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Lessons on Mobile Gaming from a Whale

by on January 12, 2014

1) Whales never spend frivolously

Don’t assume that if you put a $200 item in the game that whales will just grab it up for no reason; or that if you added a speedup in X, all whales will just gobble it up. Each purchase had to make sense to the game. Give them something that’ll impact the game in the long term, like allowing them to research more than X slots, or changing the output of a resource by n%. Make the value of what they’re buying truly worthwhile and you’ll see them purchase again and again.

2) The true value ratio.

If a new item came out that cost $100 but was “worth” $200, whales would gladly buy it. Spenders have all created this association in game and the reward or ROI from what’s being purchased is very clear.

3) Leave it to chance

Whales drawn to the chance system, believing ”I know I’ll get the legendary in the next pack”. They are essentially “gambling” on what reward each time.

4) Whales are just like you and me

When we think of these “whales” we often imagine them as rich people. Research has showed that “whales” are way more average than that. There is not one defining characteristic or profile to specifically pre-determine who could be a whale or a specific demographic to target. We need to build great games for any and allplayers.


  • Know your players. Play the games and understand how and why they do things, so you know that you are giving them and spending the resources on content that people will actually want.
  • Players spend strategically. There is no success in throwing up expensive items and hoping people buy them – there has to be meaning in the content (which is why it is so important to know your players and know the game). Players aren’t looking to line your pockets, but to make their gaming experience better and they are thinking long-term about each move they make. Players are committing to your game. It’s your job to make sure you are equally committed to theirs.
  • Remember that there is no playbook on how to reach “whales.” The quality of the game and gameplay experience is what will draw in players – and specifically “whales” – so stay focused on making those great.

From → Monetization

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