Earnings. Any sensible game developer wants the fruit of the hard labor and all the creative energy invested in the project to result in some sort of revenue. At times, it’s enough for the guys to break even, at times – the hopes are high for another surprise blockbuster, enjoyed by million-headed legions of newfound fans. Whatever is the case, it is nice to see some money floating in at the end of any development cycle. Does it always happen so? Well… not exactly.
Despite the inspiring numbers (with the average iOS and Android game earning $22,500 a day, from in-app purchases by 2016 data, easily beating any other app category out there), the real-life situation is quite a different story, as the average number is always strongly affected by the A-listers at the top. Let’s take a quick look at what determines your game’s earning potential, by learning from the all-time greats and from the all-time greatest blunders.
How to Make Your Game into the Next Clash of Clans
Okay, the heading might be a bit misleading. Even with a tour de force marketing campaign, truckloads of resources and some additional rituals to earn Tyche's benevolence, reaching the amount of success that Clash of Clans achieved would be a hard task for any upcoming or even slightly experienced game developer.
As indicated by the analysis of the mobile gaming industry at the end of 2016, Clash of Clans was easily making more than 2 million dollars from in-app purchases on daily basis, 45 times the amount of the 10th highest-earning mobile game of the time. The lesson here? Stay landed and be patient, as these kinds of success stories are usually a combination of numerous circumstances. With that said, though…
‘’The Difficult can be done immediately, the Impossible takes a little longer”
(They’re still fighting for whoever came up with the quote)
How to Earn 45 times less than the Clash of Clans (For a Start)
You see, that sounds more realistic - and certainly easily achievable. Before listing some kind of a “5 steps to…” thing (which we will do), let’s stick to the introductory paragraph and take a look at some examples you definitely shouldn’t follow.
It’s obvious that you shouldn’t make a buggy mess or a cheap rip-off out of a pure respect towards your profession and the potential audience. Also, nobody will ever want to invest their time and money in rubbish, while it’s also the safest path to spoil your own reputation for pretty much eternity. Once you’re in the black list, it’s tough to climb out of it. However, you can also make a technical masterpiece and still fail. Why? Well, just make it freemium and you’ve effectively signed a pact with the devil.
What does freemium mean? It’s simple – you make your game free to download, but then try to get back its worth by integrating in-app payments. Up until a certain point, the game is enjoyable. Then, it quickly starts to throw a myriad of irritating obstacles in the gamer’s path – all to make it borderline impossible to finish the game without opening the wallet.
Once it starts, you can be sure that the majority of players will go out to spend the same amount of money on their lattes. Keep in mind - there’s a difference between exciting, purchasable bonuses and a car that cannot be used for the next 8 hours as you didn’t want to pay for the instant repair.
Successful franchises such as Real Racing and Plants vs. Zombies are the poster boys for the negative consequences the freemium system can have on your game. Both switching from paid-for to freemium mechanics with the 3rd and 2nd installments respectively, the games essentially killed their former appeal, losing quite a few fans in the process. While it’s not carved in the stone that the freemium mechanic will instantly kill your game, there are very few successful examples and most developers end up struggling for a return
Feel like you’ve made a quality product? Time will tell - and the audience will confirm. Quality games can demand a reasonable amount of money - they expect to pay for quality and most will likely stay with you through fires and storms.
Finally – 5 Steps of Making a Quality Game (with Earning Potential)
No worries, this will be a short one. First and foremost:
Work hard to provide an excellent user experience. The user experience is perhaps the most important consideration for developing a successful game. To do so requires a lot of time and resources (good, experienced designers etc.), but it’s an investment that can only pay off positively. The average time it takes for a new app to be deleted after download is 45 seconds. That’s all the time you have to present a simple, 3-tap interface that invites investigation on the player’s part.
Don’t work alone. Although there are several successful exceptions, such as the acclaimed Blackbox franchise (a puzzle adventure made solely by Ryan McLeod), research shows that games made by several developers generate considerably higher revenue per developer. More heads, more energy, and a combination of different talents.
Integrate affiliate links and ad services. Affiliate links and ad services can increase the profitability of the game; however, keep your eye on these, for reasons stated in this piece. It’s true that the revenue generated by these is significantly higher than that made purely from game-related purchases, you do want to avoid abusive monetization!
Spread the word! Assuming that you’ve followed the three previous steps, it is now time to engage into marketing activities. Make sure to clearly define your target audience to not waste any time or money on audience segments that wouldn’t care even if you had made a genuine chef d’oeuvre. In some cases, it is enough to place some Google and Facebook ads - but each game is unique and the marketing plans should be as well.
Use Monetizr. Ha, got ya’ there. No, in all seriousness - use it. The Monetizr universe acts as a developer’s protection program, as some sort of revenue is practically guaranteed by default. Also, the platform works to raise acquisition and keep the retention rates hot, so there’s always an opportunity to gain more exposure and thus – generate even more revenue. Whenever a bunch of players leave one game, a new bunch will arrive to yours. More information about the features of Monetizr can be found here.
Long story short – invest in quality! Spending time on the front end making sure the user experience is great will significantly pay off in the long run. Game developing is a tough business, where every resource and talent counts. If every step is double checked and there’s a workable plan B behind your belt, you might just have the next Clash of the Clans in the making - complete with making 45 times the amount you used to make.