Monetisation - A Community Discussion

So lots of discussion regarding the ending of First Access and a movement to a Subscription for License. I thought it may be useful and productive to have a discussion about this from the community. Ultimately we all understand this game has to pay the developers bills and currently it isn’t (or won’t in the near future). We all want to find a way it can do that for a while. So we might as well do some spitballing and see if there’s anything we think might work and help :smiley:

To get the ball rolling I’d like to suggest two possible monetisation strategies:

  1. Tiers of Subscription. To me this seems quite an obvious step towards solving the balancing act that is getting enough people onto the License so its worthwhile, but also generating enough money to fund the games continued upkeep and development.
    The basic premise would be there’s a cheaper limited License, say 2-3 a month. Which provides LM access, perhaps the ability to accept shipments.
    There would then be a full License (names TBD) which is 7-9 a month. This provides full access, create shipment adds, create corps, run for governor?
    I think one of the considerable strengths is that it provides a good stepping stone. It’s not much to try 2-3 for one month for someone new. This will also help maintain the value of the License.
    A potential limitation is that it could disincentivise people to go for the full License. This would all depend on the difference in features really. I think a good aim would be that the game is weighted to be free for a month, limited license for 3-4 months, then Full License after. As people want to run for governor, build ships, maintain a multi base empire they’ll need to move up.
    Still the balancing act of an attractive limited License and even more attractive Full License may not be easy. Will the people who only get limited License but would get a Full License without be made up for by the more that get a Limited License?

  2. Premium Currency for Non-gameplay items
    Now this something that’s caused some controversy (both positive and negative) when I’ve discussed previously. Firstly, I don’t think any thing like lootboxes or pay to win are going to be successful in this game. However, is there a way we can utilise some of their strengths?
    Broadly the idea would be there’s a Premium Currency which can be used to buy Cosmetic, and non-gameplay affecting rewards. Name a planet, colour of your ship, name a star, change your company name. These are very minor but some would definitely prove popular (I think if there was a way currently to buy Planet naming rights straight up people would), and I like to think the game will grow its functions for this somewhat over the months and years.
    Lots of players would straight up not be interested, but some (frequently refered to as whales) might love it, or just see it as a way to support the game. Why not harness this?
    So why a Premium Currency and not just an option to buy Planet naming rights as standalone. Premium Currency (PC) gives more flexibility to the player. It also means it can be added onto the subscription model. It also means it could be traded!?! :astonished:
    Firstly, you could have as a bonus for the Full License a small amount of PC every month. Perhaps there’s three tiers, Limited, Full, Bonus. With the bonus giving some PC every month. This is perhaps weighted so that after 1-2 years of Full License one could name a planet for free! Or they could have bought some smaller bonuses along the way instead: named a couple asteroids, coloured their favourite ship. They, and other players at any License tier, could also buy the PC at any point. Bundles of PC would be available to buy. Likely bundled in various amounts from 5, 10, 25, 50, 100. This could even be a way to bundle with License months. Buy 100, get 2 months free. Sales could be easily arranged for seasonal events, etc. PC could even be used to buy License months. Lots of people prefer to pay for subscriptions all at once rather than recurring (removes the monthly bill, reduces handling fees, cheaper). I’d probably prefer buying a few months at a time with a cheeky sale than monthly.
    It could even be possible to earn tiny amounts in game. Perhaps completing the tutorial gives you just enough to change your company name?
    Another more controversial feature could be the ingame trading of PC!! Now this is the most controversial part, but I personally think is great. One of the main complaints of a PC is that someone can’t unlock it with hard work. This is intentional, they’re all no gameplay affecting things which most won’t notice. However, there are a lot of people who’d like to work VERY hard for said things, or at least have the possibility one day. Thus the addition of a PC exchange. Someone can sell/buy PC to the highest bidder for ingame currency, but only to and from other players.
    BUT THIS IS PAY TO WIN!!! Well yes and no. The beauty is that its trading with other players so actually has no effect on the overall state of the economy, its in effect just a tradeable commodity without any in game use. A luxury for the player not their Pops (could even make it an actual moveable item that needs to be taken to a planet to use). Perhaps their could be a MM to it to be a way of introducing currency but I’d suggest not.
    Players would decide the price they want to buy or sell it at. I don’t suggest implementing it in the current universe, or even a brand new reset, but perhaps a month or two after. Yes of course new players can drop some real life money into the game to get a quick start, they will be able to fill out their first base quicker, but would need to spend 1000s to jump straight to a galactic empire. Drop too much and they could crash the PC market and find them having to spend even more to get less. This will anger some, but I think is a small price to pay. In effect big game-wealthy players would just be donating their in-game currency to a real life-wealthy player funding the game, (whilst the game-wealthy players get some cosmetics in return).

