GW2 Whale

Gaming research firm DeltaDNA has released a new study that provides an important insight into the spending habits of free-to-play gaming’s biggest spenders. As summarized by, the study indicates that while “whales” do provide much of a F2P game’s income, it usually comes from multiple, smaller, purchases than from a small number of purchases of expensive items or packages.

According to the study, which surveyed over a million players who had spent at least $100 on mobile games since July 2015, over half — 54% — never spent more than $50 at any one time, with the typical purchase being around $20. Even among players who spent more than $1000 in that time period, 20.2% never spent more than $50 at any one time.

The study concludes that trying to sell big and pricy bundles isn’t the answer, and that big spenders are more likely to respond to “building better long term engagement and creating rewarding experience for all spenders.” Which seems like a “duh” statement, but when developers see the money being thrown around in some “free” games, it makes sense that they’d think they can sell countless big-ticket items to people with deep pockets. Apparently, that’s not always the case.

What’s the most you’ve ever spent at one time in a game? We’re not counting pre-purchases, early access packages, collector’s editions, and the like. Rather, what’s the most you’ve ever spent from actually inside the game? Have you ever exceeded that $50 threshhold? Or are you more content to make numerous, smaller, purchases?

Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.


  1. Most league players know how little things add up over time. A skin here and there, oh there’s a champ I like….I don’t wanna grind IP so I’ll just buy it, things like that. I’ve seen some crazy numbers from my friends on how much they have spent overall.

  2. This site doesn’t normally cover Mobile games, so are Mobile-centric research results really relevant?

    Riot wouldn’t still be selling those huge skin bundles if nobody ever bought them, and then there is Wargaming and their ever more expensive premium tanks bundles.

    • This site covers Hearthstone regularly – which is a mobile game (albeit cross platform).

      from my own spending, and knowing how friends etc spend in games like LoL, Hearthstone and other PC f2p’s i’d say this research is very much relevant and likely similar to pc users. It’s no surprise though – it’s sort of the same principle of gambling – the most successful games no longer even make a big deal of your transaction – 2 clicks on HS, similar on LoL – it doesn’t feel like spending money and for the moment you do focus on the money, it’s a low value so feels like nothing anyway – until it adds up.

      • Also, many of the bundles from LoL include old characters and their skins etc so the reality is due to scaling the consumer pays less – and the fact it’s a bundle makes it feel like value – sort of like when you walk into tesco and buy 3 for 2 when you only wanted 1 etc…

        the article doesn’t claim everyone only buys small – infact it mentions only 20.2% of those who spend over 1000 haven’t done a large transactionso 80% of those who do spend over 1000, also buy bigger packs – so there’d be no need to stop selling them even if you’re only selling a few (comparatively


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