If you look at how many games are available on Steam, Google Play Store, Playstation, and Microsoft stores, and on other websites, you might think that market is oversaturated. You would be right of course, and there are so many gaming studios out there that are struggling to stay afloat. Those who are trying to succeed aren’t going for one big hit so that they can cash out and leave. They all hope to create a successful game just so they can get more attempts at this.
This is of course very stressful, and the reality is these indie studios rarely make enough money to keep going. These are all people with a passion for gaming, but the bar is so high right now, it’s really difficult to compete. They are mostly supported through Kickstarter, or Patreon, or another site that helps them gather donations. The same goes for those who host casino games. Starting costs are just way too high, and upkeep costs aren’t making it easier for startups to make it in this industry. So, let’s see what are some of the factors that influence the success of a gaming site, app, or game in general.
A very important factor here is monetization strategy, and right now there are a few available and widely used solutions.
- Free-to-play or freemium: This is one of the more popular models widely used by some of the most popular games, and apps. Basically, players pay for some in-game perks, or because they don’t have access to certain content. Now a lot of games are seemingly free to play, but actually require payments in order for players to do anything meaningful, and that’s something devs do only for short-term gain, which is a bad sign for a game.
- Subscription model: Having access to a certain game or multiple games on the site, but requires a monthly fee.
- Paying for a product: You pay for a game and registration and can use the product as much as you like.
- Sponsorships: The game is funded during the development and supporters get additional perks once it is finished.
- Free with ads – A site or an app is completely free for use but they generate revenue from the ads that are popping up there.
The most profitable model for the long term is free-to-play with in-app purchases, as this is something the player base is really comfortable with. Now online casino websites use a different monetization tactic and a good example of this monetization are C$5 minimum deposit casino platforms that offer additional bonuses. Basically, players need to only make a small payment and they will get some extra funds or deposit bonuses along with free spins, which are credited to their account. If they end up winning while playing slots or other games they will cover the costs of wagering requirements to withdraw their funds.
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Another important part of the equation is the game value or the type of game someone is making. Those free-to-play games want to leverage a big player base and the whole social aspect of the experience, to keep players coming back. Spending money on in-game goods only makes sense if there is a wide audience that can see it, or if it’s useful to the player. If you are creating a single-player experience with a strong narrative then a single purchase strategy is the way to go, but most likely you would opt for the donation route, as it gives you a chance to see how much the player base is excited about your game.
As for a subscription-based model, you need to see how much content you can offer to players so that it makes sense for them to keep playing. All of these elements will basically dictate your price, and how much you can expect to earn on these products.
It’s a bit different for gambling sites though, as they only make money through player engagement, and a large portion of those funds goes back to players who win. So, they offer vast game libraries even on $5 minimum deposit casino sites, because they want to retain those users. They keep them using an extensive range of slots titles, live games, and table games. It’s very similar to a subscription model, but users at the online casino do not pay on a monthly basis. They pay to maximize the efficiency of deposit bonuses, and because there are other unique incentives like cashback promotions.
If you are counting on players or users to discover your website or app on their own, you are doomed. You can have a truly masterful game, but without any user engagement, it will remain buried. So, a large portion of your budget and efforts has to go on marketing, and that marketing campaign needs to be really focused.
You can’t target people who simply like to play games. You need to know your target audience, and what kind of game genre they like. Arcades or old-school games, rouge-like action adventures, FPS, MOBA, RPG, battle royale, strategies, fighting games, etc. The audience is really diverse and knowing who you are targeting and where is going to make all of the difference. Most devs reach out to streamers and influencers just to have their title featured in one of the videos. This can drive huge traffic on their website, and that’s an important ranking signal.
This does not guarantee people will see your game, it will just lead players to it and if you are lucky they will sign up and give it a shot. The rest is up to you. It would be good to release a demo, see how the audience reacts and if it’s not worth it shut the game down and salvage what you can for another try.
Finally, you need to be very careful with expenses and find the most cost-effective way for development. Even the triple-A titles do this. Ideally, you will have a small team of leaders for graphic design, development, sound, and other aspects of the game. They should lead and oversee the asset development that you outsource, and then put it all together. Avoid unnecessary costs and the development of assets that could take way more time than they are potentially worth. Learn how to build the most with what you have and don’t go into overly ambitious projects, as even your initial idea will take more time than you count.
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These were some general aspects that dictate the success of any game. Most of the first attempts fail and you need to make sure you have enough energy, willpower, and finances to keep going. In the best-case scenario, you can amass a dedicated fan base who is willing to follow you and support you in your future endeavours. That’s why monetization is such an important element because your fanbase doesn’t want to feel cheated. Learn what they like, and discuss game ideas with them, if they feel included in this effort they will be more excited when the game, site, or app is finally released.