5 Ways that Mobile Games Make Money
Written by: Simon Batt
You’ve just finished up your first mobile game. You’ve designed all the levels, finalized the art and applied all the finishing touches. If you’re making a game for fun or practice, you might be able to stop here; someone who wants to make a profit from mobile games, however, have a problem on their hands. How can this game make money? Thankfully, there are a variety of ways mobile games make money! Let’s take a look at some of the more common methods:
1. Free With Ads
This option is one of the most popular ways to turn a profit. The game is put onto the store for free, but contains in-game advertising to cover the costs. While this is a very popular means, it has to be done with caution. A lot of consideration has to be made on where and when the ads display. Too little and it won’t turn a profit; too many, and it will drive people away. Poor ad placement can even interfere with the game and cause frustration.
If you choose this method, consider the genre of your game and the best place to put the ads. If your game has levels, you can place ads after a level is completed. If your game has short levels, space them out accordingly to give the player a suitable break. Static games such as crosswords can have a small ad banner at the bottom without being too obtrusive.
2. Free with Premium Options
Also known as ‘Freemium’, these games are free and offer a permanent “premium option” for a small cost. Perhaps you can offer no ads, or infinite lives, or unlimited hints. Once the player pays the fee, they get that bonus forever. This is a nice way for players to show support for a game through a one-off payment for an improved quality of life. While it won’t earn you as much money as repeat payment methods or ads, it’s an unobtrusive income earner that doesn’t leave a bad taste in the player’s mouth.
3. In-Game Currency
An in-game currency bought with real money is a popular method used in ‘gacha’ games, where players can purchase credits to spend on a lottery-based system. If you take this path, you can work in discounts for players who are willing to spend a large amount of money on your game. It’s also nice to have some means of earning the currency through in-game means as well, to help players who aren’t so well-off.
4. Ads On Demand
Sometimes the best way to show ads is to make the users want them! You could set up a way for users to watch an ad in exchange for an in-game bonus. This can be an extra chance at a level after the player has lost their last life, or for some in-game currency so the player can buy items. You could even offer an ad in exchange for a boon to help the player through a level.
If you’re allowing users to request ads in exchange for in-game currency that’s usually purchased with real money, consider how many ads you want the player to be allowed to watch per day. Perhaps you want to restrict it to one ad per hour to encourage actual payments between ads. Alternatively, you can take the restrictions off the ad-watching and simply allow your players to earn as much currency as they like; if you take this route, you should tweak the reward rate to benefit both you and the player equally.
5. Paid Apps
There is also the option to have your app as a paid app, so people have to pay in order to gain access to your game. While this has worked for some people, studies have shown that paid apps are quickly losing favor against their free-to-play brethren. As such, while a paid app is a potential way for you to make money from a game, it’s not an ideal one.