Video Game Economics and Game Economy Design

The intricacies of video game economics and video game economy design have quickly become an integral part of a game’s life cycle and how its success is measured by publishers. Due to the rising complexities of game design and video game development, we’re seeing longer production cycles, with bigger and more expensive targets. 

In this blog, we’ll look into the core elements of game economy design, exploring some current trends in game monetization, look at the psychology of economies and player engagement, and dancing the careful line between player enjoyment and profitability. For this piece, we won’t be touching on in-game economies and will instead be focusing on real currency balance.

Monetization Strategies

With the rising costs of operations and game development, many games are driven by monetization strategies. 

One significant change in this field was the release of subscription models like those found in Xbox Game Pass or PlayStation Plus. These changed the way players had access to games, offering a huge library of games that evolves and grows, under a monthly fee. This model provides a steady stream of income for developers while offering players a buffet of games including Day One releases in the case of Xbox Game Pass.

In-game purchases have changed with these new financial expectations of game economy design. No longer are they just cosmetic items, instead some games lock content and even pay-to-win items or boosts behind in-game purchases. However, for developers who found the balance of in-game purchases without offering pay-to-win incentives find themselves with a positive environment where purchasing is entirely optional and holds no mechanical advantage.

Lastly, we’re seeing a rise in the use and sophistication of ad-based revenue models. The goal in these models is to seamlessly blend ads into the gaming experience, where rewards are granted for watching ads. In this way, developers generate revenue while maintaining a free-to-play model. This can help strike a balance benefitting players and the game developers.

Player Engagement Psychology for Game Economy Design

Game economy design, simply, is defined by a study of player behavior. The key in game economics is ensuring players don’t feel used by a monetization model and that the game encourages player engagement. In this way, it encourages players to play more and potentially spend money on your title. Designing your game and its economy to support immediate gratification in pursuit of long-term goals will keep your players invested.

An aspect of game economic psychology is the social aspects of gaming. Multiplayer games and any social features your game might have, help players to engage and feel a part of a community. This fosters a strong sense of belonging which helps players feel invested in your game’s experience. A social connection can be very powerful for many players and serves to encourage in-game spending.

The Balance of Player Experience and Game Economics

Profitability is important to a game’s continued success, support, and running. However, the player experience is just as important. Without happy players, profit is impossible. The balance to find, and it can be difficult, is the balance between profitability and player experience.

A key element to consider in your game’s design and its economic design is its enjoyability and fairness without any purchases. If your players feel taken advantage of, or if they feel that most elements are simply there to encourage a purchase, you’ll be hard pressed to maintain player enjoyment.

Finding this balance requires a comprehensive understanding of game economy design. This is something Magic Media can provide given our thorough game development experience.

As game development service providers, we are always working to stay at the forefront of trends and methodologies. That includes the complicated process of game economy design and the new trend of live service games. If you’re interested in leveraging our expert game design services, we’d love to hear from you. The Magic Media team are always ready to leverage our knowledge and experience in delivering you the best game development experience possible. Reach out and let’s create magic.


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