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The power of direct-to-consumer with Web Shop

May 13, 2024
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According to data.ai, after a sales slump in 2023, in-app game sales are, in fact, rising. Despite the anticipated momentum, mobile app platforms continue to advance their policies of complicating commissions and banning data exchange with third parties. These restrictive regulations continue to make it difficult for developers to navigate the player acquisition and game monetization landscape. The market’s uncertainty can make it difficult to turn a profit, with expenses often exceeding revenue. That's why publishers and developers seek innovative solutions to stay profitable and grow their businesses. In this environment, direct-to-consumer online sales — when properly implemented — have emerged as a promising strategy. As mentioned in our previous post, because the effectiveness of D2C online selling is gaining momentum, you now have several options for directly selling in-game items and virtual currencies to your players. Here's a breakdown of the most common approaches:
  • Ecommerce marketplaces are online platforms that allow you to list your in-game items alongside products from other sellers.
  • Web shops are customizable, feature-rich online stores that integrate seamlessly with your game. Web shops are used by 40% of the top 100 mobile games and are considered to be the primary source of success in their D2C strategy.
The purpose of a D2C strategy is to gently transition players from a mobile game to an external purchasing environment. To succeed, you must control your brand and the marketing mechanics of your online store. Let’s examine the 2 most popular selling methods and evaluate their benefits and pitfalls.

Ecommerce marketplaces

Game marketplaces have existed for many years, each managing to gather a strong active audience and enormous paying player base. Many companies partner with marketplaces and receive a promotion channel that is clearly effective; however, this strategy is not a D2C approach. Here’s why. Competition When you rely solely on established marketplaces to sell your mobile game items and currency, you must be willing to share your user base. This is an exchange of benefits — you receive third-party traffic and your own marketing efforts attract paying customers, while the marketplace leverages your users' data for its own advertising and revenue generation. Data ownership Further, you may gain new users from the surrounding ecosystem, but the marketplace or app store's rules restrict valuable data on paying players' behavior. This lack of information makes it difficult to target the right audience for your marketing efforts. You might spend more and reach fewer potential players. The lack of data also hinders your ability to understand what your audience responds to, making it challenging to improve the game experience and maximize revenue. Player experience The marketplace storefront cannot be compared to a branded website and—from the players’ point of view—may not look reliable enough to convert them to out-of-app purchases. Marketplaces lack personalization. When a player visits the marketplace game showcase, they will not likely find content or the amount of virtual currency necessary for in-game purposes and will simply leave. Finally, it's important to consider whether the marketplace offers a sufficient variety of payment methods to meet your revenue goals. To boost revenue, you must ensure that all payment methods players use are secure, legal, and accessible at all times. Despite the above, marketplaces have always been and remain an important resource for a mobile game marketing strategy. It is hard to deny marketplaces' opportunities, but we recommend using them to expand your Web Shop D2C approach to sales.

Full-feature Web Shop

Suppose you have chosen to follow a more strategic monetization model or complement your existing marketplace sales, including a direct-to-player component. In that case, you must gain control over your game’s D2C sales channels. To effectively transition players from your mobile game to online shopping, you need a malleable selling infrastructure to tailor the user experience precisely to your target audience’s needs and preferences. A robust, marketplace-independent web shop solution gives you the power to mold your shop into a rich, seamless, comfortable, and — most importantly — familiar, game-branded environment that will entice gamers to shop via the web. Launching your game's web-based storefront using proven effective solutions — like Xsolla Web Shop — will unlock many benefits that empower you to take your mobile game business to the next level. Here's how:
  • Enhanced involvement. Your Web Shop offers mobile gamers an extension of your game world, offering players deeper immersion and interactive experiences. This fosters a stronger connection with your game and keeps them coming back for more.
  • Higher profit margins. Selling directly through your web shop typically translates to higher profit margins than you enjoy from traditional mobile app stores. By reducing commission fees, you keep more revenue for your business.
  • Better data insights. A direct sales channel provides valuable data on player behavior, preferences, and purchasing habits. This allows you to make data-driven decisions to optimize your marketing strategies and cater to your audience more effectively.
  • Increased flexibility. With a D2C approach, you can experiment with pricing models, promotional offers, and distribution strategies. This flexibility empowers you to maximize both revenue and player engagement.
  • Boost in Lifetime Value (LTV). Creating an interactive and engaging Web Shop experience can increase player retention and encourage repeat purchases. This translates to a higher Lifetime Value (LTV) for each player as they become more invested in your game and contribute to its overall success.

5 great marketing tips to improve Web Shop sales

As a mobile game developer, you’re no stranger to marketing, but consider these Web Shop strategies to help you acquire, engage, and retain purchasing players long-term. Let's look at the main features that will help convert a mobile player into a Web Shop customer. To learn specific methods for attracting a mobile player to the Web Shop, reach out to one of our experts for a one-on-one, in-depth discussion about your game’s Ecommerce needs.
  1. Exclusive content. Entice players to visit by offering exclusive in-game items, rewards, or content they can only purchase through the Web Shop.

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  2. Limited-time and quantity offers. Implementing time-limited promotions or discounts on in-game purchases creates a sense of urgency and encourages immediate action from players. Combining this strategy with cyclical events fosters ongoing player engagement and encourages repeat purchases.

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  3. Personalized offers. Customized discounts or promotions based on individual player preferences or behavior improve the shopping experience and boost conversion rates. This strategy enables the company to provide high-value players— whales and dolphins — access to VIP content and more expensive bundles than you can present within a mobile platform.

    xsolla-blog-power-of-d2c-featured-image-03-978x907.webp
  4. Loyalty programs. Implementing programs that reward players for engaging with the game or purchasing game content breeds customer loyalty and boosts retention. For example, let your players earn points for every purchase they can only redeem in your Web Shop for exclusive rewards or discounts.

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  5. Social Features. Integrating social features into your Web Shop—such as forums, leaderboards, or gifting options—fosters a sense of community among players and increases retention. Xsolla considers this feature a must-have for developers who want to control the customer journey and will soon announce these attributes as an intrinsic aspect of the Xsolla Web Shop solution as soon as they are available.

Final thoughts

Mobile game developers want dominion over 3 key things when marketing their creations: experience, brand, and revenue. Finding a selling solution that supports your goals for autonomy and creativity requires you to look beyond the limitations of an Ecommerce marketplace. While only some games are suited for a Web Shop direct-to-player selling approach, Xsolla can help you decide what options work best for your mobile gaming business. Adding a revenue stream from web sales to your economic model can earn up to 16% incremental revenue — depending on your goals and your game’s size and genre — and potentially reduce mobile app stores costs and address marketplace customization restrictions. xsolla-blog-power-of-d2c-featured-image-05-960x223.webp Xsolla Web Shop is the flagship solution that inspired many successful game developers to leap to a D2C solution and significantly boost their revenue and player loyalty. Are you ready to quickly launch your full-featured Web Shop? Build your Web Shop to start monetizing and retaining players. Book a meeting with one of our experts to learn how Xsolla can help you create a dynamic boutique store that maximizes revenue by adding value for players, encouraging repeat purchases, and converting non-paying users.
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