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In-app purchases responsible for 33 percent of Infinity Blade's revenue

by Phil Hornshaw

Infinity Blade hasn’t always had in-app purchases. They were added with a content update two weeks after the game’s release last year, and like the sort of in-game currency purchases users can make in freemium titles like FarmVille, they weren’t even really necessary to play the game.

But it seems ChAIR had its head in the right place when it decided to include those in-app purchases in their award-winning and critically acclaimed game, because more than a third of Infinity Blade’s revenue has come from IAP.

Mark Rein, vice president at Epic Games, the publisher of Infinity Blade and owner of ChAIR, spoke about the game at the Go Go Games mobile conference in Gateshead, UK, this week. Pocket Gamer has the story, in which Rein revealed that in-app purchases are pulling in some serious cash from Infinity Blade players.

Like games such as Mafia Wars, FarmVille and Smurfs’ Village, Infinity Blade includes an in-game currency -- in the latter’s case, it’s gold coins. Those coins are collected from winning fights, opening treasure chests and finding hidden items throughout the world as players progress through the game, and they can be spent on fresh weapons, armor and items to make players stronger and better able to keep playing.

Infinity’s in-app purchases allow users to fast-track buying those coins, skipping over the part where they have to earn them in the game and granting access to advanced equipment earlier. Gold coins come in packs worth $1, $5, $20 and $50.

Rein said that 33.5 percent of total revenue from Infinity Blade has come from IAP, and that includes the two weeks when Infinity Blade didn’t include them. Since in-app purchases were released, 43.7 percent of revenue has come through that method -- a seemingly amazing amount, given the fact that Infinity Blade is a premium title that goes for $5.99 to download.

Infinity Blade isn’t the only game that has pulled in significant greenbacks by giving players, essentially, a means to cheat. About 40 percent of Angry Birds users have bought its Mighty Eagle IAP at $0.99, which is also a huge number considering its user base.

Rein wouldn’t fully disclose how much money Infinity Blade has dragged in, but Pocket Gamer estimates on the low side that it’s $2.5 million, with about $1.25 million from in-app purchases, going on knowledge that the game has sold at least 600,000 units since about a week after IAP was added to it. But Pocket Gamer expects that’s too conservative, and figures the numbers might be closer to more than $7.5 million in total revenue and $2.5 million from in-app purchases.

The moral of the story: Don’t launch an iOS game without in-app purchases. Rein said Epic won’t make that same mistake twice, pointing at the difference between the two revenue percentages for IAP. That 8 percentage-point gap represents two weeks of sales when players didn’t have IAP available, and it basically equates to lost revenue, Rein said.