Nowadays, mobile games are a huge part of many people’s lives. Giving people something to do in their morning work commutes or downtime, just under half the time spent on smartphones is on some sort of mobile game. If you’re a mobile game developer, you probably already know how important monetization is to your success. With such a huge market at your fingertips, it’s pivotal that you know how to correctly monetize your app so that you can continue to update your current game(s) and develop new ones.

Far too often, mobile game developers focus their efforts purely on creating the best possible game. While some are lucky and their game finds success, many ultimately struggle to find the growth they’re looking for. One of the hard truths of being a game developer is that creating a top-performing game requires a lot of resources. This essentially boils down to having enough money to buy you the time necessary to continue building the best possible game.

Many app developers – correctly, we should add – turn to monetization strategies to satisfy this need. But app monetization, especially in the world of mobile gaming, isn’t as simple as making people pay for your app. There are several different strategies and combinations of strategies that, depending on your game, could be the right path to go down.

A big part of creating a successful mobile game means understanding the fine balance between monetizing your existing userbase and acquiring more users to drive growth.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about mobile game monetization strategies and how you can begin to earn money from all your hard work.

Why you need to think about monetization as a mobile game developer

While almost all mobile app developers will agree that monetization is an important aspect of the job, not all will agree when the best time to prioritize it is. Some will suggest that monetization should be the first and foremost focus to ensure that as your userbase steadily grows, the monetization framework is already in place. Others argue that it’s best to focus on monetization later down the line after you’ve accrued a loyal fanbase. But what if your userbase never picks up steam, or if your userbase reacts when you suddenly implement monetization strategies into the mobile game they love?

At Pangle, we recommend mobile game developers follow the general rule of thumb that monetization and user acquisition should go hand-in-hand. You can read more about this in our recent blog about Pirate Metrics. Our solutions are geared towards this, and as an ad network, we have helped a huge range of mobile apps and gaming clients successfully monetize while growing their user base.

Choosing the best monetization route for your mobile game

In terms of mobile games, there are several different monetization routes you could take. Broadly speaking, you can make your game pay-to-play or free-to-play. Here’s more detail about either choice:

Pay-to-play mobile games (Premium apps)

If we consider ‘free-to-play’ as a term to cover all games that have no required download or subscription fee, there are still several different ways that developers can make money.

  • In-app purchases

In-app purchases are any optional purchases that the user can make to unlock some form of additional content. This method of monetization is used across a wide range of apps, but the mobile gaming industry is where many argue it is most effective. In a mobile game that offers in-app purchases, players are often allowed to make small payments for extra lives, additional content, cosmetic upgrades, and a swathe of other content. The key here is that these small purchases add up over time.

  • In-game mobile advertising

But not everyone will make in-app purchases when playing your mobile game. However, this does not mean they can’t be monetized. In-game mobile advertising is used in a huge range of mobile apps, and games are no different. The huge bonus of taking this route is that your users do not have to pay a single cent while you earn money (which is a huge bonus and attraction for them) and if done well, advertisements can complement or fit seamlessly into your game’s user experience.

At the end of the day, one of the most pivotal benefits of the freemium model is the huge pool of customers you can tap into. Without a paywall of any kind, your mobile game will attract far more players. This way, the developer earns more money, and the player spends less – a win-win scenario. And, after all, the trend towards freemium has been largely dictated by user habits.

But navigating the in-app advertising space can be a little complicated, especially considering the range of different ad formats out there. Which advertisements should you run in your mobile game?

What kind of in-app ads can you run through your mobile game?

You’ve made a smart decision if you monetize your mobile game through a freemium model. In-app advertising is a huge part of this and will make up a considerable amount of your revenue stream, but what type(s) of ad should you run largely depends on your goal.

Rewarded video ads are a great way to incentivize your players. By choosing to watch a rewarded video ad, they will get an in-game bonus. Whether this is extra lives, in-game currency, or anything else, rewarded video ads are highly engaging and benefit your user experience.

Interstitial ads get high click-through, engagement, and conversion rates, and are a great choice for your mobile game. One of their major benefits is that you do not have to change the UI of your game as they are full screen. Because of this, they are also commonly run at natural break points in the game, like after a level has been completed.

  • Banner ads

If you want a type of ad that does not interfere with the experience of playing your game too much, think about banner ads. Especially for simple games that only use one screen, part of the smartphone screen can be segmented for the banner ad.

If you’re after a seamless ad integration, native ads are the way to go. They will mimic the UI of your mobile game and generate high click-through rates without distracting players from the game.

Often, the best strategy involves several different ad formats. This way, you can effectively target a range of different users and drive multifaceted growth and monetization campaigns. Working with an ad network that has considerable experience in the gaming industry will be a great help here.

Get in touch with Pangle

Want to learn more about monetizing your mobile game? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with a specialist from Pangle by emailing