I've pretty much explained this in the previous section, but I'll say it again. You can't just make a game. And after it's finished, you go "Hey, let's just put ads here and there." Nope, that's not going to work and you won't be able to design a game with high Average Revenue / User like that.
Remember the RPG ads that I've talked about before? Where you recharge instantly by watching ads? Or you can buy item to double your experience gain? You are not going to be able to come up with those clever design decisions if you just tack the monetization part at the end of your development cycle.
You need to think of monetization while designing your game. Each decision should have "How do I monetize this?" You don't want to overdo it, but you can't under-do it either, less you couldn't market your game later on due to a small Earnings/Click value.
In fact, Monetization needs to drive your Game Design decisions. Some designs are just no good at being monetized, so you need to drop those and favour the ones that makes you money. Some, you need to think of it in a different way. Of course, you need to walk on a tightrope. You cannot do too many ads because that may drive users away, and that's bad, because that means they won't see your ads again, and leads to people actually watching less ads because they stop playing, even though you put lots of ads.
For Premium games, monetization doesn't matter, because the users have paid upfront. Though of course, if you decide to try monetize a Premium game too, it's still the same thing, the monetization part needs to be built in inside the game, not just tacked on, or else it just wouldn't work.
In fact, there are plenty of examples available, such as Rocket League or Overwatch, which the users are able to buy cosmetics after purchasing the game. Well, even old school MMORPG like Ragnarok Online also allows people to buy more stuffs inside the game, after paying for monthly subscription to access the game as well.
And so.. this brings on to point number 2.
Hey, we've been talking about how the actual game doesn't really matter and how you need to drive your game design decisions with monetization. And all of that is just to maximize your Earnings per Click so that you have more space to spend on your Cost per Click. And why you have to do that?
It is so that you have a plan on how to get people to actually play your game.
Just like websites, just buying a domain on Namecheap, buying some cheap hosting and simply slapping a blogging platform on it just wouldn't get people flocking to your website. Just doing streams on Twitch aren't going to make people watch your stream. Or uploading videos on Youtube ain't gonna cut it either if nobody's there to watch it and it is lost among the billions of videos on Youtube. You must have a plan on how to get people actually come watch your shit in the first place, and like monetization, marketing strategies also need to drive the design of your 'product' (games, videos, content, whatever) and not just tacked on after-the-fact.
So.. to give you an example, let's talk about how people actually promote websites.
You may be thinking, "Hey, just do some cool website, show it off on Facebook / Twitter / whatever and if people finds it cool, people will viral it!"
Yeah, maybe. Maybe not. That's very hit and miss, doesn't it? Now, I'm not saying that's bad. It IS a part of the overall strategy/game you have to play in internet marketing. But relying on that alone is like playing gambling with your lives. You don't just bet everything on one thing. You hedge your bets everywhere. That's how you come out on top.
Now, there's a saying I remember and love about marketing/business:
"Find someone with a problem, and solve it for them!"
Okay, so let's talk about Search Engine Optimization. Nope, I'm not going to detail everything about it here, that deserves a whole book on its own. I'll just be touching the surface only.
Now, for example. Blogs. Like this. How do you get traffic for blogs? Now, here's what usually happens. Blog writers will do keyword research to see what kind of people are searching on Google, Yahoo, whatever. Then they will analyze how likely they are going to be ranked for those searches. And when the lights are positive, they write a good content blog post about it, targeting those keywords that they have researched.
For example, with the release of S9 and iPhone X, people are inevitably going to research "S9 vs iPhone X" on Google. So what do you do as a blog owner? Yep, you write posts detailing the pros and cons of each device, specifically targeting those keywords. And of course, SEO it to the top, if possible.
So, your content is the 'Game'. The "keyword" is your traffic generator.
And of course, for blog owners, you don't just rely on 1 keyword. You write. A lot. And each article needs to target a keyword so that it ranks high on search engines.
Now once you have followers (subscribers for Youtube, or Twitch), you can start pandering to your audience so that they come to your website again and again. But of course, you can still target new followers while pleasing your current followers as well.