I look forward to others discussion and suggestion. Hopefully we can help come up with some great ideas that helps our game :smiley:

End Note

Apologies for the long read, please read it in full before bullying me for legitimising potential pay to win :frowning: :stuck_out_tongue:

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Well, if you re trying to monetize a game at one point or another it becomes pay to win. The currently proposed system is already locking LM and all the shipping market that goes with it behind a pay wall. I m a noob and i can already see that not having that license to take contract would slow me down a lot. So slower snowball, worse results in the long term, hence pay to win…

I also imagine that being a more established player without the license would be nearly impossible, because you would need the recently arrived players to do the shipping for you or lose a lot of time and money doing it all by yourself. So slower snowballing here too…

You re also putting behind a paywall a way for the community to have older established players and recent players to share common interest and also to get to know each other . Also if you re depriving the free players of shipping rights, you re hurting the ship market that will be coming soon.

I m too recent to have an advice on many other aspects. But my suggestion would be to have the shipping/logisitc industry locked by some sort of monthly/yearly fee, adhesion to some sort of “Transporter Corpo”, that would be free for subscribers and an amount TBD of in game currency for no-license players. It would still be pay to win, but new players would need say 1 or 2 weeks of their initial profits to jump into the big game (you can view that as a tutorial of sorts).

Also, I really think that 7/month is a lot, and that will deter a lot of people from subscribing. So smaller player base => game becomes less interesting for players that are paying => paying subscribers end up leaving => a good game dead.


You are absolutely right that locking local markets behind subscription is currently pay to win model. In the current context shipping is so profitable that a newer player can get a significant jump start with a pro license. With ignition and a server restart coming that may no longer be the case, but I think that as long as we are locking features behind a paywall subscribers are going to have some sort of advantage.

I think that if the game wants to be economically viable on a subscription model, this is unfortunately a necessity. However, if we are being honest about it, I don’t think that the game can be economically viable on a subscription model - it’s really quite outdated and there is a reason why we haven’t seen any new successful subscription based games in over a decade. Even long time super successful games that relied on subscription revenue have been transitioning away from that for the better part of a decade, with games such as WoW and Eve selling cosmetics, skins, pets, etc.

The vast majority of people have been trained to expect games to be free to play, and they are very stingy with their wallets. Without whales or something for whales to spend on, most games are just dead on arrival and I am a little bit afraid that Prosperous Universe is going to fall into that category. In a best case scenario I can see that this game gets a small, dedicated community of subscribers (maybe one hundred or so) that justify keeping the server running, but there is no money for ongoing development and no money for marketing (user acquisition), so the game just slowly dies.


I will go ahead and weigh in as strongly opposed to anything that even hints at “Pay to Win”.

I think cosmetic things like naming planets and stars is an obvious item that should be available via a monetization route. And if the universe is continually expanding, that can be extended a long way.

I also think QOL features like an extended production queue could live behind a paywall.

But I have seen faster ships and bigger base areas suggested…both of those strike me as pay to win and trigger my aversion.


The way I see it, the real danger behind “Pay 2 Win” is that the person with the fattest wallet (and willingness to spend) can often just drown his opponents efforts out with all the various boons he can buy. A lot of mobile army games lets you skip timers and refill resources with real life money, which effectively means every buck spent translates to power.

