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Showing posts tagged with in-app purchasing

August 26, 2013

Mike Hines

Until today, developers have only had three methods to monetize their apps or games: selling them outright, going “freemium” with in-app purchasing or subscriptions, or using mobile ads. Starting now, Amazon has created a new method for developers to monetize: the Amazon Mobile Associates API, currently available for Android (including Kindle Fire). The Mobile Associates API allows developers to sell real products from the millions of items at Amazon, whether physical (i.e. toys, clothing) or digital (i.e. eBooks), from inside their apps or games while earning up to 6% in advertising fees from those purchases. The Mobile Associates API is an extension of Amazon Associates, our successful web-based affiliate program created in 1996, paying advertising fees to hundreds of thousands of affiliates worldwide.

With the Amazon Mobile Associates API, you’re now able to:

Sell a single item from Amazon in your app or game: The boss at the end of a stage in your game is a giant three-headed wolf, sell the popular “Three Wolf Moon” t-shirt from Amazon

Showcase a category of goods from Amazon in your app or game: Your app is based on improving nutrition over time, offer health-related products like vitamins, supplements, etc. or the Kindle edition of The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss from within your app

Bundle a purchase of a physical product from Amazon with digital content within your app: Sell a toy version of one of the characters in your game, then automatically enable them to play as that same character

Here’s how it works: a customer initiates a purchase from within your app and is then presented with a dialog box showing the product details and cost. The customer can then complete the purchase using Amazon’s 1-Click purchasing, and then the items will be shipped directly from Amazon to the customer’s doorstep. You’ll earn up to 6% of the total purchase, added to your app distribution earnings.

Alt12 is the developer of “Pink Pad” and “BabyBump”: “Our custom solution to sell physical products within our apps took us 6 months to develop, and required complex relationships with more than 20 vendors. With the Amazon Mobile Associates API, it took us only 3 days, and provided us a better in-app shopping experience for our customers, while allowing us to offer a greater selection of products.”

Days of Wonder integrated the API into their game “Ticket to Ride”: “Customers are now able to purchase a physical expansion pack of our board game and then are delighted to get the digital version now for free. We can do this through the digital bundling functionality provided by the Amazon Mobile Associates API.”

Integration is simple. Initilize the Mobile Associates API, and tell us what you’re selling--you can choose to supply a specific set of ASINs (Amazon Standard Identification Number), search terms, or use the Amazon Product Advertising API to query a list of ASINs and product information. Then, initiate the purchase. We’ll take care of the rest!

We’ve posted a Quick Start Guide, sample code, and documentation here—start earning more with the Amazon Mobile Associates API today!

 

Want to learn how to integrate the Amazon Mobile Associates API? Don’t miss out on our next live webinar event: 

Mobile Associates Program: What It Is And How It Can Boost Your App Profits
on September 17th, 2013 @ 10:00 AM.
Pre-register here!

 

July 31, 2013

Daniel Winner

On July 9th, the Amazon Apps UK team was very pleased to present at Develop Brighton, one the leading events for the burgeoning UK games community, attended by over 1,600 games industry professionals from CEO’s to Student developers.

On one of the hottest days of the year, Matt Hatherly from the UK Apps team and I enjoyed meeting so many games developers the Hilton Metropole, at the Hotel Du Vin and on Brighton’s famous beach.

During our presentation we took the opportunity to share insights on how to develop, market and monetize mobile games that use In App Purchasing. 

The theme of our talk was that Games publishing is evolving from an art to a science, as so much more data is now available. We shared a number of tips & insights on how to monetize Freemium games, including:

1.     The more time you can keep customers engaged the more money you’ll make.

  • If you create a purchasing hook early on in the game you will take advantage of customers who want to spend on day one
  • Give customers a reason to come back by providing lots of content, depth and regular updates – Customers that come back, come back time and again and carry on spending not only days but weeks after the first download

2.     Finessing your range, selection and pricing of IAP items and the way you communicate to customers makes a big difference to monetization.

  • The more IAP items you offer for sale, the more orders you will get
  • Games with tutorials monetize much better than those without
  • The way you merchandise IAP items also makes a big difference – if you merchandise IAP items like a catalogue (with tiles for each item) your app will monetize better

Thousands of UK based game developers have added their Apps to the Amazon Appstore, including hit Freemium titles from Developers including New Star Games (New Star Soccer), Endemic ( Plague), Stick Sports (Stick Sports Cricket), and we look forward to welcoming many more to the store. 

