What solutions do the developers of the highest–grossing mobile games resort to in order for the user to start paying, – the Playliner company told in the latest study “First payment Promotions”. We are publishing the full version of the material.


The first payment promotion is a popular way to convert an ordinary player into a payer. We have studied 74 games from the cash gaming Top 300 in the USA (App Store and Google Play) that have a first payment promotion.

Types of shares

Let’s list and describe 4 types of stocks that occur.

1. Starter Pack

This is a special offer that contains several rare game items, game currency or resources that give the player a strong boost at the beginning of the game. As a rule, it is purchased for real money.


The game ASTRONEST – The Beginning. The player can purchase this starter kit at any time and only once.


The game Clash of Lords 2. The player has limited time to purchase a very profitable starter kit.


The game Old Slots – Downtown Vegas Slots. The offer for the first purchase appears when you first go to the casino lobby. The first payment gives a discount on the purchase of coins for vending machines. In addition, upon purchase, the player receives 27 points to his VIP status. The offer is valid for 30 minutes.

In some games, the starter pack can also be purchased for premium currency. However, note that this option is present only in 3 of the 74 games. In fact, first the player must buy premium currency without any additional benefit and already dispose of it as he wishes.


Golf Star game. Here you can see in the first line the starter package, which is sold for premium currency at a discount. 

2. Bonus

When buying premium currency for the first time, the player receives an additional bonus. What kind of bonus increase the user will receive can be seen, as a rule, as a percentage. The promotion can be valid only for one position or for any payment.


SLOTS No Limits Game: 30+ Machines! The offer for the first purchase appears after the transition to the second level of the player in the form of an icon with the inscription Sale at the top of the screen.  Then this offer can be found in the store. The first payment gives a bonus of +200% to the number of coins purchased.


The game Dungeon Rush. When entering the store, the player sees that the first purchase will receive double the amount of premium currency.


The game Clash for Dawn: Guild War. If you go to the store, the player will see that when buying, he can get double the number of crystals. This offer is valid only once.


Game My Cafe: Recipes & Stories. The purchase offer appears when you click on the + next to the premium currency at the top of the home screen. During the first purchase of premium currency, the player receives twice as many crystals for the same amount. The offer applies only to the first purchase.

Games Last Empire-War Z and Legend of the Cryptids. In the premium currency store, the player can get a bonus amount when buying premium currency. At the same time, there may be 3 “first purchases” in the second game.

3. Non-standard option

Here are examples of non-standard and unique solutions that do not fit the rest of the classification.

Using VIP offers

The game Magic Rush: Heroes. In the Event section there is a Growth Fund tab — a special offer. The special offer can only be used by players with VIP level 2 and only within 7 days after creating their profile. When buying a special offer for $ 4.99, the player will receive 161 crystals at once. Next, the player will receive crystals for the development of the game to certain levels. Growth Fund can be bought 4 times.

Issuance of a pre-determined amount

This offer differs from the bonus in that the player receives this amount regardless of the position he buys, that is, with any purchase of the premium currency of the game.


In the game DownTown Mafia (RPG Mobsters), they offer an additional bonus of 1000 diamonds with any purchase.

Purchase Bonus

The player receives a small additional bonus when making the first purchase of premium currency. Unlike starter kits, this option focuses the player’s attention on buying the premium currency of the game, and not additional items collected in one package. For example: resources, characters, game items.


Girls X Battle game. In the Battle Girl’s First Time offer, the player receives the specified bonuses for the first purchase of any number of diamonds.


Sword of Chaos game. Upon the first purchase of any amount of premium currency, the player will be rewarded with gold, chests with equipment and keys to open chests. 

What type of promotion should I choose?

Let’s sort the list of games by their place in the top of Google Play. The diagram below shows the number of games using one or another type of payment for each of the two halves of the top.



Games that occupy higher places differ from the rest in that they often use a combination of a starter kit and a bonus. This means that this is the most optimal option for the first payment promotion.


We called the interface elements notifications, which serve to attract the attention of players to the promotion of the first payment. Let’s reveal the types of notifications that occur.

1. Icon

Buttons or icons are placed in the main screen of the game and contain calling elements, such as SALE labels, timers or % icons. It is most often used in Battler and Strategy genre games.


Farm Heroes Super Saga game. After completing the first level, an icon with gold bars appears on the main screen (on the left). By clicking on it, the player will see a special offer with a starter package.

2. Pop-up window (pop-up)

The pop-up window is much more intrusive than the icon advertising the promotion of the first payment. It is most often used in slot games (Slots) and three-in-a-row (Match-3) genres.


The game Gin Rummy Plus. After completing the training, a window pops up with an advertisement for the starting offer. The player is offered 4 times more coins for the same price. The offer is valid for 5 minutes. During the second session, the same sentence also appears immediately upon entering the game. This offer can be found in the store and in the Inbox section. You can make a purchase right from the window.

3. In the store

The promotion of the first purchase is not forced by the developers in any way. The notification is placed in a dedicated location, most often in the game store. It is used to enable the player to receive bonuses for making the first purchase of the game, but at the same time not to impose such an opportunity on him. Very often such variants are found in Battler genre games, where there is a special interface for such things or a place is allocated near the list of game events (Events).


