The Power of Energy Based Monetization

How to Add Energy Mechanics

Adding energy mechanics to your game is one of the simplest yet highly effective ways to monetize it. Games like Candy Crush Saga, CSR Racing, Real Racing 3, Blood and Glory and many others have been using it successfully. The idea is simple:
  • Limit session time by having the user consume energy in regular gameplay
  • Replenish Energy over time
The term energy is used here but depending on the game it could be things like life points or fuel. The design needs to tell a story about why these are being consumed and why are they being replenished over time.
Tell a story in your game about things like life points or fuel. Explain why these are being consumed and why are they need to be replenished over time. It's all about consuming energy.
The beauty of this model is that it’s widely applicable. You can add this limitation to almost any design. Even ones that are usually harder to monetize like casual and puzzle games. Note that this is a restrictive mechanics and as such it can be annoying to some users. The trick is in balancing and creating a narrative that makes sense to users.

Let’s see why adding an energy mechanics can be affective despite it’s simplicity:

  • Users finish playing while still having appetite for more – there are more chances they will come back.
  • Your users now have a reason to pay to remove the limitation
  • You can use the energy as an incentive for user to take desirable actions like sharing or ad viewing
This method can be used alongside other monetization and engagement mechanisms. If you are building a new development you should really invest time and thought into creating an in-game economy that doesn’t relay on this trick. You can then add it or not but that’s not the core of the monetization. If you already have a game that is live and not monetizing very well, I would consider adding that on top.

The Downside of Using Energy Mechanics

There are pretty significant negative aspects to using Energy based mechanics. Players don’t appreciate it. This is an understatement, they hate it. You can slightly reduce that by allowing the users to earn coins in return for favorable social activities. In addition, you should fine tune the limitation to make sure it doesn’t happen to early.
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  1. Great article , thank. But as “just starting” developer I don’t see why I shouldn’t go for this mechanics as a default. It is fair for everyone , Its clean why player has to pay, or do something in favor of “energy”. Its a win win situation.
    Could anyone expand the ” other engagement mechanisms” subject ?

    • Hi Jimmy, thanks for your comment. I think any type of monetization is fair as long as its visible to the user and the user knowingly selects to play a game that has this mechanism. Most if not all successful games have this nowadays. Some users expect to get everything for free and with no ads and forget that the creator of the game also needs to get paid for his effort.

    • Hi, sorry for my english, it’s not my mother language.

      You shouldn’t because it’s one of the worst mechanic ever from a game design point of view, depending on your audience type. 🙂

      Be aware by stopping someone playing, you punish this player because he play YOUR game for too long… which means you punish someone who loves your game because he loves your game. Is it fair?

      Energy based games are not a miracle in increasing conversion rate, but it’s surely a CLV and retention killer.


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