The UK team will be participating in more Developer events during the course of the year and we hope to connect with more of the UK Games community then.

 

April 23, 2013

derekgeb

Mad Menace Games is the creator of the popular game GraveStompers: Zombie vs Zombie. GraveStompers is a console-style 3rd person shooter with intuitive touch-screen controls in which zombie eradication has never been more exhilarating. One way Mad Menace monetizes their game is through the Amazon In-App Purchasing API to allow users to purchase Ghostface, the villain from the Scream movies. Since the game is built using the Unity game engine, Mad Menace Games uses the free Amazon In-App Purchasing API plug-in for Unity to support their monetization strategy. According to Michael Stragey, GraveStompers lead developer, the Unity plug-in made it extremely easy to accomplish this and release their game on Amazon. In this post, we look at the following 4 steps used by Mad Menace Games for supporting an entitlement in-app purchase in Unity:

  1. Setting up the Amazon In-App Purchasing Unity plug-in and test environment
  2. Launching the Amazon purchase flow
  3. Handling the result of the Amazon purchase flow
  4. Determining if the user previously purchased the entitlement

Step 1: Setting up the Amazon In-App Purchasing Unity plug-in and test environment

To start off, Mad Menace Games had to install and setup the Amazon In-App Purchasing Unity plug-in. To do this for your app, with your Android game open in Unity, you add the Amazon plug-in and support for In-App Purchasing to your environment by completing the following steps:

  1. Right click on Project Pane
  2. Select “Import Package/Custom Package…”
  3. Select the “AmazonIAP.unitypackage” that was downloaded as part of the Amazon Mobile App SDK and click “Open”
  4. From the import dialog click “Import” and this package will be added to your project
  5. Select the “Amazon” menu
  6. Click “Generate AndroidManifest.xml file”
     

There is only one more setup task now that the Unity environment has Amazon In-App Purchasing available and the application specifies this support in its manifest. As a developer, you need to set up your sandboxed test environment for running in-app purchasing transactions. This means you install the AmazonSDKTester.apk from the Amazon Mobile App SDK on your emulator or device and provide a JSON file detailing your IAP items. More details on setting up your test environment can be found here.

Step 2: Launching the Amazon purchase flow

With setup now complete, let’s take a look at the more exciting stuff. After installing the plug-in, Mad Menace Games added the code for supporting the sale of their character “Ghostface”. The first step is to add the code for launching the Amazon purchase flow UI when the user wants to buy the character. This can be easily done with the following code:

AmazonIAP.initiatePurchaseRequest("com.gravestompers.characters.ghostface");

The string “com.gravestompers.characters.ghostface” is the SKU of the Ghostface IAP item specified on the Mobile App Distribution Portal along with being defined in the JSON file for testing. These places are where you also specify things such as the type of in-app item (consumable, entitlement, or subscription), price, title, and description.

Step 3: Handling the result of the Amazon purchase flow

Now with the purchase flow being in place and the user actually able to make a purchase, code is required for handling the result of the purchase flow and providing the user with the actual Ghostface character. The response for this purchase flow will be returned via the AmazonIAPEventListener methods: purchaseFailedEvent and purchaseSuccessfulEvent. Below is an example of what Mad Menace Games’ code may look like for this.

void purchaseFailedEvent( string reason )

{

      // Log the reasons for failure

      Debug.Log( "purchaseFailedEvent: " + reason );

}

 

void purchaseSuccessfulEvent( AmazonReceipt receipt )

{

      // Store receipt and verify it is legitimate with Amazon Receipt Verification Server

      storeAndVerifyReceipt( receipt );

      if (receipt.sku == "com.gravestompers.characters.ghostface")

            unlockGhostfaceChacter();

}

As a best practice, we recommend validating the receipt you receive from a successful purchase via your server that stores these receipts. More information on validation of receipts can be found here.

