An eye-opening interview with Andris Merkulovs, the CEO of TheMonetizr, about all you need to know and love about their plugin. Be warned, though, this is a big read!
Just for the newbies and those unfamiliar with the scene like myself – could you briefly explain the core mechanism behind the Monetizr plugin?
I’ll definitely try my best! To put it simply, TheMonetizr helps game developers to sell their merchandise within their games. The whole process of acquiring the plugin is just as simple. The developer adds a few lines of code to their game, and within 3 minutes everything is set for selling their game branded merchandise. Essentially, what you get is a nice way of making money by making your loyal fans happy! The player plays the game while the developer rewards them with offers generated by TheMonetizr.
So, will these offers gonna just randomly pop up, or is there some sort of a system behind it? And what what kind of a merchandise exactly are we talking about here?
Well, once again, this is a simple one! Picture the way a common gamer usually plays the game. They achieve certain milestones as the game progresses, such as beating a nasty boss, surpassing a previously set high score, accomplishing bonus levels, etc. Based purely on these achievements, the developers reward their most loyal gamers with an exclusive game-related merchandise. As for the merchandise itself - be assured, we have a plenty of goods! From t-shirts, phone cases, mugs, caps, stickers, tote bags to wonderful leggings for the female audience, we have more than 50 items in our product catalog, fitting with the needs of every customer segment playing the game!
So basically, TheMonetizr is the plugin we don’t deserve, but the plugin we need?
All things considered, that’s really not that far from the truth! The awesomeness of the TheMonetizr lies within the fact that the game developers can focus all their strengths on the game itself while we handle the rest. And by “the rest” we literally mean a bulk of important tasks, including taking care of the payments, manufacturing, packaging, shipping and customer support!
Without any overtones, TheMonetizr actually does sound like the game developer’s dream plugin. Would you dare to describe it like that?
Well, we still have to leave some room for improvement, but other than that, I’d like to describe it more as the new developer’s reality. The Monetizr puts emphasis on the strengthening of your brand by letting the players relate to it on an emotional level. There’s like a reflexive benefit thing going on, where the emotions ignited in the digital realm translate into physical products that the users will cherish and remember while at the same time these products work as the guarantor for the player to eventually return to the game. In that regard, you can also view it as a convenient and very high potential retention mechanism. Of course, there’s also a high financial leverage for the game developers as we share the profits which, on average, are measured to be $5 per purchase. But, more importantly, we tend to work very closely with the developing team, establishing mutually respectful partnerships that are grounded in an actual interest and care. For us, the success of the game developer is also the success of ours!
What sets your product apart from, to put it frankly – all of the other at times irritating in-game pop-up ads, sometimes referred to as the game killers? Why should the player feel lucky if the game suddenly freezes only to show a pathway to a new T-shirt?
First off, TheMonetizr is not about spoiling the gaming experience, but about enhancing it! As for the game killing aspect, it’s safe to say that there’s nothing even remotely similar to the way how TheMonetizr and pop-up ads function. It’s not advertising at all, in fact, we proudly refer to ourselves as anti-advertising! More than anything else it’s about close-knit work with the game developers in order to help the gamers unlock the merchandise as a reward for their loyalty, to celebrate their achievements, their moments of success and eventually, bring all those magical gaming memories to life with physical products that they could love and proudly brag about! Our aim is not to mess these special gaming experiences, we don't want to interrupt the gameplay flow, thereby making it difficult for both the game developer and for the gamer. The player simply wants to enjoy the game and we let him/her do just that! Instead, TheMonetizr is like a reward that can only be acquired by playing more, by reaching new heights and achieving new milestones, by constantly getting better at all game parameters.
All of it, of course, sounds genuinely amazing, but can you give us a specific example of how these principles work in a real life scenario? Well, video game scenario, to be more precise…
Alright, obviously we won’t be able to directly convert gamer’s emotions into a physical purchase, but, as I already said, there has to be some room left for improvement! In practice, we use certain game triggers that motivate gamers to acquire merchandise. For example, we will use empowerment which basically provides the gamer with an option to get a combo pack for a bigger price of $49, but with a branded merchandise product coming along as an award. With that said though, and before the acquisitions of a money-based competition fly in, we can assure that the emphasis still remains on the game developers who will also empower users to obtain all the merchandise via completing all levels or by achieving certain milestones of the game!
Undeniably, social influence also plays a major part. Players can celebrate and show their leadership to their peers, they can even brag about it by wearing, for example, a gold ridden t-shirt with one of those rare Pokemons they managed to catch. On a side note, speaking of the Pokemon Go phenomenon, it would be a perfect showcase for the TheMonetizr's capacity to highlight one’s gaming achievements in real life! Just imagine the competition! We also employ the unpredictability factor by using Easter eggs that contain game-related merchandise elements, scattered throughout the game’s narrative. These are discovered like sudden, random rewards that users are able to unlock the more they play the game. There’s also the scarcity trigger, promoting, for example, an exclusive hoodie for only 60 seconds after which the rare piece of clothing will disappear forever. Thus it forces a quick and spontaneous decision making as the mentioned hoodie with a game-related motif on it is considered an amazing and precious merch item. Apart from that, gamers can also collect points that can be later exchanged for goods, thereby getting more swag within the game community!
