Conversion: Games to Cash

Motivation

Developers are often motivated by the challenge associated with developing a fun PBBG, not necessarily the financial success it could lead to. Vanity is a core component not only in gaming, but in game development too. In fact you can easily monetize a visual PBBG by selling in-game items that simply look cool, even if they offer little or no stat improvements at all.

But there are other motivations too, primarily the lure of going Indie and actually earning some cash for your efforts. If this is your motivation then eventually you will need a solid plan so that you can afford servers to provide greater bandwidth to satisfy more players. This of course translates to more money. The transition of a site viewer from a visitor to a paying customer is known as “conversion” and is a common business term.

Yikes! Did I just use a business term? Yes, and don’t fool yourself, developing a PBBG requires time, effort, professional skills, and overhead. This is a business, the only question is whether or not your business succeeds or fails.

Two Pillars

There are two pillars that lead to conversion. 1) A fun game and 2) Promotional efforts. If you lack any one of these two then your game will fail. You must consistently promote your game in order to get sign-ups. But in order to retain members, you must provide a fun game that leads to membership longevity. Retention often has little to do with eye-candy and everything to do with content. Eye-candy may be a good way to hook a new player, but without deep content they’ll drift off. Eventually this happens to all players, so then the question becomes, how long can I expect the average member to play my PBBG. These are just some of the things you must consider when coming up with a conversion plan.

Conversion Types

There are two popular conversion Types, direct and indirect. Direct conversion is simple, your members pay you directly using PayPal, credit card, or check, etc… Indirect conversions involve a 3rd party. Examples include placing Google ads on your site, this works only after you have a large pool of members and it’s a mistake to put those ads up too soon. Fallen Sword uses both methods, you can pay directly for “Fallen Sword Points” (FSP) or you can sign up for free offers that will also net you some FSP. Additionally you can invite new members and earn FSP. So don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can only choose one method. Be creative and think from a gamers perspective; what would you tolerate, what would you not tolerate.

Conversion Methods

There are several possible conversion methods and variations, they include but are not limited to:

  • Selling ad space to advertisers.
  • Selling subscriptions to your player base.
  • Selling special in-game gear and other items to your player base.
  • Offering special equipment for 3rd party sign-ups.
  • Collecting and selling demographic information about your visitors.

My next article will focus in on the best conversion plan known.

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Whane The Whip is an SEM/SEO specialist and maintains a browser based MMORPG review site.

Friday, September 19th, 2008 marketing
  • You can also get some level of success from selling affiliate products and taking a cut of the profits. Or you can get more people to join your site by offering an affiliate program of your own. Although I'm not sure how well that would work for browser games. I'm interested as to why you think putting ads up too soon is a mistake, surely it's easier to have them up there first and then people don't know any different and they don't all moan and leave when you put them up?

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Building Browsergames is a blog about browsergames(also known as PBBG's). It's geared towards the beginner to intermediate developer who has an interest in building their own browsergame.

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