The Biggest Game Monetization Strategy Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

July 11, 2023
July 11, 2023

Video games generate billions of dollars in revenue every year. Despite this, less than 5% of all games that go into production ever turn a profit. Poor monetization strategies are often to blame for unprofitable games. Avoiding these common game monetization strategy mistakes can help you get on the right side of the numbers.

Key Takeaways:

  • Free-to-play games dominate the marketplace but must incorporate a variety of monetization strategies to generate a profit.
  • Developers commonly make mistakes, such as waiting too long to incorporate monetization features or over-monetizing games, which lead to reduced profits and lower player satisfaction.
  • Sonamine can help you maximize profits by avoiding common game monetization mistakes.

Understanding Game Monetization Strategy

Game monetization is the process game publishers use to generate revenue from players. An effective monetization strategy is critical for the profitability of your game.

What Are Common Game Monetization Strategies?

Traditionally, video game companies made most of their money by charging players an upfront fee to purchase a hardcopy or digital download of a game. That monetization model is no longer popular, particularly for mobile games.

Today, the majority of games are free-to-play and rely on a mixture of monetization strategies to generate revenue. The most popular strategies include:

  • In-app purchases
  • In-game advertising
  • Subscriptions
  • Loot boxes and gacha mechanics
  • Sales of cosmetic items and customization options

These monetization strategies allow gaming companies to earn significant revenue from their games without charging customers an upfront fee to play.

Common Mistakes in Game Monetization Strategies

To develop an effective game monetization strategy, it is important to avoid common monetization mistakes.

Incorporating Monetization Strategies Too Late

Some developers try to build the game first and then add monetization features later. This is a mistake because monetization and game development need to go hand in hand.

For example, a common reason players don’t make in-game purchases is that they receive too many free resources during gameplay and don’t feel like they need to buy anything to progress at the rate they desire. It is easier to balance sources and sinks when you think about monetization from the start. If you wait until after you finish the game, you may have to completely rework how your game economy functions to successfully incorporate monetization strategies.

Graph showing the relationship between playtime and in-game resources earned

Emphasizing Monetization at the Expense of Gameplay

While it is important to build reasons for players to make purchases into the game, overdoing your game monetization strategy can backfire. Players who feel like they must buy something to progress in the game may become frustrated and quit.

Additionally, many players view developers with a reputation for producing “pay-to-win” games negatively. Over-monetizing your game can ruin your reputation and hurt the success of your current games and any future games you release.

Another major player complaint is intrusive ads. Most players tolerate ads because they understand that for players to enjoy free-to-play content, developers need to make money. However, ads that are too frequent, too long, or poorly designed or that interrupt play during crucial moments can lead to player churn.

Not Being Transparent or Fair

While many players consider monetization a necessary evil, the gaming industry has drawn considerable negative press from media, parents, and others who view the game monetization strategy of some gaming companies as misleading and predatory. It is important to be completely transparent with players about monetization in your game.

Your app store listings should inform players about all of the in-game monetization features your game includes. Your advertising should not mislead players about what they get for free. Avoid creating the perception that you are luring players in with free content only to require them to spend money to play your game.

Listen to players and address their concerns. Make sure you are continuously updating and improving your game so that players don’t feel like you quit paying attention to the game once you got some money out of it.

Misunderstanding Player Motivation

Simply incorporating in-game purchases as part of your game monetization strategy will not result in instant revenue. You must offer items that players want to buy. Some developers assume they know what players want and then don’t understand why players don’t buy what they are selling.

Analytics can help you understand player motivation and better tailor your offerings. You can also learn what players want to buy by asking them. Offer a variety of items to purchase because different players have different motivations. For example, an ultra-rare item may not be valuable to a new player, because a new player may not understand why the item is valuable or know how to use it.

Overcomplicating Your Game Monetization Strategy

Don’t make players jump through unnecessary hoops to earn rewards or make purchases. You must incorporate safeguards to prevent accidental purchases, guard against minors making purchases without their parent’s consent, and protect your customer’s privacy and security. However, aim to make the purchase process as easy and frictionless as possible.

Don’t add any unnecessary steps between deciding to make a purchase and completing that purchase. This can lead to players abandoning their carts. Avoid the temptation to interrupt the purchase process with marketing messages. Instead of buying more stuff, players may decide not to buy what they originally intended.

When using rewards to incentivize players to make purchases, sign up for marketing newsletters, or give you valuable information such as their email address, avoid making those rewards too difficult to earn. You can turn players off your game entirely by offering them something and then making them feel like they gave up their time or personal information for nothing.

Pricing Purchases Incorrectly

Charge too much for your offerings and players will not make purchases. Charge too little and you are letting profit slip through your fingers. Use the tools you have to determine the pricing sweet spot for your offerings. Sell items at a variety of price points to capture players with different budgets and spending habits.

Avoid Game Monetization Strategy Mistakes With Sonamine

The experienced and dedicated game monetization strategy team at Sonamine can help you develop a successful game monetization strategy that avoids these common game monetization strategy mistakes. Contact us today to get started.

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