Coin Master Monetization Strategy Revealed! How It Became a $1,28B Game
A pig surrounded by a bunch of coins, celebrities, and millions of players…
Of course, I’m talking about Coin Master — one of the world’s top-grossing games in 2021.
Obviously, Coin Master monetization is the key to its success in revenue.
In this analysis, you will learn all about how the game monetizes, what does it have to do with the gameplay itself, and much more.
How Successful is Coin Master?
Coin Master is brought to us by Moon Active. It was first released in 2015, and it took a few years for it to reach worldwide popularity and top-grossing charts.
We all know the game is successful, and here’s just how much.
By 2021, the game managed to get 181,23 million worldwide downloads.
In terms of revenue, Coin Master reached a total of $1,28 billion during its lifetime.
For Coin Master, 2020 was a groundbreaking year.
The downloads spiked in May 2020, during the first coronavirus lockdown. Revenues peaked at the same time, in April and May 2020. Afterwards, the numbers remained fairly high for the rest of 2020.
The game’s revenues are driven mainly by the US, which made for more than half (52.61%) of the total revenue. Just like in terms of downloads, Android users took the lead with a 67.12% revenue share.
One of the key factors that drove these numbers is the game’s approach to user acquisition. It is more than obvious that their main focus is the US market, as they got many high profile US celebrities to advertise the game.
The bottom line is — it obviously works. We got this covered as well, so make sure to check our Coin Master advertising dissection.
The people just can’t resist playing the same game as Jennifer Lopez or Kris Jenner!
We believe that the best way to analyze a game is by putting ourselves in the players’ shoes.
For this reason, I decided to play the game for the first time.
We all know the first-time user experience is extremely important. This is how Coin Master handled first impressions.
I’ve decided to play as a guest and was encouraged to change my mind and connect with Facebook right away. Other than just having the benefit of playing with friends, the players get rewards for doing so.
The next step in the process is a simple, step-by-step tutorial that appeared as I played.
You learn about how it all works. I found out that in order to build my game villages, I have to spin a slot machine to win coins. Other than that, I can attack and raid other players’ villages.
Besides that, the game includes a personalization feature, allowing players to name their viking.
They didn’t go aggressive on introducing in-app purchases in the onboarding process. Instead, they focused on the social aspect of the game.
Oftentimes, slot games are all over the place and come with messy features.
This is a mistake Moon Active avoided making — the design is both clean and original.
You don’t expect much from a slots game design, and Coin Master has an innovative approach to it.
The art style is casual just like the game itself, and the start menu does not require much thinking about the features.
Some of the game’s key design features revolve around the protagonist of the game — the pig. It can be found all over the game: in events, offers, etc.
Also, every new village is themed differently, from Stone Age and Sunny Hawaii to Snowy Alps.
Naturally, the slot machine and the big red spin sign get most of the players’ attention.
On the top of the home screen, the players can see how they stand in terms of currency and items.
Just underneath, on the left, there is a small IAP section.
This includes a store icon and any kind of time-limited offer that’s available in the game at the time.
On the right side of the home screen, there is a menu that lists all the other features the game contains: the village, the game’s store, news, village shop, the map, and social features.
When raiding and attacking other players’ villages, there is a whole other gameplay screen. It looks like a mid-core game but with a casual and light design. Since this is not a mid-core game after all, the whole thing only takes a couple of moments and moves.
Main Game Mechanics
The core loop of the game is a traditional slot machine, but what makes it so special is the way it’s blended with the game’s meta elements.
TLDR: spin the slot machine, gain coins, build your base, and unlock levels.
To achieve this, the game works with several different mechanics.
Spinning a slot machine generates different combinations of symbols. This mechanic is at the heart of every casino game and this one is no different.
Naturally, the spins are limited.
The players get 5 free spins every hour. This kind of time-based mechanic falls into the category of energy mechanics. With this pace, it takes 10 hours for a full refill to happen (50 spins).
Therefore, after a good night’s sleep, the player’s first session can begin in full energy.
This type of mechanics also makes an exit point as there is not much to do in the game if you’re not intending to get spins another way.
For this reason, it results in short natural sessions. But the fact the players know they will get a refill in a while is what makes them come back.
Basically, all other layers of the game exist with the purpose of constantly bringing the players back to the slot machine.
The spins can result in gaining coins, chests, shields, spins, or action.
After a few sessions, players also option to bet and multiply their rewards. This means they can risk running out of spins early in exchange for more rewards.
