Forum Monetization Is This a Crazy Monetization Idea?

General discussion on monetization of games.

Is This a Crazy Monetization Idea?

Postby moosemouse » July 20th, 2011, 6:54 pm

I am brainstorming ideas to make my game more profitable, and one idea I have is to require players to pay 1 Facebook credit to play for that day. 1 Facebook credit is $0.10 USD. My thought is that this may increase my game's ARPU to a level that I could afford to buy new installs.. because currently a player costs way more for me to acquire than I will ever make off of him.

First time players would get to play for free, but if they come back the next day they would have to pay (or maybe they would just play a very crippled version of the game). I would also explain to them that they can easily earn 1 Facebook credit by watching a short TrialPay video or completing some other offer. Or, they can make a 1 time payment of 30 Facebook credits to unlock the game forever.

Obviously I would alienate a lot of players. But I suspect the majority of players I alienate would never spend money on my virtual goods anyway. And advertising revenue for games is pathetic unless you are a huge company who can make big deals, so I don't think the loss of advert eCPM would be significant.

This idea seems to me to be a lot like the old arcade games days when you would drop a quarter into a game you wanted to play. What are your thoughts?

Thanks,
Shawn
Last edited by moosemouse on July 20th, 2011, 8:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is This a Crazy Monetization Idea?

Postby jasonMcIntosh » July 20th, 2011, 8:02 pm

I think one of the Pacman games on Facebook monetizes similarly, except it's for every play (much more 1:1 with classic arcade experience). Apparently, it's working like gangbusters.

The danger is that this may not fit your game's mechanics if it's not strongly session-based like Pacman.

Also, experiment with price points. You don't want to undersell yourself. If you can get 5 FB credits per day per player, that's x5 the revenue. But you'll have to find out where the line is that players become unwilling to pay, and that's your sweet spot.
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Re: Is This a Crazy Monetization Idea?

Postby moosemouse » July 20th, 2011, 8:06 pm

Thanks for the info, Jason! That is very encouraging news! I will hunt down more info on that Pacman game :)
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Re: Is This a Crazy Monetization Idea?

Postby Toby » July 20th, 2011, 8:37 pm

In Korea, a popular pay per play mechanic is to give the player a set amount of time / lives / energy for a day and then make them pay for extra if they want to use over. It's starting to become more popular here too, now that a lot of games are becoming free to play and microtransaction driven.
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Re: Is This a Crazy Monetization Idea?

Postby moosemouse » July 20th, 2011, 9:58 pm

Interesting.. I am going to implement some form of this idea and see what happens.
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Re: Is This a Crazy Monetization Idea?

Postby cjcenizal » July 21st, 2011, 1:26 am

Moosemouse, don't forget Pacman already has a huge installed user base that knows Pacman, has played it before, and has a reliable expectation of what kind of value they're going to get for their money. Your game is unknown to most users, so I think one of your biggest challenges is getting people to value the game (or at least understand its value). Make it as fun as possible, as quickly as possible. In this sense, I think your immediate problem isn't monetization, but the initial impression of players, and your retention rate. Are you familiar with the funnel concept of understanding your game's performance with players? Initial impression -> retention -> monetization? If you don't have the first two down pat, time spent improving the third will be a waste of time.

Also, have you done your homework investigating the business models of other casual and social games? You should minimize your guessing as much as possible... don't re-invent the wheel. These games have been around for years, and a large body of knowledge has already been accrued what works, what doesn't, and why. Some of that knowledge is kept secret behind company doors but a lot of it is also floating around online in the form of articles, interviews, and presentations. Understanding how and why other games monetize will help you figure out the right model for your own game. You've got a good game, but you may have to do some drastic rebuilding to fit it to a viable business model.

I hope this helps man! I am very impressed by your game. Don't be discouraged. You've come so far already, and your game has some really great aspects to it. Don't give up. Your time will only be wasted if you decide to quit!
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Re: Is This a Crazy Monetization Idea?

Postby moosemouse » July 21st, 2011, 3:18 am

Hey cjcenizal :D Thanks for the thoughtful post. I do remember when I first launched my game, you (and a few others) recommended I simplify the start. I now know you were right. I am going to simplify the beginning.

I've read a ton of stuff about how the successful Facebook/Social games do (or did) it, and here are the reasons these techniques alone won't work for my game:

1. The cost to acquire a player is just too high these days. Zynga recently released some ipo info that showed their ARPU is $0.33. Previously, articles and blogs were over-guestimating Zynga's ARPU at up to $2! So $0.33 ARPU is about the most that can be expected, I believe. But a Facebook ad click from US, Western Europe, Canada or Australia is $0.30-$0.60. And the viral channels are all but gone on Facebook so you can't really count on much more than 1 new player per ad click. The way the successful companies are building their player bases for new games today is by promoting them through their existing games. So it is very tough for an indie upstart to get started.

