Implementation of Coupons in Games


Xsolla covers how coupons can be one of the most convenient and flexible tools a game developer can keep in their arsenal.

Why Coupons?

In the gaming sphere, coupons have not seen widespread adoption and use. Only recently in 2014, developers of iOS-applications were introduced with the option to independently generate and distribute coupons for in-game items; a marketing channel many are still unfamiliar with.

Coupons are very flexible and convenient to use which, unlike the usual discount within games, has a much broader functionality. Within the gaming industry, there are two typical types of coupons:


Discounts are what make players interested in purchasing a product by slashing prices, usually for a specific time period or promotion. Each game/code is assigned a certain percentage discount and the player pays whatever price the game is on sale for.


Promo codes

In this case, no purchase is necessary ​​and the user receives a free product if they have the appropriate code.


How do Games Implement Coupons?

Every year, the distribution strategy for coupons is becoming more and more sophisticated. Here are a few examples:


One successful case of gaming coupons was by EA Mobile and Firemonkeys. These companies handed out coupons for their iOS-version of Real Racing 3. The user could purchase 10 units of gold for $1.99 and in order to pick up the in-game currency, the user had to go to the App Store and enter the coupon code into the box. This proved to be a phenomenal success and was widely covered in the press and on various fan racing sites. As an added bonus, these coupons raised publicity and awareness for a big update to Real Racing.


The creators of the niche-game Out There also used promo codes for marketing purposes. They generated promo coupons for use by the press and streamers to showcase their game. Because of the promo code distribution, especially towards the “Let’s Play” streamers on Youtube, video reviews were generated and Out There developed a huge audience before the release on mobile devices. The same strategy was applied for the release of the game on Steam where hundreds of streamers received activation keys. This marketing strategy proved to be a huge success as the coupons helped sell more than 300,000 copies of Out There (sold at $6.05).


Even the world’s largest fast-food chain, McDonalds, offered a promotional $10 coupon code for the hit game, Skylander Giants. McDonalds was able to attract young consumers (main audience of this game are children) and Activision was able to leverage and advertise the project through one of the most recognizable brands in the world; a win-win promotional scenario. In 2012, Skylander Giants earned over $195 million where a significant portion of the proceeds were obtained thanks to the promotional event and coupon implementation.

These are only a few examples of using promotional codes as a marketing tactic. Other such methods include:

  • Sending codes to people who have not started playing the game.
  • Giving away codes to the most active audience.
  • Organizing special competitions by the press.
  • Placing the codes on material such as stickers, postcards, etc.
  • Sending discounts to the next purchase “whales”.

Limitations When Working with Coupons

In closed distribution systems, there are still restrictions on the use of coupon codes.

Apple, until 2012, did not allow their developers to generate more than 50 coupons for their games. This limit was then raised to 100, which is still a negligible number when speaking in terms of the global market. The possibility to give away promo codes and discount coupons for in-game items was not even available in the App Store until only recently in May 2014.

Xsolla, unlike many other distribution systems, offers complete freedom and incredible flexibility with coupons for online, mobile and client games. Generating coupons within the Xsolla system is very simple.

Work with Coupons in PayStation 3.0


All changes and customizations for the coupons can be made directly from your account. With a few simple clicks, you can:

  • Create a new promotional campaign.
  • Generate the required number of coupons.
  • Set a limited amount use of coupons (including for a single user).
  • Set the end time of the coupon.

Once you obtain and set your coupons, you can export them to distribute to users by email or by printing the coupon for an exhibition to include in a promotional leaflet.

In your account, you have the ability to search for coupon campaigns and the system provides access to intel which allows you to track all data pertaining to the created coupons. You can see how the implementation of the coupon affects payments within your game and also measure the reaction of users to the promo codes for different campaigns.

In the future, all coupon analysis will be able to be downloaded in Capsidea for a more detailed analysis.


The ease in which the developer can generate and use coupons/promo codes in their Xsolla Personal Account will open up new and exciting possibilities for advertisement within their game to the target audience.

Interested in working with Xsolla? Check out our product and get started today!

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