Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a very popular online trading card game by the company Blizzard Entertainment. It is technically free to play the game but many people (myself included) have spent money buying into card packs. Those who play would know the feeling.
I use to have my doubts about recommending people to start a video game related niche site but I starting to change my mind. Do note that I am not recommending you start a Hearthstone related game site. Too much catch up to be done to compete with existing sites.
The purpose of this case study is to give readers better understanding of online businesses by using real life examples of online business model. I have seen a lot of interesting ways video game sites operates that might help inspire you on what the kind of online business you would like to start.
Without dwelling too much on the mechanics of playing Hearthstone. Let’s just say I spent a lot of time googling about how to play the game better (cause I am not really very good at it). The good thing is that a lot of the sites on first page of google for hearthstone game related topics are really helpful and they are not necessarily sites owned by or affiliated with Blizzard Entertainment.
Which kind of inspired this post. A peer vs peer game like Hearthstone generates a lot (A LOT) of community created content. These sites get a lot of traffic from the search engine because there is search demand for Hearthstone game related content (See keyword research). At the same time, the content also garner a lot interaction from players in the form of comments and post submissions from readers. Basically stuff that get your site ranking well on the search engines.
Where is the Money?
As mentioned earlier, Hearthstone related gaming sites get a lot of search traffic from players. Especially sites that are ranking on the first page of the search results. You will see these sites commonly selling banner ad space or Google Adsense to monetize their sites. Not exactly my favorite type of monetisation with affiliate marketing in terms of effectiveness.
Usually, you would promote something closer or around the main topic of your site for better conversions but since these sites get lots of search traffic, it can still earn a decent enough income with banner ad space or Google Adsense. This is a good example of not worrying about how you can monetize your website but rather focus on the feasibility of getting traffic by pushing out content.
I have said this often enough, there are many ways to make to money with your website but I have yet to seen one that does it without traffic.
However, I did come across an interesting model of affiliate marketing using Amazon Coins.
Amazon Coins vs Hearthstone Gold Coins
You can buy Amazon Coins to spend it on digital apps or digital in app purchases on Amazon App Store. You can download Hearthstone to play on PC, iOS and Google Play store but did you know you can also download Hearthstone via Amazon App Store as well.
If you buy card packs from your Hearthstone App that was downloaded via the Amazon App store and in app card pack purchases are actually made with Amazon coins.
Unless you are are strictly a playing for free player for Hearthstone, you will be very often tempted to spend real money to buy into card packs rather than spend time winning virtual gold coins and getting miserable 1 card pack for every 2 to 3 days of hard work.
If you use real money, you can spend $49.99 to buy 40 card packs at one go versus more than 2 months of hard work. I know you playing game and having fun but it is still a lot of grind work. However, you can use 5000 Amazon coins instead to purchase 40 card packs which works out to be $41. That is like a $8.99 saving.
Now if you gonna buy, you gonna buy! Why not buy it at a saving right?
So basically the game site promote something that the readers would already want to buy, the readers get to buy it at a offer price now while the game site gets to earn an income when their readers purchase Amazon Coins through their affiliate link.
Update 11 March 2016: How to Buy Cheaper Hearthstone Packs Using Amazon Coins
To enjoy the saving when you purchase with Amazon coins, you gonna need to use Amazon or Android devices to download the Amazon Underground App store and then download the Hearthstone through the Amazon Underground App store. Purchase Amazon coins through this affiliate link. Then purchase the card packs using the Hearthstone app you downloaded from Amazon Underground App Store.
Quite A Few Things To Note:
1. Make sure you delete any previous Hearthstone App you have before downloading the Hearthstone app from Amazon Underground App Store. So if you don’t see the option that allows you to choose your payment method with Amazon Coins, you are doing it wrong.
2. This will most definitely work if you are in US or UK. Not so much for other countries. Sure you can probably circumvent this by changing your Amazon account country settings but I am not so sure you can change your billing country setting as well. If your billing address is overseas, Amazon is gonna slap you with tax charges when you try to make the purchase in the Amazon linked Hearthstone app.
3. Don’t have a Android or Amazon mobile device? Me too. I used a mobile app emulator to make this work but it can be a bit tricky. You will using third party application so please note the risk. Here is the Reddit link on how to accomplish this.
If the Samsung Galaxy promotion is still ongoing, you can get 3 free classic card packs by logging into Hearthstone using a Samsung Galaxy device (or a mobile app emulator to mimic a Samsung Galaxy device).
If you have any questions on this, do leave it at the comment section below.
If you are playing Hearthstone, feel free to add me to your friend list (NormanTay#1696).