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Game monetization guide 2021
Game monetization guide 2021

Okay, so you’ve put a lot of time, money, and resources into developing a video game. But how do you go about selling it?

Well, you need video game monetization. And there are plenty of tactics to go about doing this, all to ensure your title becomes a minor, or major, hit. Here’s how to become successful.

What is monetization in a game?

Game monetization models involve making money off selling games—either through a digital platform or on mobiles.
Game development is expensive and time-consuming, involving a lot of creative energy to build a game from scratch to completion. This can take years.

If you want to make a living off making video games, and ensure your business is successful, then you need to monetize your product.

Some games can become instant hits the moment they launch. Untitled Goose Game and Fall Guys are two examples! But other games can take time to generate ROI.

What is mobile game monetization?

As with game monetization, mobile game monetization is about making money from a mobile game you’ve made. Some mobile games have been enormously successful, such as Angry Birds, Monument Valley, Pokémon Go, Candy Crush Saga, and Flappy Bird.

To sell a mobile game, devs need a game monetization strategy to target gamers within App Store, Google Play, and other platforms.

So, it’s essential to understand how you can go about making money for all your hard work. Let’s take a look at how you go about doing that.

What is a video game monetization strategy?

It’s your plan to generate money from the worldwide gaming community. And to do this, there are a number of strategies.

You can do that in a number of ways. Some of the common game monetization strategies are:

  • Using in-game ads.
  • Providing subscription packages.
  • Relying on microtransactions (in-game purchases).

We cover these in greater detail below, but the main thing to remember is you need a game monetization strategy. Otherwise you risk going to sell your game without a proper plan of action.

How do you monetize a game?

There are several ways in which you can approach monetizing your video game. The method you choose is up to you, but it’s important to understand your options. It’s also important to have in mind the primary monetization model you’ll use.

And think about that before, during, and after you develop out your title.

It’s also important to have in mind the primary monetization model you’ll use. And think about that before, during, and after you develop out your title.

This is because the model you choose will directly impact the nature of your game. Such as:

  • Its difficulty level
  • The layout of the game.
  • The features you want to include.

And this all means you need a monetization model and strategy. Let’s take a look at what you need to do to start making a mega profit.

It’s also important to have in mind the primary monetization model you’ll use. And think about that before, during, and after you develop out your title.

What are monetization models in the game industry?

So, what are monetization models? In the games industry, there are three of them you need to know about:

  1. Gamers buy the title
  2. The game is free, but there’s in-game advertising
  3. Gamers buy the title (or it’s free) and there are in-game microtransactions and/or DLC.

And this all means you need a monetization model and strategy. Let’s take a look at what you need to do to start making a mega profit.

Upfront revenue models

This is where the developer thinks revenue will be from upfront purchases. The types here are:

  • Premium: This is where a gamer buys the game once, such as if a gamer buys a game outright on Steam.
  • Freeware: The titles launched with no cost, which can then include advertising within or microtransactions.
  • Shareware: Much like the freemium model (explained below), this can include a demo of a game. If a player likes it, they can then unlock the title with a purchase.

In the games industry, the premium model is the most common.

Gamers heading to Steam (or using Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft’s console stores) will usually be for a title outright. But with smaller indie games, there’s room for experimentation with a payment model to get players interested in your title.

Often it’s about ensuring players give your game a go. And by offering it for free, this can be the initial hook to grab their attention in a crowded market.

Ongoing revenue models

With this model, developers can offer games for free! It’s a tried-and-tested tactic that works, thanks to the use of in-game ads and/or microtransactions. This approach is popular for online and mobile games. Here are some of the tactics:

  • Buy-to-play: This is where a gamer buys the game, which is one devs keep supporting with online serves and regular DLC.
  • Free-to-play: These don’t require any sort of payment from players. They can get started straight away, sometimes with a subscription. But most devs use ads and microtransactions in-game to make money.
  • Freemium: These are games that are free to start… but there’s a limit on the amount of content gamers can access before needing to pay.
  • Ad model: Games like this will be free-to-play, but there’ll be ads in the title.

So, now you know what the available models are for that game you’re working on (or ready to launch). But the bigger question on your mind now might be what model to choose. And we’re here to help you decide.

Which monetization model is best?

The best games monetization model really depends on the type of game you’ve made and your target audience.

But the freemium model is currently the most popular for devs, particularly with mobile games. Mobile game monetization statistics show that 70-80% of in-app purchases make up the $10 billion in annual revenue on iOS.

Using this model is tempting for first-time devs as it’s a proven approach that generates money. Although it’s worth remembering a big sect of the gaming community doesn’t like in-game ads.

