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Making Money from Smart Phone Games

Updated on April 28, 2015

Making an app

Apps come in many categories, e.g. Books, players, maps, multimedia e.g. however people say that the most profitable apps to make are games. Why is that? Due to the addiction of some games people can spend hours on them. Especially here in Japan I see many women on very long train commutes playing the same shape matching games.

How are apps written

On the Android platforms, JAVA is the engine needed to make software and you will need a copiler which would be the SDK compiler free to download. For the iPhone you will need to know C++. Since these languages are not that new, there are many programmers will can already write software once they learn how to implement the Android and Apple hardware.

Nowadays many people hire programmers and graphics designers and just present them with an idea and instructions. Of course the costs depend on how demanding the work is. There are many people who are into game development but put off by the time consuming coding and graphics design. I it probably good to start off with a team of around 3 people at first.

Many people who make applications are doing it freelance and already have full time jobs, therefore the best best to get things done for them is to invest in programmers and graphics designers, also sound producers for background music etc.

How money is made

Developers obviously earn money if they put a price on their apps. However some apps are completely free, how do they make money?

Well there are two ways.

One: 100% free but have frequent pop up ads or small letter box ads at the top or bottom of the screen. You must have noticed these. The developers will earn a small fee every time these are displayed and a bigger fee if somebody clicks an advert, People can earn a decent amount if a lot of people have their game installed and play for long periods.

Two: In game purchases. These are very common, and basically you get to play the first part of the game for free, however in order to advance you will need to purchase power ups etc. This is where the money is made. Of course this is also combined with the adverts as mentioned before.

Re-Skinning apps

This is another common way to make money from apps or games. Basically you purchase code. The price of the code greatly depends on how detailed and complex it is. You use that code and just replace the graphics and/or sound to make it look like your own app and then upload it to the iTunes or Google Play store for Android devices.

Even though you have cut out the work of programming, you will need to be experienced in graphics design if you are going to replace the graphics. You will need to consider all the frame sequences for the animated sprite, background and background objects too. This it's self can be rather a demanding task if you plan to do it alone.

Flappy birds clones are a good example of skinning apps. The original author made so much money before taking it down, other people wanted to jump on the same bandwagon. Many people got their hands on the code and re-skinned it to make their own versions. Of course that would be saturated by now, however that's really what skinning is all about.

App Building Software

There is a lot of software around to which can be used to make Apps with no programming knowledge. These may be useful however as you can guess they have their limitations. Some are free and some charge a fee.

App building software like Appsgeyer is free however it works by simply converting existing web pages to apps.

Another call Andromo for the Android has a monthly charge of $25 and can create information based apps with a fixed layout. Very limited but can do well if you have useful information to put it.

There are other ones e.g. Game Salad that can be used to create simple games however they this is very limited to 2D platformers or scrolling shooting games.


If you are a smartphone gamer you must have seen this name around. Unity is a development platform for making quality 2D and 3D game on smartphone. As you can imagine, this will take some time to learn and coding experience if definitely required however you are more likely to have successful selling apps if you develop games using such a platform as your games will look very professional and polished.

Publishing your App

Once all the hard work is done, you can then publish it online. Anyone can publish an app but not anyone can make big bucks from it. That all depends on how good your App or game is.

For the iPhone you will need a paid IOS Developer account which costs $99 per year.

For the Android you only have to pay a one time $25 fee.

Of course if you have a successful App or game then you may want to consider releasing it for both platforms for double the attention, however as a coder you will need to learn both JAVA and C++ also the in detailed firmware for both OS's.

Promoting your game

Once your game is in the store the next stage is to let people know it's there. This can be done the following ways.

  • Join a Facebook game sharing group.
  • Join a discussion forum, however try not to go in there and start posting straight away. Give others help, reviews and build up a good community first.
  • Have your own page, showing your App label and more information about yourself. Doing this will help you promote other titles in the future when visitors come to check out your page.


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    • Hezekiah profile image

      Hezekiah 2 years ago from Japan

      Mit App Inventor? Never heard of that one. I'll be sure to check it out though. Cheers.

    • Romanian profile image

      Nicu 2 years ago from Oradea, Romania

      I use Mit App Inventor for creating small apps. Good and informative hub!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 3 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Very interesting...I spend enough time with my iPhone, I should put it to work :)

    • Hezekiah profile image

      Hezekiah 3 years ago from Japan

      I does use up a lot of your time though, thanks.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      I only wish I had the ability to create and design game apps. Oh well, I admire those who have this talent.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for these insights into how money is made on the Smart Phone games. Interesting!