Eric Seufert has a great blog post in which he provides advice for the typical indie game developer he meets. The post is solid gold for an aspiring game developer, outlining the necessary steps required to get a great game to the top grossing charts.
Eric’s central point is that while making a great game is essential to success, it’s no longer enough. Developers also need to tune their game for both retention and monetization, then use that information to launch intelligent acquisition campaigns that acquire users profitably.
This is time-consuming and expensive, requiring both a technology platform and experts who know how to interpret the huge volumes of data you can create. Eric also outlines a few alternatives, such as working with a publisher or emerging development partners like Tilting Point.
Think Gaming’s take: we’re seeing the emergence of a new type of publisher, one that uses math to create value. Finance and advertising have seem dramatic shifts to quantitative approaches in the last decade. Expect to see the same in free-to-play gaming.
Emily Greer at Kongregate has a great presentation from Casual Connect on maximizing revenue from in-app purchases:
She brought some great statistics from Kongregate’s games, a broad enough sample to see how differing strategies impact ARPU. A few things that she highlighted that we see come up repeatedly:
- Low entry prices don’t work. $0.99 in-app purchases don’t entice more people to purchase, and simply drags down the average purchase price and ARPU.
- Big spenders represent 50%+ of revenue for high performing games. While they are less than 10% of users, they are critical for overall monetization. You need a strategy for how a user can engage
- Prices of in-app purchases are usually inelastic. Put differently, great games can raise prices on their in-app purchases and increase ARPU. (connect this to #1 and #2 for more justification)
- The highest earning games are all about retention. Games with great long-term retention keep the interest of big spenders and create an in-game economy that continues to provide reasons for them to spend over time.
Emily backs it up with lots of stats from Kongregate and some case studies. If you want to read about how to make more money, go read the piece. It’s full of gold nuggets from her hard won experience.
When you’re ready to put it into action, integrate Think Gaming’s SDK. We make it easy and automatic to uncover your own gold nuggets.
Great thoughts (as always) from Bill Gurley about the transition to a mobile-centric world:
While he doesn’t focus on games, they’re experiencing exactly the same changes, including changes to distribution, monetization, and core design principles.