Hey, the title sounds a bit dramatic but here’s the situation.
I’ve been developing my first game for the past 3 weeks, it’s a mobile game for kids. I wanted to release this game in the Google Play Store in the last few days.
However, I came across some information that I wasn’t aware of before. It turns out that because it’s an app for kids, I have to comply with hundreds, if not thousands, of policies. I asked in another forum how bigger developers handle this, and here’s the response I got:
"You need a lawyer, and a specialized one. Most mobile game studios do not touch games for kids because it is a legal minefield, and one that is in no way worth the cost and risk. You definitely don’t typically try to put ads in a game aimed at people below 13. If you’re going this route you need to cross all your t’s and dot all your i’s and that means legal advice.
Is this true? Should I really just stay away from it? I should mention that I don’t have the means to finance a new hobby with tens of thousands. I just wasn’t aware before that mobile games for kids are such an expensive affair…
Well I like making children’s games. They are simple. They are super easy to repurpose the logic. They can give you a nice portfolio of games in a small amount of time. But I have to say I never thought to ask my competitors (aka other game devs) “Hey guys, should I make this type of game or would you rather keep that target audience for yourself?” I did spend time voraciously reading Play Store policies, taking several E-learning modules at the Google Play Academy (which I highly recommend - they typically only take a few minutes and you can chug through a lot of them in spare moments). Also I studied the games in the Play Store, downloaded children’s games, read descriptions, privacy policies, reviews - by no means are all the children’s games in the Play Store from people that sunk tens of thousands into production. Many many seem to be hobbyists.
Ok that being said, if you think ad revenue is pitiful in games that target adults, well you will probably find it nonexistent in children’s games. And not because you can’t have ads, but you can’t put the ones that pay well (like gambling ads) in your game and you can’t just throw ads willy nilly everywhere because it annoys parents to have to constantly close an ad for their child in a game that they wanted to keep their child occupied so they can finally enjoy a glass of wine in peace. And lets face it your game might target kids but parents are your real customers.
So if you’re really set on generating ad revenue it is much better to create games for adults. So if you decide that, don’t get disheartened about your game so far. Surely you can complete it, list it on fiver or something as a demo of what you can reskin and make for someone that is more comfortable publishing children’s games. If you do that I recommend making an version with ads and limited content and a full ad free version because your clients will want both versions for their store.
Hey, thanks for your detailed answer, it really helps me a lot!
So, as I mentioned before, I referred to the response I received earlier, which was initially quite discouraging. However, the same person wrote another message shortly afterwards. The idea is that I could simply create my game without any advertising and sell it for a fixed price on the Play Store, for example, $0.99. This would be easier, I was told, because, and I quote: “Paid games can work, and you also tend to see subscriptions in those sorts of games. Anything that’s not ad-based or has consumable IAP since those are the major problem areas.” As far as I understand, it should be easier to release the game if I leave out advertising and don’t have any in-app purchases, such as game currency.
Have you had experience with this? Or, to put it another way, how do you monetize your games, with advertising or for a fixed price/in-game subscription?
You can also mention that you’re committed to ensuring the privacy of the families that use your apps, and providing children with a safe environment to play and learn.
Ok I started using GDevelop last October and I never in my life thought I could do something as magnificent as making a game. So in February when I actually had a game, I proudly sent Google a copy of my ID and $25 with no intention of ever making money. I was just so proud that I made a game, I was willing to pay Google so I could have a game in the Play Store. So I am probably the worst person to give advice on monetizing games. It still feels like such an honor to actually be making games. But for what it’s worth:
I haven’t tried to monetize with ads so I can’t speak of the revenue. I had decided it probably wouldn’t be worth it in a children’s game because of the restrictions and the possibility of irritating the parents against my product if I put enough ads in there to amount to anything. In my mind the best use of ads in a kids game will be to serve as my own personal advertising campaign where I can showcase the other wonderful games I (will eventually…heh) have and also an ad free, full content version of the game they are currently playing.
Also because I have had a really hard time with figuring out inapp purchases I have not done the subscription model yet but that is my goal for the next project. I believe it would be the best model for a children’s game. So there’s 3 ideas for you, subscription, or parents pay flat price to turn off ads, or parents pay flat price to unlock full game content (inapp purchase version, instead of the workaround of making a lite and pro version of the same game). Or just list a game in the store for a flat fee, it but I’m wary of that (personal bias).
I think monetization will end up being a numbers game. The more products you have in your store the more those little trickles will add up. So I just don’t think about piles of money because it’s demotivating. I just imagine a store full of adorable games that I’m proud of.