As the old saying goes: time is money. Nowhere does that appear to be more true than on mobile.
Speaking at this year’s GDC, ex-Playdom creative director Eric Todd revealed that the amount of hours players invest into a game is a relatively accurate way of predicting the chance that they would go on to spend money on microtransactions or other in-game purchases.
Starting at the bottom, those who never felt compelled to part with their cash averaged a playtime of 45 minutes a day during their first week with the game.
At two hours a day, players move into the category of potential spenders, with four hours a day signalling a definite desire to put money into a title – not a single paying user played for fewer than four hours.
Five hours was found to be the average daily playtime for spenders, with the heaviest payers even investing up to half of their day – 12 hours – on the game.
"It means you must support and reward such play, or your game will not monetise well," explained Todd (via GI).
"It absolutely means you must take this level of rabid engagement into consideration when you're designing your game up-front. It is absolutely not something you can tack on later."
And if players don’t immediately start dropping their hard-earned cash into your game? Don’t panic, says Todd – but make sure you’re set to keep their attention.
"It's not at all uncommon for more than 70 per cent of the revenue for a player to occur after the first 30 days," he revealed.
"If your game is not designed to keep the lunatic fringe in your game engaged for months – and remember we're talking like five hours a day for most of these people – then you're leaving a lot of money on the table, and quite possibly most of it."