Creating a great game is hard work and it takes creativity, persistence and a fair number of caffeinated beverages. The result can be awesome, however at the end the consumed beverages do need to be paid. That’s why the monetization element of a game is maybe just as important as creating the main character. As there are so many ways to monetize a game and there is no such thing as a success formula we have created a list with 11 possible monetization strategies. Which ones are your favorites?
- Offline shops
One of the first options is the most traditional way of monetizing your game. Selling your game in traditional gaming stores or department stores was the most used way to sell a game for many years. Even though shopping streets are changing people still go to physical stores to purchase their games. Selling your games in these stores can be more challenging for smaller studios, as you need to think of distribution of physical items, product placement in the store and deals with several businesses. However if you are placed in these stores and have all factors in place well managed you are able to reach your audience and sell your game.
- Online shops
Maybe most familiar for most of you reading this blog are the online stores. You can think of Steam, the iTunes store or the PlayStation Store. The ease of browsing games and buying them with just a click of a button makes this very popular among gamers. If you think of selling your game in one of these online stores there are a couple of challenges ahead of you. First of all not every store will accept your game and you need to look at the terms of approval before going for this monetization option. Also questions need to be answered such as what will you do with pricing and how will people discover your game?
- Display advertising
Display advertising is often a business model applied to free-to-play games. Display advertising comes in many shapes and sizes. There are well known banners, such as the skyscraper and rectangle sizes. But new display ads such as page takeovers and interstitials are more applied nowadays. In order to have display advertising as a successful business model you do need a big audience. Revenue is often per click or per 1.000 impressions and you therefore need a mass audience to earn sufficient revenue. Publishing your game on portals such as Agame.com or GamesGames.com can tackle that problem.
- Video pre-roll
Besides the traditional display banners another advertising form is one to mention: the video pre-roll. Also this tactic is often used for free-to-play games and shows a video ad when the game is loading. Companies such as Google are investing a lot in this type of advertising as it gives advertisers another tool to reach their audience. For this monetization strategy the same rules apply as for generic display advertising: you need a critical mass to reach to get a profit.
- In-game purchases
Social games or mobile app-based games are often monetized by offering in-game purchases. When a user is stuck in a certain level he could buy some clues or skip the level by using credits. Also virtual goods can be used as an in-game purchase, such as decoration for your virtual house or a sausage machine for your farm. If you want to apply this kind of monetization strategy you really need to think carefully on how to include this into your game. The choices you make when designing your game are of huge influence on the success or failure of this business model. That is maybe the biggest challenge when going for in-game purchases.
Another way of thinking of monetizing a game is by selling add-ons. A great example of such a strategy is the massively popular The Sims series. After purchasing the standard game, players are offered many expansion packs to get even more fun out of the game. This model is also used a lot in mobile games. In order to make this strategy a success you need to have people really hooked on your game. Also be aware that the add-on has a good value-for-money, or else chances are that the user will never purchase an add-on again.
- Branded content
The latest James Bond movie is full of product placements. This could also be the option for your game. Are there any brands that are willing to pay for a product placement or sponsored content within your game? Then this might be an additional or principal revenue source. You can get really creative with this model, think of advertising on the side of the road in a racing game or the main character wearing sneakers of a certain brand. Big brands are anxious to be linked to low-quality content and therefore it is of the upmost importance that your game is simply awesome.
- Recommendation engine
You could also charge competitors for a recommendation. If you build a recommendation engine, or use one on the market, and suggest interesting games to your user base then this could provide you with a revenue stream. Especially in mobile apps this could be an interesting strategy.
We all know Netflix or Spotify, they have at least one thing in common: a subscription model. If you want to continue using their (extra) services then you need to pay a monthly fee. This can also be applied to games, if you are confident enough to try this. In order to make this method a success you really need to convince the user that it’s worth subscribing to your game. When that is achieved the next challenge for a developer appears: keeping the user engaged. Once the user is bored he or she will most surely cancel the subscription. An example of such a monetization strategy is World Of Warcraft.
- Pay walls
Getting players to try your game is a lot easier if it’s free. You could try to use a pay-wall method, where users can use the game for free for a certain period and after that they need to pay to continue playing. Again the challenge here is to get players interested enough to convince them to pay for it. Of course you will lose some players after the trial period, but if done correct this method can be an effective monetization strategy.
Thinking out of the box? What about selling merchandising? T-shirts, coffee cups, bathrobes or masks, the options are endless. You could start a webshop or sell your items in a store. The most common sense is that your game should have a fan base that are willing to spend their well earned money on merchandising. Most probably this won’t become your primary revenue stream, but could give your overall monetization strategy an additional boost. Angry Birds maker Rovio Entertainment is one of the successful examples of this method.