13 Types of IAP Methods for Mobile Games

IAPs (in app purchases) are a fast growing source of monetization for mobile, PC and console games. In various genres IAPs account for the bulk of in game revenue, as seen in this data from Statista.

An IAP monetization strategy can be very rewarding for game studios. It’s possible to implement for small studios, generates substantial revenue without a massive user base and cuts out third parties advertising agencies that may stifle revenue growth. In order to successfully build out an IAP game, teams must focus on the correct data points and build offers into the game in a way that improves upon the overall player experience. 

Here’s a look at some of the most common type of IAPs.

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Consumable

The most common category of IAP, consumables disappear immediately once a player has purchased the item. Imagine an RPG where a player has taken on damage to their health, purchasing a health bonus will allow that player to restore their health fully and continue playing longer.

Unlockable items

These are the opposite of consumables. Once a player has purchased an unlockable item they will have permanent access to that item. Some examples are bonus game characters and loot boxes.

Impatience

This type of IAP offers a way for players to speed up the play of the game. They can be introduced at any point of friction within the game play. Some developers will even create friction in a game in order to increase IAP driven revenue, as it is a time tested top earner among IAPs.

Continue

One of the earliest types of IAP, these can be traced back to arcade games in the 70’s. A continue will require a player to add funds (whether coins in the arcade setting or via apple pay in a modern app) in order to keep playing. A recent example is the purchase of extra moves in Candy Crush Saga.

Auto-renew subscriptions

Access to premium content in exchange for regular payments made by users.

Regular subscriptions

Access to premium content on a non renewing basis, for a limited time only.

Battle pass

Once a player purchases a battle pass, they are rewarded with access to bonus in-game content.

VIP System

Rewarding players who make in-app purchases and take other required actions in game.

Loot Boxes

Unlock randomized virtual items that assist in game play.

Piggy Banks

Players collect in game currency while playing, this is stored in a piggy bank. Once the piggy bank fills players must make a one time in app purchase to open it. This is most commonly seen in casual and casino games.

Gacha

A classic Japanese monetization tool, gachas target highly engaged players and offer them a random chance of acquiring something. An example would be a purchase opportunity for a random weapon that will do at least 2X damage.

Time Limited IAPs

Discounted items and bundles, these offers expire after a set amount of time.

Bonus Game Characters

Pay to unlock an additional character in the game.