Half of all in-app purchases in mobile games are made by 0.15% of gamers

Do you play a lot of Candy Crush Saga or Clash of Clans but almost never spend any money on in-app purchases? If so then you’re free riding on the backs of a tiny number of users who are spending ungodly sums on virtual goods that enhance their enjoyment of their favorite games. Re/code reports that a new study from app-testing firm Swrve claims that half of all in-app purchases are made by just 0.15% of mobile gamers, which is pretty stunning considering how lucrative in-app purchases have become for mobile game developers.

Oh, you’ve spent a couple dollars on Candy Crush? How cute. In a mobile monetization report released today, app testing firm Swrve found that in January, half of free-to-play games’ in-app purchases came from 0.15 percent of players. Only 1.5 percent of players of games in the Swrve network spent any money at all. The latter finding is in line with what the advocates of free-to-play have been saying for years: Players don’t have to pay anything to enjoy the game. But the former stat underscores the importance of big spenders, or “whales” in industry lingo, to the app ecosystem. Broken out as a percentage of only players who pay anything at all, Swrve’s report still points to whales. As the chart below shows, the top 10 percent of that 1.5 percent of paying players produces a dramatic upswing in revenue from even the 20th percentile group.

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