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24 Mar 2015

Strategies For Monetizing Your Mobile Game

Although you develop indie games thanks to your love of gaming, you wouldn’t be doing this if you didn’t think you could make a few bucks in the process. Especially if you are a full-time indie developer, it is essential that your indie game is earning enough profits to keep your indie studio afloat; and ultimately, ensure that you are earning an income that’s livable. We’re focusing on mobile devs for the next few days, but you can implement of few of our main ideas into any type of indie game that you develop. Below are a few of the best strategies for monetizing your mobile game.

Premium model

Sometimes, an indie game has so much clout and momentum behind it that selling it at a premium price is the best approach to take. While you don’t have to price your mobile game as high as an indie game such as FTL: Faster Than Light (a game that was critically acclaimed on the PC before it being sold on iOS for $9.99), pricing it between 99 cents and $3.99 is sometimes the best approach to take.

Ultimately, the presentation of your mobile game’s store pages will decide the success of the premium approach. Ensure your game’s store page has these things before selling it at a premium price for maximum success.


Alternatively, you can take the freemium approach: in other words, allow players to play your mobile game for free while providing them with perks if they purchase the premium version. Trivia Crack does this to perfection. While it’s possible to play the entire game for free, if you want to turn off ads forever, all you have to do is pay $2.99. For those that hate watching an ad every time they finish their turn, it’s a great trade-off.

In-app purchases

Additionally, consider offering an in-app store that gives your players the opportunity to purchase in-game items with in-game currency. However, it’s important to be sure that these in-game items feel like a bonus instead of being mandatory to actually playing the game. In other words, don’t design your mobile game around your paid in-game content!

Your premium, in-game content needs to feel like a bonus: unique power-ups that gives the player a unique experience, new characters with special abilities, new levels that provide new challenges, new skins, and so on. When your players purchase the new content, they need to feel like you are doing them a favor instead of feeling disgruntled that they are purchasing content that should have been offered for free. There’s a fine line between the two: don’t cross it.

In-app ads

Bouncing off the freemium model for a moment, one of the best ways to monetize your free mobile game is to utilize in-app ads appropriately. Again, Trivia Crack does this to perfection – and it’s one of the reasons why the game has made so much money for developer Etermax. Whenever a turn is over, players using the free version of the game are forced to watch a short video ad, then wait for their next turn.

This is crucial, because it means the player is never bothered with an in-game ad until gameplay is over for the time being. It’s a perfect way to monetize arcade-style games (i.e. games that challenge the player to play as long as they can until they lose all of their lives) and level-based games (showing a video ad whenever a player starts a new level is ideal). Think about the various ways you can implement ads that are non-intrusive for maximum monetization.

The best approach? Combine all of these into one

If possible, consider implementing all of these strategies into one package. That’s the beauty of monetizing mobile games: there is so much freedom to tweak how you monetize your indie game that you can make it work however you wish. Use one strategy, all of them, or a few: whatever makes sense for your indie game to give you the maximum return on your indie game.

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