We did an introductory post about making a clicker game which can be found over here, it was rushed content and consisted mostly of random thoughts, forced together. Starting from monetization, we will be doing a series of posts on how to properly monetise your game.
For the sake of this article, we will be assuming your game is free to play by default.
This post, and the ones following it will be more focused on particular topics. Whether you’ve already made a clicker game or are looking forward to making one, monetisation is definitely one of the few things which you should will paying attention to. We’ll first go through some of the conventional methods of monetisation and then take a look at the unconventional ones.
The games we’ll be looking at will be basic clicker titles we have experience with. Such as Tap Titans 2, Crab War and Grow Castle. But we will also take a look at some more complex idle games like Bit Heroes and Summoners War. Which are not exactly incremental in nature, nor clicker. But still follow an idle playtime during which the player is free to do whatever he wishes.
There are three simple methods of monetisation. Static banner advertisements, video ads and micro-transactions. Apart from these three, unconventional methods also exist, such as offering a second, paid version of your app. But we’ll get to that later.
There are two major types of static banner advertisements you’ll find in mobile games and apps in general.
- Small horizontal banners at the bottom or top of the game window.
- Full-screen advertisements with a button to close the ad.
The difference between both of these is quite obvious.
- The first one will only cover a small percentage of the total screen, allowing the game to function without interruption.
- The second one will cover the whole screen and the player has to close the ad in order to continue playing.
As far as revenue is concerned, you’ll see spikes in revenue if users are interested in the advertisement being shown. Meaning that if they tap the ad and follow the link – You get more money. But only in the case of verified clicks. Often times people see their revenues go down a few cents before being finalised as some clicks are discarded by the algorithm but this happens rarely.
This is where an interesting question arises, “Which type of banner advertisement is the best for my game?”
The answer is simple. All of them. Depending on how often you harass (bother? interrupt?) your players with a full-screen advertisement, they might just stop playing your game. You don’t want that. There are games out there like Endless Frontier which display a banner ad when video ones aren’t available. And if a user has managed to cross the max limit for banner ads, he’s given his rewards regardless. This means that the reward was never hidden behind a wall, it will always be given to the players, it’s simply hidden behind an advertisement.
Users are much more likely to keep playing if they come across something like that, as opposed to an error saying “No ads available” and denying them their rewards.
As far as idle, incremental or clicker game monetisation goes. You’ll find video ads everywhere. Whether it’s an income boost for the next four hours or a bunch of money at once, there’s no easier way to earn money from a game than by offering players a bonus for watching an ad.
Most video ads are 30 seconds long and the most common use of these ads that we’ve seen has been a simple X times income boost for four hours.
The reason most idle games need to have video advertisements
It’s an idle game. Most of these are incremental, completely idle or clicker in nature. Sooner or later the player will reach a wall so absurd that he would have to play the game for several days just to earn enough money for the next upgrade. This is the point where a simple “2x income for four hours” bonus wouldn’t be able to help.
A game properly designed around progression walls has no reason to shy away from this feature. It is a bit of bonus income on the side, it’s completely optional and shouldn’t really be bothering your players for the most part, and as far as progression is concerned, the player’s going to get stuck wherever you want him to get stuck either way.
When you run out of video advertisements
Hardcore players will often burn through their quota for video advertisements, meaning that the ad platform you’re using will stop serving ads to specific users if it detects a lot of requests. There is often a daily/weekly limit for a specific user based on his profile (behaviour, history, demographics, etc).
This is often the deal-breaker for most hardcore players, remember the Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule. These hardcore players are going to be the ones willing to spend money on your game. They are the players who will be interested in micro-transactions and premium content. For all intents and purposes, they are your bread and butter.
Contrary to what most people believe, micro-transactions don’t entirely have to be free-to-play friendly or even fair. As long as the game is designed around the possibility of some players being way stronger than others – It’s okay.
We don’t have to look far to find an example. Let us take a look at how Bit Heroes does its business. No matter what you have to say about the game, it is definitely a pay-to-win. Throw enough money at it and you’ll find yourself at the top of the leaderboard in no time. Yet the free players are completely fine with this.
This is because the game’s primary reward and progression don’t directly depend on you competing with these players, if someone has spent a ton of money to get a well-equipped character, they’ll often time be competing with other players of their equipment level. This sort of ends up separating the player-base. The game was designed to be able to make sure that new players don’t compete against old ones in PvP, the same system makes sure that players who dump cash don’t compete against players who don’t.
Games like Tap Titans 2 and Crab War use different systems to determine PvP brackets. Tap Titans 2 uses an algorithm to determine your maximum possible stage, then places you with other players who are equivalent in strength. Crab War on the other hand uses a league system, giving you points for every tournament completion – depending on how high you rank, you get more points and move on to a higher bracket faster.
Let us know if you’d like us to deal with anything specific regarding idle games.