Generate Recurring Revenue In Your F2P Game

Expand your mobile game business to PC and web to reach new players.

As a developer of free-to-play games, you’re always hunting for ways to convert your free players into paying subscribers, increase revenue, and stabilize your income stream month-to-month.

For years, there have really only been two new business models for generating revenue in gaming: Try-before-you-buy and free-to-play. In the early 2010s, F2P gaming grabbed a huge segment of the market and shot newcomers like Zynga into the stratosphere.

Subscriptions are the biggest disruption since the meteoric rise of F2P, and not just in the games industry. Amazon uses Prime to lock in customers, and software giant Adobe gains most of its recurring pay customers through its Creative Cloud subscription program.

According to SuperData’s 2019 industry report, free-to-play games revenue increased by 6% to $87.1B worldwide.

We know subscriptions are an effective addition to studios’ gaming revenue strategies that work with all game types, but how can you turn your F2Ps into P2Ps and generate predictable, recurring income?

Here, we share five strategies you should consider when planning your leap into subscriptions.

It’s All About Access

When planning your program to convert free players to paying gamers, it’s natural to assume that what motivates your players most is a virtual currency. Nope.

Digital cash might provide instant gratification, but for long-term loyalty in the F2P world, the answer is in providing access to bigger, better content, and premium benefits.

Think about offering exclusives like special levels, powers, tournaments, and avatars. The more VIP the experience, the more likely they’ll keep coming back and become lifelong subscribers.

Simple is Best

We recommend starting with just three pricing plans: Bronze, Silver, and Gold. Any more than three plans will likely overwhelm your customers. Viewing just three plan tiers makes it easy to compare options and to pick the one that’s best for them.

Pricing and the features you bundle are unique to your F2P game’s experience and in-game economy. Xsolla’s experts can help you hone in on the details that work for you and your customers.

Keep it Real

Great plans aren’t just about features. Gamers are a passionate bunch, and they don’t like having their loyalty tested. They want their skills to improve and shine above all else. They don’t ever want to feel like the system is “rigged” or stacked against them. You should definitely steer clear of a “pay to win” scenario.

If your game is fun for free players and AWESOME for your paying players, everyone will have many opportunities to level up their game, while keeping it real.

Create a Value Cycle

The more often a paying gamer feels compelled to return, the higher value they place on their subscription. By offering bonus points or rewards for consistent play, you reinforce the cycle – much like frequent flier miles that motivate travelers to plan trips abroad.

Keep it Fresh

You already know that keeping your game fresh is key to a successful F2P and P2P program. As long as there is always something bigger, better, and more premium to strive for, the gamer’s drive to play again and again is reinforced.

Whether a customer is a free player or a VIP,  all gamers want to unlock fresh content (levels, characters, game modes, new items, challenges, and so forth) as they improve their skills.

A Winning Strategy

Success stories like Fortnite, EVE Online, and Dota 2 remind us that combining subscriptions with in-game purchases works well for F2P games.

Embracing the strategy of a premium subscription experience, Fortnite launched their 100-player PvP mode, Battle Royal, and in 2019 earned the top spot for generating revenue – a whopping $1.8B.

Gaming industry expert SuperData revealed that subscribed players spend twice as much on in-game purchases as compared to non-subscribers.

In all cases, paying gamers spend more and become increasingly loyal the more they play, while developers enjoy a predictable revenue stream. It’s definitely a winning partnership.

How to Get Started

First, download our free eBook that includes step-by-step advice for designing fair but effective subscription plans from start to finish.


Next, partner with Xsolla. When you subscribe to our Publisher Account platform, we take care of the Subscriptions program development and implementation, while you focus on game development.

New to Xsolla? Get started by setting up a Publisher Account.


Already an Xsolla client? Contact your Xsolla Account Manager to take your revenue to the next level.


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