In Social Games, Anchorage Players Are Willing to Pay
City ranks highest in the U.S. for players willing to spend money inside mobile games
ANCHORAGE - “Angry Birds,” “Words with Friends,” and “Farmville.”
Even if you’ve never played these games, chances are you’ve heard of them, and maybe even know someone who plays them.
Played on smartphones, tablets, and traditional PCs, these social games have millions of users around the world. And new research shows that’s especially true in Anchorage.
Game research firm Playnomics revealed in a survey of millions of gamers across the globe that Anchorage has the some of the most active social gamers in the country. And when it comes to paying for game extras, Anchorage also tops the list.
“I play ‘Words with Friends,’ ‘Draw Something,’ ‘Hanging with Friends,’ stuff like that,” said Malie Delgado. She’s a freshman at the University of Alaska Anchorage. And while she doesn’t pay for any of the games she plays, she’s often tempted.
“I get this pop-up, and one of my friends can be doing really, really well on ‘Words with Friends,’ and I'm losing terribly, and I'm just like, well maybe if I bought this thing for $1.99, then I can, like, you know, get a leg up.”
Playnomics puts Anchorage at the top of the list not only for having the highest percentage of players who pay, but also for being home to gamers who are willing to pay more than their peers in other U.S. cities. (As Playnomics describes it, Anchorage has the “highest average revenue per paying user.”)
“It kind of makes the game more fun, you do more cool things with it, makes you better at the game,” Jazon Burnell said. He’s part of Catapult Consulting, an Anchorage-based software developer whose projects include the Alaska App and an app for Alaska non-profit RurAL CAP.
But Catapult also makes games for iOS and Android devices: free games that rely on in-game purchases to make the developer money. And Catapult knows that giving the games away for free starts off simply as a fun way for people to connect with friends. But selling small add-ons to the game—new levels, special abilities, and the like—is where the money is.
Once players are hooked — and looking for an edge on their friends, or a way to get that high score — they’re often willing to make a purchase.
“So they get in there for free… and they get a feel for it, see if they like it,” Burnell said. “And if they really like it, they're going to start inviting their friends… And if you really want to obliterate your friends, that's when the developer says ‘Hey, let me offer this magic torch bomb thing that can — for only a dollar — let you just totally stomp on your friend.'”