So, here’s something I wanted to write about. A two part post that talks about monetization and gaming in the video games industry. This first post will focus on the developers while the next (whenever I get around to it), will be on the consumers/gamers.
Let me first iterate that these are my personal opinion with some personal experience sprinkled in. In some parts, it may seem like what I’m writing is very pro-evil publisher/nickel-and-dime mentality, it probably is (Hey, I worked as a marketing guy, I gotta think like this). But my intention is not to advocate nor condemn, it is to share.
With that mind, I hope you read this piece with an open mind and share your feedback. Civil discussion is definitely encouraged! Let the long winded article, begin!
Part 1: Are There Effective Ways To Monetizing Your Games?
So, you’re a video game developer. You’ve got this awesome game you’re making and you want to release it to the world for gamers to enjoy. That’s great and all, however, when you’re making your game, did you stop to wonder about how to monetize your game?
When we think about monetizing a game, it often goes back to the usual suspect of either selling the game, selling DLCs, or making it “Freemium” or Free-to-Play with micro-transactions. First off, I want to reiterate that these methods work and work well. As a developer, you should have been using them from the get-go in some form or another.
Rather, what this article aims to look at are the alternative ways for you, the developer, to gain profit by monetizing aspects of your game that you might not have considered in the past.
So, what are these alternative ways of monetizing games?
Whoa! Hold your horses grasshopper, we’ll get to that. First things first, let’s get the basics down and make sure you’re doing all you can to monetize your games right now.
Back To The Basics: The mainstream method to profit from your game
In the ways of old, game development have always been stuck to a certain cycle. A developer or a gaming studio creates a game, publish the game with a publisher and receives whatever profit from the amount of copies sold.
Since then, the gaming industry has evolved into a bigger and much more fluid market, where profit doesn’t come solely from the amount of copies a developer ships. Sure, copies sold can be a good indication, but it’s not the end-all-be-all for a developer in making money.
Nowadays, developers rely on a pool of methods to create better and continual profitability for their games. These different mediums of providing more content or service to a consumer can range from the obvious to the least expected, but let’s just quickly list them out.
The biggest culprits are as follows:
- Downloadable Content (DLCs)
- Ad Space
- Limitation Removal
If you’re a game developer, your game probably cover most, if not all of the methods above. Depending on the type of game you’re making, some methods will work better than others.
For example, a mobile game that’s free-to-play might rely heavily on Limitation Removal (i.e. better items, more levels, etc.) and providing Ad Space for revenue, while a Triple A title can rely on providing DLC(s) for more content. However it goes, it is on you, the developer, to include as much of the ways above to maximize profitability.
Another more popular method is Steam. Every game developer should know what it is and how it works. The problem is, Steam requires you to split profit 30%-70% for your game. So, unless you’re making gangbusters, that 30% could be the make-or-breaking point for your studio.
That’s why Steam is great for initial exposure and lead-in sales. Maintaining that profitability, however, will be an issue if you want to rely solely on steam.
Get That Money! Adding Currency To Your Game Is Effective Monetization
After exhausting all of the options you have, maybe you’re still not making enough to keep your game profitable. Well, I guess it’s time to bring out the big guns then.
As I’ve mentioned before, getting exposure and making initial lead-in sales can be done with various game portals such as Steam or GOG, however, you’ll have to compromise by sharing your profits with them. Which is a fair exchange for the amount exposure and brand recognition that they provide.
But this is the internet, and since we love cats here, the saying “there’s more than one way to skin a cat” will definitely be a hit with you lovely readers right?
In-game currencies have been around a long time, in some shape or form ever since the appearance of a trader that will sell you better equipment in most video games. But for you, the developer, this in-game currency is an effective tool for creating a stable profitability for your game by creating virtual currencies. Plenty of games use this virtual currency, however, if you don’t have the support of big companies (Sony, Microsoft) or have brand recognition (Battlenet, Nexon), it’s hard to market your own virtual currency.
Enter third-party e-Commerce portals. There has been a surge of online vendors that are willing to house your game currency and provide maximum exposure while still straddling the line between maximum profitability for your game. These guys are the new platforms for today’s game developers.
While there’re plenty of sites that’s available online, we’ll just focus on one site and make it a case study on how e-Commerce portals are a great platform for game developers.
OffGamers.com: “Topping-up” Lead Sales Without The Ads
OffGamers.com is an online game store and virtual currency distributor and are a pretty big deal in the Asian region. They have been around for over 10 ten years, so they know what they’re doing when it comes to being a platform for game developers. Which makes them the perfect subject to showcase how monetization with virtual currencies through third-party vendor works!
OffGamers.com uses an API System (wikis here) to help facilitate the sale of your virtual currencies for customer convenience. How so? Since your game/servers and OffGamers.com’s API system are connected, whenever your game currencies/points are purchased, it’s automatically credited to the user’s account directly to your servers. No need for key-ins or pages with ads to push your product.
The point of this is to show how monetizing game currencies can be profitable for small developers. The system of “topping-up” in-game currencies or points can help developers keep a constant sustainable/increasing revenue. And it works because developers are using these features, on sites such as OffGamers.com, to make more money.
Plus, with a site like OffGamers.com, a developer doesn’t have to worry about promoting their games or handle all the extra marketing. It’s all there in their site, with an added advantage of brand awareness and a wide audience base.
This makes third-party e-Commerce vendors as an invulnerable resource for game developers in making as much as they can while reaching out to a wider audience within their means.
Profits And Monetizations Are Great. But A Great Game Is Even Better.
Well, I’ve spent the last thousand words or so trying to provide a reasonable alternative for monetizing games in today’s gaming industry. HOWEVER, even with all these awesome nuggets of information, none of it can work unless you make a game that people wants to play.
And for all these nickel-and-dime tactics, none of it will work if gamers don’t like what they are playing. Now, more than ever, consumers have immense purchasing power due to the overwhelming choice that’s available to them. The term “vote with your wallet” is a lot more powerful, especially in the digital age of today.
So yes, do all you can to monetize your games. Explore different avenues such as DLCs, Ad Spaces, and purchasable currencies to improve profitability. But don’t forget, that through it all, games are meant to be fun, and that should be every developer’s focus.
tl;dr: Make games that make money, but don’t forget to keep it fun.
Whew, I wrote a whole bunch! If you managed to get this far, thank you and congratulations for surviving my long-winded and oftentimes meandering rant on gaming. If I wrote something that offended you, my apologies, did not mean to come off that way. If there are any grammar/spelling mistakes or inconsistency (of which I’m sure are aplenty), sound off in the comments below and I’ll get to it. Besides that, let me know what you guys think and if I done write good things or not so that I can keep on improving.
Thanks and peace out!