A report by the marketing firm and anti-vowel advocate Swrve has found that in the mobile game industry, half of all in-game revenues come from a mere 0.15 percent of players. This doesn’t come as a total surprise—the biggest developers in the field have, for some time, openly fixated on addiction-prone “whales” with plenty of disposable income—but the scale of the phenomenon is startling. While critics typically consider games like Farmville and Candy Crush Saga as mass-market pop-culture products, the Swrve report recasts those games as extreme niche affairs—honeypots designed to attract the sliver of the population with a particular pathology. Swrve admits as much: “This means that the vast majority of players deliver no revenue and reiterates the importance of acquiring and retaining users that fall into the ‘high spender’ category,” the report summary reads.
It should be noted that this entire report is a come-on for Swrve’s marketing products, which are intended to help developers attract those very “high spenders.” And Swrve’s services don’t come cheap—the firm is looking for its own whales. That is today’s mobile-game industry: one racket on top of another, as high as the eye can see.