How do free online games earn money?

How do free online games earn money?
Aug, 3 2023 Daxton Fairchild

The Secret to Free Online Games: Where Does the Money Come From?

Ever wondered as you move the joystick, tap the touch screen, or click the computer mouse how those free online games make their bucks? Well, welcome to the intriguing, exciting – and at times, befuddling – world of digital commerce! But before we dive in, let's get one thing clear: though the games are absolutely free to play – and yes, that's literally zero greens out of your pocket – they rake in boatloads of money. But how? Let's unravel that enigma, shall we?

1. The Magical Magnetism of In-app Purchases

I reckon most of you are already familiar with in-app purchases, a smart, common tactic deployed by most free online games. It's like stepping into a jolly candy store, where you're greeted with an array of enchanting options – special characters, power-ups, additional lives, exclusive gear, and so much more. With such tantalizing temptors, even the most disciplined of us can be enticed into spending a little cash to enhance the gaming experience. And to be honest, who can blame us?

Remember the time my kid, Anais flipped out because she wanted an extra life in her favorite game? She was on a three-day streak, and there was no way she was going to let it go to waste.

2. The Realm of Ads: A Profitable Paisley

Banners ads, video ads, full-screen ads, rewarded ads - Advertising is a primary revenue generator for free online games. You want to progress to the next level, wait till this 30-second ad rolls out. Need an extra life? View an ad to continue. Advertisers pay the game developers to place their ads within the games, and the longer you play, the more ads you view. It's all about impressions, folks! Granted, ads can be annoying, but remember, they're the ultimate lifeline that keeps your favorite free games running.

3. Data Mining: The Silent Goldmine

We live in a data-driven era. From every click you make, every level you cross, and even how you tilt your phone while playing, tons of data is being harvested. This data is analyzed and often sold to third parties to help them understand user behavior better. It's a sneaky, yet highly effective, way for game developers to make a good chunk of change. Horus, my Maine Coon cat, doesn't like the idea of this one bit. But unfortunately, not even his finely honed hunting skills can hunt down these invisible data miners.

4. Freemium Model: A Twisted Parable of Eve and the Apple

Ever heard of the term 'Freemium'? The Freemium business model offers the basics free of charge while charging for high-level features. It's a highly effective strategy, as it allows players to get hooked on the game before hitting them with costs for additional features or content. Does it remind you of a certain serpent in a certain garden offering a certain free apple just to lure in a certain Eve? Well, welcome to the digital version of the most primal strategy!

5. Sponsorship and Branding: Showcasing the Showpieces

In-game sponsorship is another genius way that free online games make money. Ever notice a well-known brand logo on the stadium in your favorite football game or an actual car model in a car racing game? Those are in-game sponsorships, and they're another fantastic avenue for earning. A game that has a significant number of daily active users can earn a substantial amount from these partnerships.

6. Merchandising: Extending The Universe Beyond the Screen

Remember how Pokémon Go suddenly made everyone go bananas about finding and collecting pocket monsters in their surroundings? Well, the free app didn't just stop at making money through the game. They extended their universe with Pokémon merchandise. Everything from Pokémon clothing, toys, and breakfast cereals filled up shelves, adding to their revenue. This extension of a game's world into the physical world with merchandise is yet another way free games make money.

7. Fan Donations: Loyalty That Pays

Lastly, believe it or not, some games make money simply through fan donations. Platforms like Patreon allow loyal fans to support their favorite games with monthly donations. Though a less likely mode of revenue, it's proof that if you create something fantastic and offer it for free, there are people who will willingly contribute to keep it alive.

So, folks, that's the penny and pound of how free online games design their rainbow leading to their pot of gold. The next time you play your favorite free online puzzle, do remember – the developers may not be getting your money upfront, but they're surely making a tidy sum. All while you are busy reshuffling the blocks or mowing down the candy tiles!