Online Games: What’s the Best Way to Make Money?

So you’ve got an itch to play some games. Big whoop. We all do. But how exactly can you monetize that itch? Is the free-to-play model worth your while? Is the traditional path of revenue through microtransactions lucrative? Are mobile games the future? Let’s explore.

Monetizing Off-Peak Hours

There are two ways to skin the cryptocurrency cat: earn as much as possible while the market is up, and take a more leisurely approach and make a steady profit during down times. The first one is best suited for experienced traders and the second one for long-haul day traders. Typically, the savvy gamer realizes that there are certain times during the day when the demand for their services drops significantly—while some games might be more popular at night, many titles see a significant uptick in players during the early morning hours.]]>

The Best Free-to-Play Games

A decade ago, free-to-play games were few and far between. Most games were either paid for or had some alternative model in place to fund their operations (usually through advertising or microtransactions). Nowadays, the model has exploded and it’s become the de facto way to pay for games. What exactly is free-to-play? It’s when the core gameplay and, in some cases, the entirety of the game’s content, are available to all users for no charge. If you want to play a certain game, you might have to look for a free-to-play version or an old classic that has been repackaged as such. These days, finding a fully free game can be a bit of a challenge. The good news is that there are numerous standout examples of success of this business model. Here are some of the best free-to-play games of 2020.


Aquatica merges puzzle and RPG gameplay with exciting underwater environments. In order to progress through the game, you’ll need to combine colorful aquatic creatures with RPG elements such as magic and weaponry. While some might argue that this type of hybridization is risky, developer Roll20 has taken the gamble and succeeded.

The game was initially released as a browser game in early 2020 before moving to mobile devices. With thousands of active daily players, it’s clear that Roll20 made the right decision in terms of catering to the free-to-play market. As with many other games on this list, the choice was a no-brainer. It’s been a while since the last exciting installment of the aquatic series, but that doesn’t mean the gameplay has gotten stale. The updates keep coming, with new fish varieties, more elaborate environments, and, of course, new puzzles to solve. If you love colorful fish and have a hankering for some underwater exploration, then this is the game for you. It’s also worth mentioning that Aquatica is one of the few games on this list that supports Xbox Game Pass.

Ark: Survival Evolved

Ark: Survival Evolved treads the line between survival and adventure game genres. Set on a lush island teetering on the brink of an ecological apocalypse, you’re tasked with crafting tools to build shelters, hunt animals, and gather resources. It’s a tough game. Really tough. As you’d expect from the creators of Minecraft, Ark: Survival Evolved is highly customizable. You’re free to roam around the island and craft anything in the way of a shelter or weapon. The game’s design ethos is summed up in the tagline: build and survive. The choice of what to build and how to build it is completely up to you. So long as you have the required resources, you can fashion almost anything.

While a completely stress-free existence might not be one of Ark’s founding principles, it’s evident that the team at Studio Wildcard have put a lot of thought into making the game as balanced as possible. The result is a surprisingly seamless blend of action and simulation. Like other games on this list, Ark: Survival Evolved is filled with traps and pitfalls, making sure that even the simplest tasks are hazardous. Fortunately, you have some badass gear to ward off these perils. Your skills as a hunter and trapper are put to the test as you hunt for food, build shelters, and craft gear. The choice is always yours and the consequences are usually grave. If you’re looking for a relaxing weekend or a place to while away a few hours, Ark: Survival Evolved is a game you might want to think about.


Carcassonne is a party-style game about laying down tiles, creating walls, and hunting monsters. It’s a simple concept that has been around for decades. And yet, somehow, Carcassonne has stood the test of time and remains one of the most popular board games ever made. Why? The gameplay is simple and accessible yet engaging and fun. While creating walls and traps is a key element to the gameplay, managing your resources (e.g., food, water, and wood) and attacking the other players is, in a word, addictive. Like many other games on this list, Carcassonne is a fantastic example of hybridizing action and simulation gameplay.

Defense of the Ancients (DOTA)

The first hybrid game on this list is Dota, originally released in 2003. It blends real-time strategy gameplay with tactical battles between two teams of up to five players. As the name would suggest, the game’s plot revolves around defending an ancient city (think Ancient Egypt or Rome) against hordes of monsters. While not quite as violent as the original Warcraft or Elder Scrolls games, Dota is, by far, the most popular game on this list. (And no, we aren’t picking on Battlegrounds.)

Dota’s success can be attributed to its design. It was developed by New World Computing (NWC) as a real-time strategy spinoff of their acclaimed war games, Warcraft and, to a lesser extent, the Elder Scrolls series. The designers of Dota strove for a gameplay experience that was purer than that of its predecessors and in doing so, created one of the most popular games of all time. The fact that the game is still quite popular almost 15 years since its initial release shows how praiseworthy the design decision was. While there are indeed many similar games on the market, nothing else comes close to matching the popularity of Dota.

Fallout 4

Fallout 4 is the spiritual successor to the mega-hit Fallout 3. Set in a post-apocalyptic world following a nuclear war, you’re once again pitted against the wasteland as you try to survive. And yes, you might just want to grab some armor and head for the hills. (Well, the surface, at least.) For those wondering, Fallout 4 is actually the fourth main entry in the series and was released in 2019. While the games share some similarities, they also go their separate ways. Fallout 3 was a first-person shooter, whereas Fallout 4 is a third-person adventure game with inventory systems.

The main difference between the two games is in the atmosphere. Where Fallout 3 was bright and alive with a post-apocalyptic charm, Fallout 4 is much darker and haunting. The game also makes great use of its setting, putting you in the shoes of a nameless, voiceless protagonist. It’s quite an eerie experience, knowing that you’re the last surviving human and that you have to find a way to survive.

Another amazing thing about Fallout 4 is the modding tools built into the game. It’s quite remarkable how much influence gamers have had on the game. Using tools such as Nexus Mods and the Game Modding Resource Center, players have been able to enhance the gameplay by adding new weapons, armor pieces, and even entire outfits.

Gwent: The Witcher Card Game

Tucked away in the little-known section of Steam is a game called Gwent: The Witcher Card Game. The developers of this card game decided to take the free-to-play approach and gave the game an entire new dimension. Gwent is a free-to-play dexterity game that incorporates elements of poker, blackjack, and russian roulette. (No, we don’t play cards.)

The idea behind Gwent is to use your unique skill set to your advantage. Instead of simply being dealt cards and hoping you’re good at poker, you have to strategically choose which cards to discard and which ones to keep. Furthermore, you need to make the right bet in terms of your cards and how they will be played. In short, the game’s design creates a smoother and more streamlined experience for players. Gwent succeeds where many other similar games have failed by offering a more engaging gameplay experience.