Here Comes the Moolah: How Do Gaming Companies Make Money?

Video gaming has evolved from a minor hobby to a very lucrative business, with an annual market value of 168 billion British pounds. Mobile gaming dominates the video games business in terms of income, with smartphone games earning an impressive £77 billion in yearly sales.

During the first stages of gaming, before the emergence of mobile gaming, the predominant method of generating income was selling physical copies of games. This entailed a single purchase that provided gamers unrestricted access to the gaming experience on dedicated consoles or personal computers.

However, as the industry progressed and Internet access became more widespread, the entire gaming industry business model flipped the script. 

The gambling sector, which generates billions of dollars, now produces revenue via several means. On that note, welcome to our comprehensive tutorial on unravelling the strategies used by gaming corporations to generate revenue.

How Do Gaming Companies Generate Revenue in 2024? 

Although pay-to-download is by far the most popular gaming business model, there is no silver bullet in monetising video games. In fact, more than ever, gaming conglomerates have multiple paths to generate revenue that can be sustainable on both short- and long-term bases.  

The gaming industry relies on various monetisation models to generate substantial profits. These include direct game purchases by consumers, revenue from in-game advertising, and expenditures made by gamers on microtransactions (such as individual purchases, gacha, and loot boxes), downloadable content, or tiered extras like battle or season passes within the game. Each of these models may be used alone; nevertheless, in many instances, gaming corporations choose to amalgamate at least two of the three models to enhance revenue chances.

This was a brief introduction to the methods of how the gaming industry will profit from its products in 2024; however, we only touched the surface. Let us examine the aforementioned in more detail: 

The Old School Method: Game Sales 

Game Sales 

The selling of video games is the oldest approach, but it remains a key source of income today. This encompasses both physical copies distributed at brick-and-mortar retail establishments and digital versions sold via online platforms such as PlayStation Store, Steam, Nintendo eShop, and Xbox Store.

Downloadable Content & Microtransactions 

From the old school to modern-day revenue strategies, in-game purchases (DLC & Microtransactions) have become essential to contemporary gaming monetisation.

In-game purchases are those made by players within the game to access new features and acquire virtual items, such as costumes, game currency, and characters, to enhance the gaming experience. 

In addition, DLC has been a way for gaming companies to extend the shelf-life of their games by adding extra levels and season or battle passes to offer new gaming experiences.  

F2P In-App 

You may download and play games that don’t cost anything upfront if they’re free-to-play (F2P). Players may purchase virtual products such as skins, extra lives, game boosters, or access to more content in these games via in-app purchases.

Free-to-play has long been a method also utilised by the iGaming industry, particularly with the most favoured online UK casino sites that want to allow their consumers to test the product without spending money upfront. 

Mobile gaming companies primarily use this approach, and a prime example of this would be Candy Crush, first made popular by Facebook. 

In-Game Advertisements 

In-Game Advertisements 

Ads may appear inside the game itself in some games, especially those played on mobile devices. Developers get money from these advertisements when users interact with their content, see their adverts, or click on them.

A simple example might be a mobile puzzle game that plays a brief video ad that generates income with each watch once a certain number of stages have been completed.

Subscription Packages  

More and more people are opting for subscription-based approaches. Developers of video games often charge a fee to play their games or access their whole catalogue of titles. PlayStation is a notable example, wherein players pay a monthly fee and are guaranteed new games at the beginning of each month.

There are also many games that later need a subscription but initially provide free play. The ability to check out the game for free before committing to a subscription makes it more accessible to new players.

Sponsorship & Brand Deals 

For example, a vehicle manufacturer may showcase their most recent model in a racing video game. This not only enhances the promotion of the automobile but also imbues the game with a heightened feeling of authenticity, but the gaming firm also receives compensation for showcasing the product.

It doesn’t stop there; gaming businesses often establish agreements with brands to sponsor tournaments or gaming events; an example is when a drinks manufacturer financially supports an esports competition. The business receives advertising space and visibility to the game’s audience in exchange for sponsorship. 

Gaming companies are known to form strategic alliances with brands to include their goods seamlessly into the game. 

Licensing & Merchandise 

Franchises that do well in the video game industry typically branch out into other mediums through licensing agreements. They produce a wide range of merchandise, including apparel, books, toys, music, collectables, television and cinema, which is also, on some occasions, combined with game releases as special edition big-box sets. 

Cloud Gaming

The cloud gaming industry is seeing significant growth, allowing players to play high-performance games without the need for costly gear. This service is often provided under a subscription model, such as NVIDIA’s GeForce or Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming, whereby users pay a recurring charge to access a collection of games.

What’s Next for Revenue Generation in Gaming? 

The video game business is seeing fast evolution with the introduction of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) as prominent trends.

Combining augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology enhances the potential for immersive and profitable gaming experiences, creating new possibilities for creativity and financial success in the business.

Moreover, incorporating blockchain technology and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) has opened up fresh possibilities for possessing assets and establishing digital scarcity in the gaming industry. This allows gamers to get and exchange distinctive virtual things that possess intrinsic worth.