Monetizer: Infinity Blade III

Can paid games out-IAP F2P games?

Monetizer: Infinity Blade III

Following on from my speech at the Develop in Brighton 2013 conference, we're now running a weekly column called Monetizer.

You can see previous columns here, and we're posting screens showing the different techniques we come across on our Tumblr page.

You can also read my handy explanation of what it's all about and how we calculate the numbers here.

Wielding a big sword

Typically the majority of games we cover in Monetizer are pure free-to-play games i.e. they are free to download. That isn't the case with Infinity Blade, which costs $6.99.

However, because it uses a standard resource system based on in-app purchases, with some adjustments we can still use the same tools to analyse the game.

When it comes to our Success ranking, Infinity Blade's pricing - combined with its high profile nature - means it's risen up the top grossing charts much faster than any free-to-play game would.

After all, we can consider a paid game to be a free-to-play game with an immediate average revenue per player - in this case $6.99 (its cost).

On iPhone, Infinity Blade III scores ((111/119)/4) = 0.23, while on iPad, the score is 0.10.

Both are much higher than the 0.01 we take as a benchmark for commercial success for a F2P game.

One of Infinity Blade III's monetisation techniques sees you buying prize wheels for random item drops

Of course, over time, we expect Infinity Blade III will drift down the top grossing charts as the majority of its players won't buy any IAPs so these initial numbers describe its peak.

In contrast, we typically assume that F2P games will take anything up to two months to hit their peak Success ranking

Dual wielding

When it comes to how Infinity Blade III's economy works, it's a sophisticated beast.

First up, there are two hard currencies: gold, which is used to buy items such as swords, armour, shields, rings, gems etc; and chips, which are used to level up - or master - these items.

Despite your large sword, you need a key to access this chest

As well as these items, the game features various support items (labelled supplies) such as potions, keys, ingredients (for making potions), maps and random item drops (called prize wheels).

All these are single use consumables that require payment in chips.

Calculating the Currency Discount ratio, gold has a ratio 2.4 (relatively high), while chips have a ratio of 1.4 (average).

Combined with the minimum gold IAP being $0.99 compared to $4.99 for chips, we can see that chips are the game's key currency. This is underlined as you earn gold for each battle won, while chip rewards are limited to completing achievements.

Too hard?

When it comes to our main Monetizer ranking, the big issue with Infinity Blade III is to consider is how we deal with the game's $6.99 price, and the two hard currencies.

If we make a purely vanilla calculation (taking a minimum IAP of $0.99), we get a figure of 20 - a low ranking.

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If we ignore the $6.99 price and consider the minimum IAP to be the chip minimum of $4.99, we get a figure of 100, which is our benchmark above which we consider a game highly monetized.

However, if we take the minimum IAP to be $7.98 ($6.99 + $0.99) , the ranking is 160, or 240 if we take the minimum to be $11.98 ($6.99 + $4.99) - which is very high.

My gut feeling is a somewhat fudged ranking of 100 to 160 is probably the best place to put Infinity Blade III, which would make it a highly monetized game.

It's not an ideal calculation, certainly, but if nothing else, the game throws up some interesting future considerations for our process, both in terms of dealing with paid games that contain IAPs, and perhaps more importantly, multiple hard currencies; something we're beginning to see a lot more of.

Conclusion: Infinity Blade III

Success coefficient (iPhone) = 0.23

Success coefficient (iPad) = 0.10

Monetizer coefficient = 100 - 160

Currency Discount ratio = 1.4 (gold), 2.4 (chips)

Jon Jordan
Jon Jordan
A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon can turn his hand to anything except hand turning. He is editor-at-large at PG.biz which means he can arrive anywhere in the world, acting like a slightly confused uncle looking for the way out. He likes letters, cameras, imaginary numbers and legumes.