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NOMADS 

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  • Writer's pictureFabrício de Lucca

Maximizing Limited Budgets: How Small Gaming Companies Successfully Monetize



Key Takeaways:

  • Foster player loyalty for sustainable monetization.

  • Utilize cost-effective freemium models to boost revenue.

  • Explore crowdfunding and collaborative funding for budget flexibility.

  • Learn from trendy games for higher chances of success.

  • Embrace innovation as a core element of your gaming business.

  • Seek expert support from video game marketing agencies to optimize limited budgets.


In the fast-paced world of gaming, where industry giants dominate the landscape, small gaming companies and indie developers face unique challenges. With limited budgets and a burning passion for gaming, they venture into a fiercely competitive arena. The question that often arises is, "How can these small players make a mark and, at the same time, make money?"


Let's get started by examining the key strategies that empower small gaming companies to achieve financial success in an industry known for its fierce competition.


Cultivating a Dedicated Player Base

Building a loyal player community is a strategy employed by many successful gaming companies. When players feel connected to a game and its community, they're more likely to continue playing and investing in it. Building a dedicated player community can be a powerful asset for monetization. Here's how they do it:


  • Regular Updates: Keeping the game fresh with regular updates, new content, and bug fixes not only retains existing players but also attracts new ones. Players who see a game is actively maintained are more likely to spend money on in-game items.

  • Interactive Events: Hosting in-game events or live streams where players can participate, win prizes, or engage with developers fosters a sense of belonging. Happy players are more likely to spend on their favorite game.


One successful example of this approach is the game "Among Us" by InnerSloth. The game, despite being developed by a small team, gained tremendous popularity thanks to its simple yet engaging gameplay. InnerSloth kept open lines of communication with players through platforms like Discord and social media, actively addressing feedback and sharing updates, fostering a strong developer-player bond. The company's community-driven approach extended to decisions like naming in-game elements and choosing new features, making players feel valued and integral to the game's development.



Leveraging Cost-Effective Freemium Models

Freemium models, where games are free to play but offer premium content or features at a cost, have become highly popular. Small gaming companies often leverage these models to achieve revenue without requiring a high initial investment. Balancing free content with attractive premium offerings is a skill many developers have mastered. Developers using the freemium model often supplement their income through:


  • In-Game Ads: Implementing unobtrusive in-game ads can generate a steady income. These ads often come in the form of banners, videos, or even interactive ads that players can engage with.

  • In-App Purchases: Offering players the option to buy virtual items, skins, or game currency can be highly profitable. Small developers can utilize this model effectively to increase revenue.


A classic example is "Fortnite" by Epic Games. This free-to-play battle royale game generates substantial revenue through the sale of in-game currency (V-Bucks) used to purchase skins, emotes, and other cosmetic items. The game's fun and engaging gameplay, combined with well-designed microtransactions, has made it a huge financial success.


Crowdfunding and Collaborative Funding

Securing funding is a critical aspect of game development, especially for small gaming companies. When facing budget constraints, alternative financing methods can be game-changers. Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer creators a direct avenue to secure funding from players and supporters who believe in their vision.


Additionally, collaborative funding strategies involve actively engaging the gaming community in the game's design and development process. This approach allows players to contribute their ideas and insights, creating a game that deeply resonates with the target audience.


Abraham Cozar's "Mika and the Witch's Mountain" stands as a prime example of crowdfunding triumph in the world of video game development. This 3D flying adventure game captured the essence of beloved titles like "The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker" and the charm of Studio Ghibli's "Kiki's Delivery Service," captivating the hearts of gamers. Cozar and his team's strategic approach played a pivotal role in their crowdfunding success:


  • Engaging Game Pitch: The game pitch brilliantly fused the visual allure of "Wind Waker" with the whimsy of "Kiki's Delivery Service." This compelling blend acted as a powerful magnet, pulling backers into the project.

  • Trust in the Team: Cozar's studio, Chibig, leveraged its prior Kickstarter experience, offering structured information and a proven track record. This established trust and credibility among backers.

  • Effective Marketing: Chibig invested in targeted ads both pre- and during the Kickstarter campaign. Their Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) reached an impressive 285%, with an average pledge of €54, resulting in a campaign funded at an astounding 3,250%.

  • Strategic Demo Launch: Timing was impeccable. Releasing a demo during the Kickstarter, coinciding with the Steam Next Fest, led to 25,000 players trying it and 20,289 new wishlists on Steam. Influencers further boosted the campaign's visibility.

  • Adaptation to Backer Preferences: Recognizing the importance of offering physical rewards, Chibig introduced a Nintendo Switch version and a Mika figure during the campaign. This adaptation reinvigorated backer engagement.



In essence, "Mika and the Witch's Mountain" demonstrates how crowdfunding, combined with strategic marketing and adaptability, can provide significant funding for indie game development. While the path to crowdfunding success is riddled with challenges, this game exemplifies the potential it holds for passionate developers. Cozar's accomplishment is a testament to the ability of creators to realize their gaming visions through crowdfunding's remarkable power.


The “Fast Follow” Strategy

In the ever-evolving world of gaming, the "fast follow" strategy has emerged as a promising approach. This tactic involves creating a game with similarities to a viral hit, aiming to capture some of the original's success. By developing a game that shares some core elements with the hit game, you can tap into its popularity.


But there are ethical guidelines to follow when employing this approach. The key is not to deceive players or steal from the original game. Instead, aim to improve upon the original in some way. This "fast follow" strategy is about learning, improving, and building a sustainable career in game development. We recommend exploring a case study like One Way To Actually Make Money On Your First Game to gain deeper insights into this strategy's potential.


The Bottom Line

Small developers are thriving in this dynamic industry, proving that innovation, player engagement, and smart monetization strategies are the driving forces behind their success. The key is to cultivate a loyal player community, leverage cost-effective freemium models, explore crowdfunding and collaborative funding options, and embrace innovative strategies like the "fast follow."


For those looking to make the most of their limited budgets and explore professional guidance, video game marketing agencies like NOMADS DIGITAL can offer invaluable support. We understand gamers inside out, enabling us to create engaging content that resonates with your audience. We help you maintain player loyalty by delivering content that genuinely captivates them.


If you're looking to explore crowdfunding or collaborative funding, our performance marketing and media buying services guarantee that your campaign reaches a wide audience at the lowest cost, maximizing your chances of securing the necessary funds to turn your vision into reality.


And for those intrigued by the "fast follow" strategy, our market research services dive deep into the triumphs of trending games, allowing you to learn from their success and apply these invaluable insights to your own unique creations.


In your journey to game development success, remember that your unique strengths and passion for gaming can lead to financial prosperity, even in a world of gaming giants.


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