In this video, Jesse Freeman walks through the multiple strategies for trying to monetize your game. Jesse covers the main monetization types such as premium, free to play, and leveraging ADs and IAP to increase revenue.
- [Instructor] Now that you've finished a game, let's talk about how you actually charge for your game. Ideally, most people build games and would like to make money with them. When it comes to pricing your game, you should do a lot of research on your game's genre, its competition and what it costs. If you see a lot of high-quality free games similar to yours, it's probably best to consider an alternative option. That doesn't mean to not build the game. It just means that you may need to be more creative about how you make money with it. The easiest way to monetize a game is usually a flat fee.
This is called premium in mobile. Your first instinct is to probably charge this flat rate for your game like 99 cents or more. Some games can command a very high premium on the mobile market but gone are the days of charging $5 and $10 or more especially if you're just getting started. It's important to be realistic when setting the price of your game. Again, this is where research comes into play so make sure you're pricing your game at or below the price of the other games that are similar to yours.
On desktop, Steam is by far one of the best stores to distribute your game. It has a healthy community of players and once you get past Steam Greenlight and are able to publish your game, it has the largest potential for making money on desktop. Steam isn't the only desktop store. itch.io is a great alternative. Some of the unique features of itch.io is that it allows you to sell a game and let people name their own price. In the case of my own game, Dragon Sweeper, you can get the game for free but if you'd like to get updates, you'd have to pay at least 50 cents to get the new builds.
You can continue to download it for free but most people pay simply to help support the development of the game. I like this model better because it allows people to help support me when they like the game and it also lowers the barrier of entry to let more people play my game by offering it for free. The next option is free with ads or ad supported. This was popular for a long time before in-app purchases were introduced. Basically, you make the game free and use ads to help generate money. While there are clear advantages to making your game free which allows anyone to download it, it also is incredibly hard to monetize from ads.
As an example, one of my most successful games on Android with over 100 thousand downloads and roughly one to two thousand players a day only generates $1 or less a day. In order to really make money with ads, you'll need at least 100 thousand players a day or more and show larger, more obtrusive ads that tend to slow down the game's flow or frustrate the players. Generally, this has gone out of style. One option is to also have ads and use in-app purchases to let somebody remove the ads by paying a small fee and this brings us to in-app purchases or IAP and this is generally referred to as the freemium market.
What's good about this approach is that your game is completely free so you get as many people playing your game and if they like it or if you have compelling IAP, they end up paying more than they normally would have if your game had been sold at a flat rate. Another advantage of in-app purchases is that it allows you to have a base game and continue to expand that game letting people buy additional levels, new characters or even new features inside of the game. Are you just starting out? The reality is that if it's your first game, chances are high that you will not make a lot of money off of it.
Having a successful game is kind of like winning the lottery. One of the best ways to make money with your game is to get it featured. Being at the top of the paid list or the free apps list on iTunes and on iOS is perhaps the best way to monetize on that platform and this is consistent across all app stores. If people can't find your game, you're not going to get a lot of downloads and you probably won't make money. Another option is to simply treat your games as a hobby. For years, I had a full time job and built my games on the side.
I used game development to teach me how to program, how to make me a better developer and also to get me better at game design and now, I build a lot of my games keeping in mind that I can break them apart and teach them as courses here. This allows me the freedom to design the games that I like to play and build and also teaches other how to do the same. No matter how you approach monetizing your game, the most important thing is to be realistic about what your expectations are. Just like any business, figure out what the ROI is or your Return on Investment versus the time you put into the game and how much you need to recoup.
If you treat your games as a hobby, chances are you'll find a lot more rewarding return by simply getting people to play them. If you're treating your games as a business, make sure to analyze the other games that are competing with yours and price it accordingly.
- Picking a framework
- Playing more games
- Documenting your ideas
- Getting feedback
- Prototyping a game
- Polishing and optimizing your game
- Publishing and marketing your game