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Over six weeks after launching the Amazon In-App Purchasing API for general availability, we connected with Jeff Spears, VP of Marketing & Sales, and Sean Thompson, VP of Production, Mobile Deluxe, to chat about their company’s experience with IAP on Amazon. Headquartered in Santa Monica, Calif., Mobile Deluxe is an innovator and publisher of social mobile apps and provides free-to-play casual games that emphasize premium quality and fun game play. Mobile Deluxe titles include Big Win Slots, Solitaire Deluxe, and Big Win Blackjack.
What motivated Mobile Deluxe to integrate with Amazon’s In-App Purchasing solution?
"Mobile Deluxe is bullish on Amazon’s foray into the app space given its expertise in merchandising, coupled with the ease of 1-Click purchase. As an organization, we made the shift from pay-to-download to free-to-play in April 2010, and our free revenues eclipsed paid revenues by July of 2011. As an industry, freemium revenues are forecasted to reach $5B in 2016, driven by smart phone adoption and user comfort with the IAP model. As a publisher we like the freemium model since it eliminates the barrier of entry into our game, and it allows players to enjoy our products regardless of their style of play. You can either “earn” currency through game play, or purchase currency at your discretion to accelerate your game as you see fit. While we support both styles of play, from a business perspective we aren’t capping potential earnings in the latter example."
What is your monetization strategy?
"Big Win Slots monetizes through IAP, whereas Solitaire Deluxe and Big Win Blackjack use a hybrid monetization model that uses IAP and Ads. For Solitaire Deluxe, the majority of our revenue is derived from advertising, allowing our customers to play for free, unlimited. This has led to outstanding engagement and retention, and our average play time for users is in excess of 30 minutes. For Big Win Slots and Big Win Blackjack, we felt the natural progression of currency in casino apps made great sense. IAP allows us better control over our revenue stream versus fluctuating advertising CPM’s in an ad-based product, and it allows for flexibility in merchandising opportunities such as in-game sales events."
How has your experience with Amazon’s IAP solution compared to that on other platforms?
"When making an apples-to-apples comparison in May to competitive app stores, Amazon is our #1 monetizing channel in terms of $/DAU. I’m sure you’re aware of the Flurry release stating “revenue from Amazon’s Appstore is now at 89% of iTunes App Store revenue” here. We find that our Amazon $ per Daily Active User exceeds the average on other top storefronts where our apps are distributed by 87%. This speaks to the frictionless 1-Click option and Amazon’s merchandising prowess which drove “Big Win Slots” to the #1 spot in the “Casino” category."
How did you find integrating the Amazon SDK and IAP API?
"Integration was exactly what we expected. We started from a baseline of already having integrated Google Checkout, so it was very easy to extend our existing functionality to include Amazon IAP. Amazon’s online resources were excellent. The “In-App Purchasing for Users of Google Billing” document was the perfect guide to help us get Amazon IAP integrated quickly. The API Reference was also helpful. Without question, this has been an ROI-positive experience for us. The total integration cost was about what we make in one day with Big Win Slots now."
Are there any tips you have to help other developers smoothly integrate the SDK?
"We recommend developers be forward looking when integrating any billing SDK. If at all possible, create an abstracted billing interface layer between your app(s) and the billing SDK. That will allow you to implement additional billing SDKs without having to make changes deep inside your project code. That means it is an easy tweak to add both Google and Amazon IAP solutions."