How to Make Money on Microtransactions

How to Make Money on Microtransactions

Everybody Edits is a maze-based platforming game that anyone can edit and play online in real-time. The friendly-sounding title helps define the experience, which is very much open-ended and a great deal of fun to tinker with. As it happens, Everybody Edits also carries some interesting lessons about microtransactions.

The initial game was put together for Newgrounds by a fellow named Chris Benjaminsen. Benjaminsen talked a bit about the game’s evolution and its progression as a money-maker at the 2011 Flash Gaming Summit in San Francisco. Everybody Edits is free to play, but the gradual addition of bonus material has since helped the game garner approximately $10,000 a month in microtransactions.

Benjaminsen’s build-up to microtransactions was quite unlike the system favored by bigger companies like Zynga and Playfish. Most modern social games have fleshed out the economy behind microtransactions before the first line of code even hits the screen. Benjaminsen, by comparison, took everything in stride. He started with donations, and then began offering rewards in the way of custom smiley-faces, which serve as the in-game avatars. Soon, players had the option of buying $5 smiley-faces, $10 smiley-faces, or even $20 smiley-faces.

And they did. Benjaminsen quickly learned that people will drop surprising amounts of money on social games. “There’s a misconception that microtransactions that they are still thought of as small transactions,” he said. “That’s simply not true. People spend $10, $20 and more on microtransactions”.

The key, Benjaminsen said, is giving players a choice that they behold as valuable. In an online social world, people will spend quite a bit of money to differentiate themselves and/or mark themselves as an aristocrat in a virtual kingdom–even if the avatars in said kingdom lack arms and legs.

Benjaminsen’s on-the-fly approach to microtransactions suit his game: After all, the whole shebang is based on the ability to change the playing field as you go along. Last-minute alterations to microtransactions might not suit a Zynga-sized project, but Benjaminsen’s common sense approach to player psychology is a good take-away lesson for all social games. Everything comes down to deriving a certain pleasure from shouting “Hey ma! Lookit my special horse!” across Facebook.

And though Benjaminsen didn’t state as much outright, there’s another simple secret behind the success of Everybody Edits:Lots of payment options. There’s no purchase like an impulsive Paypal-based purchase.

About Nadia Oxford
Nadia is a freelance writer living in Toronto. She played her first game at four, decided games were awesome, and has maintained her position since. She writes for 1UP.com, Slide to Play, GamePro and other publications, and is About.com’s Guide to the Nintendo DS.

1 Comments

  1. Limiting users to only one “item” of sorts at a time on Xbox Avatars is perhaps one of the biggest favors Microsoft could have done for me. If I could use more than one at a time, I would probably have spent a lot more money on them.

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