Fintech gaming startup Sanlo’s webshop tool could help developers avoid costly app store fees

Sanlo, a fintech startup that helps gaming companies manage finances, announced Wednesday the closed beta launch of its webshop tool, giving select game developers and studios a plug-and-play solution that works alongside their existing tech stacks. Gaming companies can join the waitlist starting today.

With Google and Apple charging a 30% fee for in-app purchases, it’s more challenging than ever for small- to mid-size gaming companies to run profitable businesses. Gaming giant Epic has complained about Apple’s revenue cut for years now, accusing it of being predatory toward smaller businesses.

As a result, many mobile game developers are no longer relying on app stores for monetization and are turning to external webshops, a rising trend in gaming where companies can run stores on their own websites for a much lower fee (around 4-10%). Plus, webshops are believed to boost revenue because players buy directly from the gaming company, as opposed to buying from app stores, which take a cut of sales. In fact, Sanlo said developers can earn up to 25% more revenue with a webshop.

“A webshop is one of those super tactical steps that actually proved to show that you can implement revenue from,” Sanlo co-founder and CEO Olya Caliujnaia told TechCrunch. “The reason being that it’s usually your most engaged, loyal players who go to the webshop and they get special offers that allow them to do better in the game.”

Image Credits: Sanlo

With Sanlo’s new webshop tool, game developers get a range of promotional mechanics like exclusive digital items, bundle packs, discounted offers and loyalty programs to incentivize more players to try the game. Developers can also access player data so they can monitor profiles and purchase activity in order to target individual users with compelling offers.

Companies can test and set pricing “with no price caps,” according to Sanlo. Earnings from webshop sales are deposited into the developer’s account once a week.

One downside about webstores is that Apple and Google don’t let mobile games advertise them in-app. Sanlo offers marketing tools as a solution to this issue, such as in-game prompts to promote the webshop, sending emails to returning visitors and ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) attribution tracking.

Sanlo has onboarded an undisclosed number of gaming companies to its webshop platform, including Fusebox Games, the developer behind mobile titles inspired by “Love Island” IP.

“The biggest attraction for me was the plug-and-play nature of the Sanlo tool in addition to the hands-on service they provide,” Terry Lee, COO at Fusebox, told us. “We are a small company without the internal resources to cover all the bases when it comes to supporting a whole new technical capability.”

Sanlo plans to officially launch the new product to all developers this summer.

Caliujnaia and William Liu (CTO) founded Sanlo in 2020. The company’s team touts previous experience at Capital One, Earnest, Electronic Arts, Facebook, SigFig, Sony PlayStation, Visa and more.

To date, the company has raised $13.5 million in total funding, and is backed by Initial Capital, Index Ventures, Portage Ventures, XYZ Venture Capital, London Venture Partners and Konvoy.

Webstore solutions have existed for years now, from more established companies like Xsolla to newer entrants like Appcharge. Popular games leveraging webshops include Clash of Clans, Game of Thrones: Conquest, Marvel Strike Force and Star Trek Fleet Command.

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