How much time do you spend on your smartphone? If you’re anything like me, pretty much any spare moment is spent flicking through games and apps, checking messages and emails, playing games, and updating social media. On a lunch break, in the bathroom, on the bus or train, we are glued to our smartphones and tablets, and generous data packages and widespread internet connectivity mean we can be connected almost all of the time. Now imagine that you could monetize all that idle time. Believe it or not, it is possible to play games for money using your phone, in a variety of different ways. If you’re making a game for fun or practice, there are a variety of ways mobile games make money!

Let’s take a look at some of the more common methods.


Micro transactions allow players to purchase additional virtual goods like extra game play levels, cosmetic skins, exclusive gear (e.g. armor, shields), loot boxes, or in-game currency. In-game purchases vary – some enhance the player’s power or speed up their progress within the game, while others are entirely cosmetic. An example of a micro transaction for a role playing game (RPG) is a player purchasing a limited-edition potion that gives their character special powers that would be otherwise very difficult or time-consuming to obtain via normal game play.

In-Game Currency

An in-game currency bought with real money is a popular method used in mobile games, where players can purchase credits to spend on a lottery-based system. If you take this path, you can work on discounts for players who are willing to spend a large amount of money on your game. It’s also nice to have some means of earning the currency through in-game means as well, to help players who aren’t so well-off.


Shareware model games will allow you to play a free trial or demo version of a game, but require payment to unlock the full game license. Shareware gives free users limited game play compared to the full game – the idea is to entice users to pay for the game once they’ve gotten a taste. This model somewhat outdated as the vast majority of mobile game developers have embraced free mium.


These games are free and offer a permanent “premium option” for a small cost. Perhaps you can offer no ads, or infinite lives, or unlimited hints. Once the player pays the fee, they get that bonus forever. This is a nice way for players to show support for a game through a one-off payment for an improved quality of life. While it won’t earn you as much money as repeat payment methods or ads, it’s an unobtrusive income earner that doesn’t leave a bad taste in the player’s mouth.


The most important thing to remember when trying to monetize your mobile game is to refrain from being greedy. That’s always never a good thing. Yes, it’s only natural that you would want to cash-in on something you worked so hard to build. But you can’t be too eager, with “MONEY” unabashedly plastered on your face. Users could easily smell your modus if all you want is to milk money from your game with little interest in anything else.