How To Publish And Monetize Your Web3 Game On Mobile (Android/iOS)

December 21, 2022

Geoffrey See

Most web3 gamers are in Latin American (LATAM) countries such as Brazil and Argentina or Southeast Asian (SEA) countries such as the Philippines and Vietnam. About 70% of Axie Infinity’s and Thetan Arena’s users come from these regions. To win over the 700M+ gamers in these regions, publishing on mobile is key. 

But Google and Apple's (especially) app store policies make it difficult to publish web3 games on these platforms. Add on the 30% platform tax and a punitive refund policy, and these can easily mess up web3 games’ tokenomics. We have worked on payments for game studios publishing on mobile and share some tips here on how you can approach a mobile web3 gaming experience and win over mobile gamers.

Google Play Store Policy (Android)

Android is your (mobile) friend in the region. Android usage is estimated at 50-70% of the market in these regions and their app store policy has been more favorable to web3 games up to now. Generally, we have not heard much about games being kicked out of Android store for allowing crypto payments, wallets, or in-game NFT purchases. 

To enable a web3 payment flow, studios often use a web view for purchasing, linking to a widget-based onramp flow for top-ups or payments. This might violate Android store policies. But so far, there have not been major actions being taken against apps that do so. 

Some apps also opt to go further by unlocking web view payments only under certain circumstances to ensure that their games are not removed from the Android store. A refund policy for Google Play Store is much more flexible. You can set up spending rules under which a user will not be eligible for refunds to reduce fraudulent refund requests - such as if they had purchased tokens and used them for in-game purchases. 

Apple App Store Policy (iOS)

Launching a web3 game on Apple is difficult. At the moment, Apple’s policy is unclear. It is also inconsistent as you see many exceptions to the rules (or workarounds). It is also subjected to many changes during this period, so what we write here might change significantly as Apple works out its policies towards NFTs, in-game tokens, and crypto. 

From our experience working with game studios to date, here is the current landscape of web3 game’s monetization:

  • Paying outside of the app is possible. But you cannot direct users off the platform to do so from the app. This includes any language that indicates users can get a cheaper price somewhere else.
  • Crypto and in-game tokens that can be circulated externally are redlines at the moment. It is unclear yet if crypto and in-game tokens are allowed by the App store if they are used as part of a payment process without any of the tokens going to a user (e.g. if you automate purchasing on a DEX/CEX for a user and deliver an NFT to the user).
  • Apple policies could also affect your game mechanics. The usage of NFTs in ways that seem to unlock new abilities or items seems to be restricted at the moment.
  • Consider how to deal with refunds. Apple requires you to refund users over a 6 month period. This is a major problem as depending on your wallet rules a user might be able to purchase tokens, send them out, and then request a refund which Apple will require you to honor.

Some smaller game studios find ways around using Apple’s in-app purchases for in-game purchases on the app. This brings an element of risk as Apple can choose to take the game off the app store if it discovers such behavior.

Most importantly, we are following the latest EU directive requiring Apple to allow third-party app stores on iOS. While this will be rolled out only in the EU in the near term and can take time to implement, this is obviously an exciting way users can pay without using Apple’s in-app purchases. We have an article coming out on this soon and are working on payment solutions to support this new way of distributing gaming and other apps! Bye bye 30% Apple tax?

Consider multiple channels for users to pay

Making more payment options available where gamers might interact with your intellectual property will help you monetize better. Consider having multiple channels for payments including browser-based stores or marketplaces, or even link-based payments within Discord or community group hangouts. Make sure you have a payment reconciliation dashboard so you can track where the revenue is coming from and reconcile it! This can get messy quickly as you scale across markets and payment channels. And let’s bring more web3 games to mobile! #WAGMI.

Poko helps web3 games, wallets, and other dApps increase successful user onboarding and monetization by up to 5x through localized payment experiences.

Reach out to us to see how we can help provide a fiat-to-crypto/NFT payment solution for you globally.

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