It’s no secret that smartphone games with in-app purchases (IAPs) are a revenue generator for both the developer and app stores. A Google Play Points promotion today highlights mobile gaming whales just a bit too much.

When you opt-in to the rewards program, every purchase you make with Google Play Billing nets you Play Points that can be redeemed for in-app promos or Play credit. Google also recently introduced the ability to directly make purchases with Play Points. In most countries, there are four tiers — South Korea has a fifth “Diamond” level — that multiplies how many points you earn per dollar/local currency. 

Platinum tier, which requires 3,000 points, users have a new offer available to them for the next month:

Make 2 purchases of $100 or more to earn 1000 points 

The vast majority of people do not spend close to $100 on a single Play Store transaction, which can include app, game, book, or movie/TV purchases. The one exception we can think of is buying the highest edition of a game on Stadia, which earns you Play Points. 

Of course, the other is IAPs, and comes as the promo explicitly notes how that “includes purchases in apps & games.” Whales, or high rollers, is a term derived from the (casino) gambling world, but that term has expanded as one mobile games marketing firm explains:

In the past few years, the term “whales” has been used to describe a tiny group of users (around 2%) that drives the most revenue for mobile apps and game publishers.

A mobile gaming whale is someone who spends a lot of microtransactions. So-called “whales” are the main target for microtransactions in free-to-play games, for example; they’re the ones who buy booster packs, cosmetics, etc.

That said, it’s still not a good deal. Let’s say you spend the minimum of $200 to get this offer. You get 280 Play Points alone from the 1.4x multiplier, and the grand total is 1,280. Converted into cash that’s $12.80 from, again, $200 in purchases. It’s slightly better if you take advantage of a 4x multiplayer that’s available this long weekend.

It’s unlikely that Google Play Points would add this promotion if there wouldn’t be any takers from the wild world of whales.

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Abner Li

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