Indie games are independent video games developed by small teams or individual creators with no support from any game publisher. It means that no sponsor provides financial and technical help during the development process, launch, and promotion of the game – unlike AAA projects which are usually well-funded. It is always an experiment, with no guarantee of success.
Sooner or later, however, developers are going to want the world to see their game, to be rewarded for their endeavors, but how can indie creators generate revenue? Indie games monetization is a rather challenging thing to implement because there are no 100% winning techniques. Every tactic may bring profit, from forum posting to using Reddit and even implementing CTV advertising campaigns (yes, indie games can be played on TV). We’ll highlight the most effective methods developers can use in order to promote their games efficiently.
Ways to monetize indie games
The indie game market is highly competitive, which isn’t surprising, as every developer is looking for success. There is no single rule for all, but we can summarize the strongest points of how monetization of games works, without sponsorship. We suggest you take advantage of the following practices that may help you generate revenue even before your game is released.
IAO stands for Initial Asset Offerings and implies some exclusive content or items related to your game. It is especially effective if there are already fans who are interested in any bonuses and extras you might offer. These can be secret weapons, exclusive accessories, limited access, etc. You can offer some unique assets even before the game is released, and not only engage fans but also earn pre-release revenue.
Another thing you may do in terms of monetization – video games purchases offered to the player during gameplay. That is to say, the game is still available for free but in order to get extra benefits, a user should pay money. Among the things you can sell are:
- game currency to buy premium items, additional lives, etc.
- exclusive holiday offers that are available during a limited period of time
- unique characters or items with premium design to customize the look
- extra lives: when the user runs out of lives in the game, it is great to allow the buying of additional ones to continue playing
- premium items whose quantity is limited to spice up the players’ interest and gamble
Selling game merch is always an option when it comes to additional earnings. You can launch an online store with goods which design is based on your game. Cups, t-shirts, stickers – anything will do. However, in order for you to benefit from this method of monetization, games should have fans.
Cooperation with a big brand is an excellent way to earn money on an indie game you have created. The promo may be integrated using some design elements of the game, i.e. adding the company’s logo, or you may offer some sponsor’s services that have relation to your game and may interest the user as a target audience.
Licensing and white labeling
Web portals will pay you for game licensing. In other words, you sell the rights to your game on specific conditions that you discuss beforehand. The same thing is possible with white labeling, however in this case you sell the copy of your game that has a different name or design.
This is a very popular model of monetization in games when you allow downloading of your game for free and then offer to switch to its premium version. This will give the users access to extra levels and exclusive features as well as allow them to skip the ads. On one hand, you don’t get revenue from ads but, on the other hand, it is compensated by the purchase of the premium version, so you lose nothing.
Ads display is one of the most popular ways of generating revenue from your games. It doesn’t require any expenses from the players, only a bit of their time to watch some ads. Indie game developers prefer earning money using this method because it takes less effort but can really help generate income. There are several ad types you can display within your game:
Static ads usually do not distract the player from the game process. Such ads don’t bother users a lot but also may not generate good income because the users have got used to them and easily click to close the ad, not paying a lot of attention.
Small notices that appear somewhere on the screen and offer to take actions that usually lead to app monetization. For example, such notifications may suggest the player buy extra items, refill currency balance, try out some premium features, etc.
You can cooperate with other developers who create games similar to yours and place an ad sponsored by them allowing your players to install more games. The more installations users make being redirected from your ad, the more money you will earn.
Apart from that, in terms of monetization, indie games developers can earn money utilizing CTV advertising.
How to monetize indie games on CTV
It is hard to overestimate the part CTV advertising plays in product monetization. Displaying ads is one of the most common monetization strategies, and game development is no exception. Video ads attract the full attention of the viewer and may bring good revenue because CTV advertising is distinguished by precise targeting, so the chances the ad will convert are very high. The fact that indie games can be accessed via connected TV is not nonsense and not news. This point also relates to another tip for the monetization in games development industry – uploading your game to an app market.
Speaking of monetization, video games can also bring revenue if you use all the benefits of CTV advertising and will choose the best monetization methods that will successfully work with your ad strategy. Precise targeting allows for the right audience to be addressed, which increases your chances of being noticed significantly, and the fact that CTV is used mostly by young audiences also works out for you as a game developer. You can make use of opportunities provided by CTV ads display on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and other video-on-demand platforms, or you can try to add your game to the collection of one of the game stores owned by CTV platforms. For example, Roku gives every developer the possibility to publish their creations to its store of indie games.
An example of a successful indie game that became world-famous is Minecraft, and today anyone can play it using a game console or other connected TV device. Why can’t your indie game be such a success?
You never know which promotion trick will work for you, so don’t be afraid to try and don’t give up too soon. Think outside the box and understand that people may have a unique view of your game, quite different from yours. Be active on social networks: publish updates, join discussions, answer questions, and share valuable information about your game to grab the attention of subscribers. Dedicate time to forums and online communities because these are the places real gamers hang out in, which gives you lots of chances to spread the word about your creation. Don’t try to create something flawless and don’t wait for one promotion method to bring you a fortune, because indie games monetization is often about trial and error. But be confident that your efforts will bring results if you will stay creative, use different approaches, and find your own promotion strategy that resonates with your target audience.