The game producer - Game business models
Dec 3, 2013
[Anton Erholt]
2 minute read

Now I’ll briefly discuss some business models. Please note that I’m probably a bit biased.

Pay-to-play (P2P)

The “standard” model. You pay for a game once and then it is yours. For all eternity… Oh, you want an example? Hmm… Let’s see. Oh! Project Zomboid 1 mentioned in an earlier post is a good example.

  • Pros

    • You don’t have to keep track of all the players
  • Cons

    • The eventual income will spike and then drastically fall.
    • Typically means there will be sequels if the devs are successful.


Well, the most obvious example I can come up with is World of Warcraft 2, where you pay a fee each month to continue playing.

  • Pros

    • Continuous cashflow means an ability to have continuous development
    • Makes scalability easier
  • Cons

    • Player database needed to keep track of payments etc.
  • Comments

    • I think this model is perfectly suited for the MMO type of games which take a lot of time and effort to maintain and develop. You already do have a player database with accounts, so this should not be that much of a problem.

Free-to-play (F2P)

A great example is the giant in the MOBA-genre 3, DotA 2. In this game you can buy skins and new visual styles for the characters in the game.

  • Pros

    • Players get to play, haters get to hate and lovers get to love. You don’t have to feel bad for trying to trick money out of someone…
  • Cons

    • … or yes you do. But how!? This business model requires something else to generate income, such as ads or in-game purchases.

A thing to keep in mind is that it is not completely impossible to switch business model, even though it might hurt some of your playerbase. One example of where a switching between business models has been successful is Heroes of Newerth 4. The game is F2P since the 20th of July 2012 0.

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