Historically games were sold as boxed products via bricks and morter stores but the industry is whole heartedly moving towards online distribution. Instead of having to trek to a store or waiting impatiently for days for it to arrive from Amazon, players can click a button and the game is downloaded and playable at the speed of their internet connection. Instant gratification. The Apple App Store, Google Play, and Valve’s Steam Powered are all great examples of this. But how do these games make money? The pay to play model is one of the most common options. You pay a fee and it unlocks a game that you can play from start to finish. Simple. These types of games have to be top notch offering quality gameplay in order to compete and succeed with all the free games available. Done right, games like Minecraft can generate explosive revenues. Other game developers choose the route of in-game advertising as it doesn’t require any upfront payment from the players. Instead of making money from purchases, developers earn money from brands eager to advertise to this lucrative demographic. Ads come in all shapes and forms such as video ads that play at the start and in between levels, billboards during gameplay, or ads that appear around the game itself. Some companies even create Advergames that immerse the player in their brand while they’re playing which increases brand awareness in ways other forms of advertising, like banner ads, simply cannot. Done correctly this can be a powerful advertising tool. Trial versions of games allow the player to get a taste of the game before they commit to buy. This can be done when the game stops after a period of time or limited versions where the player gets the first levels for free but have to pay to continue. The trick here is all about balance, you don’t want to give too much away for free because you want upgrading compelling enough to warrant purchase. Microtransactions became popularized by games like Candy Crush and have been adopted by many games since. The idea is to give away your game for free but make it extremely difficult for players to pass all the without “powering up” with paid boosters. Some games make it possible to finish the game by in a ton of effort while offering payment to skip the more mundane aspects of acquiring the boosters manually. In other games, such as when you’re competing with other players, players can buy boosters to get an edge over their competition. Just like everything else, finding the balance is key and can mean the difference between incredible revenue streams or nothing at all. Developers are also dabbling in episodic content, also known as expansion packs, where instead of unlocking the entire version of a game the player unlocks each small part individually. This allows development companies to release a game before it’s completed to see if there’s a market and then offer each new episode when it becomes available. Skill based games are becoming popular as they allow players to enter a tournament to compete for real money and developers take a small percentage. Players can either compete head to head or in tournaments against the masses. In order to conform to laws prohibiting gambling, these games must be skill based and winning be determined by a player’s physical or mental skill. It cannot be random like a lottery or poker unless you obtain a gambling license. Some games are created without the intention of ever making a dime. Many serious and educational games are developed with altruistic intentions that playing a game can change the way you think and act thus benefiting society as a whole. Whether it’s understanding evolutionary anatomy, to inspire young girls into STEM careers, or understanding how our actions affect the environment, these games can really make a difference. Training games are similar to serious games in that they change the way players think and act but with training games the company is rewarded by improved productivity. These games are created with the purpose of advancing the players ability to sell, improved performance, and product understanding. The players gain valuable insight and learn by actions in the game that change behaviors in the workplace. The results benefit the player and company in the long run. Training games are either developed and distributed by the company for free, sold for a fee per user, or provided with a paid training session. There are many other ways to make money with games such as licensing, preselling, etc, but these are the most common. Many developers offer a combination of the above options to culminate an offering that appeals to everyone and maximize their potential earnings. The trick is finding which ones work best for you and your game.