Gamesforum Seattle: How to monetize games effectively

by Marissa Jankowski on Nov 8, 2018

On October 23, people from all over the games industry descended on Bell Harbor Conference Center in Seattle to learn everything about games. From marketing to development, everything gaming was covered.  

Sean Webster, VP of Business Development for AppLovin was present to moderate a panel about how to monetize ever present games. Monetization models from mobile have transitioned to the console and PC side of the gaming world and the panel dissected the new trends in monetization.

Joining Sean on stage was Andy Ulery, VP Business Development and Strategy at IQzone, Chris Early, VP Partnerships and Revenue at Ubisoft, Damir Slogar, CEO of Big Blue Bubble, and Arjun Balaram, Game GM at Electronic Arts. Each panelist provided their unique perspective on monetization, with both Ubisoft and Electronic Arts weighing in on mobile, PC, and console.

Gamesforum AppLovin panel how to monetize games

One of the big themes of the panel was how to keep players engaged and therefore, increase revenue. Appointment mechanics like push notifications and events are very important to help drive players back to the game, but there are other things developers can do. For example, developers should be adding features and more content continuously to retain users and increase lifetime-value. “As we expand content, it provides new opportunities for monetization,” says Early.

Another thing the panelists brought up is the need to have a competitive element to your game. This doesn’t mean every game needs to have competitive multiplayer, but an element that taps into a player’s competitive nature. For single player games, this can take the form of a leaderboard, earning stars to encourage completion, and limited edition in-game items.

One often overlooked aspect in driving player engagement is player choice. This extends to of both game design and ad monetization on mobile. “Rewarded video is one of those things that puts control in the hands of players,” says Early. The reason rewarded video ads have been so successful on mobile is because they’re initiated by the player, giving them a choice of watching a short video ad to gain in-game items, whether it be another life or currency. In-app purchases too, are a choice, allowing players to customize their character, earn currency faster, and unlock more content. However, the core gameplay should not be tied to in-app purchases, otherwise players will feel like they’re not getting the full experience without having to pay.

In terms of game design, if a game it too linear, you risk fatiguing the player with the lack of choices they can make. For example, a game obviously requires players to progress linearly at times but developers should allow players to achieve game objectives in the order they like.

In order to effectively monetize, one of the key things developers need to do is audience segmentation. “We find a lot of success with player segmentation,” says Balaram. “Different players are playing the game for different reasons, and if we understand this we can cater to them effectively.”

By segmenting players and understanding their behavior, you can cater the game to different audiences. A player of a match-three game is completely different from that of a role-playing game and understanding their specific needs means you can craft a game that’s tailored to them, and monetizes well.

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Marissa is Marketing Associate at AppLovin.