6 Steps to Creating an In-Game Currency 

6 Steps to Creating an In-Game Currency 

Adding in-game currencies to your game can be useful for driving revenues and increasing player retention. However, which form or forms of in-game currencies are most effective depends on several factors that should be carefully considered. For maximum benefit, you need to identify the core objectives each of your currencies plays within your game and use that information to determine what style of currency is best suited for each use case.

In this handy guide, we will walk you through creating an in-game currency, discuss common mistakes new developers make when creating in-game currencies, and offer practical advice on avoiding these pitfalls.

Creating an In-Game Currency: A Step-by-Step Guide

The six steps for creating an in-game currency or currencies are:

  1. Decide whether your game would benefit from an in-game currency or currencies.
  2. Plan your development path to ensure your new currencies complement your game and support player objectives.
  3. Determine the number of currencies you want to create as well as the objective of each currency.
  4. Decide whether your currency will be hard or soft (more on those terms later), or in the case of multiple currencies, whether you want to create a combination of hard and soft currencies
  5. Determine whether your currency or currencies will be universally usable across the game or limited to select activities or shops.
  6. Review the common mistakes many new developers make when creating in-game currencies and create a plan to address and overcome these potential pitfalls.

Once you have decided to build an in-game economy, you need to ensure the path you take compliments your game and player objectives. A game economy is most successful when designed around the actual game itself and integrates smoothly with it.

Ideally, your economy should be so seamlessly integrated that engaging in commerce feels like a natural gameplay progression.

Why You Should Consider Adding an In-Game Currency or Currencies

When designed thoughtfully and leveraged correctly, in-game currencies are an excellent way to motivate players to exhibit desirable behaviors. This may include:

  • Encouraging players to earn currency so they can exchange it for desirable items or rewards.
  • Encouraging players to exchange rewards and items to complete desired actions.
  • Rewarding players for showing up (ex: D1 rewards).
  • Rewarding players for completing in-game missions or other tasks.

Another strategy you may want to consider is “unlock free-to-play”, which allows players to use in-game currency to unlock premium options that normally require players to pay using fiat currencies (such as US dollars or Euros).

The free-to-play model has revolutionized and democratized gaming, allowing anyone to play for free while allowing developers to earn money by offering cosmetic items (such as new player outfits) or premium items (such as more powerful weapons or armor).

Overall the combination of free-to-play and virtual currency has the benefits of increasing total players and revenue potential per player. In this model a game’s total revenue potential uncapped, while revenue from traditional video games was capped on a per-player basis via the purchase price. As such, the only way to increase your revenue was to attract more players since even the hardest-core fans would only ever purchase your game once.

The free-to-play model also allows players to proceed at their own pace, creating an enjoyable and flexible gameplay experience.

Determining What Types of Currencies You Want to Create

First, you need to determine how many currencies your game needs and the objective of each currency.

The types of currencies can be broken down into two main categories:

  • Hard currencies (AKA real money) refer to fiat currencies that can be used to purchase coveted items that provide a significant advantage (such as a better weapon, better armor, etc.) The only way to access these coveted items is to use real-world money.
  • Soft currencies (AKA virtual currencies) are used to reward players for their behavior or motivate players to complete tasks.

You also need to determine whether your currency or currencies are universal across the game or are they limited to certain activities. For example, a guild currency can only be used to purchase items from within your guild, or a store selling specialty items might require a different currency than more general stores.

Common Currency Creation Mistakes (& How to Avoid Them)

Consider the Impact of Multiple Currencies

The first mistake many new game developers make when designing in-game currencies is failing to consider the impact of multiple currencies and the purpose or impact of each.

If you are going to create more than one in-game currency, you need to have a clear idea what purpose each serves and how having multiple currencies will affect gameplay.

You Need to Account for Inflation

Many developers also fail to account for inflation. As players earn and stockpile currency, the value of that currency drops, which impacts your in-game economy and the player experience.

Consider the Ramifications of Player-to-Player Transactions

Developers also need to consider the ramifications of player-to-player transactions. For example, if a player is able to amass a large quantity of currency, how will that affect that player’s level of motivation and engagement?

Consider the Impact of Cheating

For as long as we have had games, some humans have sought to give themselves an unfair advantage by cheating. Developers need to consider all the ways players may seek to hack, cheat, or otherwise exploit a currency. This is vital because this sort of inevitable behavior can, if left unchecked, cause a game to implode.

When it comes to in-game currencies, game developers take on the roles of central bank and trade regulator and need to act accordingly. Carefully considering the impact of an in-game currency, anticipating how unscrupulous players may seek to use that currency to cheat, and weighing how inter-player trade and inflation will impact your economy are all critical.

Creating an in-game currency is incredibly easy; creating a well-balanced, robust, and rugged system to create and manage multiple currencies, item economics, and inflation while safeguarding your game against economic exploitation is difficult. Fortunately, the Beamable team is here to help. Our experts have extensive experience creating currencies and managing their economic ramifications across multiple large-scale games.

Beamable offers easy to use plugins for managing all aspects of your in-game economy, including:

  • Commerce: create and target offers with hard and soft currency purchases, including limited-time offers, max purchase limits, cool-downs, and a variety of other rich and varied configurations.
  • Payments: Beamable supports IAPs (in-app purchases) using server-side receipt validation and is compatible with iOS, Google Play, Facebook Game Room & Web, Windows Store, Amazon, Samsun, and Huawei.
  • Inventory: Fully managed player inventory, including support for items with arbitrary stats as well as virtual currencies. This feature seamlessly integrates with commerce and other features.
  • Calendars: Engage players by allowing them to claim rewards on a calendar schedule. This feature seamlessly integrates with commerce, allowing you to create new calendars such as a monthly card offering daily rewards.

One successful game that relies on Beamable’s economy features is Star Trek Timelines.

Are you ready to discover how easy it is to build and manage your in-game currency with Beamable? Download Beamable for Unity today!