As the title says.

Making money with games, especially free to play ones, is a well-known topic that‘s often discussed. So one can either sell the game, fill it with ads, get a sponsorship, find a publisher, etc etc...

What i wanted to ask is: is possible to make money out of game engines? I know it‘s just a matter of polishing it and then publishing it (like Unity and other engines did), but are there any other way of making money if you‘re a developer writing an engine ( a good one with potential, not just a little one-use framework)?

  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ How is your question any different from "Making money with <any kind of product here>"? \$\endgroup\$ – user15805 Dec 1 '13 at 22:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Alex for example with flash games one could highlight the fact that is easy to get a sponsorship, with a mobile game one could focus on the ads, and so on. I‘d like some tips specific to game engines, if there are any. \$\endgroup\$ – user39517 Dec 1 '13 at 22:32

Yes, it's possible. But, just like making money with games (or anything else), it's not trivial. Like similar products, there's a number of basic ways to generate an income. The methods in the list below come in many forms, but the most basic of those forms are:

  • Direct sales. Sell the engine for developers to use.
  • Advertising. Generate income from ads placed on the site where the product is downloaded from.
  • Royalties. License the engine to developers for a share of their revenue.
  • Donations. Ask for donations on the site.
  • Various combinations of the above.

Byte56 already listed the most popular ways to monetize a game engine. I just like to add some maybe less common though interesting ways.

  • Free and pro version. Provide a kit with limited features for free so that it becomes popular and potential costumers can try out the workflow. Then, take money for the advanced version. For example Unity does exactly that.

  • Offering paid support. Do what Red Hat does with Linux. Give away the engine for free and get money from services around like maintenance or support. Would be even interesting to provide developer workforce, but this is another topic. (They would already now the engine well.)

  • Find investors. Even though individual angles would be great, this seems too unlikely to me. Anyhow, crows founding become very popular in the gaming branche in the last year. Take a look at Kickstarter. For now, I haven't heard of bare engines founded there, but this could work, too.

  • In game advertising. This is very experimental but a innovative way that might have potential. You could add ad in game banners but that would disturb users and is not what I am talking about. Instead, I can think of two way for placing ads in a game that wouldn't bother users too much. First, on loading screens where the player needs to wait anyhow. Second, inside the scene, say, at advertising pillars, but stops, and so on. That would even make the games more realistic.

I hope this helps as an addition to the other answer already posted. Personally, I see the last point promising for the feature and would like to know if someone tries to use this form of monetizing in a game engine or game.


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