Angry Birds games cycle. They brought (and still continue to do so) their developers a lot of money simply because they are fun to play and have a simple intuitive gameplay.

Each of the levels in this game is divided into stages, each of which had certain number of attempts. Imagine that the attempts are over, and the stage is not passed yet. What can the player do? To extend the fun of the game, they need to either watch the advertisement or pay real money. As practice shows, such paid content does not alienate users: in the first week after the release of Angry Birds 2 in 2015, it was downloaded by 20 million people!

MAKING MONEYCharacter Personalization

Many active players tend to attach much importance to personalizing their hero within the application. And, instead of choosing among a couple of basic personas, they will happily pay for the opportunity to bring the appearance of their character to their real or the one they would happily try on in real life. Take, for example, Pokemon Go. When signing up, you create your character, choosing the features (sex, hairstyle, costume, outfit and other characteristics of appearance). And, because in Pokemon Go you can play online in teams, making a purchase to create a unique image, in this case, is quite justified.

The creators of Bomb Squad did the same way. There are not that many free characters in this game. If you play regularly in the team, sooner or later you will want to somehow personalize yourself and create your own look that differs from other members. The third, no less successful example of the implementation of this type of IAP is the Mortal Combat X game. The paid content of this application includes new characters and a set of quite nice thematic suits for fighters.

Stats Improvement

Sometimes character development opportunities set by default are not enough to achieve high results. And, in the end, after another unsuccessful attempt to pass the level or take a high position in the tournament table, the player surrenders. What to do next? Most gamers in this situation make the decision to follow the path of least resistance and purchase premium equipment/magic/skills to move on.

A special case of the implementation of this type of IAP is a free game Shadow Fight 2, which simulates the battle of the samurai of feudal Japan. The acquisition of new products makes the gameplay more exciting. Do not lag behind in this regard the developers of the super-popular Assasin’s Creed Identity, which, in addition to making the game itself paid, have equipped it with a store offering to purchase various in-game items for real money. And, finally, the same – Angry Birds. The purchase of the Mighty Eagle – bonus character – allows destroying all obstacles and killing all the pigs at a level in one fell swoop.

Ability to Disable Ads

Probably one of the most annoying moments that users of free games face is ubiquitous advertising. Do you know a wonderful horror Sara is missing (SIM)? The idea is really extraordinary one. Imagine that you found the smartphone of the girl who was gone missing (a functionality of a real mobile device is completely simulated) and you try to use it to find out what happened with the owner.

You are beginning to receive messages from strange people, some of them are calling for help, some are threatening, the tension is increasing, like in the “Saw” movie, and then… And then the in-app advertising shows up. The thrill, which, in theory, should the player have felt, thanks to the display of advertising is reduced to nothing. Many applications offer to solve this problem in a simple way. The user pays money once to never see an advertisement again. In some cases, this IAP option is extremely lucrative.

Additional Game Scenarios, Modes or Locations

The one-track gameplay will surely bore the players after some time. So that they do not lose interest in your game, you can offer them to buy entirely new scenarios. Let us refer again to the Bomb Squad game. Its gameplay is undoubtedly captivating and the team battles can easily pull you out of reality for several hours.

However, on average, after a week of active play, the excitement of players begins to subside. To bring new sensations to gamers, the creators of Bomb Squad decided to add the possibility of unlocking new fighting locations for a fee. It has a low cost, so players, as a rule, pay without any doubts. Similar principles were employed in Minion Rush. This colorful game allows unlocking the locations of the “Despicable Me” cartoon series.

Paid Continue Option

When players are in the thick of events and lose suddenly, you can provide them with the opportunity to purchase continues. This feature will allow the user to revive and continue playing without having to start over. For example, the creators of the wonderful free game – Maze Runner, which any fan of endless runners will surely like, offered their players to buy certain items from the in-app store, among which revivals are. If you do not want to lose the current progress, such a purchase justifies itself.


How to Implement Android In-app Purchases

Above we considered ways of increasing in-app sales and their main types. It is time to study the practical part of the implementation. Let us find out how this can be done.

The first and most obvious way to implement IAP in your Android application is to follow the instructions detailed in the tutorial on the official Android development website. In particular, you will need to integrate the In-app Billing version 3 API, also known as Trivial Drive, and then create a list of products as described here.

Using the above in-app billing for Android is not always possible. This is only allowed if your application is released to Google Play and you have a Google e-wallet account and a developer account. Moreover, Google takes a commission of 30% per each transaction.

Among the main advantages of this API is the ability to create paid subscriptions. Thus, you will be able to provide users with the ability to try some products free of charge for a certain period of time and only then purchase them.

Nevertheless, the use of Trivial Drive is not without some disadvantages. These include:

  • need to upgrade the application when the API is updated;
  • receiving the Validating Purchase Details is not possible;
  • reduced application performance.

If these three flaws are critical for you, you will have to resort to services of the third-party libraries that are designed to implement the IAPs. The most common among them is the Checkout library. On GitHub, you can find a detailed guide to connecting it to your app. Alternatively, you can also use RoboBillingLibrary. This library is an extension of the In-App Billing API and, in addition to shopping within the Android platform, allows to purchase digital goods through the Amazon Appstore.

As you can see, unfortunately, it is impossible to name the procedure of billing integration quick and simple.

Make Money in Your Apps with In-app Purchases: Summary

With the proper implementation, IAPs are a fairly stable source of earnings for the owner of the application (it is enough to at least analyze the percentage of earnings received for goods inside applications in relation to the total earnings from the application as a whole). The main thing is to find the perfect balance between the usefulness of features that can be purchased with the premium currency and the complexity of playing for the users who refuse to purchase them regularly. They should also be able to play the game normally. Only in this case, your strategy will be winning.

If you checked the above manuals, you’ve probably noticed that it may take some time to deal with integrating in-app billing into an Android app. How to be in this situation? Unless you are a representative of an IT company with its own developers and marketers, the easiest way would be turning to real professionals. The Lunapps team will happily take on your project and in a few days will develop an economic system that best suits your application, invent the options for the best content, complement the interface with the necessary functionality and conduct all necessary tests. As a result, you will receive a fully-prepared solution with proven effectiveness.