Sava Transmedia’s Jesse Glick On Monetizing Free To Play Games


Sava Transmedia is a Montreal game studio of about 30 employees that makes the popular Facebook and iOS game Rubber Tacos. The game is free to play and is published by Zynga, which gives them a great deal of exposure and the volume required to make free to play work. We sat down at MIGS 2012 with Sava’s Director of Monetization Design, Jesse Glick.

Glick had some interesting statistics to share about what makes free-to-play so difficult but rewarding. The free-to-play market is essentially a 99:1 business (as opposed to 80:20), where 1 percent of your users will generate 99 percent of your revenue. This is why it’s so important to provide longevity to the game. If you don’t fully monetize the game for that 1%, you’re losing a significant share of your revenue potential.

Another important free-to-play statistic is that you’re going to lose 95% of your users in the first quarter after launch. This comes from a Playnomics study that states the following:

“[Playnomics] found that almost 95 percent of all U.S. players acquired in the first part of Q3 were inactive by the end of Q3 and about 85 percent of U.S. players acquired in Q3 do not return after their first day.”

When you combine the fact that most of your players will not return after the first quarter, and that only a fraction of them will be responsible for the majority of your revenue, you realize that stickiness and retention are hugely important in the free to play market. It’s crucial that at launch, your game has mechanics to capture user data, keep them engaged in the game, and if they leave, incentivize them to return.

Rubber Tacos is an “energy-based” game meaning you play for free and if you run out of energy, you can wait or pay to continue playing. The game also features powerups, a virtual currency, and all of the features you would expect in a free-to-play game with Zynga as the publisher.

Check out Rubber Tacos on iOS at this link.