A recent survey of mobile games indicates that just 0.15 percent of their players account for 50 percent of in-game revenue.
According to a survey by app analytics and marketing firm Swrve published by VentureBeat, users who spend significant amounts of cash on games - so called "whales" - are even more essential to mobile games than previously suspected.
Swrve found that only 1.5 percent of active mobile gamers made a purchase in the month of January. Mobile game companies derive little profit from the vast majority of their users, meaning they rely almost entirely on "whales" to drive their bottom lines.
This is a precarious position, Swrve chief executive Hugh Reynolds noted, because it's difficult to identify who will be an app's biggest spenders beforehand, and thus it's difficult to target those customers.
However, 53 percent of players who make a purchase make further purchases within the next 14 days. "Getting people to make that first purchase is critical," Reynolds said.
"You should have very easy first purchases. Then the odds of them going on to make a higher purchase is so much better. You also have to be really timely in communicating with users."