Home > Articles > Programming > Games

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Show Me the Money: Micro Game Business Models

If you are a commercial game developer, then you are lucky indeed. You get to spend your days hacking, designing, and creating objects of joy and entertainment. You get to be a kid for a living.

But if you want to stay in business, you'll need to make money. Clearly, the business model you choose will differ depending on your end platform and upon your target audience.

Additionally, business models are strikingly different in the United States, Asia, and Europe. In Europe and Asia, for example, carriers such as NTT DoCoMo offer a profit split with content providers: The more a user chooses a particular piece of content, the more the content provider gets paid. This model is exciting, because it encourages thousands of developers to take their best shot at entertaining the masses.

To date, few North American carriers have been able to offer such a deal. Instead, most content providers must approach specific carriers and strike specific content deals. This makes it difficult for small developers to compete or earn any real revenues.


United States carriers such as Cingular Wireless, Sprint PCS, and Nextel have expressed interest in creating profit-splitting services within the next year.

The Business Outlook

Datamonitor predicts that the wireless gaming market in the United States will have grown to $3 billion in 2006, with 125 million players hungry for good new games.

Advertising and Sponsorships

Advertising and sponsorships are probably the easiest business models to implement, but the most difficult in which to achieve solid revenues.

The idea is simple and well-known: Find a company that has a message, put that company's name, logo, or other creative elements within your game, and you've created a valuable vehicle for the company's message.

In fact, many companies have opted to create their own mobile phone games in order to deliver their brand to a cutting-edge audience.

Often, advertisements change from day to day. Ads appear below or to the side of game content. Alternatively, a full screen ad "interstitial" can be shown to the player before or after the game session.

Some of the best advertisements don't even seem like ads at all. For example, many racing games include logos "painted" on the racecars, and football games often include ad banners on the side of the stadium. This touch of realism actually makes the game better, while providing a permanent and well-seen home for a lucky advertiser.

The problem with micro devices, of course, is that there is not a lot of room for ads. Company logos are often small and washed out, and it is often hard to track the number of times a given ad is seen.

As screen resolutions improve, however, advertisements and sponsorships will likely become a smart choice. Top games will be able to charge hefty fees for ad placement. After all, if a mobile phone game really takes off, it has the potential to be experienced by more people, and more regularly, than any television, radio, or print ad campaign.

Content Deals

Wireless service providers, cable companies, and other companies that provide the infrastructure for small devices have a lot to gain if a popular game comes along.

Because most mobile phone providers charge their users per minute, the longer a user is connected and playing a favorite game, the more minutes are being used up.

In addition, games could come with incentives. For example, if you pass a certain level in a game, you could get a coupon for 50 free minutes of mobile airtime. Players would work on the game for hundreds of minutes trying to earn a slight discount.


Because some carriers charge a flat monthly fee for Internet use, these carriers desire games that don't stay connected and waste precious bandwidth!

But the point remains that carriers have invested more than $100 billion to create a faster, next-generation wireless infrastructure known as third-generation (3G). Current networks run 9.8 kilobits per second. A 3G network will run up to 50 kilobits per second—almost as fast as a computer's modem.

Clearly, carriers are counting on faster and richer applications, such as games, to attract new users and get a good return on their investment.

Currently, there are an estimated 16 million wireless game players in the United States alone. The ARC Group predicts that by 2006 there will be 280 million players. In Japan, NTT DoCoMo recently announced that 52% of wireless Internet revenues are due to games.

Several game companies have been able to strike content deals with major wireless carriers. If you have created a game that you believe will appeal to the masses, it's definitely worth talking with major carriers and figuring out a deal that makes sense for everyone.

Pay-For-Play or Subscription

Charging players for a subscription to play a game is a clear path to revenues. For example, a player may be willing to pay $10 per month, $1 per game, or an additional 10 cents per minute.

However, most current users aren't willing to pay anything for mobile phone games. The main reason for this, of course, is that while there are many nice micro games out there, there are few that are so darn fun, so darn special, so darn enthralling, and so darn exciting that users would be willing to part with their cash.

This will change.

Bigger and more colorful screens, better audio capabilities, quicker network access times, and faster processors will allow for better games.

Additionally, carriers will begin to offer content providers more ways to bill users. Carriers and phone manufacturers are already beginning to create portals whereby users can use their credit cards to purchase and download Micro Java applications.

Someday soon, a company will create a micro game so good and so addictive that people will have to play it. Paying a buck or two per game will become second nature. The company that does this will make a fortune, and the world of micro gaming will be changed forever.

Perhaps that company will be yours.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020