Step 4: Determining if the user previously purchased the entitlement

After creating a fully functioning purchase experience, there was one final coding task Mad Menace Games had to complete. Once a user owns this character, they should be able to access the character if they uninstall and reinstall the app, clear their app data, or change from playing the app on their phone to playing it on their Kindle Fire HD. To help make life easier for developers, Amazon keeps track of these entitlement in-app purchases. As a developer, you can receive these purchases via the AmazonIAPEventListener’s purchaseUpdatesRequestSuccessfulEvent method. This method will be called anytime there are new entitlements the running app needs to process. Below is an example code snippet:

void purchaseUpdatesRequestSuccessfulEvent( List<string> revokedSkus, List<AmazonReceipt> receipts )

{

  // Process New Receipts

  foreach ( AmazonReceipt receipt in receipts )

  {

   // Store receipt and verify it is legitimate with Amazon Receipt Verification Server

      storeAndVerifyReceipt( receipt );

      if (receipt.sku == "com.gravestompers.characters.ghostface")

        unlockGhostfaceChacter();

  }

}

That is all it took for Mad Menace Games to add Amazon In-App Purchasing support to their GraveStompers Unity game. You can find more information on Amazon In-App Purchasing and the Unity plug-in here.

February 28, 2013

edanb

A key feature of Amazon’s in-app purchasing (IAP) solution is tracking entitlements and subscriptions for users. This allows you to provide a seamless user experience when a user enjoys your app on multiple devices. Best of all, it does so without requiring you to implement any server-side code.

You have the option of implementing your own user management on top of Amazon’s existing user management. In such cases, while the device remains registered to the same Amazon user account, the app may allow the user to create an additional internal login, nickname, or any other means by which users can log in and out of the app. For apps with a user base that spans multiple OSes, this provides a means of tracking the users’ entitlements and subscription using a 3rd party user ID that is not platform dependent. This way, when a user starts the app and logs in with their credentials, the app is able to poll its own server for that user’s entitlements no matter which device or platform the app is running on.

On Amazon, an in-app item belongs to the Amazon user that bought the item. With that in mind, apps that both use Amazon In-App Purchasing and manage users internally have two sets of entitlements: one for the internal user and one for the Amazon user. These two sets might be equal, partially intersect, fully contained, or even disjointed.

The best practice in this situation, which provides for the most consistent user experience, is to entitle the logged-in user to the union of both sets. In other words, the user should have access to whatever they are entitled to as the internal-user in addition to their Amazon entitlements (see image below):

February 20, 2013

alexbow

At Amazon, we love apps—so much, in fact, that we develop many mobile apps ourselves, and even have an in-house game studio. On the heels of the recent press from the Localytics report that the leading Android tablet is Kindle Fire (with 33% of market segment share worldwide and more than half in the US), we wanted to post some best practices for using in-app purchasing from our colleagues at Amazon Game Studios—developers of the recently released game Air Patriots.

This post is from Ernie Ramirez, Executive Producer, Amazon Game Studios:

 

 

Air Patriots is a new type of tower defense game where players control a squadron of airplanes by drawing the attack paths they use to engage the enemy. Air Patriots launched on November 1, 2012, on Amazon, iOS, and Google Play. Although our monetization on Amazon has been great (generating 73% higher ARPU than iOS, and both stores generated similar total revenue), we had some key learning during our initial launch. For example, our focus groups indicated that the two things customers would like to buy were more maps & more planes, in that order. This meshed with our goal of providing Air Patriots customers “big value” for in-app purchases. We reasoned that we would emphasize additional maps for purchase because it would give customers significantly more play time and provide a feel that they paid for something really big and worthwhile.

We originally structured Air Patriots to provide gamers 2 of the 7 maps for free, with the remaining 5 requiring an in-app purchase. Additional airplanes were available using the in-game “soft currency” (gears). As a test, we also included a fully-loaded helicopter available via in-app purchase. It turns out that, after launch, the helicopter was our top-selling individual in-app item, and customers were responding negatively to the 5 additional maps. We received feedback that customers were feeling arbitrarily blocked from progressing in the game, which was not our intention!

We updated the game—reduced prices of our in-app items, increased the amount of maps available with the in-game “soft currency” and offered more planes for sale with in-app purchasing. Customers responded immediately—the sales picked up and we started receiving reviews describing the game as “so darn addicting—pay a couple bucks for different planes. So cool!”

To recap, here are a few things that we recommend to other mobile game developers:

  • We discovered that selling main-line game content like levels or expansion packs via in-app purchasing in a freemium game risks making customers feel arbitrarily blocked and frustrated

  • Customers prefer to buy things that improve their performance and/or give them new abilities to make them feel “stronger”

To learn more about the Amazon In-App Purchasing API and Amazon Mobile App SDK, head to our documentation here. To get started with our program, go to the Amazon Mobile App Distribution Portal, and once your app is submitted, submit a request to get your app marketed.