Would you dare to say that your monetizing plugin is the most convenient way to both sell and acquire game-related merchandise?
It’s difficult to explain this without slipping into the waters of self-glorification, but yes, indeed, for the developers, it’s probably one of the most convenient, sales-related plugins out there right now. It’s effortless to implement and basically transfers all the merchandise-related tasks to our party. We create the merchandise product, developers add it to their game, while, from the moment somebody makes a purchase, we’re back into the action, taking care of the customer service. One of our key goals is to make great, high-quality products and deliver them as quickly as possible. As far as I’m concerned, we’re doing a pretty fine job, as indicated by the high user satisfaction rates! For the gamers, it obviously works a bit differently. Here we provide a borderline seamless checkout process, where gamers can make a purchase with a single tap by using Apple Pay or Android Pay. We also use secure payment methods, so clients can use whichever payment method they prefer, be it a credit card, PayPal, Amazon Pay or in-game currency. Everything for the convenience of all parties involved!
Taking into account all the above mentioned - do you expect TheMonetizr to revolutionize the whole game?
In all honesty, one could easily label TheMonetizr as just another monetization system for the game developers. However, there’s a bunch of important factors that really sets it apart and, cocky as it may sound, actually does make it somewhat revolutionary among the other products in this undeniably crowded ecosystem. With TheMonetizr, game developers don’t have to rely solely on the in-game purchases, advertising or the gainings brought in by the pure sells of the game itself. Here it’s all about game branded merchandise! I don’t want to repeat myself, but, if I have to clearly highlight the revolutionary aspect, then it’s definitely the blurring of lines between the physical and virtual environments. Emotional triggers and the influence that the merchandise products have in the physical world, were our main fields of interest from the very start. Needless to say, the novelty aspect lies exactly within this prominent emphasis on the brand-user relationships. We basically strengthen the brand by establishing a deeper connection with the gamer, by creating new contact points with the consumer. Thus, we are able to convert game induced emotional effects into physical products, which, in turn, makes the customer happy and considerably increases the chance of a recurrent playing. Beautiful experiences and the products associated with them work as the trigger points that incentivize the user to come back which considerably increases the retention rates in a long-term run. As I already said, it’s a great fun for the gamers, and a convenient business model for the developers.
What do you see as the main attraction point of your product?
Besides what I just described, it’s definitely the high quality of the game branded items we produce, something we’d like to view as our trademark. For us, it’s imperative that the production always is of a top notch quality, always arrives in an awesome packaging and, without any exception, makes the user genuinely happy! Here it’s worth noting that for us the design aspect is just as important as the quality one. We always picture how the product would look and work hard to realize the imagined visual concept! In fact, when you think about it, isn’t that the duo of ingredients that matter the most regarding the game branded merchandise?
One can only agree on that! However, you have to come to a point when you’re also able to provide both. The whole development process must have been quite a ride. Speaking of the inevitable challenges, was there, at any point, a moment when you were on a verge of quitting the whole thing? What was the motivation that helped you to keep on going?
The keyword here is a simple and a bit banal one. In a business where thousands, if not millions, of games and plugins, are made every day, both for us and the game developers we’ve worked with, the greatest motivation, without any doubt, has always been love. Love that’s disclosed in an unconditional passion for the product and hard work to actually turn it into a success story. Rarely do you seriously consider quitting when at the end of the day, you know that your idea is truly worth something! Of course, the support and belief from those around you is also an invaluable source of inspiration!
When a game is launched, how do you help game the developers to succeed?
In the initial phase, we usually employ all the regular social media guns. Here it’s all about promotion via social media channels, e.g. Twitter posts, appealing posts on the Instagram feed with various other marketing activities on our end. For the games that use Apple Pay and Android Pay, it’s significantly easier to promote them, since these are using new payment systems and therefore are present on Apple App Store and Google Play. The merchandise itself is also a great tool to incentivize first-time users. When the game truly starts to succeed, it hits more active users who buy merchandise thereby becoming somewhat of walking billboards, proudly promoting the product by simply consuming it. They always have a user experience to share, a reason why they bought the specific item and a whole story about the game it represents! It’s an awesome word of mouth marketing tool!
What are the greatest benefits for those who agree to implement your plugin into their mobile app? And, consequently, what are the most obvious benefits for the consumer?
The biggest benefit for the developers without any doubt is the fact that we take care of all the organizational and manufacturing aspects when it comes to the merchandise. From establishing their brand identity and setting up a merchandise shop within their game, to the handling of all the fulfillment processes and making all their customers truly happy human beings! Basically, everything is on us, except, of course, the making of a truly awesome game which remains the main focal point of the developer. We’re just taking care of all the backstage work, to put it that way. Regardless, it’s an amazing opportunity for the consumer to have their own customizable clothing and accessories as a way of expressing themselves and showing off their achievements!
Lastly - can you give us three key words the accurately describe the Monetizr plugin?
In-game merchandise, the developer and the gamer. And yes, I know that technically these are four words.