Monetization for Kids’ Games

Mar 8, 2016 | 1 Votes by Aethyna 10 rate Your vote
Kids’ games, particularly on the mobile platform, are on the rise. However, the dilemma behind the monetization methods used for these games is still rather debatable. Here’s a breakdown of the many types of monetization available as well as their pros and cons. Games Educate Kids - Monetization for Kids’ Games

Kids’ games, particularly on the mobile platform, are on the rise. However, game developers behind these games are struggling to decide which method of monetization to use. Thankfully, Stephanie Llamas from Superdata has shared with us a breakdown of the many types of monetization available as well as their pros and cons in the context of kids’ games at the Casual Connect event in Amsterdam.

So, let’s start off with a very simple question - why do we have all this hassle about kids’ games monetization? Can’t we just monetize it the same way as all the other mobile apps are monetized? Well, the truth is we can’t. If you’re a parent - if you’re not, just imagine if you’re a parent, you wouldn’t want the apps your kids play to have, for example, pop-up ads that they may accidentally tap on. In fact, if most parents have their way, they wouldn’t want any ads in their child’s games. Of course, there’s also the problem that kids’ game developers also need to earn an income. Nobody is able to develop quality games for free and is still to feed and clothe themselves... let alone their families.

Now that we know about the dilemma, let’s take a look at the types of monetization that we currently have. As you may be very well aware of, there are basically 2 forms of games – premium games where you’ll have to buy to play, while free-to-play games are generally free to play but they may provide in-app purchases or have plenty of ads in them.

For premium kids’ apps, Stephanie noted that quite a number of parents are willing to pay a one-time fee for a game for their child, particularly parents who reside in the U.S. She thinks that this form of monetization is so appealing to parents because it fosters trust among the parent and the developers as the transaction is transparent – the parents knew up-front what they are getting into.

Not to mention, some of these premium games even have demos that parents can let their children try out prior to purchasing the full game. This allows the parents to know what they are buying before they spend a single cent. However, parents will abhor paid apps that contain in-app purchases as they feel as though they have been cheated in some way. After all, they have paid once for the game, why should they need to pay again to get, for example, another character for their child to play with.

Lipa Theater

The downsides of this form of monetization is that games usually have a short lifespan – once a parent owns a game, he or she won’t be buying the same game again. This forces the game developers to provide more games in order to gain something that resembles a steady revenue stream, and due to this, it is possible the quality of the games, at least some of them, might drop. Not every game that is developed will be an overnight success, and this type of success is very rare among kids’ games. Thus, for those games that aren’t popular but are still beneficial to your child, the developer may be struggling to just make ends meet in their company. Furthermore, without additional ways to earn funds, game developers will find it hard to add new elements or features to their games.

Although there are many downsides, especially for the developers themselves, premium monetization method is perhaps one of the most popular methods at the moment for kids’ games.

In terms of free-to-play apps for kids, parents would definitely love the idea of spending nothing and yet still be able to educate and engage their kids using games. However, most of these apps contain in-app stores that allow your child to purchase consumables, such as power-ups, cosmetic items or new characters, or new content (new levels).

Although this is very common among normal mobile games, having in-app purchases may slightly reduce the chance of a parent downloading and installing the game for their child. I’m sure you’ve all heard of the horror story whereby a child inadvertently racked up hundreds of dollars on his mother’s credit card bill. Well, nobody likes to entertain the idea of getting the shock of their lives when their monthly credit card bill arrives in their mailbox. Let’s not also forget about the incessant pestering that you’ll have to endure when your child discovers that he likes one of the items in the in-app store.

What about ads then, you may wonder? The worse your child could do is to accidentally tap into one of the ads and is forced to watch a 30 second promotional video for the game. Well, I’m sure you don’t like the idea of exposing your child to adverts at such as young age. Furthermore, it can be actually rather hard for game developers to legally implement ads that can be used to target kids.

From the points presented above, you can see that the dilemma about monetization for kids’ games is real. However, Stephanie has suggested a new trend in monetization as well as in game development that arose as a form of compromise between the parents and the game developers. This new monetization method could be the next big thing for kids’ games according to Stephanie.

The speaker, Stephanie Llamas from Superdata

Firstly, she suggested that game developers could develop an open sort of game that is although not kid-specific, but is designed in such a way that it is appealing to them. Next, for monetization, developers could opt to develop free-to-play apps, but instead of adding in in-app purchases or ads, they could devise a subscription or membership system, much like what Club Penguin or Animal Jam did, for their apps. This ensures that the developers have continuous revenue to keep adding in new content to keep the game fresh and exciting for the kids while being completely transparent (as parents know what they are getting into).

Despite being a rather good monetization method to use, it can be pretty hard to find a kids’ game on any of the mobile platforms that utilizes this method. Stephanie concluded her lecture by urging more developers to give this form of monetization a try.

Personally, I think this is actually a very good way for parents to continually support the developers that they like while the developers are able to produce new content on a regular basis to cater to their young players and keep them engaged and learning. It’s very much a win-win situation. However, only time will tell if this method of monetization will finally take off and become a norm in the mobile market.

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