February 20, 2013

Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program

In a recent study of more than 500 games that utilize in-app purchasing on Amazon, we found that mobile games using Amazon GameCircle’s leaderboards and achievements monetized significantly better than other games.

For the three-month period from November 2012 to January 2013, games using GameCircle produced 38 percent higher conversion rates and 33 percent more in-app orders per paying customer than games that didn’t use GameCircle. Conversion was measured by calculating the percentage of app users that made at least one in-app purchase. Combining the impact of both of these variables, GameCircle-enabled games earned 83 percent more average revenue per user (ARPU) than non-GameCircle games. 

 

 

The free-to-play (or freemium)  model, where consumers download and play a game for free, has become one of the most prominent business models in mobile gaming today. However, the biggest challenge for game developers following the freemium model is figuring out how to generate more revenue by converting non-payers into payers and keeping those paying users engaged.

Many of Amazon’s mobile game developers have discovered how GameCircle’s services–Achievements, Leaderboards and Whispersync–have contributed to their success at Amazon. GameCircle lets players connect with other players to compare achievements and compete for higher scores. These social elements get the competitive juices flowing, which may increase a user’s willingness to pay for in-game content, leading to higher conversion rates for developers. “PlayFirst's games on Amazon have performed above and beyond our expectations, and we believe GameCircle has enhanced our ability to connect and engage with Amazon customers, encouraging more play sessions," said Paul Chen, VP of Business Development at PlayFirst.

GameCircle also offers new discovery mechanisms that are an important factor helping drive increased engagement rates. For games that have integrated with GameCircle, players can see their friends, achievements, and leaderboard activity before launching the application, since all of this information is visible right from the user’s game library. Leading games such as Skylanders Cloud PatrolDiner Dash, and Temple Run 2 have already integrated with GameCircle. The image below showcases how a user’s library is populated with GameCircle meta-data.

This added visibility is a powerful engagement tool. A related study that we conducted in January 2013 found that, on average, games using GameCircle over-indexed on the number of player sessions (defined by the number of times users opened the applications on their device) by 32 percent when compared to the average for the entire games category. For freemium games that monetize by selling in-game content, this enhanced level of engagement is critical to expanding customer lifetime values. "We see superior engagement, retention and monetization from players who download our games from Amazon. The GameCircle integration is helping us achieve 40 percent better per user monetization rates compared to non-Amazon players," said Sean Thompson, Vice President of Mobile Deluxe.

For you, GameCircle represents another opportunity to provide gamers with a more seamless and entertaining in-game experience, which can lead to increased engagement and monetization. Please visit the following links if you would like to learn more about the Amazon GameCircle and In-App Purchasing APIs.

February 05, 2013

Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program

Announcing the release of a new Active Subscribers report for mobile app developers who sell subscriptions within their apps. This report uses data on customer acquisition and retention to explain changes in the size of your subscriber base. This data will help you more easily measure the impact of product and marketing decisions, like extended trial periods or new content strategies. The report is now available as the default view in the Subscriptions section of the Sales Report. Our previous Subscription Sales Report, showing transactions and revenue, is unchanged.

To use this new report, select a date range and a particular subscription period you’d like to analyze. For that date range, our data displays the inflows of new subscribers and outflows of expired and cancelled subscribers. We use that data to reconcile changes in your active subscriber count over the period. By organizing the data in this way, users can see every active subscriber is accounted for. 

For convenience, we calculate a few key metrics from these numbers: app-to-trial subscription conversion, trial-to-paid subscription conversion, and the churn rate of the paid subscriber base. 

This new report is available starting today in the Mobile App Distribution Portal, in the Reporting section under Sales Reports. To access your old Subscription Sales report, select it from the drop down which says Show: Active Subscribers.

January 21, 2013

Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program

Today, we are extending our In-App Purchasing to PC, Mac, and web-based games, in addition to Android and Kindle Fire. If you build PC, Mac, or web-based games and your games incorporate virtual items (virtual currency, characters, expansion packs,subscriptions, and so forth), this service should be of interest to you. Your users can purchase these items from within your game using the credit cards they already have on file with Amazon, simplifying the purchasing experience,and increasing conversion from free to paid usage.

For more information, and to learn how to get started, click here.

January 21, 2013

Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program

Today we released a new tool to help you integrate Amazon APIs into your Android apps. The AmazonMobile App SDK Eclipse Plugin (beta) allows you to rapidly and reliably integrate Amazon APIs into your Android projects, speeding up development and cutting down on project setup time.

