Question 2: What is the best way to present an in-game store to players without nagging or pressuring them?

The answer to this question comes in two parts. First, you don’t just sell within in-game store, and second, nagging is a very subjective thing. I will focus this post on the first point about smart selling, but I will say that what constitutes nagging a high-pressure sales is a personal reaction that is impossible to predict. What feels like nagging to one person may be completely fine to another, so we need to measure negative reaction to selling. If you’d like to know how to measure negative reaction to selling, let me know via Twitter.

On the topic of smart selling, the four Ps of marketing still apply: product, promotion, price, and place. When selling digital goods in-game, you’ve have to begin by designing an in-app purchase that enhances the game (see my previous Q&A for more detail about this), show the value of that purchase through a tutorial, set the right price or range of prices, and then promote it at the best points in the game. That last point, promoting it in the right place, is what I mean by smart selling. Since in-game items are digital items players purchase, there is no need to get people to a physical store to buy it, so why would we only sell in the in-game store? You need to sell the items where they’re needed the most.

Take puzzle games, for example. If I fail at a particular puzzle then selling me an item that’ll help me solve this puzzle more easily at that particular time is more useful than expecting me to go looking inside the store to find it for myself. Let’s say you’re selling a scrambler to reshuffle the pieces in a match-3 board like Bejeweled, then here are some good places to sell it:

  • At the beginning of the game where you display the objectives.

[PopCap’s Bejeweled Blitz presents ‘Boosts’ available for purchase before beginning a round. Source][PopCap’s Bejeweled Blitz presents ‘Boosts’ available for purchase before beginning a round. Source]

  • While the player is playing, the scrambler is easily accessible on the screen.

PopCap’s Bejeweled Stars places their IAP items across the bottom of the game screen where they are easily reached during a round.[PopCap’s Bejeweled Stars places their IAP items across the bottom of the game screen where they are easily reached during a round. Source]

  • When a player has failed a few times, after which a prompt comes up at the fail screen asking if they need a scrambler.
  • If the game has a stage map, then put a scrambler bundle somewhere on the map at a discount so players also feel like they’ve earned access to it.
  • Most importantly, if players do buy the scrambler and they don’t have enough in-game currency to do that, make sure you let them refill in-place by giving them a suggested currency pack.

Did you notice that none of the places above are in the in-game store? Instead, they have all been placed where the scrambler would most likely to be sold. Relevance is the key to avoid making players feel like they’re being nagged. Compared to an out-of-place reminder to go into the store without the context of some in-game event, selling at the right place every now and then will increase the chance of an item selling, as well as enhancing the player’s satisfaction with their purchase.

This post is part of an on-going Q&A series answering questions about using data and monetisation in games. Let us know what topics you’d like to know more about by tweeting your questions using #GameDataQs or chatting to us directly at @playsecondsight.

Christina Chen
Christina Chen has a diverse history in the tech and games industries, engineering cluster computing at Microsoft, co-founding games publisher Surprise Attack, adapting US games for the Chinese market at PopCap and more. She has seen the rise of web and data analytics in the games industry and is passionate about bringing effective and affordable access to game developers of every kind, not only the largest multinational companies.

Frequently speaking at tech, startup, data and games industry events and consulting on monetization and user experience, Christina designed Second Sight to bring player insights to the everyday game developer.

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