For the past two years, I have exclusively relied on Google’s “In-App Purchase” library to monetize Boxel Rebound. This service provided a way for me to sell a digital license without having to worry about payment gateways like PayPal, or handling refunds to unhappy customers. It was a dream come true!
As mentioned in my previous blog post, Google quietly announced that they were locking up this feature for new extensions. I figured it was temporary since their staff was working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Well folks, it’s not temporary, Google is shutting down their In-App Purchase service.
How will I monetize this now? I probably won’t. I did the math, and I’ve made a little less than $1,000 in sales within a 12 month window. For all the 12-year-olds playing Boxel Rebound during class, that probably sounds astronomical. But for a web developer making a game as a hobby, it’s an easy choice to switch to a freemium service to promote other projects.
I have joyfully come to the realization that monetizing a game on the Chrome Webstore is doable, but not worthwhile. The Chrome Webstore allowed me to distribute a game to a wider audience than I could have ever reached, but it came at the expense of a demographic that expected free games.
Thankfully, I discovered something that free users are willing to pay with: their personal data (queue the spooky sci-fi music). In late 2019, I gave free users the option to earn a “skin” (an in-game player cosmetic) if they followed Kargoh (aka, my brother Isaiah) on the Twitch platform. I then used the Twitch API to confirm their following status, and awarded users a free skin. Within 6 months, we bumped his followers from 120, to 20,000. During this time, we invested all our time into 5-day streams, and were blessed with hundreds of paying subscribers.
When school started back up around August 2020, streaming at 8am no longer reached the average 75+ active viewers, so we allocated time to YouTube as a way to create on-demand content. In a similar fashion, we offered a new free skin to promote his YouTube channel. Within 4-weeks, we jumped from 200 subscribers to 10,000 subscribers.
That’s great and all, but are people actually watching his channel? Yup! Prior to advertising his YouTube channel, we were seeing about 50 “watch hours” per week. In the 4-week window, we are now seeing 500+ watch hours per week, and are about to reach the 4,000 watch hour requirement. The more people that watch his channel, the closer we get to earning money through YouTubes partnership program.
In short, I plan on using this bad news from Google to my advantage by exclusively promoting the Kargoh brand (owned by Doppler Creative – aka, me and my bros). This gives me an excuse to keep making fun levels for Boxel 3D and other future games.