In-game purchase
In-game purchase
An in-game purchase is placed when a user of a mobile gaming app pays within the app to buy virtual goods like in-game currency, level upgrades, and new features.

What is an in-game purchase?

In the mobile gaming industry, in-app purchases are one of the most effective monetization strategies for maximizing revenue. In-app purchases can occur at any point in time after the app is installed and opened by a user, and real money is paid in exchange for virtual game items like coins, extra energy, and weapons. 

Today, freemium benefits are a given, and users tend to be highly reluctant to spend money for a first-time activity. In-game purchases go extremely well with this user behavior trend because, upon the initial install, users get full access to the game at zero cost. After users are somewhat engaged with the app or are at the stage where they need help completing a level, in-game purchases come in handy. This is the perfect timing to release an in-game purchase offer related to helping them continue playing or complete the level. Then, users are lured into thinking about the sunk cost and will be more inclined to make the purchase.

Naturally, user engagement levels increase, because their commitment to the game now equals the amount of time and money they have spent. At the same time, the money earned from purchases becomes a major source of revenue for marketers. 

Types of in-game purchases

Below are the most commonly used types of in-game purchases, and marketers can choose what to use depending on the occasion and genre of the game. 


These are exhaustible virtual goods that can be purchased and only used once. Items like in-app currency, extra lives, and bonus energy all count as consumables.


These are virtual products that users have permanent access to and can be used repeatedly once purchased. Unlocking a new level in a game, buying a new character/upgrading a character, or paying for ad removal within a game are all examples of non-consumable purchases. 

Auto-renewing subscriptions

Users can pay for subscriptions within a game app for a premium experience or whatever benefit the app is offering. These are the type of subscriptions that automatically renew after the first purchase, and the payment occurs periodically, depending on the subscription cycle. Extra in-game currency and receiving new unlocked items every day are examples of premium features a subscription can offer. 

Non auto-renewing subscriptions

These subscriptions do not renew automatically, and users have to manually renew and pay for their next subscription. Battle pass seasons count as a non auto-renewing subscription. 

Best practices for in-game purchases 

The millions of microtransactions made with in-game purchases can help mobile gaming app revenues absolutely skyrocket, turning the tables for app owners. Here are a couple of best practices that will increase in-game purchases: 

Offer in-game purchases at the right time 

As mentioned above, finding the perfect timing for in-app purchases is key to user conversion. You should not be too aggressive or hasty and release purchase options immediately after install, as this will further push away users. Giving them some time to recognize the value and fun of the game is important, and offering an in-app purchase right at the moment when they feel like they need it will help secure your users in the app. 

Diversify offers 

Unlike having wide price gaps between game items, by diversifying the number of options users can choose from and dividing up item prices into smaller segments, the chances of an item and its price meeting the user’s needs will increase. Thus, you can appeal to more user types which can contribute to increasing user conversions. 

Conduct ample research on your users 

Overall, doing sufficient research on your users and gauging their preferences, needs and in-app behavior is crucial to actualizing the strategies above. Knowing what your users want, and targeting them at the right time and the right moment will bring exponential growth to your mobile gaming business. 

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