How Free Games are Designed to Make Money

When you buy a new console or PC game it is obvious that the game developer is making money with the transaction. However, more and more games are offered for free nowadays.

You can get a free gaming app for your smartphone or download a free game for your PC. So, are the guys producing these games missing out on a profit? Definitely not!

In this article, we are discussing “free games” with Daniel Bennet. Daniel is a Canadian iGaming expert and you can read more about him here.

How Free Games are Designed to Make Money
How Free Games are Designed to Make Money

How do game developers make money from free games?

Most people from Canada realize that when they get a free product on the internet they will have to deal with ads. Free virus protection, free word processing software or free video editing software will all have ads that are really annoying popping up, covering the text you are reading or simply just distracting you.

Some of these ads will only generate income for the software provider if the users click on them, while others pay a small fee for just being displayed and therefore read by users.

If you get tired of the ads usually you will have an option to upgrade to an ad-free experience. Free to download apps, like Duolingo which is a fun language learning tool that feels like a game offers paid and free versions alike.

If you like to gamble you will be happy to know that several minimum deposit casino offer a demo or free games to play on their website. The reason for offering these ad-free games is that they hope you will like the Canadian game and eventually you would deposit some real money to wager.

But how do free non-casino games make money without ads? This is also possible and this is the case with “freemium” games. The freemium business model is free to use and it has optional purchases embedded.

Even though only a small percentage of players in games like Candy Crush will ever make a purchase – or in gaming terms micro-transaction – these players generate a huge amount of revenue to the game provider.

Typically, you will need to make a micro-transaction when you are stuck on a level or need a new weapon or some other tool to progress. Games will not directly prompt you to pay for these in Canadian dollars but in virtual items such as gold bars instead.

The psychology behind this is that these transactions will feel less like real-money transactions. Most likely your credit card is already linked to the App Store on Play Store and while you are happily spending your gold bars CA$5 here and CA$10 there will show up on your next statement.

Another way to maximize micro-transactions is through dynamic pricing. For example, if you are playing from a country where earnings are high, such as Canada, the same item might cost you several times more than if you were to play from a low earnings country such as Bulgaria.

Play free online games to earn money
Play free online games to earn money

Play free online games to earn money

Steam is a very popular gaming library and community. You can buy and store games on Steam which uses cloud-technology so your games won’t clog up your computer.

Avid gamers often wonder how do free games on Steam make money. They do it with trading cards. Sometimes free games will have trading cards that can be sold or traded. If you are good at certain games and put a lot of time into your gameplay you can actually make money selling these trading cards or loot boxes.

Some loot boxes can be sold on eBay for real money. Selling skins is yet another way to make money. Very rare skins can trade for over $1000 on Steam and there are dedicated marketplaces where you can sell skins for cash.

There are a bunch of apps and websites that pay people for downloading and playing their games, however, it is hard to tell the real ones from fake money-making games.

Some games will have good reviews in the App Store but many of these reviews can be fake. People reported playing games and earning hundreds of dollars but never receiving these payments to their PayPal accounts.


There is a lot of money in gaming. Apart from paid titles, there are a bunch of free to download games that will make their bucks through micro-transactions. Successful players can even make money playing games and trading or selling rare virtual objects.

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