The landscape of gaming today presents game developers and distributors with many unique challenges.  Building a successful game takes a lot of hard work and dedication.  Behind the hopefully creative marketing lurks great designs, challenging mechanics, and demanding players.

The gaming space has never been more crowded, and common monetization methods are getting stale and tired. Gamers, such as myself, encounter countless games offering two paths to success: “run the treadmill” or “instant gratification.” Most have experienced these monetization tactics, probably while playing mobile games. Don’t believe me? Run this simple test:

1. Begin playing your favorite, or just about any free mobile game.

2. Track how long you can play your game before you must:

a) Wait to continue, or return later

b) Pay money directly

c) Market the game by asking friends for help

Okay, enough gaming!  Let us get back to the topic at hand.

Unfortunately for many gamers, virtual goods and game currencies have become commodities, and very common forms of game monetization.  This is largely due to the fact that many social games have low average revenue per user (ARPU) which severely limits small studios with a limited player base.

In-game advertising is intrusive and annoying, and honestly, the conversion rates are horrible.  To top it off, have you ever come across an in-game ad that was additive to the user experience?  Personally, I cannot say that I have.

Game Advertising Revenue

Source: Flurry

One of the greatest challenges facing social game developers is that so few players are monetizing.  Using real-money gaming platforms, such as casino games, or Diablo III’s real-money auction house seems to be a sure bet for increasing ARPU and conversion rates.  Additionally, real-money gaming enjoys increased user engagement.

Developing new content and feature releases is an ongoing necessity for many games, and requires a decent investment of funds and time.  A shift toward the real-money gaming model may develop the funds to help small studios turn into the next gaming industry giant.

Sometimes the Grass is Greener

Source: Betable Blog

At the end of the day, gamers are a loyal bunch.  We love the classics, and we will put up with a lot – if the gameplay is good!  However, it is up to the developers and the distributors to show respect for their players by putting user experience first and providing quality games and monetization tactics.