The rewards meta is designed to motivate the players to always come back and spin the slot machine.
There are two possible spin outcomes that open PvP gameplay: attack and raid.
This means the players go after other people’s villages. Both of these will inevitably happen to every village, and the players can only minimize the damage.
Each player is focused on building their own village, upgrading it, and completing it. Once they do that, they can unlock new levels.
There is one item that helps players protect their villages from attacks — shields. And the only way to get them is by coming back to the core — the slot machine.
This part of the meta is something that unlocks after playing the game for a while.
Before that happens, as players attack others’ villages, they get random cards and chests. The point of collecting them is revealed when they help unlock the first pet.
The pets join the players in the game and help them advance faster. For example, they will always earn extra coins for the player in a raid.
The Social Loop
The game includes A LOT of social features. The players are constantly encouraged to connect with their Facebook friends. If they do this, it can bring plenty of extra rewards or anything they might be missing at the moment.
Additional social features allow for the options of revenge, bragging rights, etc.
There are many more layers of content that make this game exciting and dynamic. Events, the map, village news, etc.
But since our primary focus is Coin Master’s monetization, we will put some more focus into it. After all, there is a lot to learn.
Coin Master Monetization Strategy Breakdown
Coin Master’s monetization strategy is tightly interconnected to its genres.
Typically, 71% of casual games monetize with in-app purchases, while 61% of casino games do the same (Unity).
The casino features of the game come in the form of machine spinning, while the social aspect is seen in PvP gameplay.
At its core, Coin Master monetization revolves around slot features.
When the players first start playing, they get a lot of free spins on the slot machine.
Naturally, the number of free spins decreases as the game progresses. It will take a few hours of waiting to get enough of them to build the village and basically, play the game.
Once the players are out of free spins, they are presented with multiple options to continue gameplay.
Which Monetization Models Coin Master Uses?
When it comes to Coin Master monetization, it is based entirely on in-app purchases.
In-app purchases are the game’s main source of income and are omnipresent throughout the game.
If the players are not looking to purchase anything in the game, they have the option of becoming social.
This means connecting to their Facebook account, sending free spins to friends, following Coin Master on social media, and subscribing to their newsletter. All of this can result in them getting rewards as valuable as the IAPs.
This might not mean direct monetization for the game, but sure means organic growth and a potential revenue source.
Now let’s take a closer look at how monetization is incorporated into gameplay.
Coin Master In-App Purchases Strategy and Setup
To skip any kind of wait times, the players can purchase all items that provide faster progress.
All of them can be found in one place — the game’s store. It is placed on the menu, but also as a small icon on the home screen.
The first category in the store are spins, the energy fuel that runs the game.
The spins are based on granting access — and this is exactly what makes them so exciting for players.
Next is the in-game currency, coins. The coins are needed primarily for the purpose of building villages.
The players will decide on the purchases based on their playing preferences. If they are more focused on building the village, then they will buy the currency directly. If they are more into gambling, they will purchase spins.
When the players first start playing, this is the initial store setup. However, as they progress, the store is upgraded with some novelties.
The first store upgrade that appears are chests. Even though they are placed in the store next to IAPs, they are bought using in-game currency.
Above the first category, there is a bundle offer that features coins, spins, and XP. It is time-limited and comes with great value for money.
Finally, as the players unlock the pet collection, more purchasable items appear. Pet food and XP are added to the store’s list.
Pricing Structure for In-App Purchases
The Coin Master’s store consists of different offers with a wide range of prices.
Let’s go over the amounts and price points.
The first thing the players see in the store are spins. There are six price points, ranging from $1.99 (25 spins) to $99.99 (2,800 spins).
Naturally, the most expensive offer comes with the best value for money. One offer is marked as the most popular — 200 spins for $11.99.
Coins also come as six different offers. Here, the cheapest offer is 450k coins at $1.99, the most popular one is 3M coins for $9.99, and the priciest is 55M coins for those willing to pay $99.99.
Apparently, the players are most likely to purchase spins. The top-selling IAPs in the App Store are Small Spins Pack and a Special Small Spins Pack.
How In-App Purchases Really Work in Coin Master
To successfully monetize a game with in-app purchases, the developers must think ahead.
This means planning out not only gameplay but the purchase setup, step by step.
Setting up in-app purchases means thinking about:
- a player that is not likely to make a purchase
- a new player
- a loyal player
- the holiday seasons, etc.
The most important factors are timing and value for money.