2. My game is a racing game, and it doesn't fit well into the "Casual Game" genre. The demographics of my game are way different from that of Farmville. Specifically, my players are mostly teenage and pre-teen boys who do not have credit cards. So any virtual goods they buy either have to go through their Mom's bank account, or they have to be very low payout offers through TrialPay's offerwall.

I will also add some friend-to-friend gifting into the game and other social aspects, but I don't see how they alone can up the viral "K-Factor" to a profitable level. Time is running out for me to work on this game without profit (I've been working on this game for a year). Drastic times...

So, I am going to give this arcade style, drop a coin and play technique a shot. I will have some type of "try it for free first" setup so people don't have to take a chance on an unknown. I'll let y'all know how it goes :D

Thanks,
Shawn
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Re: Is This a Crazy Monetization Idea?

Postby wildbunny » July 26th, 2011, 8:44 pm

I completely moved off of facebook due to the same problems you're having - user acquisition.

The new plan: work in flash, use the portals to drive millions of users to my app, and monetise directly inside - you wont pay a single cent to have millions of users coming into your game.

Caveat is, it has to be good enough to attract the users. But a game like Steambirds has had millions of plays and not spent one dollar on ads :)

Facebook ads are the biggest rip-off I've ever spent money on in my life! :)

Cheers, Paul.
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Re: Is This a Crazy Monetization Idea?

Postby moosemouse » July 27th, 2011, 1:02 am

Thanks for the info, Paul! Two questions for you:

1. How receptive have the portal owners been to your mtx games?

2. Do you find that the players on the portals have lower ARPU's than the Facebook players?

Thanks,
Shawn
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Re: Is This a Crazy Monetization Idea?

Postby wildbunny » July 27th, 2011, 9:45 am

moosemouse wrote:Thanks for the info, Paul! Two questions for you:

1. How receptive have the portal owners been to your mtx games?

2. Do you find that the players on the portals have lower ARPU's than the Facebook players?

Thanks,
Shawn


I'm afraid my plan has yet to actually be implemented - I'm 99% done on my first game to use this model!

However, I can say that chris from player.io's game everybodyedits used this model and made $30k in the first month or so, and continues to make $10k/month :)

That was part time work though, since he obviously works at player.io full time! :)

Cheers, Paul.
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Re: Is This a Crazy Monetization Idea?

Postby moosemouse » July 27th, 2011, 3:10 pm

Wow :shock: That is very impressive! I must be doing a lot of things wrong because my numbers are nowhere near that.
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Re: Is This a Crazy Monetization Idea?

Postby wildbunny » July 27th, 2011, 3:29 pm

moosemouse wrote:Wow :shock: That is very impressive! I must be doing a lot of things wrong because my numbers are nowhere near that.


I think anything where you have an individual persona visible to other players will be a winner - of course chris's game idea was unique as well which will have definitely helped...

My first (and only) game on facebook was a horrible failure in terms of monetisation - similar numbers to yours. It was a abstract puzzle game where I was selling hints at some cost per hint (and you got a bunch free to start with).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yL8W3GL084

It just never got enough players to be successful and the players it did have weren't interested in buying the hints, so a double failure! :)

This time I'm making a game with a visible persona, and going with the same mechanics and gui set-up that zynga use in their games - lets hope this one works better!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7O8qZBR3mJQ

Cheers, Paul.
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Re: Is This a Crazy Monetization Idea?

Postby Henrik » July 27th, 2011, 7:34 pm

wildbunny wrote:I think anything where you have an individual persona visible to other players will be a winner - of course chris's game idea was unique as well which will have definitely helped...

Yes. People want to be able to show off, and if you let people spend money to look better, get a higher score faster, get a prettier farm, get a cooler avatar, some people will spend money on it.
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Re: Is This a Crazy Monetization Idea?

Postby jasonMcIntosh » July 28th, 2011, 2:20 am

Just to add another data point here: remember to price your items across the spectrum. Turns out, most people don't spend small amounts per purchase, as you might think.

While nearly three-fourths or 71 percent of people buy virtual currency in increments of between 0 and $10, most of those purchases are around the $9.99 level, followed by $4.99 and $0.99. Consumers actually spend $0.99 less than 2 percent of the time.
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Re: Is This a Crazy Monetization Idea?

Postby moosemouse » July 30th, 2011, 4:37 pm

Just to update my fellow indie game developer brethren, I tried the "Pay-Per-Day" idea on the Facebook version of my game this past week. This only applied to new players. Existing players were still able to play for free. I let the new players play for free for 24 hours, then they were greeted with this pay-gate:

Image

Results were not good, so I have taken it down again. it was worth a try, but it is not going to work for my game. Hope this info is valuable to some of you :)

I've also simplified the instructions and initial game play per many people's feedback. I think this particular change is a big improvement, so I am keeping it.

Thanks for your input!
Shawn
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