Maximizing Your Game’s Digital Revenue
Modus Games' Director of Sales walks us through the strategies involved to get the biggest return on your game.
You (or your developers) are hard at work finishing a game, your marketing strategy is defined and you’re strutting confidently (or blindly) towards launch. Beyond choosing your platform(s) have you considered how you can extend your reach and maximize revenue once your title is finally released?
Discounting your title can be a tricky affair, but a large portion of sales post-launch will come from periodically discounting your title. There are some basic considerations that you should take into account such as increasing the discount incrementally and waiting at least 6-8 weeks before a sale so as not to upset your launch customers.
Preferably, you will have your promotional strategy built out for the first year, allowing you to plan exactly when your game will be on sale and when to capitalize on larger promotional efforts driven by events or first-party partners. Carefully consider your audience, your platform’s promotional cooldowns, policies, and tent-pole sales. Much of this knowledge will come from past experiences and can be difficult to navigate for your first title. For example, indie titles tend to perform better in PlayStation’s “Under $10/$20” than their featured sales.
You might think most of your promotional revenue will come in December around the holidays but look at the chart below. This is the average revenue by month over multiple years of an unnamed Golf Sim. Revenue consistently spiked in April with stronger Summer sales than Winter. The Masters Tournament in April kicks off golf season for many and that interest continues until Fall. Your promotional planning should reflect your audience’s interests. For instance, choosing April to increase the discount as opposed to December will maximize your potential reach and adoption of the title.
Another consideration is whether you should choose a certain % discount or target a specific price like $9.99 to make your offer as appealing as possible. To make the most informed decisions, you need to know the price elasticity of other titles in the same genre. Modus Games has been gathering this sort of data for years and is constantly planning promotions with all major platforms. It allows us to apply this shared knowledge with all our developers and maximize post-launch revenue. If you are an independent developer or managing a small publishing label, finding the perfect discount will more likely come from comparing your title against competitors or comparable titles, rather than internal historical data.
Localization can be a scary word for many developers but expanding a title’s audience will give it the best chance of financial success. We previously touched on the localization process in a previous Indie Access article and why its something you should consider. Asia now represents a bigger market than North America and Europe combined – it can’t be ignored (also, the best way to reduce piracy is an easy path to legitimate ownership). Some developers may choose to tackle the localization process themselves – but localization goes beyond just translating texts and regional pricing. A good partner will help navigate region specific holiday sales (such as Japan’s Golden Week, or China’s New Year festivities) to make the most of promotional opportunities for your title. Modus Games can help with localization services and has direct publishing capabilities in Asia with PlayStation and Nintendo, alongside a network of trusted partners that can deliver best-in-class local marketing, events, and customer support.
From cloud gaming to blockchain or even new business models, emerging platforms and technologies are bringing gaming into the future. Cyberpunk 2077’s technical requirements made Stadia an easy choice for many gamers and that will persist as hardware supplies remain constrained. However, new platforms are faced with a challenge: how do you attract developers if the install base doesn’t yet support the cost of porting? The simplest and most common solution is a minimum guarantee or terms that favor the developer (such as marketing commitments or Epic’s 88/12 revenue split). Many of these agreements can put more money in the developer’s pockets, can guarantee a certain level of profit (imagine knowing your game will be profitable before its even finished), and help reach a much broader audience by making your title more accessible to those who may not own every console or a high-end gaming PC.
In addition to Stadia and Epic, Modus Games has relationships with GOG.com, Humble Bundle, EA Origin, Robot Cache, Utomik and many more. Listing on these platforms can increase digital revenue over 30%. They can also be an effective vehicle for added visibility, charitable opportunities, or end-of-life solutions. Whatever they may be, it’s important to leverage relationships with these platforms to pitch and ensure the best deal for your title.
Subscription programs like Xbox’s Game Pass, PlayStation’s PS Now, Stadia’s Pro Subscription, EA Origin’s Access and Humble’s Choice are quickly growing their catalogs to be the “Netflix for gamers”. Partnering up with one or multiple subscription programs can guarantee cash and reduce the risk of poor launch results. While these on-demand and cloud-based solutions aren’t the right choice for every title, Modus Games has launched multiple titles in all these programs and is always up to date on what these programs are looking for and what terms to expect, and is an important variable to consider when launching your title. Additionally, participating in many of these programs often comes with marketing or financial support from first-party partners, which can make a huge difference in visibility and profitability for your title.
Let’s assume the best-case scenario – your game launches globally and is loved by the world over. Fans are clamoring for a sequel, sharing community-created content across the web, and this game has put your studio on the map. While a successful and aggressive sales strategy can continue to provide boosts in sales post-launch, merchandise for quality IP’s often earn more revenue than their primary content. Merch isn’t a strong fit for every game and has a certain number of risks involved (planning for cost-of-goods sold, what kind of merch your audience would be interested in, etc.). For Modus Games, we handle the entire process from ideation, prototyping, quoting and sourcing, packaging, marketing and distribution. In addition to relationships with global retail partners, we also have a direct-to-consumer store (store.maximumgames.com) that offers bundles, Collector’s Editions or limited release products. Despite this, not every title (even our most successful) will have—or should have– merchandise.
ALTERNATIVE REVENUE CHANNELS
Sometimes, new monetization methods are introduced inside the game itself – eg. taking your title free-to-play, looking at branded IP crossovers/partnerships, or even in-game advertising are all common methods to give new life to a title. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, so making the right decisions on how to maximize the return on your newest project will come down to experience, current market trends, or recommendations from the right partners. Regardless, if your team decides to go it alone or seek help, Modus Games has the experience and expertise to discuss these options.
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