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18 Aug 2014

How to Make Money With Your First Indie Game

Everybody wants to make money from their indie game. Sure, you probably want to develop an indie game for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you want to prove to yourself that you can actually develop an indie game, or maybe you want to develop a game unlike anything that has come before it. We understand. Despite your reason, there’s one thing you have in common with every indie developer:

You wouldn’t mind making money on it.

I get it: it’s probably not the only reason why you are developing your indie game. You want it to be fun, smart, exciting – hey, those are all attributes you need to strive for anyway! But wouldn’t it be nice if you could earn a substantial income on your indie game as well? Of course!

It’s the topic of today’s post aimed at beginning indie developers. While there are many different ways to earn an income from your indie game, for this post, we are going to start with the most basic. Because there is so much to say on the topic, expect even more money-making tips sooner rather than later. Without further ado, here are a few of the many ways you can earn an income from your first indie game.



Before you scoff at the idea, let me be clear: including ads into your free-to-play indie game isn’t a bad thing if implemented correctly. The trick is to always allow an ad to pop up whenever there is a natural break in the gameplay. For example, you would never allow an ad to pop up while the player was in the middle of playing the game (that will drive players away in a hurry) – that’s a given. Instead, allow the ad to display whenever the next level of the game is loading.

That’s really the only trick to using ads appropriately: display them only when the player has a few seconds of downtime between playing the game.

When you begin implementing ads that will actually interest your players? Then the ads become even more annoying because the players may actually find the ads interesting and beneficial. We’ve written an entire post on figuring out what type of ads your players are most likely to enjoy, so before using ads in your F2P game, we urge you to read it.

While you’re at it, read this post on utilizing in-game advertising properly for good measure.


In-App Purchases (IAPs)

Using in-app purchases (IAPs) is another way to make money from your indie game. Especially if it makes sense for your indie game, it’s one of the best ways to earn an income from your F2P game while giving hardcore players the option to purchase additional content.

If you a perfect example of how to use IAPs, look no further than Blizzard’s Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. A F2P card battling title on mobile and the desktop, players don’t have to spend a penny in order to collect new cards and become competitive. By completing daily quests and winning matches, players will earn coins (the game’s in-app currency) that can be used to buy new card packs in hopes of scoring an awesome, random card (players have no clue which cards are in certain packs beforehand).

However, for players that want a bunch of cards from the get-go? They can purchase in-game currency with real cash to purchase even more cards. It works, too, as the game is one of the highest grossing games on iOS.

The trick to Hearthstone’s success? For starters, the gameplay is awesome. There’s a ton of strategy to the card battling game that is ridiculously satisfying and addictive. Moreover, the daily quests are pretty fun too, as they force you to accept challenges in order to gain more gold.

For those that want to merely purchase new cards with real-world money, they don’t really have an advantage over players save for obtaining more cards quickly than players that are earning their cards simply by playing the game. It’s balanced, and these IAPs fail to give anyone an advantage in terms of gameplay.

If it makes sense for your indie game (and when done correctly), IAPs can bring in a substantial amount of income.


Premium Version

The tried-and-true premium version of your indie game is a great way to earn extra money on the side. There are a lot of players out there that don’t want to play a F2P game: instead, they just want to buy the indie game, play it, and know exactly what they are getting.

That’s where the premium version of your indie game comes into play. By offering a premium version of your indie game, you can remove in-game ads, provide players with some near in-game items from the start, and so on. For players that want to play and support your game but don’t want to do so via in-app purchases (IAPs still put a bad taste in some people’s mouths), a premium version of your indie game is a great approach.


Expect more tips for making money from your indie game in the future! Have any questions or comments about making money with indie games? Let us know in the comments below!

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