See? They don't just go "Hey, what should I write today?" But rather, the process of marketing is built-in during the making of the 'product'. What are people searching or will search for? Okay, now write an article that specifically targets that.
...And so should be your game. Plan accordingly how people will start discovering and playing your game early on. Not just tack it on after the fact. Just like monetization, you ain't going to be able to come up with a devilishly clever idea if you just tack it on after that.
But.. if you have already followed this post, then you know there's one huge door open for you, Paid Advertising! And yes, this will be the bulk of where your followers will come from, doesn't matter what your initial plans are. A hugely successful commercial game will always have paid ads as their biggest acquisition method. And with a high Earnings per Click, paid ads is very possible.
But of course, let's not put all of our eggs in 1 basket. There are plenty other methods that synergizes well with paid ads, so let's get to them, and of course I will only scratch the surface of each one, and this is definitely NOT an exhaustive list. Remember, after numbers, the next thing is being devilishly clever!
App Store / Play Store Searches
Unless you're 100% on paid advertising, the keywords in your app name and description should match with whatever your potential players will search on the App store. Don't just put the game's name. You're not a AAA company, duh. This will result in people continuing to discover and play your game. ASO the shit out of your App store if possible, since it seems like ASO is still like classic SEO.
Of course, don't limit yourself to the Store. Your website too needs to be searchable.
Getting Your App / Game Featured
Yep, get your app / game featured. According to some guy from MDEC (I'm really sorry for forgetting your name!!!), getting featured is equivalent to $100k worth of ads. Yes, there are a few tips you can do to get featured (other than making your game Feature-worthy obviously), such as incorporating the latest tech Apple or Google have so that they have stuffs to show off to their users. Remember, Apple and Google have a positive relationship with you. If you win, they win too! They have all the reasons to make you win if you are worthy.
But to be honest, if you only rely on getting featured as your main traffic driver, I feel you're gambling too much as you're essentially leaving the fate of your game to the hands of 5 people. Might as well gamble at the casino.
THOUGH, at least according to Yee Wei of Kurechii, getting featured in non-US countries is easy, relatively. He obviously has a reputation, hence Apple keeps tabs on them whenever they release a game, so if you don't have any reputation yet, I'm really unsure of the chances of getting featured even if you make a great game. (Though what makes it interesting is how he got the reputation in the first place, which was producing a game for Kongregate to publish and garnered I believe ~9 million players).
How about Steam? Obviously the numbers are hidden, but at least according to a few developers that managed to get their game featured on Steam, they were hitting about 150 sales in a day before they get featured. So, gotta up those numbers first, people!
But, if you already have paid ads, you can use this fact to snowball it your way. Of course, your game needs to be Feature-Worthy first and foremost. Afterwards, use paid ads to drive your numbers up. A game / app getting lots and lots of downloads in the first few days will inevitably make some people at Play / App store turn their heads. And if they like it, then yeah, ding ding ding!
Lol, I hate to use this, but yeah, 'Others'. You can also follow the Farmville method of getting new players (Invite player, get coins). Incentivize players to invite their friends (don't overdo it!). Submit your game to game jams, such as Itch.Io, which have high visibility among youtubers and twitchers (and if your game is fun to their crowd, they'll play it, because hey, they need to pander to their audience too), like what Sara is Missing did. Get some popular artist to draw about your game and create excitement or followers. Write short stories. Make a network of small time Youtubers who love to play indie games. Whatever! And of course, each one you need to market too, not just set and forget.
Whatever it is, you can't just plan your game only. You need to plan the whole marketing strategy from the start, and your game needs to follow that. A company that specializes on RPG doesn't just specialize on RPG for no reason. It's because they have painfully built an audience and a network which has RPG fans listening too. Venturing to a different place means they have build an audience all over again, which may or may not be okay.
Alright, that's pretty much a reminder for me. Obviously there are a lot more that can be written, but I feel this will be a good refresher course whenever I decide to start another one.