How to monetize a free-to-play game

August 22, 2019

Game Director, Business Development Manager, Game Designer, CEOI at Pocket Puppet and monetization consultant. This is the CV of Rafa Bernabé, F2P Campus mentor and star of the latest public talk. His experience (he has published 10 games and participated in the creation of many others) was a sign of assurance.

Rafa arrived in Vitoria ready to tell us about the keys to monetizing a free-to-play game. His reflections and advice did not leave the audience indifferent. And this monetization expert left us with some real gems during his presentation.

Known to those who operate in this industry, the monetization formula that Bernabé explained is as simple to understand as it is difficult to realize. It tells us that the cost per installation multiplied by the virality of a game must be greater than its monetization (expressed in $ billed daily) multiplied by the retention capacity of the game (expressed in the number of days a player plays). From this formula emerge the two key concepts that Rafa lists as key factors in monetizing a free-to-play game.



Retention tells us about the ability of a game to ‘catch’ a player and keep them playing day after day. For this, the tips of the talk were:


  • Create a game without an end

Many popular videogames have their own story and ending. But in this case, their model should not be free-to-play; instead opt for payment methods, Premium…. A game without an end increases exponentially the value each player can bring.


  • Make the game easily scalable

It should allow updates, with new content and functionalities.


  • Create interrelated Core Loops.

The Core Loop is a loop that is repeated throughout the game, a repetition of sequences performed by the player, which allows them to build progress within the game. This makes monetization easier.



These are Barnabé’s tips for monetizing a free-to-play videogame:

  • Make it 100% accessible to all players, regardless of whether they are payers or not.
  • Do not limit payments

Each player must have the possibility (not the obligation, but the option) to make the payments they want in the amounts they want. In these graphs you can see the distribution of players according to their frequency of use on the left, and the value they contribute in monetary terms on the right. ‘Whales’ are a minority, quantitatively speaking, but by contrast they are the ones who are of most value.

  • Sell emotions

You have to be able to identify the players’ insights in order to respond to them through game dynamics that elicit emotions in them, which in turn generate an engagement that connects them to the game for a prolonged period.


But above all these issues, there is one that anyone who wants to market a free-to-play game must keep in mind: make a fun game. It’s not easy to find the keys to achieving it, but the game must entertain people and will then be able to generate installations, create virality, retain players and facilitate monetization.

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