Post feature RSS FEUDUMS’ Monetization Strategy

“Free to Play” - the infamous monetization black magic of the gaming industry second only to over-priced DLCs. When you hear this phrase, your heart is frozen. “shame”, you quietly whisper with a pale face, just to run away from the game and never look back. Well, FEUDUMS is Free to Play, but of a very different breed and we really intend to do it right. To prove it, we offer transparency. Come and see our cards!

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FEUDUMS’ Monetization Strategy

Free to Play - Done Right


From the very moment we first started working on the details, there are a few principles we are adamant to stay true to. One of these principles is transparency, so that we communicate honestly to our player community. You won’t hear marketing driven half-truths or bullshit speech without supporting facts - or if you do, you’re hereby authorized to use any kind of non-lethal force to help us regain our mental consciousness immediately :)

One of the most critical questions of a game’s development is how it will be funded and how it will continue to operate for years to come; and that’s before considering how the system will be fair and respectful to it’s player base.

Let’s put the cards on the table.

FEUDUMS Dot Roads Not Taken

We all know the “Pay to Win” concept. A player can start to play with something easily, but as the game goes forward, there are obstacles on the path to victory that cannot be overcome without a few special elements or features that you can only obtain for real money. Giving game-changer elements for money in multiplayer is pretty much the same concept: you pay, or you lose. It isn’t an honest approach from a publisher, as they offer a free game, which is everything but free. This behaviour is so widespread it has already infested the phrase “Free to Play” with negative connotation.

The other nasty thing is an uncertainty on conditions. An open world with no end date or clear winning conditions, wrapped around with a highly competitive design (such as a strategy game) is a bottomless demand for just one more turn: the deeper you are in the game, the harder is to give your achievements up. In a competitive game leaving a game before it’s done is typically interpreted as capitulation - and people don’t like fleeing. Longer games may earn more profits because nobody wants to leave the field humiliated, but it is so lengthy it’ll likely never come to leave with dignity. So, you keep playing - and paying.

FEUDUMS Dot Cards on the table

So, we wanted to make FEUDUMS a Free to Play game which avoids the aforementioned problems; a game that actually is free to play. To achieve this, we decided to follow two basic rules:

Firstly, there are simply no game objects defined by the design that could be turned off for free gamers or offered for money. That means that you won’t find units, improvements or balance-breaking features that cost real money. In every game world, all players will have access to the same units, improvements and options. Money can’t make you a winner. Strategy can. Even in the end-game, a free gamer won’t have disadvantages nor will he be buried in constant micromanagement. He’ll have the same features to keep things clean as everyone else.

Second, all games have well-defined conditions right at the start. The game will always end in X turns (Score Victory) or sooner, if one of the various Winning Conditions are met. Winning Conditions will be similar to what a typical single player strategy game offers, so there will be multiple ways to win a world - battling your way over everyone is just one of the options. Also, there are accomplishments that will give you persistent rewards - so you can slowly develop your dynasty through the games. Winning Conditions may be another topic to cover; for now, let’s just say that the conditions and game length are made clear for each game.

FEUDUMS Dot Sources of Income

We obviously have costs that we have to cover, but we don’t want to hide the source of our income. We are currently evaluating a couple options:

  1. Customisation & Cosmetics
    Players can customise their in-game avatars, getting special elements for their Coat of Arms, using special colours, charges, shapes or ornaments. We are also thinking to introduce customisable improvements, like unique castles, towns or units in the game (their uniqueness is restricted to cosmetic details). That way, you can get an exclusive look and feel for your dynasty that is persistent to all worlds.

  2. Private worlds
    Players can start private worlds where they can form the geography, set up the game settings, invite their friends and maybe (it is not a goal for the 1.0 but we can add as a free add-on) start AI opponents and create or play single player scenarios. Private worlds will allow you to play FEUDUMS like a single-player sandbox game, to bring classic multiplayer experience for yourself and a couple of friends, or to create sandbox worlds to check strategies that you don’t want to use on a ranked world without some testing.

  3. Strategic Automation
    As discussed in the Anatomy of a Turn Based MMO Game article, players can marshal their commands for every game unit (feudums, improvements, units, and so on) in the game. The length of the command queue is limited but it’s enough for a couple of days (in real time) to cover the activities. There will be a possibility to buy extra space for the commands, but it does not mean that without this purchase the player has to be present around the clock. It will be rather a useful extra for the players to plan ahead for a week or so.

  4. In-game advertisement
    Even in the team we have different ideas about how we should implement this, so we thought we are going to ask you guys. In-game ads could be switched off completely, or come as a video at the beginning, or through a few in-game banners. We don’t want to break the flow of gaming, though, so please, we’d love to know your preferences.

