Addendum: Making the First Purchase

From my post last weekend on “Making the First Purchase“, Jun Otsuka, Wooga’s Head of Studio in Japan, made an interesting discovery. While giving a starter pack is a smart decision, sometimes this can have unforeseen consequences.

On November 6th for Mixi’s Investor Relations meeting, they discussed why their sales trend went down for Q2 2015:

From Mixi's Investor Relations :
From Mixi’s Investor Relations :

They reported a downward trend due to existing paying users of their massive hit Monster Strike taking advantage of the beginner’s pack. They added a starter pack (a High Conversion Item) to the game which was meant to incentivize the first purchase. This pack was also meant to get new players ranked up quickly so they could join the mid-game, where most of the users were competing.

The pack contained for $5:

  • A guaranteed 6 star monster (would usually cost $50-$80)
  • 10 Monsters to Fuse for XP
  • 5 Gems ($5 worth)

This pack is seriously high value, which is a huge incentive for new players. As a result, they had the benefit of increased # of paying users. However, as an unforeseen consequence, because the deal was SO good, existing users found ways to take advantage of this deal, which killed the regular In-App Purchase economy. This resulted in lower overall bookings for Monster Strike.

This just serves as a warning for developers looking to create a great first purchase. Ensure that this pack’s economic impact is controlled. It must be limited in use, otherwise you can end up in a situation where existing players are only purchasing this conversion item, rather than spending on the real purchases you intended.

Thanks again to Jun for pointing this out!

PS. If you’re at SLUSH this year in Helsinki, I will be there! Contact me on Twitter or via Email.

Published by

Adam Telfer

Mobile Games Designer

4 thoughts on “Addendum: Making the First Purchase”

  1. > existing users found ways to take advantage of this deal, which killed the regular In-App Purchase economy

    Can you specify what exactly were they doing? Was it an exploit or a regular gameplay mechanic that just boosted their positions?


    1. Hey, sorry, I’ve been looking into this. I haven’t found the exploit yet though. My first guess is that existing players are starting up new accounts, taking advantage of the deal and transferring the 6 star character over to their account? or using it as a helper in their missions? It’s just speculation though. If someone can find out what the exploit was that would be very useful.


  2. Out of curiosity, what were the effects on DAU and Revenue?

    Any Retention figures?

    Lower ARPU alone doesn’t necessarily reflect a bad thing 🙂


    1. I don’t have access to those numbers. Everything that was presented is on the mixi investor site (linked above). Only shows revenue and costs. DAU and Retention aren’t public.
      # of Buyers was up but ARPU was down because of the exploit. Which normally would be an okay tradeoff, but the graph shown above is actual gross sales from the game, which is not something you want to decline.


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