To find out just how a successful game like Coin Master does this, I played the game every day for 7 days. Equally important, I played it during the holiday season.
And here’s what I learned.
During my first-time user experience, I only stumbled upon one in-app purchase offer. It appeared after I’ve spent my 50 initial spins.
The offer contained +80 spins and came at a $4.99 cost. Right underneath the offer, it stands clear that the other option is to wait for a refill.
After declining an offer, two social pop-ups appear in a row. Both of these offer rewards in exchange for connecting to Facebook and inviting friends. These appear every time after declining an offer. Obviously, the social aspect is extremely important for game developers.
It is worth noting that each time the player runs out of spins, the same IAP for extra spins appears.
When I started my second session, the first thing I saw was a special time-limited deal called the “First Timer Pack”.
It came with better value for money than any other item in the store, with a price of $1.99. According to the offer, it was 250% more valuable than regular offers.
This is an excellent opportunity to convert new players. To give players time to decide whether they want to purchase it, a small icon and timer appear on the home screen.
In the same session, I was building my village with the coins earned from spinning. After I ran out of coins, a “Not enough coins!” pop up appeared. It comes with an offer to purchase +3,5 million coins at $3.99.
Just like with the spins, this kind of offer appears every time the player uses all the coins. However, it is not always the same. The offer depends on the number of coins needed at that particular stage of the game (each new village is more expensive than the previous one).
This time, the game launch came with an even more generous “First Timer Pack” offer. It came at the same price as the first one, but the number of spins and coins was higher.
[caption id=”attachment_207659" align=”aligncenter” width=”600"]
The “First Timer Pack” becoming more valuable[/caption]
To make the “First Timer Pack” even more attractive, the next session came with an even more generous offer than the first two, while the price remained the same.
The offer appeared right away after launching the game.
In this session, I unlocked the Pet Collection. In terms of monetization, this meant adding some more items and in-app purchases to the game.
After spending all the naturally given pet food and XP, the players are offered to purchase them.
The same session brought another new feature — Daily Bonus.
It comes in the “spin the wheel” form and one free spin. It consists of big, and even bigger coin amounts. If you like to gamble, you can purchase another spin for $4.99 or wait another day.
This feature was also subsequently included in the menu.
In this long session, another new IAP offer appeared. It was Christmas time, so the offer was called a “Merry Mistletoe Pack”. This bundle deal offered coins, XP, and spins, all for $4.99. This offer was time-limited and lasted only 5 minutes, much shorter than the previous ones. For that period of time, it was also present on the home screen.
In this play session, I was offered another seasonal discount, but this time a bit different. It was called the “Christmas Present Pack” and offered spins, coins, chests, and XP. According to the offer, it was 400% more valuable than the standard offers, coming with a price of $6.99.
On my last day of playing, I opened the game and came across yet another seasonal bundle deal.
This time, it was a “New Year Special Pack”. It was a limited, 2-hour offer priced at $4.99, bringing 550% more value than the standard store offers.
After this time-limited offer was gone, another seasonal offer appeared.
This time, a little different than the previous ones. It was called “Santa’s Special Delivery” and came in the form of a coupon. The coupon is applied to in-store items and grants 200% more on everything.
Coin Master In-App Ads
In this game analysis, I discovered that the game contains no in-app ads at all.
Since Google Play states that Coin Master monetization includes both in-app purchases and ads, I expected to see them.
The thing is, the game used to contain in-app ads, but recently switched to IAP-only monetization.
More precisely, beforehand, the players had the option to watch rewarded video ads when they would run out of spins.
Removing this option was an interesting and bold move by Coin Master. But it is obviously their strategy to focus on in-app purchases and social sharing.
Besides paying players, focusing on in-app purchases tells us about another important aspect of the game.
Retaining and engaging players.
Once the game manages to hook the players to regularly play and enjoy the game, it is able to successfully monetize them. And the ultimate goal of every game’s retention efforts is creating a loyal player base.
Generally, a well done IAP model can seriously improve user retention, especially among paying players. Just like a properly optimized loyalty program can improve conversion rates and user lifetime value.
If I learned one thing from playing Coin Master, it is how much focus they put into user retention. The efforts they take to reach and keep their players can be seen in different aspects of the game such as:
- The onboarding process
- Sending out push notifications
- Special deals
- Adding new content
- Social features, etc.
The Push Notifications Experience in Coin Master
The game sends out a large number of push notifications. These types of alerts are well known to be risky since they can drive some players away. But if the game makes them relevant, timely, and valuable, they can have a great impact on user retention.
