How Pokemon Go Makes Money As A Free-To-Play Game

by: Emily Gibson

Remember when everyone was running through the streets searching for rare Pokemon on their smartphones? It’s hard to forget. And during that time, the app’s developers were creating a game that has generated almost $2 billion.

How? Through the Games as a Service (GaaS) model. GaaS is a business model that allows a company to continue making money off a game or app after its initial release. By requiring users pay a monthly subscription fee, or providing in-game downloadable content or in-app purchases, the developers can monetize their game and keep the money flowing in. 

Games like Pokemon Go do this through microtransactions, or in-app purchases that can help the user personalize or upgrade their playing experience by buying extra items. In-app purchases usually aren’t required, so the game remains free to play. But with such a wide audience, enough people do choose to spend money on the game to keep the money flowing in. 

Microtransactions and in-app purchases aren’t the only way that developers can monetize their games. Some developers choose to opt for a monthly subscription, paid in a flat rate at the beginning of each month. Once the user pays this fee, they are granted access to the entire game and community. This model is used by big games like World of Warcraft, whose devoted fanbase is more than willing to pay up. 

For those without the ability to charge a monthly subscription fee or provide in-app purchases, in-app advertisements are another way to generate revenue. In-app ads can be tricky, as players are likely to get aggravated if the ad interrupts their gaming experience. Try to keep ads relevant to your user base and placed in a way that won’t interrupt the flow of the game. 

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