Recently, I’ve begun being fascinated with idle and incremental games. I was pushed to try these genres by a friend and fellow developer, Lord Sharpe. My first crack at an incremental game was Adventure Capitalist. Adventure Capitalist is a fully conceived, well polished title that has the power to turn people on to the genre. It’s a recommended play. From there I tried a few more, a clicker called Cookie Clicker, an another incremental game called Swarm Simulator and an idle game called Reactor Idle. Needless to say, I was enjoying my time playing these games and searched out more. My interest in these types of games grew even more when Lord Sharpe released his Soda Barons. While I’m obviously biased, it’s my personal favorite none the less.
I started working on the concept of Idle Zoo well over a year ago, and it has had a few iterations. I’m quite happy with it’s current direction. The premise is that you start an exhibit at a zoo and work on it until it becomes a cash cow. Then you move to a new exhibit, all the while managing previous exhibits. Simple premise, sure. I think it separates itself by needing to manage several exhibits at one time and by “tending” to certain animal needs.
What’s interesting about this is the thought experiment of how to monetize a niche game. I’m a little tired of being an indie and not really making much money off of these projects. While they are satisfying to work on, and a life long dream… we have family’s and … well…. money is important to survive in our society. So, bringing this back a little, Idle/Incremental/Clicker games are niche, but are becoming more popular. How does one make money off of a product like this and what can we realistically expect/forecast? There are many avenues, this type of game is *very* popular on web portals such as Kongregate. But we’d like to release on mobile, as well. Ideally, we’d like a solution that works on both platforms… but people can consume information differently on different platforms. The circle might fit in the square box, but it might not be reaching every corner of potential revenue. The problem isn’t a hard one, it’s really boils down to a “how much effort for how much reward” question. The crux of the problem is, as stated earlier, how do we forecast profits for a niche game? And, honestly, I don’t have the answer yet. What I don’t want happening is undervaluing it’s potential. We’ll examine the risks and, generally speaking, we’ll take the risk.
Idle, incremental and clicker games tend to, inherently, keep people coming back to upgrade one system or another. This very clearly identifies the potential for revenue by displaying an ad at start up. Other opportunities depend on your game, do banners fit? Will it break to aesthetic if you plop an ad at location x? Additionally, it’s also an opportunity to “sell” your own additional products at no cost to you. Is it worthwhile to slowup the starting procedure by showing your other games? That’s your choice and one that should be given some thought. Will it help your brand? Will it water it down or turn people off. Examine these questions honestly and don’t be opposed to saying no, even when the potential for money is involved.
Can you identify other opportunities that may be better suited to make some income? In game purchase? Exclusivity? Time triggered ads? All of these need serious thought.
With Idle Zoo, we’ll be displaying ads on start up and will have certain objects which can be purchased in every exhibit. NB: those these objects can be attained with out the need to purchase them, so no pay to win. These opportunities will be available on all platforms, and while the ads api may change, the opportunities will remain the same and should require little to no changes.
Just a few thoughts from RT!
PS: Here are some links to my favorites idle, incremental and clicker games: