Xsolla shows the importance of timely payment integration into online games on the example of large and successful projects. According to the analysts it’s necessary to implement a chosen billing system as early as possible.
Developers have to spend many hundred thousand dollars to produce even indie games (Braid’s budget is $180 000, the budget of Broken Age is $3 000 000). Far from everyone copes to get so much money. It makes developers look for alternative funding sources and experiment with monetization system.
What is your opinion on this issue?
Suggest goods as soon as possible
The tactics «to think about money when the game is half-ready» is incorrect. Modern market dictates its terms. Project should bring money even in alpha or beta. We are not talking about F2P only. It concerns every game. If you want to earn as much money as possible do not hesitate to take pre-orders, sell starter packs and support your user in his desire to spend money. Premeditated monetization gives excellent results. There are a lot of examples to approve it.
In November 2013 Introversion Software reported it managed to sell over 250 000 copies of Prison Architect alpha version. The project brought Darvinia authors $ 8 mln. The official website of the game demonstrates the absolute readiness to accept a potential client immediately. Under the introductory video there are several buttons that allow to buy the game in a few clicks. The payment solution looks a bit clumsy, but it works five star. Introversion Software doesn’t neglect to distribute the game through other channels including Steam.
RUST developers sell their post apocalyptic sandbox through Steam only. Even official site doesn’t support this opportunity. During a few months of active sales the alpha version brought the authors more than $ 30 mln.
«Funding remains one of the most important issues for independent studios. When you lack your own money you should choose between a publisher or crowdfunding. The last way is connected with the risk not to raise the necessary funds.
But there is an alternative way out that many of our partners managed to take advantage of — to sale pre-orders and founder-packages. The solution allows to obtain stable funding immediately. When you make a pre-order of a game you like, be sure developers receive support they need so much.
The striking example of self-financing is Miscreated by Entrada Interactive studio. This is a multiplayer post-apocalyptic sandbox. Having a big fan community, Miscreated creators decided to do without KickStarter and entrust Xsolla to organize pre-order sale. According to the developers this solution allows to release alpha version in April 2014» — Xsolla analyst Maksim Fedurin says.
Make payment solution a part of your game
In case of F2P it’s necessary to take care of monetization and payment tools more thoroughly. However, some companies ignore such advice whereupon negligent buttons, inconvenient payment methods and ill-conceived interface appear. Such negligence is a consequence of developers’ focus on the immediate profit. Greg Costikyan says modern F2P-business is focused on short-term rewards in itself. Startups produce services as quick as possible to get money as early as possible. Such projects don’t have a long-term outlook, their lifetime is 3–5 years.
Companies which intend to work with their users for decades devote much attention to payment aspects. Blizzard literally created a special ecosystem around its projects. World of Warcraft and Hearthstone payment buttons are so well-integrated that they can’t be distinguished from other fragments of game interface. Of course, the example of Blizzard is not entirely correct since the company has a huge budget, but even indie projects are able to integrate payment solutions in a proper way.
«Xsolla can offer almost instant integration today. However there are many individual options along with the mentioned complete solution: price point settings, selection of ideal packages, the unique design of payment interface, the ability to add payment buttons of a particular payment system right in a game interface. If developers want to get a unique game-oriented solution and demonstrate users advanced, optimized and well-designed interface they need to spend time. Properly integrated payment solutions can not only increase conversion, but improve the image of a project and consequently prolong its life cycle» — Xsolla specialist Valentina Sevodina says.
Experts advise to think about ways to make money on games at the design stage:
«A player should get the gameplay experience first to test monetization. Developers need to determine the return model as soon as possible and take it into account when designing a game» — Playtestix CEO Alexandr Dzuba says.
The main thing is do not change the system of monetization halfway as it can cause a whole heap of possible problems.
«If we recall the story of Sheep Happens creation, originally we planned to release «unpretentious» paid-game and go to a more «serious» project. Alongside with the game development the market was changing. F2P came on. The prospect of large profits, even if stretched over time, possessed the minds of developers. We decided to stay in trend and took up the mess boldly.
Growing technical debt due to the introduction of in-game shop and leveling system as well as virality increase were only the tip of the iceberg. We also had to change the gameplay and the game economy for a few times significantly. After release we thought about the schedule of updates with renewable content and features for 6 months ahead. The aim was not only to attract new users, but also to keep the old ones.
Choice of monetization effects not only on the backlog amount but on the project’s lifetime in general. If a paid-version of a game can be considered as a ready product, F2P-model implies service with the resulting modifications, updates, enhancements and ongoing dialogue with a player» — LingPlay Business Development Manager Karina Shah says.
Timely payment integration is one of the most important components of success. Try to deal with payment methods as soon as possible and then your earnings will increase significantly.