Most of our best loved computer game characters have appeared in a whole series of games, sometimes spanning a range of different platforms and gaming technologies. Sonic, Mario, Link and even Pac Man have built up a large and loyal following, and their name on a game is guaranteed to give it a sales boost.
The scowling birds and chuckling pigs in Angry Birds are the latest iconic characters to get their own series, but they’ve gone one further than those other characters. Their games not only reuse the characters, but also reuse the same gameplay engine. Rovio Mobile has made the most of the rapid development cycle for mobile games to meet customer demand for new puzzles. The company has basically created variations on the same game, adding in some new feathered weapons and reskinning the graphics. They’ve found a way to sell the same game twice, three times, or even more. And nobody minds, because the games are all great, and players relish the challenge of new puzzles to play.
Given all the work that goes into developing a game mechanic, it makes sense to exploit it as fully as you can. Here are some tips for doing that:
1. As with Angry Birds, consider creating a series so you can sell additional puzzles to gamers who love your app. Players will be happy as long as each app delivers good value for money. Strong characters will provide continuity across the series and help people to identify the series as a whole. To sustain interest and keep gameplay fresh, add a dash of something new to each edition of your app.
2. Look at how you can reuse your game mechanic for different games. If you have a race car driving game, can you adapt it to an urban environment and cost-effectively create a street car game? Obviously, there’s a cost associated with creating new game environments, level designs and stories. But exploiting the work you’ve already done on code can enable you to get to market more quickly and cater for different tastes in gaming without starting over with a completely new development project.
3. Give people a choice of how they pay for your game. Let people choose an ad-supported version or a paid-for version, depending on their preferences. Make it as easy as possible for people to migrate between the ad-supported version and the app purchase. Having a strategy for different types of consumer will ensure you don’t leave money on the table, and can cater equally for impoverished students and time-poor executives.
4. Sell your code. Let other developers see what they can build based on your work. There is a risk that you could end up competing with yourself and could dilute the uniqueness of your own proposition, but the Intel AppUp developer program enables you to get a royalty on your code components incorporated into other games. If someone else has a hit based on your code, you can have a financial stake in that success. It’s a great way to spread the risk of app development too. Even if your own app doesn’t get the sales it deserves, you could still make a lot of money from your code if somebody else using it is able to chart.
What other approaches have you found successful for making more money from your code? Feel free to leave a comment below.