How to make money on Android games

    I apologize for the “for Dummies” style headline, but this is exactly what I want to talk about today - monetization. In a nutshell: I’ve been doing indie gamedev since 2010, at the moment I have about a dozen published games on the Play Store with a total number of downloads almost reaching 20 million. I don’t like to talk about the financial side, but I understand that in the topic of money, without this in any way. On KDPV you can see my statistics for the last few days (at the time of writing). In general, it happened worse, but it happened better! The figures are not one of those that amaze the imagination, but, you see, pretty good. Especially considering that I'm just an amateur riveting games in the evenings.

    In this topic, I will try to share the conclusions and developments that have been made during this time. Just in case, disclaimer: my opinion does not claim to be true and is based only on my subjective experience. I am always ready to learn from more experienced colleagues, so if I am mistaken in something, I ask for comments. And the second: this is a look at gamedev from a business point of view, if you are not a developer, you may not like what I say.

    Philosopher's Stone

    Let's immediately put all the dots on the "i". I won’t tell you the secrets of the philosopher’s stone, I don’t have an algorithm how to do this and that to earn N dollars. Try, experiment, learn to promote your games (this is extremely important), follow the trends! I will not tell how to make a popular game, I do not know this. In many ways, one can rely only on luck, but with due persistence, luck will certainly smile! But when this happens, it is important to use the moment as fully as possible, which I will discuss further. The only thing I would like to highlight here: really evaluate your strength. If you see that the implementation of an idea will take much more than a month of work, this is a signal to think again. What is it called, "lazy startup"? This is a very good approach to game development. We quickly implement, quickly launch, and if we managed to find something interesting - we develop. So, for example, my idea of ​​a shooting range with realistic shooting, resulted in a whole trilogy of Shooting Clubs.

    Sales vs Advertising

    Forget about making a paid app without “this annoying ad” and earning millions by selling it on Google Play! This is the worst monetization possible. I'm not saying that this is not real, even the rules have exceptions, but hoping to become such an exception is not the best option, really! From my own experience, I can say that sales do not exceed 10-20% of advertising revenue, even taking into account in-game sales, which are much easier. Do not focus on Top Grossing, occupied by free-to-play games. We have completely different weight categories, budgets, opportunities, and so on. If monetization using in-game sales works fine for a giant like Clash of Clans, this does not mean that this strategy would be the best for our small indie game. Therefore, the sale of in-game goods or the premium version of the game should be considered only as a source of additional income, no more. Although, this is undoubtedly necessary and useful to maximize total profit. For us, singles and small teams, advertising is everything! I will dwell on this in more detail, but for now, a few more words about the "inapps."

    Do not be afraid to ask for more

    The time of "99 cents" has passed! Look at the store of the same "Dungeon Keeper", here prices start at $ 5. Of course, only the lazy did not scold him, but nevertheless, this game very well shows the current trends in the market.

    Here's another example from life: in my “Shooting Club 3” you can buy premium weapons for real money. Do you think no one will buy a golden Desert Eagle for 20 bucks in a mediocre, not super popular game? Not at all! Yes, there are few such purchases, but they are. I do not urge to lift all prices to some cosmic heights, inexpensive goods are also needed, but if a player wants to spend a relatively large amount in the game, we simply must give him such an opportunity! Moreover, it costs us nothing.

    Choose an ad network

    I tried to work with different advertising networks: Chartboost, Tapjoy, InMobi, many other smaller ones, the names of which I now do not remember. And here’s what I’ll tell you: none of them are drawn to competitor Google AdMob. Now I have only 2 sources of income, ads from AdMob and in-game sales, well, plus sales of “Shooting Club 2: GOLD” (they are not significant). You can combine several types of advertisements in the game or use “medeation” (show advertisements from another source when the main content is not full), this is reasonable if you want to squeeze a little extra income, I do not argue. I decided for myself that it is not worth the hassle with currency control (I have everything officially), and relations with Google have already taken shape and more or less settled down. It’s also important to be able to observe boundaries after which,

    Are you still using banners?

    Now, with the transition to a new platform (advertising has become part of Google Play services), AdMob has opened the opportunity to use interstitial ads for all developers. Previously, such a privilege could only be obtained by personal invitation. What it is? Simply put, this is a full-screen banner. But in contrast to the usual, generated profit, here is on a completely different level! Let's look at the key indicators (based on my statistics, it is clear that they will differ for different games).

    eCPM (revenue per thousand impressions of a banner, effective cost-per-thousand impressions) for Interstitial on average from 3 to 8 dollars, for ordinary banners - less than 50 cents. Feel the difference? And why? Because CTR (the ratio of clicks to impressions, click-through rate), that is, clickability, for interstitial advertising can reach 7 or even 8%, while for a banner, this indicator will be at 1% (at best ) Also, the pay per click is higher here, as far as I can tell. And even if you manage to achieve such a CTR for a standard banner, then there is an unbelievable probability of getting a ban for using illegal optimizations (such as placing banners next to controls, etc.). And for Interstitial, no special rules currently exist. In his last games, I completely refused banners and switched to showing only interstitial ads. Plus, here it is also that such monetization does not require planning, allocation of special places for banners, because of which sometimes you have to sacrifice the convenience of the interface for the player.


    That's all, actually! I tried not to write very obvious things in this topic, about which so much has been written. I hope that all of my graphomania will be useful to you, I hope to see in the future more motivating success story on Habré. I’m trying to grow above myself, I’m cutting another shooting range (yes), which will be a cut above all my previous crafts and I continue to dream of breaking a really big jackpot. What I wish you too! Taking the opportunity, a screenshot from the alpha version:

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