14 MAY 2020

How to figure out if your game needs alternative payment solutions?

POSTED UNDER Games and Gaming Mobile Marketing Web Payments
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Jaak Kalja


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Every country performs differently for game developers. Benchmark countries are those where the core audience is located, payment conversion is high and so is the average revenue per user (ARPU). The second type of countries have a smaller user base but decent ARPU. Then there’s the third category: countries with a large user base, low conversion rates and low ARPU.

The common thinking with the third category of countries is that there’s simply no money to be made there. However, since the users are already acquired, it’s at least worth thinking through why these countries don’t perform on the same level as others.

Here are 3 reasons why gamers may not be paying for your game and solutions to try out.

Users don’t want to pay

The simplest reason is that they simply do not want to pay. They play the game, they have a credit card to pay for in-game content, but they simply don’t do it. While that may be the case, there’s another angle to look at. 

Different countries across the world having different income levels.  Having universal pricing across all countries discourages users, especially in emerging markets. To give a simple example: gross national income (GNI) per capita in the US is $63,080 and in India it’s $2,020. Adjusted for income, the same content sold for the same price is 31x more expensive for gamers in India.

Users can’t pay

The second possibility for having low ARPU in a country is that users are unable to make payments. In this case, the payment methods offered on checkout – most often credit cards and PayPal – are something that are unavailable to the local audience.

You can check out countries where you have a large user base from The World Bank’s Global Financial Inclusion Database and find some surprising results. Globally, only 48% of people have a debit card and 18% have a credit card. So rather than not wanting to pay, a lot of people are simply not able to.

Every game company has limited development resources, which means it wouldn’t make sense to rush headfirst into adding alternative payment that are more popular locally. Instead, a painted door test can be used. Here’s how it works:

  • For a high user base / low ARPU country, determine which payment methods people use for online payments instead of credit cards; it could be digital wallets, prepaid game cards, or carrier billing
  • Add a “painted door” to your checkout page: display the locally popular payment methods as options next to ones you are currently using
  • When users select one of those payment methods to pay, capture it for your analytics and notify them that the payment method isn’t yet available in that country

Running a painted door test helps understand if additional payment options were used, would people actually start using them – without spending any time on actual development work.

Users initiate payments, but drop off

The third category of users are those who reach the checkout page, start the payment process but somewhere along the line, drop out of the checkout flow. In e-commerce, close to 70% of users abandon their shopping cart without a purchase. This means analyzing payment conversions rates only based on “users paying vs user reaching checkout page” is too vague. It’s also critical to measure what happens during the checkout process itself.

It’s often difficult to track this information as many payment solutions re-direct the user to an externally hosted website to complete the payment, in which case the game developer has no access to the data. 

If you’re fortunate enough to be working with a payment provider who does provide data on the checkout flow, here’s what you should be looking at:

  • Which steps in the checkout flow cause the biggest drop-offs? Can those step be removed?
  • If they can’t be removed, can they be made shorter? Each form field and additional click the user needs requires extra effort from the user to complete the payment
  • How quickly do the payment pages load? Each second the user needs to wait for their payment to be completed increases the likelihood that they will drop off

In summary…

Different countries perform differently for game developers. While low ARPU countries may seem low priority, for some reason people really like your game. By running a few simple tests and looking at the data in more detail, you may discover that users actually do want to pay you, but they simply can’t. 

If you’re interested in how Fortumo helps game developers grow revenue through carrier billing – a globally available and simple payment solution – you can read more from the e-book below.

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