Having game-play advantages (like the LM) that unlock with a cheap basic subscription is in one way “Pay 2 Win” since you are gaining a real gameplay advantage by using real life money, however, it’s not at all the same type of “Pay 2 Win” as mobile games utilize. You can’t spend stacks upon stacks of money in PU to become invincible and all-powerful, it’s a one-level gap between free and non-free players, there is no such thing as stacking multiple subscriptions for a bigger advantage.

While all “Pay 2 Win” mechanics are bad, having a game dry up and die to lacking financial income is also really bad. The type of subscription PU is heading towards effectively creates two tiers of players, free and pro players, but doesn’t give players with huge fat wallets the possibility to “win” the game unfairly though their financials. In my mind, it’s not perfect, but it does have a somewhat “free accounts is the demo, pro accounts is the full game” vibe to it which isn’t that bad, it gives players a chance to test the game before deciding to get the full package.

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Access to faster ships and bigger bases would be pay to win in the same sense that access to local markets are right now. It’s pay for an advantage, but you are still on the same playing field as other subscribers so someone can’t just empty their wallet to “win” the game. For the subscription model to actually work, there needs to be features locked behind the subscription that are significant enough for someone to be willing to spend money.

As for selling naming rights, I think this would be a great source of additional revenue, but at the same time it’s very finite. Let’s do a though experiment and assume that each planet costs 100 euros and each system 500 euros to name.

Currently there are:
about 1000 planets
about 150 systems

Assuming that someone wanted to name every single one of these, it would cost:
100k euros to name all the planets
75k euros to name all the systems

That means there is at most 175k euros that can be earned this way (in the current universe). Even by expanding the universe several times, revenue from this source is effectively finite. We can expect that players will name only the best planets and systems, so realistically the potential revenue from these sources is probably 1/4 of that - maybe 50-60k in a best case scenario. As naming rights are sold out for core worlds and systems, this revenue stream will dry up rather rapidly.

Now I don’t know what their burn rate looks like for development costs, but I know that even at close to minimum wage having several people working on Prosperous Universe is going to burn through ~100k euros per year, to say nothing of server costs or other expenses.

I still think it would be a great source of short term revenue, but I don’t expect that the game can survive on this income alone, especially in the long term.

Copied and pasted my suggestions from the Early Access thread:

One time purchases:

  • Naming Planets and Systems - this feature is already implemented, why not give players the option as there is clearly a demand for it
  • Custom Flag upload for company or corporation (pending admin review) - player flag would be displayed on local market listings, corporation flag would be displayed on governed planets.
  • Prospecting - add an appropriate randomly generated resource with randomly generated abundance to a planet that has less than 4 resources. Add “Discovered by” tag to resources

PRO License features:

  • Run for governor and vote in elections
  • Access to CM upgrades. Reduce size of starter base to 250 Area, and reduce CM to size 0. Allow increasingly costly upgrades to the CM to unlock 500, 750, and 1000 area
  • Access to shipyards (as I suggested in the ignition feedback, I also strongly suggest reducing the entry level cost of building ships as well so that this is meaningful to more than just the biggest players)
  • Longer Queues (for example increase from 5 queue per building to 10, or it could be tied to CM level)
  • Exploration (I really really hope this feature is planned in the roadmap at some point)

I would also recommend offering a one time introductory pro license, for example 6 months at 10 euro. This greatly lowers the barrier to entry for newer players and gives them the opportunity to play for a while with a PRO license before they decide if they want to subscribe. I don’t know if it would make up for lost revenue, but you would definitely see a lot more subscribers that way. I would also recommend selling discounted pro subscriptions for 6 months and/or a year.

I also think the 7 euro per month price point is poorly positioned. If you are going to charge 7 you might as well charge 8 because there isn’t much difference to our lizard brains and it keeps the USD price point below 10 as well. If you can knock it down to 4 I think you will see a lot more volume of subscribers, because the less than 5 price point is psychologically less intimidating. Obviously it’s impossible to predict if you would get double the PRO subscribers to justify the reduced price, but I don’t think that PrUn in it’s current state can really justify subscription fees on par with much more mature/developed games.


