informa
3 MIN READ
Blogs

All Game Monetization Ever?

Is game monetization really that complex? Do these five categories really cover every approach ever?

Bold statement: all commercial games fit into one or more of these categories:
Pay-to-Play (P2P), Pay-to-Win (P2W), Pay-to-Enhance (P2E), Pay-to-Skip (P2S), or Pay-to-Accelerate (P2A), (ad revenue counts too, but this post will focus on the main ones).  

Pay-to-Play

Content, anyone?

Traditionally, games have been sold as packages of content; priced according to the quality and quantity of playtime available. Piracy has been rampant, since acquiring a piece of content is simply a torrent away.  Consumers pay to play the game, and might purchase expansion content (DLC).  Players either pay a recurring subscription fee (common for MMORPGs) to rent the content; or a larger initial payment to own the content.  Which is more lucrative: a large one-time payment or an indefinite amount of smaller subscription fees?
 

Pay-to-Win

Barbarous Thorn Blade: ASI VH + CTR VH
Market Price: 125 000 CE, which can be purchased for $280 USD.
Most free players earn about 100 CE/day.

Pay-to-Win games (often promoted as free-to-play) allow players to purchase content that gives them a distinct advantage over free players; an example from Spiral Knights, above, one of the best weapons in the game.  For a free player to earn enough currency to purchase this weapon, they'd have to play the exact same set of levels every day for over three and a half years.  Top-ranked players can earn 500 CE/day; at that rate, it would still take them nearly a year to be able to purchase the weapon (est. 8 hours per day, totaling 2000 hours).
The same weapon can be purchased for real-life currency without spending more than 30 seconds in-game.  The advantage of paying is evident: you theoretically save 2000 hours of your time.
 

Pay-to-Enhance

Retails for $7.49 (just the hat)

Famously used when Team Fortress 2 transitioned from pay-to-play to pay-to-enhance (or "free-to-play"), players can purchase decorative items that do not provide gameplay advantages.

 

Pay-to-Skip

Above, SK content that can be earned by grinding, or purchased for $6

P2S is arguably one of the most controversial monetization methods, but also one of the most common.  Players can grind to earn access to new content, or, they can pay to skip the grind.  The huge amount of time necessary to earn access to the content, however, gives the developers more time to release new content, and, ideally, successfully re-engage players before they grow tired of the game.
 

Pay-to-Accelerate

The problem with paying-to-skip is precisely that:  players skip your content.  What if you could charge players to simply accelerate their progress, without allowing them to skip any of your game's content?  Well, you can!  "Amplifiers", "multipliers", and "accelerators" provide XP or progress boosts to accelerate the pace at which the player progresses through the game.  Temporary universal acceleration promotions can bring former players back to the game, (E.g., Runescape's Double Xp Weekends). 
 

What about the games you've purchased/designed?

Are they Pay-to-Play (P2P), Pay-to-Win (P2W), Pay-to-Enhance (P2E), Pay-to-Skip (P2S), Pay-to-Accelerate (P2A), or a mix of these methods?  How would you monetize games?


[If you liked this post, please share it.]

Follow me (xaviersythe) on Twitter.

Latest Jobs

Xbox Game Studios

Redmond, Washington
10.5.22
Technical Lighting Artist

Innogames

Hamburg, Germany
10.5.22
Game Designer - Elvenar

Six Foot

Houston, TX
10.3.22
Six Foot Director, Player Relations

Hometopia Inc.

Remote
10.7.22
Lead Engineer
More Jobs   

CONNECT WITH US

Explore the
Subscribe to
Follow us

Game Developer Job Board

Game Developer Newsletter

@gamedevdotcom

Explore the

Game Developer Job Board

Browse open positions across the game industry or recruit new talent for your studio

Browse
Subscribe to

Game Developer Newsletter

Get daily Game Developer top stories every morning straight into your inbox

Subscribe
Follow us

@gamedevdotcom

Follow us @gamedevdotcom to stay up-to-date with the latest news & insider information about events & more