Another year, another Gamescom! This huge gaming event in Cologne, Germany attracts hundreds of thousands of gaming enthusiasts, thousands of journalists and of course, hundreds of exhibitors. The video game industry is constantly changing and this is reflected in the various methods of monetization used in video games in 2017.
Once upon a time, most video games involved one purchase – the game itself. Nowadays, you can encounter all sorts of free-to-play games, microtransactions, in-game advertisements and subscription models. The latest from Gamescom 2017 suggests that such trends aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, they’re just getting started.
Final Fantasy XV is undoubtedly one of the biggest games at Gamescom 2017, as evidenced by the huge number of people on the floor wanting to play it. Coming to PC in Q1 2018, it’s likely to feature mod support, as mentioned by game director Hajime Tabata. There are rumours that these mods may be monetized in a framework similar to Creation Club from Bethesda Softworks.
Square Enix have also announced the development of Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition which is coming to iOS, Android and Windows. The game will be broken down into 10 chapters. The first will be free while the following episodes will available as in-app purchases. However, no prices have been confirmed as yet.
Another particularly popular game in Cologne this year is PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Widely considered to have perfected the battle royale format, it’s still in early access on Steam. Having already sold millions of copies, publisher Bluehole has clearly spied an opportunity. As such, loot crates and skins will be available as microtransactions when the game is out of early access.
Neither Final Fantasy XV or PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds are free-to-play. But one game that does tick this box is Archeage 4.0. Revealed by developer Trion at Gamescom 2017, the MMORPG is set to release later this year. It’s as yet unclear if the game will feature microtransactions, in-game advertisements or both. Watch this space! It will surely hope to replicate the success of other F2P games such as Warframe which did include microtransactions for weapons and armour.
One method of monetization not yet mentioned is Crowdfunding. This has become an increasingly important source of funding, particularly for indie games. One of the biggest games seen at Gamescom 2017 to receive Crowdfunding is Shenmue III. The upcoming action-adventure RPG raised over $6 million USD. Other Crowdfunded games featured at Gamescom 2017 include Fear Effect Reinvented and Star Citizen.
So what does Gamescom 2017 tell us about the future of monetization in gaming? Well, mobile games will continue to rely on in-app purchases and video advertising as their main sources of revenue with free-to-play games such as Clash of Clans and Candy Crush still leading the way.
Furthermore, there’s a clear continuation of the use of microtransactions in games – something that is a particularly divisive subject among gamers. You only have to look at the highly successful Shadow of Mordor sequel Middle Earth: Shadow of War for an example of this. Monetization strategies need to be implemented carefully, particularly for games that are not free-to-play to start with.
One thing is clear – games are making more money than ever before and that is not likely to change anytime soon!