Figuring how to make money in freeconomics is the challenge of our times. While the free is always an option (that is the point of Technology Wants to Be Free and Chris Anderson's new book "Free: The Future of a Radical Price"), free is NOT the only option. Sometimes the best way make money is to actually charge fans for what you produce. Dan Cook who is flash game developer has written an amazingly comprehensive and level-headed outline of the options available for creators. I think his guidelines work not just for gamers but for photographers, musicians, software programmers, authors and anyone else producing in the digital economy. It is brilliant, honest, wise.
When you design your game, pick three or four revenue streams and build them into your game. Here are some categories of users that you may want keep covered.
- People who don't want to pay: Advertising is a good option to keep around. A few hundred bucks is still money in the bank.
- People who are interested in more of the same: Once you've established the value of your game, some players want more. Give them more levels, more puzzles, more enemies in exchange for cash.
- People who are interested in status or identity improvements: Some people see games as means of expression and identity. Give them items that let them express themselves or customize their experience.
- People who have limited time: Some people live busy lives and want to consume your game when they desire and how they desire. Cheat codes, experience multipliers and other systems that bypass the typical progression all help satisfying this customer need.