In the Ark of War game, the player can find out that he has the opportunity to receive bonuses when making his first purchase in the game only when entering the game store.

What type of notification should I choose?

The distribution of the use of notification types looks like this:



There are no obvious correlations between the place in the top and the type of notifications about the promotion of the first payment, so it is best to use the most common and unobtrusive method – an icon.

How do I show the notification?

The distribution of the time for displaying the notification looks like this:



In most games, an icon in the main interface or a pop-up notification about the opportunity to make the first game payment appears after game training.

Time limits

Developers often add timers to limit the use of the promotion by time. There are two types of timers.

1. Dummy timers

These timers are updated immediately after the time expires. The principle is this: create the appearance of a profitable offer and set a small timer for its action. On average, 3-10 minutes. As soon as the timer ends, the countdown starts again. Such offers always appear when you first log into the game. Dummy timers are used only in 4 games out of 74.


SLOTS FAVORITES FREE Las Vegas Casino Slot Machines. In the main menu of the game and in the interface of the slots themselves, there is a Sale button with a timer that constantly counts the time. When you click it, the player enters the game store, where the player can make a purchase of chips (game currency) at a special offer. The timer will be constantly updated until the player makes a purchase. At the same time, the bonus in the store does not change.

2. Standard timers

The duration of the standard timers in different games ranges from 10 minutes to several days. After the expiration of time, the player will lose the opportunity to take advantage of this offer for a long time, which makes it more valuable.

In most cases, the usual timers are set for several days. They are used in more complex genres (battles and strategies), where the player must first familiarize himself with the game mechanics, objects and decide whether they are needed by him, whether they are worth the money. After the expiration of the validity period, the offer disappears. The offer may reappear in a few days or weeks.


Age of Kings game. The offer for beginners is valid for 5 days.

Do I need a timer?

Distribution of timer usage:



In most games, there is a timer, and there is a slight advantage in the direction of top games. Therefore, adding a timer limiting the action will not be superfluous.

How do I set the timer time?

Distribution of different timers times:



The best option for Google Play is to use an action time of 2-3 days for timers. It is more than enough for the player to decide whether he will make a purchase or not. At the same time, pressure remains, they say, such a favorable offer may disappear. In the App Store, in principle, the same trend is seen, only with a slight deviation: players are ready to make in-game purchases much earlier, so timers with an action of up to 1 hour are more popular than in Google Play.


We have already decided that it is best to use a combination of a premium currency bonus and a starter kit. The question remains how to set up their benefits.


Using different benefit options:


Increasing benefits

On average, the benefit increases in the region from 25% to 150% from the first to the last position (the more expensive the IAP, the more profitable it is to purchase it in relation to the basic one).


Clash of Kings. Applying Incremental Benefits Only Once in the game. Each next position is more profitable.


An overabundance of rewards for the first payment leads to the fact that the player who made it loses the need for subsequent deposits. The more balanced the reward, the more the player will have to make payment after payment. There is a certain trend in this. The optimal choice for the first payment is an increasing benefit. It encourages the player to buy a more expensive position to save money.

The price of the starter kit

Distribution of the cost of starter kits:



The cheaper the starter kit, the more players buy it. In most games that are at the top of the tops, the price for the starter kit is $ 0.99.

Benefits of the starter kit

The benefit of the starter kit is a relative concept. In the interface, it is displayed with inscriptions, dies or icons. For example, “4x more”, “Discount 90%”, etc. Here is a diagram of the distribution of the benefits indicated by the developers.



The benefit with a lower percentage or even the absence of its display is more adequately perceived by the players.

Examples of displaying the benefits of the starter kit


Fallout Shelter. The game has a starter pack that the player can find in the store during the first session. His benefit is not indicated in any way.


Caesars Slots and Free Casino. If a player unlocks his “cash reserve” today, he will receive an amount 25% more. The money reserve is a coin storage, where a certain percentage of coins is sent from each player’s bet. At any point in the game, the player can unlock this stock for real money.


8 ball pool. A special offer with a benefit of 400% (for $ 0.99, the player gets four times more).


Ark of war. New Captain Booster. A starter package with a huge benefit of 5560%.

Ideal first payment promotion

Let’s summarize and design an ideal first payment promotion.

  1. The player is offered a starter kit in combination with a premium currency bonus.
  2. After the training, the starter kit offer icon appears on the main screen. It should have a timer and a calling element, for example, SALE.
  3. By clicking on the icon, the player sees an advertisement for the starter kit. The proposed benefit is 100% (which is equivalent to a 50% discount or x2 increase in the number of items). The cost is $0.99.
  4. The duration of the starter kit promotion is 3 days. After the expiration of the time, the promotion ceases to be available. Resumes after a few days.
  5. In the premium currency store, there is an additional Only Once bonus for each position, which adds from 50% to 150% to the main amount of the position.

The above conclusions are just one of many possible interpretations of the data obtained. Of course, the place of the game in the top depends on a lot of factors, and not only on the promotion of the first payment. We have listed all the options used by top developers and showed the distribution of places of games using one or another option in the tops. Each developer selects the best option for their game through tests and comparisons. Our “ideal option” can be considered as a starter for implementation into the game and subsequent tests.

Other studies and the original can be found at this link.