The Amazon Mobile App SDK Eclipse Plugin (beta) is a design-time tool that is easy to install, simple to control, and builds on your familiarity with Eclipse to increase your productivity in developing apps and games for distribution on Amazon. The plugin generates the appropriate config entries for the APIs you select, then copies over the relevant API jar files. If desired, you can also use it to quickly undo API integration, without affecting the original state of your Eclipse project.

Eclipse-1new

Benefits of Using the Amazon Mobile App SDK Eclipse Plugin:

  • Free to use: As with other resources we make available, the plugin is free for developers distributing their apps on Amazon.
  • Easy to use: Developers have indicated that it is surprisingly fast to deploy and use the plugin. The deployment of this tool follows the typical Eclipse plugin download and installation experience and does not require a new usage paradigm.
  • Gives you control of APIs and versions: The plugin allows you to use the latest version of the APIs in the Amazon Mobile App SDK that you have on your system and will alert you if your project is using an older version of the APIs.
  • Works for all apps and games: The plugin helps you to quickly develop any Android app that you plan to offer via the Amazon marketplace, including Kindle Fire tablets and Android smartphones.

What’s Next?

Click here to learn how to install the Amazon MobileApp SDK Eclipse Plugin. Take it for a spin, add it to your toolbox, and then tell us what you think by completing this brief survey. We welcome your feedback and appreciate learning what more we can do to help increase your productivity.

 

April 09, 2012

Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program

Announcing the availability of our Amazon Appstore for Android SDK and In-App Purchasing API to our developer community. The In-App Purchasing API enables you to offer digital content and subscriptions--such as in-game currency, expansion packs, upgrades, and magazine issues--for purchase within apps. 

We created the In-App Purchasing API to make it easy for you to increase customer engagement and monetize your apps on Kindle Fire and other Android devices. With the Amazon Appstore for Android In-App Purchasing solution, you can reach customers with existing accounts who have already bought apps, including millions of Kindle Fire customers. Our simple, secure, and trusted 1-Click purchase experience is easy for customers to use, increasing conversion rates for purchases within your app. Plus, we designed our in-app purchasing (IAP) solution to be simple and easy to integrate so you can be up and running quickly. 

It’s easy to get started from the Amazon Appstore Developer Portal, where you'll find documentation, sample code, tutorials, frequently asked questions, and more.  In the coming weeks, we’ll also be featuring strategies and tips from in-app purchasing beta program partners, such as Glu Mobile, G5 Entertainment, Storm8, and New York Post, here on our developer blog. You can also learn more about our IAP solution from our Introduction to IAP video.

What do our beta program partners say about IAP on the Amazon Appstore for Android?

“Storm8 coordinated closely with Amazon’s team during the initial launch of its IAP beta test, and within two months of integration, we saw revenue grow by tenfold from our game,” said Perry Tam, CEO and co-founder at Storm8, producer of games such as Restaurant Story, Bakery Story, Farm Story, and Fashion Story. “We immediately brought over additional Storm8 games, and in two weeks, not only did our revenue continue to grow, but we had four of the top five free apps in the Amazon Appstore. With the tremendous initial success, we definitely plan on continuing to invest in the platform and can't wait to bring additional Storm8/TeamLava games to Kindle Fire and Amazon users.

“Amazon's in-app purchasing solution created a great way for us to reduce friction and drive more revenue from our games, as millions of people already have Amazon accounts,” said Michael Ritter, senior vice president Licensing & Distribution at Social Gaming Network, maker of Warp Rush, Dress Up! Fashion, Bird's the Word, and Night of the Living Dead Defense. “Kindle Fire already has a well-integrated storefront and marketplace to distribute mobile games. By enabling in-app purchases we are able to be more flexible in pricing. We can release free games, provide updates, and enhancements, and continue to monetize.”

“We found that by offering a product with IAP, rather than other monetization types, our conversion rates went up as did our revenue on a per title basis,” said Larissa McCleary, director of marketing at G5 Entertainment, Inc., creator of Virtual City Playground and Mahjong Artifacts. “Although our experience on Amazon has always been great, we are thrilled now that IAP is available. This will allow us to continue our business model, but also to allow other developers to partake as well. Eventually, if more and more developers participate, we think we will experience even higher conversion rates, since players will be more familiar with what IAP is and how it functions, making the play experience even more engaging.”

We look forward to seeing how you integrate the API into your apps!