Freemium Brew Game

Racks Up Revenue

With In-App Purchases

Mobile Deluxe is pulling in strong revenue from its Daily

Blackjack game with irresistibly low price points.

Daily Blackjack

Application Story

Do you think you could make money doing any of these things individually?

  • Write a casual gaming app around a public domain title
  • Target your app for feature phone users
  • Market the app as freemium

Probably not. But if you combined them strategically, the way Mobile Deluxe does, you might be pleasantly surprised. Its Daily Blackjack game was one of the highest grossing apps on Verizon’s Media Center in early 2011. Yet many of its users are making in-app purchases at price points of less than $1.00.

The biggest reason that Daily Blackjack is one of Verizon’s top selling Brew™ games, is the flexibility we have on the price points we set on in-app purchases. When users can spend as little as fifty cents, they will, and it’s paying off for us.

Josh Hartwell, CEO, Mobile Deluxe

Keep Users Coming Back For More

Mobile Deluxe refreshes Daily Blackjack regularly with new card-backs and content in a rewards store. The app is designed to be sticky - like any good social game - with online tournaments, multi-player competition and leaderboards. The app also offers players the chance to play by the rules of different casinos around the world.

But most importantly, the app is free. Daily Blackjack users start with a stack of 500 chips, and even if they lose all of the chips they are given 50 additional chips each day, to keep them coming back to play. If a user wants to play with additional chips, they can make in-app purchases to buy more.

“Being free is the biggest thing in social games,” advises Josh Hartwell, CEO of Mobile Deluxe. “You can get a huge audience with a free product and grow it even more. Plenty of mobile games are using a freemium business model, which became very popular with Facebook games.”

“The thing that excites carriers about freemium is that their customers don’t have to pay without knowing about the game. People who want to play games don’t want to pay up front for them anymore, because now there are so many apps out there. As carriers chase after Apple’s App Store and the Android Market, traditional business models are beginning to break down and there has been a large shift to the freemium model.”

Implementing in-app purchases

Among the changes Mobile Deluxe made to its existing game to implement in-app purchases:

  • The flow of the app menu didn’t already support transactions, so it was necessary to build them in.
  • A UI had to be created that clearly confirmed the purchase and alerted customers about how charges would appear. It was important to make it apparent to customers that they would be spending real money, even though they wouldn’t be winning real money.
  • It’s good to have flexibility with price points. By using a server to administer price points, Mobile Deluxe has been able to modify and test a range of price points with users.

The proof of the pudding - Making money on a social game

Daily Blackjack is paying out, according to Sean Thompson, VP of Production, Mobile Deluxe.

“On Brew’s Distribution Extranet we can set pricing as high or low as we want, so we offer versions of Daily Blackjack goods at US$9.99, $7.99, $4.99, $1.99 and $.50. Our $.50 price point is by far the most popular. It’s a seamless experience for users, because these transactions are integrated with the rest of the customer’s mobile phone charges on their carrier bill.”

Among the results so far:

  • 3000% increase in downloads over Tournament Blackjack (Mobile Deluxe’s blackjack game without in-app purchases)
  • 500% increase in revenues over Tournament Blackjack
  • 14% of Daily Blackjack users are paying.

“We only make money on this title if users are satisfied,” concludes Thompson, “so it’s important to build a good game that keeps people playing and keeps them engaged with the app. Engaged users are not only the ones who spend the money, but they’re also the ones posting to Facebook and tweeting about the game. Most of our users are getting a great experience for a low cost."

*All data provided by Mobile Deluxe

Brew's Capabilities

Company Facts

Key Points

  • Freemium social blackjack game for feature phones
  • In-app purchases with integrated carrier billing
  • Top selling Brew game at Verizon
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