Here’s how Coin Master did this during my player journey.
On the first day of playing, I only received two push notifications. One contained news my village was attacked by somebody, and another one notifying me my spins were refilled.
Later on, the notifications became more frequent, there were about 5 per day and contained similar content as the first ones.
After several days of playing, besides these types of notifications, I started receiving reward notifications. They always came a bit different one from the other but said I got either free coins or free spins and coins.
It was obvious that the push notifications were made strategically. Since I was a new player, they didn’t send out push notifications that offered in-app purchases right away.
This only happened in my last days of playing when I got a push notification about the “New Year Special Pack” offer. It was season-appropriate and came with a sense of urgency, including “before they’re all gone’’ and “barely any left” into the message.
The push notifications were not fully personalized (did not contain my viking’s name). However, it was obvious that they were tailored according to my journey as a player.
Another thing that made them less generic was including the names of the other vikings that attacked my village. This is especially inviting when the players connect to their Facebook account, and they can see their friends’ names up there.
5 Things You Can Learn from Coin Master Monetization Strategy
To put things into perspective, here are the main things that make Coin Master monetization so successful.
Blend In-App Purchases Into Gameplay
When it comes to mobile games that monetize only with in-app purchases, then it has to be done strategically.
And most importantly, it has to feel like a natural part of the game.
In Coin Master, the spin button is the golden spot for monetization. Once the players get addicted to the core loop, they will strive for longer sessions. Typically, the spins given out naturally can only make the sessions last a couple of minutes per day.
If the players want to prolong their sessions and skip wait times, in-app purchases are the solution they’re looking for.
And the main reasons that will make the players want to make a purchase are the feelings of progression, accomplishment, and craving for new content.
Even though the game’s monetization is pretty aggressive, the additional layers help the whole concept feel less intrusive. The PvP mode, pet collection, and all the other layers have the purpose to drift the players’ thoughts away from JUST the slot machine.
Segment the Users According to Their Player Journey
Segmenting players based on their profile, in-game behavior, spending habits, in-game actions, and loyalty is extremely important for IAP monetization.
The IAP offers in Coin Master are in accordance with the player’s journey.
The best example of this is their “First Timer Pack”.
The first thing they provide new players with is a special deal. After not making a purchase, they segment the players according to their spending habits.
For this reason, they make the “First Timer Pack” even more valuable and attractive in the following sessions.
Also, new players aren’t bombarded with too many push notifications about discounts and in-app purchases.
Offer a Wide Range of Purchasable Items and Price Points
The game’s store contains different groups of items that can be purchased, and a variety of pricing points for each.
Each item is offered at six different prices. This way, the players can make a buying decision according to their needs and, of course, their wallet.
It can be seen Coin Master relies on best practices when it comes to setting prices.
The minimal pricing is set at the recommended $1.99, while each next one comes with better value for money. The second one is 10% more valuable, while the sixth is worth as much as 120% more.
Include Various Time-Limited Special Offers
Discounts and bundle deals are a big deal in Coin Master.
This can be seen from their efforts to make the discount offers as diverse as possible. This way, they seem less intrusive and generic.
In just one week of gameplay, a player can stumble upon a lot of different offers. There was the “First Timer Pack” that changed during the course of the game.
Then, there was the top-of-the-page bundle offer in the game’s store. Next, there were two different Christmas offers, and one New Year offer. And then there was a +200% coupon.
All of these offers were time-limited, and the timeframes ranged from 5 minutes to multiple hours.
As players continue playing the game for a longer period of time, new and innovative offers keep popping out.
Utilize the Connection Between Social Features and Monetization
Using the social features in the game is a good way to go around and avoid making in-app purchases. This one player will not be directly monetized.
But if these types of players bring their friends to the game, someone is going to become a paying user. And these paying players came at zero cost.
Inviting friends to join the game and engaging them by sending out gifts can bring great organic growth to the game. This kind of growth can be classified under the mysterious k-factor. It is defined as “the number of additional users a current user will bring to the game by recommendation”.
Social and multiplayer features often result in better retention rates and user lifetime value. Ultimately, all of these affect game monetization.
Coin Master Monetization Wrap Up
What makes Coin Master so special is not only its unique social casino gameplay but also its monetization strategy.
Coin Master monetization is a well thought out process that included a lot of reworks and upgrades over the years, including removing ads.
In the meanwhile, Coin Master mastered the art of in-app purchasing, and set monetization practices every game developer can learn from.
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