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Making Money from Games: Monetization Models for Game Developers

Updated: Feb 20


Game Monetization

For game developers, coming up with fun gameplay and compelling content is only part of the challenge. You also need to think about how you will monetize your game - that is, make money from it. The monetization model you choose can have a big impact on the player experience and the long-term success of your game. Here are some of the most popular options for monetizing games:

Advertising

One of the simplest but most annoying models is to show ads during gameplay. These can be banner ads, interstitial ads between levels or content, or video ads that play before the game session. While advertising is easy revenue, too many ads can ruin the game experience leading players to abandon the game.

In-App Purchases

Many mobile and free-to-play games let players buy virtual items, extra content, or functionality. For example, players may buy power-ups, access to new game levels, customization options for characters, or to speed up progression when they get impatient. In-app purchase revenue can vastly outweigh ad revenue, but depends heavily on creating compelling content that players truly value.

Upfront Purchase

Rather than offer a free game, you can sell your game outright. This was the standard model for PC/Console games before free-to-play exploded in popularity. While the revenue per user can be higher with paid games, there is typically lower conversion as some players are unwilling to pay anything upfront. Offering a free trial or "lite" version can help win over more price-sensitive gamers.

Subscriptions

For games with regularly updated content, subscriptions can provide a recurring revenue stream. World of Warcraft is a prime example, charging a monthly fee for continuous access to new quests, items and so on. Subscriptions work best for games with rich, expanding worlds that can hold players' attention for long periods.

In choosing and refining a business model, game creators have to balance monetization with maintaining a great user experience. Striking the right balance is key to developing both a profitable and sustainable game. Testing different approaches during development and listen closely to player feedback is crucial.

There are no shortages of options for funding the development of fun, engaging games. Being creative - but also realistic - about how you integrate monetization can make the difference between a flash in the pan or the next chart-topping hit. What models have you tried or are considering? Please share your experiences in the comments!


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