  5. Subscription
    We offer a monthly subscription model - running on a subscription, you get everything above (with reasonable limits, like you can’t have a hundred private games at once) and get rid of all advertisements.

For these options, we are going to introduce an in-game currency, Golden Forint, that a player can use to purchase the extras above - including the subscription to get unlimited access to all these choices for the subscription period. The magic isn’t in this part; there is an exchange rate and for bigger packages, we offer a discount. Pretty much the typical protocol. Of course, Golden Forints are transferable between players.

We also want to honour our early backers with a life-time VIP status that they can unlock by reaching a certain pledge level before the game is released (details are on our Patreon page). With this life-time VIP, you get all the benefits of a subscription for the entire lifespan of the game.

FEUDUMS Monetization Methods
Cost: Nothing

All game elements without restrictions
Cost: Occasional Golden
Forint purchases

All game elements without restrictions
Get Premium features on demand
Cost: Monthly / Prepaid

All game elements without restrictions
All premium features
No Ads
Cost: One-Time

All game elements without restrictions
All premium features
No Ads

* Backer VIP status is exclusive to Backers. It can't be obtained in the released game.

FEUDUMS Dot Pricing

Now this is a very tricky question, because all estimations are just numbers until you started playing - your playing behaviour may invalidate our plans right from the first week and the exact pricing may vary until the release. Still, we want to provide the most certainty we can, so we decided to share a few key principles.

Our main idea is that while we offer all game elements for free - contrary to every single MMO strategy title we are aware of -, we won’t target to take the price of multiple AAA games for playing FEUDUMS. We want to offer things for a bargain price that you never question whether it’s a fair deal. So, expect price tags for Golden Forints well below that of rival titles.

It’s also worth noting that dozens of in-game achievements, the Winning Conditions and a couple other things also yield Golden Forints as well as exclusive customizations that aren’t available any other way.

That’s our plan. Does it sound fair enough? Would you change it here or there? Do you have a better idea? Any feedback is welcome!

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Great guys, it looks all so cool !

You really should implement single player for Private Worlds (or, atleast, a functionnal AI so you can play with 1 or 2 friends plus tons of Bots :p )

What I see here is a bright future for the studio :)

Prepare to receive my contribution to this ;)

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That's a great idea, and it certainly blends well into our single player strategy :) We'll be implenting bots for single player sooner or later, but whether in the 1.0 or in a free expansion - we're not sure yet - it'll be decided as we progress and when we have a good idea of what the community wants to see first.

Looking forward to your future contributions!

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I agree with Stellar, it would be awesome if in a private world, you could either play against your mate(s), or maybe some form of AI, which you and the friends can take on the bots.

Good luck, this looks so good!

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Customisation & Cosmetics is a great way forward and has worked well in other games, but I've only see work in first person games; those where you own and invest in a character that you spend time running around being. Then you want to make yourself 'look good' by playing 'dress up barbie' to make yourself feel comfortable/impressive/scary/powerful.

I'm not sure how this will translate into turn based strategy - will I care that my castle/soldiers, that are functionally the same as everyone elses will look the same as everyone elses in the same way that I do care whether the sword that I am carrying is glowing with flaming runes and the size of a cricket bat?

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.MM. Author

We were hoping that others would address or discuss these concerns as we're of course biased - we think customization will work, otherwise it wouldn't be a cornerstone of our monetization strategy.

In FEUDUMS, you'll have an in-game persona: your lord or lady, and a dynasty that they represent, the latter is persistent across your game sessions. So in theory, it could work to have dynasty-specific customized armies, Coat of Arms and castles; and a unique look and feel for dynasties will also blend well into the medieval setting.

That's the kind of personal (in-game) branding you're also doing in MOBAs. Customizations give you style, help you deliver your message, project your character identity and make it easier to build your in-game legend.

(A red flayed man, hanging upside-down on a white X-shaped cross, on a black background. Is there anyone who watches TV and still doesn’t know where that sigil belongs to? That’s personal branding in medieval style. You know what to expect the very minute you see that on a flag or shield...)

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Sounds interesting!

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From our Twitter feed:
I just read your monetization manifesto. From my basic understanding of what you guys intend to do it sounds better than most titles I have seen. To be honest due to the pay structure for most games in your genre I avoid them like the plague. I also like what you said about lowering your prices. I cant speak for everyone but I would be way more apt to buy something in game if it did not cost $10 per purchase. I realize for several reasons you may want to have a minimum purchase amount of your in game currency, but make the actual purchases fairly cheap so that $10 lasts.

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Another twitter comment:
I agree to all monetization ideas but please no ads unless not invasive.

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