6 Tips on How to Monetize Mobile Games

6 Tips on How to Monetize Mobile Games

So, you’re developing a mobile game and you find yourself wondering, how can I turn this hobby, this dream, into a living? Well, welcome to the universe of monetization. This blog is for indie game developers who are starting their journey and want to learn more about how to monetize mobile games. Monetization can sometimes be seen as a contested topic among indie devs and small studios due to it being viewed as a necessary evil to survive the ever-growing jungle that is the modern mobile market.

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How to Monetize Mobile Games

Mobile Ads Retention Statics

According to unity’s 2022 gaming Report, Day 1 to day 7 retention usually drops by about 20% for most genres. Games without ads saw themselves even more affected by this drop. It was also noted that games with ads have higher long-term retention for day 1 at 3.32% with ads, day 7 at 1.63% with ads, and day 30 at 0.54% with ads. With these stats in mind, there is definitely a case for indie devs to dabble with intelligent and thoughtful ad implementation.

Unity’s 2022 gaming Report

This is why the best mobile game monetization strategies are to make monetization a part of the creative design process and to put as much care and thought into it as the core game loop itself. In other words, make it fun for both parties involved.

Mobile Game Monetization Strategies

In this content, we’ll explore some great tips on the fundamentals of monetization for mobile game devs, the basics that indies need to know and how to approach building a sustainable business the right way. These are six tips on mobile game monetization strategies.

Also read: Complete Roadmap for Game Development

Tip No. #1, Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

One of the greatest burdens an indie dev may suffer from is having to start from scratch with a monetization model. Well, there’s a saying, and if it ain’t broke, then don’t try to fix it. You just need to know where to look. Other studios and developers have already had great success before, so you can use their research and expertise to help guide your strategy. But where can you find it? One of the best places on the internet and also real life that gathers developers who want to share their findings is GDC (the Game Developers Conference).

Some Best Game dev Mentors

Over on their YouTube channel, you can find some very informative talks from bright minds in the industry like Anthony Peccarella from Kongregate, He delivers a deep dive into the core and meta game loops of idle games in his talk, Idle Games, The Mechanics and Monetization of Self-Playing Games.

Evan Locey, lead game designer of Scopely. In his talk, It’s About Time, System Design for Mobile Free-to-Play, Evan goes over the basics of designing profitable free-to-play mobile games.

Ethan Levy, a veteran monetization design consultant. In his talk, How to Design In-Game Purchases, Ethan offers an impressively detailed assessment of in-game purchases and talks about the many different approaches one can take. Additionally, you can check Ethan’s website, FamousAspect.com. Where he publishes articles, talks, tools, and templates all about monetization. Use services like Apptopia or Sensor Tower to find games in your category and then keep playing. Pay special attention to where in the game board and the game loop ads are placed.

The best way is just to play the games. So go to the app stores, go to Google Play, download the games that are most interesting to you and that are closest to how your game is modelled, and just see where they place the ads. It could be in stores, it could be in game modes, it could be using banners. Really take a look at how they fine-tune their economy, and that’ll give you a good idea of “how to monetize mobile games” to use rewarded videos and various ad units in your games.

Tip No. #2, Stick to Your Genre

Now that you have several games, devs, and studios as role models, you may have an opposite problem than before. There are too many paths you can take to reach your goal. 

This is something you can easily solve by having the right strategy to filter your information. One of the best ways to filter is to start with what works for your genre and model your game after that. Find other games that are similar to your game and study their monetization strategies and trends. Some devs may find their valuable users, those who spend time and or money on a game, in games with long play sessions and in-app purchases, for example, while others may find them in short play sessions with interstitial ads, advertisements shown in the transitions between segments of gameplay or user interfaces in games. It may all depend on the genre.

In 2020, Unity collaborated with Adjust, a mobile marketing and analytics tech company, to create a very detailed report about hypercasual gaming. Hypercasual games represent the biggest segment of the mobile market right now. Monetizing hypercasual games is about monetizing at the start of the gameplay because we don’t expect users to stick around for very long. Publishers with hypercasual titles will often use many different types of ads to show them at the very start of the user journey.

Yeah, so hypercasual games, we don’t expect users to stick around for very long because the games themselves are typically not super deep. So for hypercasual games with ads, we typically see developers using banners, native, interstitial ads at the very start of the user journey. We’ll occasionally see rewarded video for some in-app currency, and we’ll definitely see some IEP that’ll offer ad-free experiences.

Tip No. #3, Be Ready to Teach

Despite our first two tips, every game is unique. You must iterate and test every option available, even if it’s just in concept. Sometimes, you’ll find what works best for you is contrary to what is trending in your genre. If your genre and audience research shows that your users are not usually familiar with a monetization model you decide to adopt, you need to teach players this new system. Teaching users how to move around your game’s interface boils down to these two words, user experience or UX.

Though not mentioned much after a game is released, User experience is probably the most important aspect of a video game’s design when it comes to engaging with an audience. Through a dedicated process of UX design, you can come up with the best in-game tutorial to teach your users how to interact with the monetization model you have implemented.

