Make a crazy night

out even crazier.

In-app purchases with Brew™ boost revenue for

Sonic Boom games

Crazy Night Out

Engage your users

Let them create their own adventure, and build in-app purchases to keep them hungry for more.

Technical Highlights

  • Brew Application Value Billing (A-VB) Extension, which enables in-app purchases for Brew apps A-VB Server Simulator
  • A-VB developer documentation (including API reference, code samples and best practices)

Business Highlights

  • In-app purchases on top of subscription and one-time purchase models
  • Increased customer engagement and buzz
  • Accelerated revenue stream

Application Story

If you wanted to combine your subscription and one-time purchase licensing models with in-app purchases, how would you do it?

Many game developers make paid upgrades available to customers inside the app: popular music, a new avatar, an upgraded race car, additional weapons or other virtual goods, depending on the game play. With its Crazy Night Out title, Sonic Boom of New York offers next week’s content, without the wait.

Crazy Night Out is an interactive adventure game Brew application in which players balance a movie studio career against Hollywood’s wild nightlife. It includes 9 different mini-games (volleyball, street race, spin the bottle, etc) and 5 different character traits that develop based on the decisions users make and affect the ending of the game. Sonic Boom schedules the content in eight 1- to 2-hour episodes per main character over several weeks, and then offers users the chance to pay USD$0.99 to receive episodes ahead of schedule. It’s the ideal way of generating revenue by whetting users’ appetites for more content.

Making a Crazy Night Out Even Crazier

“We have a long track record of developing Brew apps,” says Jared Shapiro, vice president of engineering at Sonic Boom. “We had been waiting for the chance to combine subscriptions with in-app purchases, so when we found out that Brew was going to launch A-VB with Verizon, we jumped at the opportunity with the first app in our development pipeline that looked like a good candidate: Crazy Night Out.

“It’s the most content-intense title we’ve published to date because of its episodic nature, its appeal to the teen/young-adult crowd, and the interactive adventure style of game play. There’s a lot of story spread over 12-16 hours of game play, and we decided to launch it with both subscription and one-time purchase pricing models. When A-VB came along, we realized we could incorporate in-app purchases to let users purchase the following week’s content ahead of time.”
The Crazy Night Out app includes all of the text, game play and UI, so the in-app purchase unlocks game content already on the phone; the company doesn’t need a separate content server to deliver the upgrade.

Adding A-VB to the app

To capture in-app purchases and get them onto the customer’s phone bill, Sonic Boom first amended its Brew Developer Agreement to include application-value billing, and then downloaded the Brew A-VB Extension from the Brew Developer Extranet.
The extension includes:
a Windows DLL for the A-VB extension so developers can code and debug in the Brew Software Development Kit (Brew SDK) and test in the Brew Simulator

  • a header file
  • a Brew binary module (MOD) file for testing on a target device
  • source code for a sample application
  • a reference for APIs used by the extension
  • an A-VB Best Practices Guide

“Integrating with Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.’s A-VB libraries and APIs was straightforward,” continues Shapiro. “It took about a week to get the technology working. We added menus and prompts to lead users through the transaction and to show their prior in-app purchase history.”

Crazy Night Out uses an extension (IBilling) for creating and submitting billing requests. The extension queries the carrier’s application download server and retrieves the list of value billing retail pricing that the user sees in the app.

Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. also provides an A-VB Server Simulator to generate responses that the app will receive on the user’s phone. It displays transaction data and lets developers set and return error conditions.

In-app purchases affecting the gaming economy

Think in-app purchases are just a fad? Think again. Developers like Sonic Boom are cultivating champions, creating buzz around their titles and generating revenue beyond the initial download of the application. With support from carriers and platforms, they can integrate in-app purchases so smoothly that users can obtain the upgraded content without interrupting play.

And when the upgrade is this simple in an enjoyable game, users respond. In 2010, one in five active gamers in the U.S. spent money on in-game virtual items and micro-transactions, according to "Online Gaming: Global Outlook" a study from Park Associates. GigaOM reported in November 2010 that, while one third of the top 100 iPhone apps were free, they used in-app purchases to generate revenue.

Maria Giatrakis, director of publishing at Sonic Boom, has seen the proof for herself. “With hundreds of story branches filled with action, romance and comedy, we’re getting a lot of mentions about users wanting the next season and new content, so we know they’re engaged. We also know that in-app purchases play a big role in giving them what they want. Nearly 50% of subscribers are paying to unlock Crazy Night Out content ahead of schedule, and that’s the best feedback we could possibly have.”

Brew's Capabilities

Company Facts

Key Points

  • The story behind the app
  • Making of Crazy Night Out
  • Adding in-app purchases to the app

We designed Crazy Night Out to boost revenues from in-app purchases and it’s exceeded our expectations. Almost half of the customers who buy the app are also purchasing advanced content through in-app purchases inside the game.

Maria Giatrakis, director of publishing
Sonic Boom
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