Video game monetization is a big issue for every game maker.

Whether you’re designing a simple side scroller or a complex real-time strategy game, you’ll want to earn money for your coding efforts.

Unfortunately, to monetize your video game, you’ll have to do a little bit of marketing.

Fortunately, it’s not rocket science. And some of these methods are downright easy.

Here are 5 of the best ways to make money from your games:

1. Upload Your Game to a Video Game Directory

Video game directories offer a number of benefits for game makers:

You gain immediate exposure. Video game directories, such as the major flash game websites, have thousands or millions of unique visits every month. This takes care of the marketing for you, so you don’t have to spend your valuable time putting your name out there.

Your business gets instant credibility. If you’re an independent developer and want some portfolio projects, video game sites can be a great start.

The right networks can offer you sponsorship and revenue-sharing opportunities. Some networks only offer exposure to gamers and potential business partners. But others can offer revenue-sharing opportunities. Check with each directory on their benefits before submitting a game.

2. Use In-App Ads

If you’re developing a desktop game or a mobile game, consider using in-app ads to monetize your game.

This is one of the most common ways to generate income if you’re a developer. And the more traffic you get, the more money you can make. So ongoing marketing is a critical way to keep pushing the income envelope.

But your game doesn’t even need to be that complicated to make income. What it does need is to be addictive. Candy Crush, for instance, made more money in the first quarter of 2014 than all Nintendo games combined.

Flappy Bird, another extremely basic game, was earning as much as $50,000 a day in revenue.

Obviously these numbers aren’t within everyone’s reach. But the right game and the right monetization strategy can earn you a healthy paycheck.

3. Use Pay-Per-Install Ads

Pay-per-install is becoming more and more common, particularly on mobile devices.

A pay-per-install program offers two benefits to app developers and game makers: monetization and marketing.

App-install ads allow you to promote your game when people download and install other apps. So this can be a great way to increase your exposure and your customer base.

They also allow you to monetize your own installation funnel. Each time users convert on an ad placed in your installer, you earn money.

4. Go Free Trial, Freemium, or Premium

These are all variations on one theme – upselling. That is, you offer an initial product at low cost or no cost, then sell additional products, services, or upgrades for an additional fee.

In general, only a small portion of the total user base will buy your upsells. But that’s all you need to generate a healthy revenue stream.

Here’s how to upsell to monetize your game.

Offer a limited, free trial version of your game. Many popular games offer free trials that users can download and try out without paying a penny. Consider only offering the first few levels of a game, disabling it after 30 days, and requiring payment for full access.

Create a freemium version of the game. Freemium games, like free trials, give you access to part of a game for free. Unlike free trials, freemium games aren’t necessarily locked out after a certain amount of time. But if people want to keep playing, they have to upgrade.

Offer premium versions of the game. You can also offer a free version of the game that’s complete – and a premium version of the game that offers additional bonus features. More characters, additional graphics, and so on.

5. Charge for In-Game Bonuses

In-app purchases are another common way to monetize video games.

This can be a great way to monetize your game on an ongoing basis. While the above methods unlock the complete game after one payment, you can also charge people for in-game bonuses.

For example:

  • Offer power-ups, special weapons, more in-game currency, extra lives, additional continues, and other bonuses…for a price.
  • Allow players to unlock levels early if they’re willing to pay.
  • Give players custom graphics for an extra fee.

This model is extremely profitable when done right, since it creates an endless upsell chain. Candy Crush used this model to generate massive profits.

And this model is also built in to the core profit model of Magic the Gathering – players are incentivized to keep buying new collectible cards in order to improve their decks.


Whether you’re a casual developer, a hardcore game maker, or a large game company, you can use any of these strategies to generate income and build an audience. And remember that a game doesn’t have to be complex to make lots of money – it just needs to have addictive gameplay and a good monetization strategy.