Chartboost University: Monetization Methods

Chartboost University

Insights & Best Practices

November 8, 2013


min read

One of the most common questions we get from indie developers is: "How do I make money off my game?"?Monetization - and how to do it well - is a hot topic in our industry right now. Alex Lin, Founder of Y-Combinator backed games studio LVL6 and top iOS ad network G6Pay shares his observations on the monetization practices found in today's top grossing games.

Alex begins his lecture with the disclaimer that all successful games are fun. If a game isn't fun, then it can't monetize.

Game Mechanics.?Alex introduces us to two types of monetization mechanics used by some of today's top developers. The first is Gacha, "a nicer word for gambling." Think of it as if you are putting a dollar into a gumball machine for a chance to win a super rare prize. You basically pay to roll the dice and potentially get that $200 sword. Psychologically, Alex says, there's a sense of thrill and excitement when people gamble versus simply paying for an object.

The second mechanic, Time Monetization can be found in hits like Clash of Clans. Pay a few gems to speed up the process of training your troops, for example. Games that implement Time Monetization feel free, because players have the option to wait, or pay to progress. What CoC does brilliantly, Alex says, is condition players to pay. To play CoC well (defend your village, demolish other players), it is almost required to speed things up, but the overall experience always feels free, because you can always wait three hours for your castle to upgrade, or just pay the money and continue on your quest for world domination.

Social Pressure. Players can be encouraged to pay when a game reinforces their sense of identity. Offline, someone can be a nerd, Alex says, but online they can be a badass mafia boss. When that sense of identity is threatened, the user will act to protect it.

Live Ops. After you launch your game, have your team release new missions or limited time content to spawn reengagement with your game. When a game runs a new live event, Alex observes, that title often jumps in the charts for the duration of that event.

Why Pay??Provide your players with cues to show why paying will benefit their overall experience in the game. Don't just assume your players will simply gravitate towards buying that super rare potion; show them why that item will help them have more fun in the game.

Ultimately, regardless of which mechanics you choose to implement in your title, Alex reminds developers again that all successful games are fun. A game that relies on pure monetization mechanics to make money, yet fails to keeps players entertained may not succeed. Build a great game instead that keeps players happy and engaged, and you may just see your profits go up and to the right.

Thanks again to Alex and LVL6 Games for coming out to speak and advise our CBU developers! Alex will be providing further insights on user acquisition best practices on a Tapstream panel, "UA Without the Gloves: Hands on techniques and best practices," in San Francisco next week.