Picture this: You’ve just gotten your game sponsored, and a nice, (hopefully) fat check is rolling into your bank account. Finally, you’re getting paid for all your hard work. It’s a good place to be, but why should the money stop there?
The Problem with a Typical Sponsorship
Before I go bashing sponsorships, let me clarify: I love the sponsorship model (even enough to make a whole book about sponsorships).
Sponsorships are a great, quick source of money. You build a game, sponsors bid on it, and hopefully you get paid enough to compensate for all the time you spent making it.
That being said, let’s get down to the problem the traditional sponsorship formula presents for professional game developers (i.e the model in which a portal pays you a set amount of cash to have their logo, and their logo only, in your game. No ads. No microtransactions. Nada). In order to make a living off your games this way, you have to consistently create new games. You are only paid for the finished work you produce. Once that work has been sold, you aren’t going to make any more money off it. This means it’s back to the development process, back to creating more games.
This formula works for some game development studios, but it doesn’t have much stability. If the sponsorship market is rough for a couple months, if the competition gets fiercer, if you have to wait a few months until your game sells, if you get sick for a month and can’t work on games, you’re out of luck. You better hope you have a pile of cash saved up for times like this.
Another problem the typical sponsorship formula presents is lack of independence. You are letting portals take ownership of your games. When players think of your awesome game, they probably aren’t thinking of you, but where they played it. That’s great for the portal, but it isn’t exactly helping your brand.
How to Keep the Money Rolling In
So you want to keep making money from your game after you’ve released it?
Then prepare to put in some more work, but you can usually have your cake and eat it too. Sponsors are usually willing to negotiate with you on allowing the following options:
1. Adding Microtransactions to Your Game
If you haven’t heard of microtransactions yet, they’re small, in-game purchases which allow players to enhance their gaming experience. Things like extra-levels, item packages, and bonuses can all be sold as microtransactions.
The reason microtransactions are gaining is popularity is that they’re easy to add, non-intrusive to the player (the player doesn’t have to buy anything to have fun playing your game), and can make you a considerable amount of cash if you do them right.
GamerSafe is one of the major players in the microtransactions market right now, and can be easily integrated into your games. If you’re looking for some ideas to get you started, check out this post.
2. Putting Ads in Your Game
Ads are an easy way to make some extra cash from your games. You just put a few lines of code into your game and BOOM! You’ve got ads running while your game loads.
Ads probably won’t make you as much money as microtransactions, but they’re simple to add and will still be making you money months (or even years) after you’ve released your game. Our favorite ad system for ease of use and earnings potential is MochiAds.
3. Sending Players Back to Your Website
Just because you’ve gotten your game sponsored doesn’t mean you can’t advertise your own (developer) site in the game). Throw up a nice splash screen when you’re game loads to convince players to visit your site.
Once you’ve got a player on your site, you can monetize then by showing them ads on your page, getting them to sign up as a fan on your mailing list (bonus: this will let you keep them updated on all the cool games you’ve been working on), or by giving them the option to donate to you. Which brings me to my next tip…
4. Adding a Donation Button
Players appreciate a game developer who provide them with a great experience, and some will even go out of their way to reward game developers for it. But only if you give them the option. By adding a “Support Us” or “Donate” button within your game, you can give players the option to send you money. Don’t expect to make a fortune, but it’s an easy and non-intrusive way to let players show their love.