“Hey, little boy. Come over here, a little closer. Yes, that is perfect. I have some candy for you, want to trade some of it for real-life money?

Yes, good job, I knew you were a smart one. Use your parents’ credit cards and take in as many as you want. Everything here is yours and so much more.

How about a royal pass or a premium profile? Yes, sure, we’re having a discount right now. It’s a once in a lifetime offer, you don’t want to miss that”

Laughs in evil monopoly noises.

Yay, capitalism.

If you’ve ever felt that online apps have a weird fixation with money-grabbing, then you aren’t wrong. With the stories of children spending thousands upon thousands of their parents’ hard-earned bucks, all this chaos was bound to happen.

So, we’re here to boop the snoop and put in our overview on the monetization of apps.

One thing that always gets skipped during the early parts of app development, many times, is how the app focuses on monetizing itself.

This is not much of a problem if you’re backed by an app developing company, but as an indie, we tend to be highly focused on just expressing our hard work online. Once that is done, then we focus on the money-making scheme.

This is one of the foundational topics out there that covers how a team of creatives will continue what they do, which is creating an app…because there are no charities in the world.

But it’s also understandable why it is skipped. It’s not a fun topic. Talking about money from any perspective is bound to create tension and drama, or consequences. This is what any creative worth his/her salt will want to avoid.

But this is also one of the most important topics, if not THE most important topic to clear out as this will dictate how your app functions/how long will it survive in the open market. All the decisions, including team size, design, content, speed, website, everything boils down to how much money you have, and how much money you can generate in the future.

And here’s a weird thing. No matter what happens, most of the developers always chose these 2 things to discuss

  • What Are the Upfront Costs for the Customer to Use the App?
  • Does It Have a Long-term Monetization Potential?

So let us focus and answer these two questions first.

1) What Are the Upfront Costs for the Customer to Use the App?

For the most part, if we’re talking about mobile apps, then it will be free. The mobile apps would be downloaded and then they would give the user an option. Suffer through the endless horde of advertisements, or buy/subscribe to get a premium package and kick those pesky ads to the curb.

This was and still is, a very simple monetization strategy. You just have to focus on bringing in enough people to use your app and Boom, you’re drowning in sweet Moolah. 

This was even more full-blown in the mobile gaming department. You can still hear many people say “All the MMORPGs are now pay-to-win”

And they aren’t wrong. Premium package allows the gamer to get an enhanced bonus on their equipment that normal players just can’t get.

This is where the second question gets asked

2) Does It Have a Long-term Monetization Potential?

Say hello to microtransactions. This is a complete roar in the online gaming community. Microtransactions are small new in-game content that you can access if you pay a fee. It started with massive expansions to DLC, and now we have this. 

And let’s not even start talking about the dreaded loot box technique. At least in microtransactions, you know what you’re going to get. But in a loot box, well that’s some Vegas Casino level stuff. You pay money to essentially gamble on which set of in-game stuff you want.

No wonder people think the gaming industry is dying.

Now of course there is no one model to win them all when it comes to monetization. The hard part is, which monetization model do you choose for your app?

This question isn’t something that we can answer for you, but we can help you find your answer to these questions. And that is done by…asking questions.

a) What Kind of App Am I Making?

Everything and I mean everything, matters on this question. If you’re making a dating app, then you can’t use the monetization strategy of a sandbox MMORPG game with it. If you are making a simulator app, then you cannot use methods of meditation app in it.

Just for the sake of argument, let’s say that we are making a video game app that is a MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) style game.

b) What Is My Target Demographic?

Believe it or not, you don’t have to keep your app free to use. Many premium apps are doing just as well. But you need to know who your target audience is. Again, with our example of MOBA, your target demographic will be young adults who are in college. Cool.

c) What Monetization Can Most of My Target Audience Support?

This is a million-dollar question. If your MOBA app is for young adults, then you know a lot of them will not buy it, so then you have to find the best price possible under the given work to make your customers buy something.

d) What Is Something That My Competition Is Doing Wrong?

If you’re creating a MOBA, then here’s the thing. Screw loot-boxes. They are predatory. Focus more on adding premium content related to battle passes. That’s the good stuff.


These questions aren’t easy to answer, but they will help you find your solutions in your special way.

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