But the more casual gamer will be happy to have them alongside a free game. In-game microtransactions are also a very popular approach. However, you shouldn’t just choose that model for the sake of it. If your game doesn’t suit this model, don’t use it.

The reality is a lot of games can suit a range of models, so you might want to take a hybrid approach. But what’s clear is you need to think carefully about the model you choose to maximize your revenue potential.

Mobile game monetization statistics show that 70-80% of in-app purchases make up the $10 billion in annual revenue on iOS. Using this model is tempting for first-time devs as it’s a proven approach that generates money. Although it’s worth remembering a big sect of the gaming community doesn’t like in-game ads.

How do you monetize a PC game?

PC games can be monetized with a range of strategies, depending on the model you’ve chosen (and the type of game you have). But a standard set of practices may look a bit like this:

  • Run in-game ads.
  • Offer pay to remove ads subscriptions.
  • Offer a premium version of your game.
  • Provide DLC or paid content.
  • Offer episodic content.
  • Tailor different subscription packages.
  • Put the game on multiple platforms, such as Steam, GOG, Itch.io etc.
  • Consider crowdfunding options like on Kickstarter.

As we’ve mentioned further above, in-game ads remain one of the most common options. But as you can see, there’s plenty of scope for trying many different monetization tactics.

Mobile game monetization strategies

If you were thinking it’d be different than selling on a PC then mobile devices don’t present developers with a wildly different form of monetization.

Just keep in mind the type of game you’re selling, such as its genre, and who you’re selling to. As your target audience will often dictate what type of game you’re selling. We’ll use an example now, with Google’s smartphone device!

How do I monetize my Android games?

Monetizing Android games is reliant on various models such as in-app ads, subscription models, and a mixed monetization strategy. Consider these tactics:

  • In-app purchases.
  • Subscription packages.
  • In-app ads.
  • Ad removal options.
  • Meta layer monetization.
  • Paid games.

And, again, you can mix and match these to maximize your revenue potential. As there’s not usually just the one tactic you can rely on.

How do I monetize my free games?

Many indie game developers have taken to launching their titles for free. It’s very common on Itch.io, for example, for new devs to gain interest in their game this way.

Providing your game for free may still seem counterintuitive, but it’s a way to get players downloading your title and giving it a go.

And it’s proven that the model does work. You can use all sorts of ad types to generate revenue. Including:

  • Direct ads.
  • Banner ads.
  • Rich media ads.
  • Native ads.
  • Reward ads.

Throw in microtransactions and you can also provide an incentive for players to advance their gaming experience.

So, yes, that’s about it from the basic level of monetizing your free game. But is it possible to go one step further? Yes! But...

How do you increase game monetization?

You can take steps to maximize your revenue potential by using your strategies to perfection. What does that mean? Well, you just need to rejig your models slightly to give players more choice and better value. For example:

  • Offering a wide range of subscription models to cater for all types of players and their budgets.
  • Customize your subscriptions into new and old players, as your loyal fanbase may want to continue on with you if you’re offering a premium service to them.
  • Offer VIP status! That can include lifetime rewards, early access to new features and DLC, and VIP customer support.

The pros and cons of in-game ads

Although many games devs run in-game ads to generate revenue, do keep in mind a lot players can find them very irritating.

They can take away the feeling of immersion for players, which can lead to gamers only sticking with your title for a short period of time. It can be unsettling, especially if the ads you have are invasive (such as forcing themselves over the game to play).

However, if your game is otherwise free then many players will wave this off as a necessary part of enjoying a free title.

And while you make money from the ads, if the player is enjoying your game then they may well commit to paying to remove the ads.

Ultimately, we’d say it’s important to balance player satisfaction alongside your need as a business to earn revenue. So, balance your ads as you need to.

Ultimately, we’d say it’s important to balance player satisfaction alongside your need as a business to earn revenue.

How much money do games get per ad?

Ads can generate around $0.10 USD for banners, $1-$3 for interstitial ads, and videos between $5-$10. How much you make will depend on the popularity of your app and the monetization strategies you’re running.

The most popular games in App Store will make around $80,000 every day. For those less successful, such as the top 800 games, then the revenue may be around $3,000.

How much you make will depend on the popularity of your app and the monetization strategies you’re running.

Monetize your game with Terminal3

Are you an AAA or indie dev? Ready to sell worldwide? Then sign on up for free! We help you monetize your title across the world—no matter where you are.

With our in-built features you can sell your game, in-game items, virtual currency, and expansions packs (DLC). And we can do this with Terminal3 Payments, a shop builder, and global marketplaces.

Plus, we’ll be your merchant of record. This ensures you stay compliant with tax regulations across the world, keeping you free from any legal problems.

To top it off, we handle risk, fraud, disputes, and chargebacks—we win 80% of our cases.