Is Mobile Gaming Costing You a Fortune?



In just over twenty years, cell phones have gone from a luxury item, reserved for wealthy business people, to a common purchase for all income and demographic groups. These days, smartphones are everywhere. The average age when a person first owns a device is 13, and by 2016, a projected 265 million people will be using mobile devices, according to Salesforce Blog.

When you purchase a smart phone, you are looking at a fairly healthy and ongoing expenses. Along with the cost of the device and any accessories, you also have the cost of monthly usages — which ranges from an estimated cost of between $50 and $100, depending on your location, carrier and the details of your plan. A cost you may not factor into the price of owning your phone, however, is the money you spend on applications.

Around 50 million of us play games on our mobile devices, says Big Fish Games in its blog. The primary mobile gaming models are the free-to-play and pay-to-play designs.


This is a common, and clever, gaming model where you are granted access to play the game and in many cases, you can technically beat the entire game without spending any money. However, to optimize your experience, the game offers a variety of micro-transactions. Well-known examples of this gaming model are the mobile games Candy Crush and Farmville.

You can certainly play Candy Crush without succumbing to a single micro-transaction. However, if you don’t want to wait 24 hours between challenges or harass your Facebook friends, you better put up the 99 cents. Were you one move away from beating that level you’ve been on for a week? No problem, just pay 99 cents for five more moves. With games that involve in-game purchases, a transaction often turns into repeat transactions and before you know it, you’ve shelled out $50 or $100 on a mobile app game.



Swrve recently published a report on in-game revenue. If you are a someone who makes in-game purchases, you’re playing a large role in keeping the industry afloat. Fifty percent of all in-game revenue is generated by 0.15 percent of users. This means that only a small portion of gamers (around one out of every 667) is putting forth most of the money for in-game micro-transactions.


This model is a bit more transparent. If you see a game you like, you can pay a cost up-front and purchase it. Oftentimes, these games will have a demo or lite version you can try out before you commit to purchasing the full game. With a pay-to-play game, you are looking at a cost of between 99 cents and over $20.

Some of the more expensive games are by publishers, such as Square Enix, who also create PC and console games. For instance, Demon’s Score by Square Enix is priced at $19.99 and Minecraft Pocket Edition by Mojo is $6.99.

The bottom line

We have all heard the stories about gamers who spend hundreds of dollars on in-game purchases for games like Hearth Stone or Farmville. If you’re spending big money on mobile games, you are not only putting a dent in your wallet, you are also devoting large intervals of time to playing these games. According to Nielsen, the average gamer spends in excess of six hours per week on gaming. This time could be allocated to other budget-friendly tasks that do not involve micro-transactions and cash outflow. On the other hand, entertainment is necessary. Gaming relieves stress for many people and as long as it does not become an unmanageable financial burden, it is overall harmless.

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