Valve’s monetization announcement brings player relationships to the forefront of developer considerations. Learn how AccelByte can help.

Last week Valve shook up the topic of game monetization by announcing they’d be removing blockchain and NFT games on Steam, citing Steam’s developer rules and guidelines. This is just the latest in a series of announcements impacting the relationship between developers and players, the largest being the Epic Games lawsuit against Apple last year. While the result of that ruling will now allow developers to circumvent the 30% commission on in-app purchases, both incidents have served to further demonstrate the emerging imperative for studios and publishers to have a pathway to direct relationships with their players.

Here at AccelByte we work with studios of all sizes to nurture their direct relationship with players. We know the value of this relationship and have created a commerce solution to address it and give the power back to developers.

The Value of a Direct Relationship

There is no doubt that the intersection between big tech and the financial legislation trying to keep up has created a challenging landscape for developers to navigate. There are a few considerations developers need to make when approaching relationship decisions.

  1. Commission: Apple and Steam charge a 30% commission, and Epic takes 12% on purchases, which is a massive loss for indie developers. While a direct relationship also means taking on direct distribution expenses, the associated costs are going towards infrastructure and backend and serve to better your player experience.
  2. Legislation: Financial legislation is constantly evolving to keep up with technological advances which means if you’re relying on an outside platform your game could easily be booted without warning.
  3. Ownership: Owning the relationship is not just about avoiding fees or legal complications. The true value of player relationships lies in data ownership. The only information you can reliably get when relying on others is in units sold, not who your players are or why they made purchases.

When you have a direct relationship with your players you can create a far more curated experience for them, further developing their loyalty and potentially increasing their lifetime value.

We asked AccelByte customer Steve Ball, Founder and CEO of AlwaysGeeky Games on his thoughts.

"At AlwaysGeeky Games we value a very direct relationship with our players. This is especially important as we head towards a 'player ownership' model where players enjoy total freedom over their digital assets and we look to move away from the centralized 'walled garden' approach that conventional games have adopted for so long. We believe that allowing your players direct access to their digital goods and the freedom to trade/sell/transfer them as they see fit can only enhance their playing experience and bring about new experiences to the future of gaming. This is the core philosophy that we are bringing to our upcoming game Voxie Tactics and our successful Voxies blockchain project."

The big takeaway? In order to shift to a direct relationship start thinking of game selling on Apple or Steam as your most important customer acquisition tool, not your sole commerce engine. By our internal estimates, only about 10% of players buy directly now, but you can change that with a loyal player base once you’ve acquired them.

Selling Direct to your Community

So, you know you have to create that direct relationship in your backend if you want to own your player data and use it to your advantage. The solution? Use AccelByte for a distribution platform of your own and sell directly to your community, owning the relationship with your players.

With AccelByte developers can own relationships throughout the player experience. We asked our customer Adam Shetler, Co-Founder and VP of Communications at Westgate Games for his input on ownership.

“Creating an all-new PC gaming community and distribution platform in 2021 is no small task so when Westgate Games set out to create Plus9, we knew a strong technical partner was an important part of the equation. Accelbyte's solutions not only empowered us with complete ownership of our platform's data but also full control of the around game user experience, ensuring we have a very direct and ongoing relationship with the growing Plus9 community, free of the obfuscation present on other platforms. What's more, these capabilities combined with our high touch developer support approach means we're able to create a B2B experience that is agile, transparent and meets or exceeds what many mainstream distribution channels can offer today."

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Our commerce collection of services serves as the backbone for a publishing platform or in-game store, from product catalogs, purchases, and fulfillment to digital ownership. Interested in learning more? Reach out for a demo here.