I agree that access to LM borders on P2W if it isn’t all the way there. But, I do think free access to the LMs would make cheating via throw away multi-accounts too accessible to control. At least paywalling it makes the aspiring cheater pay for the second account.

Hmmm, I don’t have a good answer for this. Devs need to eat, so some monetization is absolutely necessary.

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It is a serious issue. For the amount I play 7 euro is probably about right (although I suspect its more like 10/month, 7/month for 3 months, 5/month for 12 months once the other packages are announced). However, for the amount I should be playing/most are playing I would have thought 5 euro at most. The price point is important as too high and not enough players will go pro. Good luck squaring that circle.

So if having a much larger player base isn’t anticipated, and ads are out, the premium-but-not-pay-to-win items will be crucial. Planet and System naming rights sure, especially to tide you over until the player base is larger. As mentioned above, there may need to be tiers of naming rights so you pay more for a major planet, some for a populated planet, and little for an unused planet. That wouldn’t be easy to implement. I do like the idea of logos. I would love to have one of your artworks with my company/ship name/logo added like it was made that way. Depending how the artworks are put together, the process might be straight forward if the lighting etc is already calculated. Perhaps there are quality of life features that could cost, so you’re paying for the experience/ease of play but not to win. Things like automated/perpetual queues might fit into this category. LM is definitely P2W/pay to play the actual game.

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I’m personally very cautious about pay for QOL. It seems to reward poor game design. I’m much more interest in rewarding great game design. Politics, Corps, and Governorship for instance seem a logical thing to be somewhat locked behind a subscription fee. New players aren’t likely to be interested or even affected much until they’ve been around for a while.
I can see joining a corp requiring a limited license, actually founding a corp requires the full license perhaps.
I also really do not like the idea of subscription players getting inherently better anything, be it ships or bases. I think it should be much more they’re unlocking another level to the simulation (less regulated trading, politics, etc)

The potential revenue from naming rights definitely shouldn’t be sniffed at. Especially when added to a subscription model. Could be the difference between the game closing or surviving or even hiring another developer. I also much more enjoy inhabiting named planets. Breaks immersion seeing all these numbers.
I would be very interested in logos, perhaps initially self-made and approved. But a logo design tool with extra jazzy options could be nice down the pipeline. Levels of license unlock logo design assets. Perhaps one could pay PC for particularly snazzy design assets?

Has there been any suggestion there would be subscription packages? That’s a pretty big deal as it can affect costs majorly.

Does anyone have any thoughts on the levels of subscription I suggested?

So I ve been thinking about it a bit, and i have a couple of ideas :

  • Still don’t think it should be pay2win, but i can stomach ships going a little bit faster for subscribers. But what could be done would be to allow subscribers to set shipping/flying queue : load X from planet A, go to planet B, unload X, refuel, load Y, go to planet C, unload Y etc… All that decided once at the starting point.
    So you reduce ships downtime, effectively making the ships going faster, reducing micro managing pains for big players, without tempering too much with the sense of equity that making the ships go faster would do. Heck you could do both at two different subscription level.

  • What could be done is to allow bragging rights and have badges associated to them in the company description. 1st I find it odd that in an economic simulation there is no market shares recap. Maybe there is and i don t know. Maybe we could have non subscribers have access to limited market shares infos and subscribers all infos. Then you could have badges with ranking on X market during X period (monthly + yearly). So in the company description, subscribers could have n1 on LST sub-market in november 2020, no3 on chemical market in Y 2020, no 15 on Katoa CX etc…
    It would allow players to have an “endgoal” other than amassing a load of money, it would also allow for players to identify potential partnerships (I m looking for X material in bulk, who s the producer so that we can strike a deal).

  • and the last part is long term deals. Those i would disagree to put them behind a paywall, but maybe there could be layers or limits for non subscribers. Instead of buying/selling on the market on a case by case basis, you could imagine a situation where some players would both find it advantageous to have the security of a long term contract (weeks/months) to better plan their production. So if i m a big producter X of agri products on planet A, i could have a deal with a big food processor Y on planet B and a another company Z to ship the cargo on a regular basis between the two planets…

I don t know if those ideas have already been tossed around, or even helpful, just my 2ct

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