Monetization: a word that has been getting a lot of bad press recently. By why is Monetization such a taboo word and why is everyone up in arms with this in-game experience?
In this blog post, we will look at what is monetization, different monetization methods, the new eternals monetization method introduced by League of Legends game, some previous monetization methods used by them and finally, the learning from the response of gaming community to that.
What is Monetization?
For those who are unsure of what Monetization is, let us explain this term which is taking the gaming world by storm. Video game monetization is a process created by a game publisher to increase revenue from the video game. In simple terms, monetization means ‘making money’ from your video game.
Monetization can differ across platforms and genre. With many different forms of monetization available, for many gamers, they will encounter this in-game feature without even realizing it.
With so many monetization methods available, more and more games are being found guilty of incorporating more than one tactic at a time, especially as these methods complement and not compete with each other.
- Retail Purchase
The most traditional way of Video Game monetization is Retail Purchasing. Whether purchased online from a store or customers buying a physical copy. These copies are either sold as standard copy or as collectible/special edition.
- Digital Download
With the landscape of the high street continually changing and facing an onward battle against the growing digital world, it comes as no shock to see that digital distribution of games is on the rise. Instead of purchasing a game from either a physical or online store, players will choose instead of digitally download the game for themselves from an online platform.
The ideal option for gamers not wanting to pay outright for the game, monetization in the form of subscription involves the gamer paying monthly for the opportunity to play. With customers paying monthly and able to be cancelled, this opportunity is ideal for those wanting to pay as they play.
Another digital monetization method that allows players to digitally stream and distribute the game. Microtransaction will see certain aspects of the game content available to players once they give a small amount of money. This can either be in-game currencies, player cosmetics, weapon upgrades. Due to the inexpensive nature and multiple options for players, Microtransaction is a superb way for publishers to reap profits from Social and cheaper Multi-team games.
DLC, shortened for Downloadable Content, is a microtransaction that involves providing gamers with the opportunity to see additional contents. Usually seen in the form of small expansions, through the purchase of this additional content, gamers can improve and develop their gaming experience. Whether in the form of a map, story or a new game mode, you must have seen this monetization strategy yourself.
- Loot Box
Again a popular form of microtransaction. When purchasing an in-game Loot Box, the rewards are random and new every time. With prizes up for grabs ranging from game to game and across devices, prizes can either be in-game items for real money. There are some games that require the gamer to rely heavily upon the Loot Box to progress and advance, these games are referred as a “Gacha game“.
- Player Trading
Another in-game feature, Player Trading sees players send digital currencies and gifts to other gamers through an in-game marketplace, with the game publisher getting a small fee from the transaction.
- In-Game Advertising
An indirect form of monetization, as advertising enables game publishers generate revenue not directly from the player. With these adverts taking place within the game and at breaks through game play, these adverts are usually seen in free-to-play games and rely on the cost of advertising to maintain running costs.
To read about monetization in mobile platforms, you can refer our article on “What is Mobile-game Monetization?“.
League of Legends and Monetization
Popular worldwide, the power that is League of Legends appears not to be vanishing anytime soon. A multiplayer game, League of Legends allows gamers get together in an online battle arena, that is heavily run by microtransactions. Criticized heavily by gaming community throughout the years for its monetization attempts, League of Legends appears to be a prime example of profit over gaming experience.
Published by Riot Games for the PC platforms, such as Microsoft Windows and MacOS, this free game that depends heavily on the use of in-game monetization has been criticized once again by gaming community for compromising the game experience.
Latest among these infamous monetization techniques is “Eternals” achievement system.
League of Legends Eternals System
While monetization tactics on League of Legends till now were mostly fancy additions (cosmetic skins and icons etc.), this Eternals system affects a more crucial part of the game.
Eternals is an achievement system made personalized and specific to each of the players for a small fee of close to $7. Once players have completed their achievements and tasks, players will receive a mastery remote, that is unique to the number of their mastery score or how many games that the player has played. With a call-out banner also appearing within their game, each player with Eternals will see their call-out banner once they have reached a milestone.
Allowing gamers to see how well they are doing and performing, many games offer these statistics to players, however, for free.
Unique and individual to each player’s game, when it comes to showing off your skills and achievements, many players agree that along with being free, their successes should be promoted openly to all.
Previous Monetization Methods
When it comes to in-game monetization, Riot Games have used different tactics in the past, with Eternals being the latest addition to their ever growing game. With previous examples being a simple loot box system, the need to purchase an event pass to their World Championship in 2017 and 2018. As well as a Point system that was launched in January 2019 – received when players purchased bundles of Hextech Crafting boxes, in-game purchases are nothing new!
Following the launch of Teamfight Tactics came Little Legends, small creatures to add to players’ avatars. Like most monetization methods, to unlock shinier, more attractive Little Legends, players are advised to purchase a loot box and try their luck for a small fee of $5.
Community response and learnings
When Riot Games previewed Eternals achievement system to League of Legend gaming community, the designers of the game got strong feedback and promised to go back to the drawing board, delaying the launch of Eternals.
Changing and rejuvenating the game, the designers promised to update and improve Eternals. This comes as an evidence that gamers and their feedback hold high regard in publishers’ eyes today. Accepting faults with the game and prompt corrections are the new normal in game publishing industry, which is a good sign.
Though League of Legends game is considered as a master of monetization, this latest money making attempt has not been successful, especially as gamers themselves are becoming more conscious about which monetization methods are acceptable and which ones are not. Gamers are willing to justify any in-game add-ons and are happy to voice their concerns if they are unhappy with the experience presented to them.
Gamers are keen, now more than ever to receive additional quality benefits (rather than converting essential game features to premium features) when asked for their hard earned cash. Thus the importance of each feature should be unique and well thought out.
Though video game monetization can be considered essential as they can cover running costs, allowing gamers to play for free. But asking players to pay to see vital statistics and player scores, is an unnecessarily premium feature that should be free.
Improving and developing over time, we can only wait and see how Eternals pan out and whether this monetization feature will be a hit or a miss.