Digiday and NewtonX Show Gaming Companies How to Monetize the Free-to-Play Era

Is the free-to-play revenue model the future of gaming? Digiday partnered with NewtonX to survey 50 game developers to solve the puzzle.


Market research


Amid the popularity of free-to-play, Digiday needed insights from game developers on how they’re monetizing the moment

The gaming industry is powering up on free, with gamers increasingly gravitating toward free-to-play (F2P) and live-service games like Candy Crush and Fortnite. It’s a trend driven by mounting premium title costs and the surge in streaming services. Digiday, a leading digital media and marketing publication, wanted to delve into this phenomenon, seeking insights from game developers on how they’re responding to and investing in F2P monetization models.



NewtonX survey


NewtonX surveyed 50 game developers with influence over present and future free-to-play monetization models

To understand the dynamics of B2C markets, look at the B2B monetization side of the equation. Digiday partnered with leading B2B market research firm, NewtonX, for our expertise in researching professionals working in industries like game design and development. We collaborated to curate a list of targeted questions to survey 50 professional game developers in the United States – in just 10 days – about the most lucrative gaming revenue models and how developers plan to monetize F2P gaming experiences.

“The most compelling aspect of F2P games is engaging gameplay in an online world that feels alive and never dull. The social component of F2P games is critical to their success,” says William Lee, Head of Center of Excellence for Media, Entertainment, and Gaming at NewtonX. “A significant number of developers have increased their investment in F2P games this year and it’s just the beginning. F2P is the future. The possibilities are limitless.”

Digiday data visualization


NewtonX synthesized the insights to give a clear view of the F2P gaming landscape:

  • 72% of game developers anticipate putting more resources into developing free-to-play games over the next year
  • In-app purchases are by far the most lucrative monetization stream for free-to-play games, with 48% of game developers saying in-app purchases generate the most revenue for their companies
  • Over 50% of developers’ free-to-play titles are RPG or puzzle games

Digiday case study web screenshot






Digiday divulged its findings to 1.3 million monthly users, enabling the gaming industry to follow the money in the free-to-play era

In August 2023, Digiday published How Game Developers Are Reacting to the Shift to Free-to-Play, part of the digital media publication’s in-depth exploration into free-to-play gaming.

The article’s insights into the most lucrative monetization streams for free-to-play games are essential for understanding the future of the industry. In-app purchases are the clear leader, followed by cosmetic microtransactions, battle passes, and digital currency. In-game ads are still a relatively new form of monetization, and they need to improve their premium inventory to truly lead the revenue game.

“I often speak to gamers about their media consumption habits and preferences, but working with NewtonX allowed me to dive deeper into the data, giving me insights into the ways professional game developers are responding to changes in the industry,” said Alex Lee, Senior Gaming and Esports Reporter at Digiday. “It was great to be able to inform our readers about the future of the gaming industry using concrete analysis and data gleaned from NewtonX’s report.”

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