Learning Materials for “How to Monetize Mobile Games”

One great blog that gathers case studies and great articles from UX experts is UX Collective. There, you’ll find great posts and conversations such as how to implement advertising monetization and not kill the UX of your product, Games UX, building the right onboarding experience, or the UX of video game tutorials. You can also head to uxdesign.cc to read more about UX. You’ll also want to have great visual and concept inspiration to build your interface and UX. For this, you can check out Muesli Magazine.

A magazine designed precisely for those who want something to feed their eyes before starting their own design.

The first-time user experience will teach the player how to play the game and where to look for advancements. Use this opportunity to teach them about your currency and power-ups, and then give them just enough to experiment with, but not so much that they’ll never run out.

Two Option for Game Monetization

Looking at both ends of the spectrum, you can either design mobile games monetization strategies as a series of paywalls to access your game fully, or design it as a cool bonus for those who spend their money in your game. As a player, you want to feel like you’re not forced to spend to pursue your goals. And as a game designer, You want to keep players from stepping away from your game in disgust.

Try to set this goal above everything else when you design your game’s monetization. Players should be able to play all the way to the end game without spending. Spending could accelerate progress to long-term player goals, not just enable it.

I hope you’re enjoying this how to monetize mobile games content.

Tip No. #4, Unity Three Quick Strategies for Monetization

Unity has given us three quick strategies to make the best out of your in-app purchases.


Specific bundles add structure to your economy. While providing players with valuable content. Starter in-game currency or item bundles at special prices are the best way to convert players. 


Decoy Setting up decoys is a strategy widely used by many studios. Decoys are full-priced or undesirable items and bundles that make the main bundles look even more attractive. 


Anchor Sometimes you can pack up a base item or currency alongside other objects and offer it at the same price that the given currency or object would cost on its own. This is called an anchor.

You can play with these three types of purchases, putting them all together and finding what resonates with your valuable users. There is no better way to disenfranchise a user base than to make it pay to win. It’s just not fun.

Game and Ads Optimization Strategy

User experience is key in creating boundaries that force players to pay, and will ultimately punish your most engaged users. Use ads and IEP to help players complete the game, but don’t prevent them from progressing. 

As people progress through the game, you want to give harder tasks and make it a little bit more difficult for them. But to make it to the point where they have to pay to progress is going to kill your most engaged users. So typically what we recommend is offering ads in the form of rewarded videos to give out currency or power-ups to give players that extra shot to progress without having to pay.

Tip No. #5, Strategize from Day One

Badly implemented monetization can lead to negative player experiences. According to Unity, the best performing ad units are deeply integrated with the app UX. The same goes for in-app purchases. But what to sell? Which ads to implement? The mobile game monetization strategies must be built from day one. As part of your natural core game loop.

  • Early on, make investments into analytics. 
  • Plan ahead and figure out how you’re going to understand your users. 
  • Analytics help you to make data-driven decisions. 
  • With that data, you’ll be able to create a monetization strategy that fits with their wants and needs. 
  • When starting out with monetization, first determine your goal with ads.

Do you want to monetize your user base, increase retention, increase IP? From there, start small, and measure the impact of including ads in your game and keep testing. A user base isn’t a monolith, so ads may work for some of your players, but not others. Keep testing and trying to improve the user experience. Maybe finding a place in your game loop where users are likely to lose at a level. Adding a rewarded video where they can watch it and continue playing is going to be much better than trying to get a little bit too complicated and creating something like a battle pass or getting too fancy with what the rewards are.

Tip No #6, Balance creativity and business needs

Spending time designing the monetization model for a game can seem separate from the creative aspects. You may think that releasing a game and selling a lot is the meaning of success, but there’s more to it. By shifting your viewpoint of success, you’ll ensure a much more stable life cycle for your game.

The days of releasing a game and being successful are largely over. This doesn’t mean every game needs to be live service, but new tactics must be considered. For starters, better art and gameplay will help you drive engagement further. Set your creative goals high and try to meet what users are talking about right now. Then, choose the best tools you can get to build what you want to build. The best tools are not necessarily the most expensive, but those that let you achieve your goals faster, keeping your quality standards.

When you make your creative process time effective, you can dedicate more time to your business model and gain a better balance between these two worlds. You may want to try and use apps that help you keep checks on the time you dedicate to each task. One great task manager app that many members of the Gamedev community talk about is Trello. Trello works more like a digital corkboard, where you can create things like notes, tasks, checklists, reminders, and references, and organise and manage them in your way. Used efficiently, Trello can help you manage priorities, avoid scope creep, and keep track of time spent.


Learn more about tools that may come in handy for your gamedev journey. At the end of the day, mobile game monetization strategies are about making sure the servers stay on. So if you’re far from your goals, tackle the lowest hanging fruit. This will depend on your game design and your own personal goals. If you feel comfortable with your position, then now would be the time to test out new exciting game monetization ideas.

There’s a fine balance between your business goals and being creative with it. Typically, what we would recommend is as you’re designing your game and you’re figuring out what really makes your game exciting and fun, building in little pause points and areas where you can add an ad in there without making it too detrimental to the user experience. I hope this “how to monetize Mobile games” blog helped you a lot. If you like this content, share with your friends on LinkedIn and tag Metastic World, I mean tag us. This little effort motivates us for more content like this. Thanks for reading. Stay happy, happy coding.