High-spending mobile gamers aren't likely to respond to higher priced items, according to data from DeltaDNA, with more than half of all "whales" never spending more than $50 at a time.
Whales are commonly understood to be the minority of big spenders that keep most free-to-play games running, but DeltaDNA has addressed the "misconception" that they also spend indiscriminately, and, "can afford anything offered to them."
Data was collected from more than 1 million players who have spent more than $100 on free-to-play games since July 2015, and it shows a disconnect between how developers see whales and how those whales see themselves. Across all in-app purchases made by whales, the average transaction size is $20, with 54 per cent never spending more than $50 at one time.
The whales that spent more than $1000 in that period - the "mega whales" - did so from an escalating number of transactions that stays roughly in line with their lifetime value. The mega-whales are considerably more likely to spend above $50 on a single transaction, but they also engaged in around 72 per cent more transactions than whales with a spend of between $500 and $1000.
"These statistics reveal much about the mindset of whales: they do not set out to spend $100s in-game, but spend modest amounts over time that can add up to significant sums," DeltaDNA's Isaac Roseboom said.
"Very expensive individual items or bundles will not make an impact. Focus on building better long term engagement and a creating rewarding experience for all spenders as an effective strategy to maximise the potential of whales."