An Exploratory Study of Play Duration and In-App Purchase Behavior in Mobile Games
28 Pages Posted: 8 Jul 2021
Date Written: June 21, 2021
In the context of free-to-play mobile games, we seek to examine one question: which factors are associated with a player’s play duration or in-app purchases (of virtual items)? Our research question has not been examined in the research literature. It is important because the revenue of a free-to-play game developer is based on in-app ads watched by players (which depend on play duration) and in-app purchases. We use different regression models to analyze weekly data associated with 15,120 players’ activities and expenditures of a free-to-play mobile game over a span of three years.
We find that players with higher cumulative play time tend to continue to play for a longer duration; however, they feel satiated in terms of purchasing more virtual items associated with the game. Interestingly, players with exceptionally good/bad performance in one week tend to play for a shorter play duration and make fewer purchases in the following week. Finally, players who acquired new virtual items in one week tend to play for a longer duration and make more purchases in the following week. Armed with our results, we discuss how a game developer can take proactive measures to increase its revenue by enticing players to play for a longer duration and make more in-app purchases.
Keywords: mobile game, winning rate, social network effect, novelty effect
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