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Making money with games and the cloud

Modified on 2012/07/01 01:31 by Ben Fulton Categorized as Uncategorized

Making crazy money with games on the cloud

A talk by @brianHprince at CodeStock 2012. Slides available here.

Games are a good example of something to moonlight on. But be careful - there's a good chance any intellectual property will belong to your day company. Make sure you are up front with them about your plans.

Phone users spend $8 - 10$ month on buying things for their phones.

Need graphics? There are sites out there to match developers and designers. You can spend a few bucks to get something nice designed.

Be aware - you will probably fail.

Charging strategy

In the days of shareware, a game would be free for first few levels, then the user would have to pay for it. Nowadays, the superior strategy seems to be to have the whole game free, and have the users pay for extras. For example, in Farmville, you get 5 free tokens per day, but if that's not enough for you, you can buy more to keep playing.

Or you can go the advertising route. Be aware that free games are downloaded 10 times more often than games that cost $1.


There's a huge difference between writing business software and writing games. When writing business software, you try to remove all the friction. You want everything to be handed to users on a silver platter so they don't have to think about what the next step should be. In games, players are looking for challenges, so you try to build friction into the game. Also, with friction, you can allow the players to buy the issue away, rather than solve a challenge. Sell them an extra powerful weapon, perhaps.

Using the cloud

You can take advantage of BizSpark, Microsoft's small company support. Also Windows Azure Websites allow you to create free websites, and frameworks exist for it supporting modern features that users expect - authentication, leaderboards, social network integration, in-game commerce, saving game state (and picking the game up on a different device later). This allows you to focus on the code that is really specific to your game. For authentication, Azure Access Control Service is available as well as Facebook authentication.

Various demos exist demonstrating these toolkits. Tankster.net is a sophisticated game example with source code available. Nathen Totten wrote a series of blog entries about it.

Some statistics

  • More women over 18 play games than boys under 18
  • Women account for 74% of paying for games, whether for themselves or a child or husband, etc.
  • Halo 3 took in more money on its first day than Spiderman or Deathly Hallows book, so there is plenty of money out there.
  • People make money on casual games, and market growing at 20% a year
  • Time people play: 11AM - 2PM, 7PM - 9PM

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