Making apps for kids can be incredibly lucrative. In the US alone, kids generated $2 billion of games revenue last year (we are assuming generated = harassing their parents to pay).  A staggering 83% of kids aged 6-13 say the use/download apps, and they use apps an average of 24.5 times per day on their smartphone! Clearly kids are a captive audience ripe for making apps for. However, the road to profiting from kids games has pitfalls you need to avoid, and there are 3 key principles you should adhere to if profit is your motive.

A central decision is of course whether to use in-app purchases or not. While IAP can be incredibly lucrative in terms of extracting revenue, it can lead to parent outrage – or in the worst case, a lawsuit by government authorities. Amazon has experienced this, where their strong suit, a 1-click payment experience, has lead to claims that this has caused huge amounts of unauthorized purchases.  However, if one is to believe research firm Dubity though, this may not be an issue:

Source: Dubit

However, angry parents and short term profiteering is never really a smart strategy, and although kids may get permissions (for a $0.99 purchase it may have been given frequently), one is best to adhere to some simple principles:

1. Be transparent

Google has started enforcing rules that makes developers list what they charge for in-app. However, this should not really have been needed. Do not try and hide the fact that you’re charging in-app.  Parents will be much more upset finding out there was a charge when not expecting it, than the kid spending more than they anticipated. If parents give permission knowing there are in-app purchases, they may get upset at the kid, but not you.

2. Be customer focused

Treat customers big and small well. This means refund when asked (provided the app store supports this possibility), or if you can’t refund, give them something good (like free use of the game or the next game if possible). You want customers to be your advocates, not your enemies.

3. Be thoughtful in your monetization strategy

This is perhaps the most difficult part of developing a game. Where, how often and how much should you be charging?  This depends a lot on the game mechanics, what users get for paying and what the alternative is. Remember, for mobile games, the majority of the revenue is derived from only 0.15% of users (the “whales”). Those users will spend regardless, so don’t be greedy with the others. Give users a chance to play the game without paying, but just make sure when they do pay, the game experience is significantly enhanced.

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