“From the Devs”: Tips on Monetizing Your Game, from AlgyLacey
AlgyLacey has been on Roblox for 5 years and has been involved in developing numerous games on Roblox, including Egg Hunt 2018: The Great Yolktales. He recently finished his stay at the Roblox HQ for his second term as an Accelerator, where he partnered with other top developers to make Hackr, currently in beta.
You might also recognize AlgyLacey from the developer panel at RDC EU this year. He has three games that he’s included monetization tactics in, and he’s agreed to give us some pointers on how to better monetize games on the Roblox platform!
What made you choose the monetization features that you chose to implement in your game(s)?
Farmulator has minor monetization features that are not central to gameplay, mostly revolving around purchasing extra currency and temporary boosters to speed up the gameplay. This suits the game since Farmulator is a single-player game and plays at a relaxed speed. Players are free to make purchases to speed up their progress but won’t feel left out if they don’t make purchases as everything can be unlocked without spending money.
For Island Empire, I focused a little more on the monetization, adding a crate system to unlock skins while still allowing players to purchase currency and resources. Island Empire has been more successful than Farmulator in generating a profit because there are more things available to buy and the items are more integrated into the gameplay. Additionally, I also offer a starter pack for users to purchase to get them interested in the game. I give a good amount of currency and resources to allow players to quickly get settled in the game.
Hackr has the most advanced monetization of all my games. Before I started on monetization, I thought out a design for how I wanted to monetize the game and how I would accomplish a high level of monetization while ensuring that the game was still fun for everyone. In Hackr, there are a variety of ways for players to spend money: players can purchase currency, and with this currency, they can purchase loot crates which contain cosmetic items. The store also features Daily and Weekly items that can be acquired with a one-time currency purchase. These special items can also be found in the crates, but players often do not want to wait to unlock the item from a crate, so they buy it before it goes off sale. Alongside these items which are purchasable with in-game currency, we also sell two VIP style passes for Robux: a VIP pass which is a one-time purchase provides exclusive cosmetics and a “Hackr Club” pass which runs on a month-to-month subscription model. These two passes allow the players with Robux to get the extra bonuses while not affecting the experience of non-paying players.
Do you have analytics tracking available for the games you’ve monetized? What kinds of statistics do you track in-game, and how does it help you monetize?
I use analytics in all my games. I track things such as how much each player spends, how much they spend in each session, and how long before they start spending. Analytics is a tool that is often overlooked but it is so useful for optimizing and improving the gameplay experience for new players and returning players alike.
∙Did you build these games with monetization in mind? Or did you go back and add monetization features after shipping the game?
Farmulator was built with only one or two ideas for monetization and then I tried to shoe-horn the rest when it became more popular. This resulted in monetization that didn’t really work too well for the gameplay and resulted in a lower Robux yield.
For Island Empire, I focused too much on the monetization and too little on the gameplay and so the game itself suffered.
When I started developing Hackr, I kept the previous failures in mind and tried to focus on the gameplay to ensure that it was still a really fun game, but throughout the development, I kept in mind how I planned to monetize so I could plan features that way from the start, rather than trying to fit it in later.
What’s the most effective thing you’ve done to help monetize your game? (IE, mystery boxes, premium currency, sales, loot boxes, etc)
The first thing is cosmetics. They do not affect gameplay, and they don’t make non-paying players feel left out or inferior to players with Robux. Players like to show off how good they are and what awesome items they have so it’s a perfect way to get players to spend money while keeping the majority happy.
The second thing I try to remember is to keep the game as fun as possible. The best monetization should always to improve the game experience for a player, without taking the fun away from another player’s experience.
How do you encourage players to make purchases in your game?
A starter pack is a great way to encourage players to make purchases. The best starter packs give away a ton of currency or special items so the player thinks “Hey I get so much stuff, I have to buy this!”. Even though in this case the player will gain a lot more than what they could purchase for the same price, it’s the first step to getting the player to a point where they are willing to spend more. Once they have made the initial purchase they are a lot more likely to make the next purchase because they feel that they already have an investment in the game.
Do you do events or sales to help entice players to buy currency or goods in-game?
I have run some events alongside sales and I always see a spike in my sales during that period. When I ran an Easter event in Island Empire, I also gave all the shop items a discount which encouraged players to purchase the items and currency while the prices were lower. It also appealed to the new players who started playing because they noticed the event I was running.
Running your own events tied to sales can be a lucrative income boost, along with the potential to bring in quite a few new players.
How do you balance gameplay and monetization?
In some of my games I’ve focused too heavily on either gameplay or monetization, so now whenever I develop a game with the aim to make a good profit I always ensure that I have a solid monetization plan before I start developing the main features so I can focus on ensuring the gameplay is fun because I know exactly how I plan to monetize.
What advice do you have for developers looking to monetize their games?
I have three points for monetization:
1) Have a clear plan for what you want to sell.
2) Cosmetics are awesome! Don’t underestimate how much you can make by selling things that don’t impact the outcome of the game.
3) Make sure the game is still fun, nobody will buy stuff if the game isn’t fun in the first place!