Even if there are a lot of games that are considered free, most of them have different ways of making a profit. Everything depends on their business model and what the game is about. They need to adapt to the players so it won’t be too expensive for them but also they need to care about their income so they can plan out future expansions.
There are some of them that don’t earn an income directly from the players like online casino games where the providers are working with the casinos and bookmakers. Some of them rely on platforms which you can download the games from like Steam.
Buying the Game Directly
This is the most common way manufacturers make money which is by setting a one-time price which can change over time through discounts. This is what you can always expect from console games you play on PS but there is a downside to this model for both parties. The problem is that games have become very expensive in recent years. Some of them are around $70 while in third-world countries they get up to $100.
We had a lot of free games a decade ago and the prices were much lower but it seems like a lot of gaming providers are focused on the profits instead of making something great. The amount they want now for certain games can backfire but we will see what will change in the upcoming years.
This is mostly used for MMO games because there isn’t any point in having a subscription model for FPS or strategy games. The prices usually go from $10 to $20 depending on how popular the game is. One of the best examples is World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy and there are also mobile games that require a certain amount each month but they have far fewer players.
One thing to have in mind is that most of these games need to be bought first, meaning that you will need to have more money to start playing and just continue paying a subscription fee. Most of the new games will require a small fee to be paid each month because a lot of money is being invested in new games.
Pay to Win
Pay-to-win is great for those that like to spend thousands of dollars on a game no matter if it’s mobile, console, or PC. Most console games aren’t pay-to-win but the term actually means that you can spend money in order to be stronger than players who play for free. This is most common in mobile games which are making billions of dollars more than PC games.
Even with fewer players, there are people that spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a single mobile game in order to beat their competitors. These people are referred to as whales and there isn’t any skill required to become the best in these games if you can pay for everything.
This benefits the manufacturers the most because they are gaining millions of dollars from just a few players. For example, a mobile game called Rise of Kingdoms has a few hundred players that spend over $100K in-game.
Skins and Other Items
Buying skins and other items that won’t affect skill level is probably the best way when you ask players. Dota 2 is a great example that you can make a lot of money here because their pool prize was from the skins bought that year which was $40 million. This won’t always be available because some games can’t rely on it.
On the other hand, most games can make small design changes that they can sell to the players. They also need to make sure that the players will buy them like in League of Legends which makes the most money from skins for a PC game. Mobile Legends makes the most profits for a mobile game which reached $150 million in revenue in 2022.