A Mysterious Adventure  in Social Games Daniel James Three Rings 3.2010 [email_address] Slides: thefloggingwillcontinue.com
Today's Agenda <ul><li>Preamble regarding 'Social' Games </li></ul><ul><li>Review of Three Rings' Games Metrics </li></ul>...
Idea
'Social' 
'Games'
'Viral'
'Distractions'
B.F. Skinner
Does it matter? Especially if I can make one in ~three months and it will output > $100k / month
Alas, 9am Saturday is no time for moral prognostications. Maybe in 40 minutes...
Three Rings Background <ul><li>Nearly nine years in the trenches of Indie MMO mayhem </li></ul><ul><li>2001 Founded, start...
Puzzle Pirates Metrics <ul><li>Revenue Graph </li></ul><ul><li>Active users </li></ul><ul><li>Registrations </li></ul><ul>...
Puzzle Pirates Population
Puzzle Pirates Revenue & ARP(P)U
Puzzle Pirates Funnel
Whirled <ul><li>Mash-up of various ‘big ideas’: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Player-created virtual goods </li></ul></ul><ul><ul>...
Whirled Population
Whirled Revenue and Registration
Whirled Friendships
Whirled Discussions
On Customer Development <ul><li>Steve Blank </li></ul><ul><li>Eric Ries: www.startuplessonslearned.com  </li></ul><ul><li>...
Three Rings CD Process <ul><li>Each step is a 'Gate' where the project can stop and iterate </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Conc...
Whirled Games
Whirled Games <ul><li>Launched August 2009, on Whirled tech platform </li></ul><ul><li>Not viral, notifications channel no...
Everything
More Everything
Even More Everything
Everything DAU
Everything Revenue
Everything <ul><li>Started August 2009 </li></ul><ul><li>Built lightweight 'samsara' tech platform </li></ul><ul><li>Big h...
Bite Me
More Bite Me
Even More Bite Me
And of course....
Bite Me   
Bite Me <ul><li>Started Jan 2009 as 'Vampire Whirled', Whirled mini-MMO </li></ul><ul><li>Pivoted to FB in ~July 2009, sti...
Bite Me Revenue
Bite Me <ul><li>Hit a wall optimizing funnel (~26% conversion) </li></ul><ul><li>K = ~0.60, trying to bump with new featur...
Puzzle Pirates Treasure
Puzzle Pirates Treasure <ul><li>Started October 2009 </li></ul><ul><li>Puzzle Pirates puzzles tied together with collectio...
Puzzle Pirates Treasure Return Funnel by Test Group
Puzzle Pirates Treasure <ul><li>Finishing off MVP, adding viral and $ </li></ul><ul><li>Launch April/May </li></ul><ul><li...
DownTown
DownTown
Downtown <ul><li>Market-tested 6 game ideas on Facebook with ads </li></ul><ul><li>DownTown showed 3-5x CTRs and sign-ups ...
ooo Lessons: Playing to Facebook <ul><li>Game Design simplicity </li></ul><ul><li>Social Objects at the center </li></ul><...
ooo Lessons: Metrics <ul><li>Tools: </li></ul><ul><li>Google Analytics: sort of useful </li></ul><ul><li>Kontagent: quite ...
ooo Lessons: Technology <ul><li>De-framework </li></ul><ul><li>Accept that games are write-heavy </li></ul><ul><li>A virtu...
An Assessment of Prospects for the Facebook Platform <ul><li>  </li></ul>
The Ethical and Ludological Implications of 'Social' Games
Special Guest: Meteor Games' Island Paradise
Special Guest: Playcrafter / ZipZapPlay's Happy Habitat
Questions, Questions [email_address] thefloggingwillcontinue.com
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A mysterious adventure_in_social_games_final

  1. 1. A Mysterious Adventure  in Social Games Daniel James Three Rings 3.2010 [email_address] Slides: thefloggingwillcontinue.com
  2. 2. Today's Agenda <ul><li>Preamble regarding 'Social' Games </li></ul><ul><li>Review of Three Rings' Games Metrics </li></ul><ul><li>Puzzle Pirates </li></ul><ul><li>Whirled </li></ul><ul><li>Customer Development / Lean Startup Principles Applied to Games </li></ul><ul><li>The Story of Three Rings' entry into Facebook </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Whirled Games </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Everything </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bite Me </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Puzzle Pirates Treasure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>DownTown </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Overall Lessons, Tips and Tools from ooo </li></ul><ul><li>An Assessment of Prospects for the Facebook Platform </li></ul><ul><li>The Ethical and Ludological Implications of 'Social' Games </li></ul><ul><li>Special Guest: Playcrafter / ZipZapPlay's Happy Habitat </li></ul><ul><li>Special Guest: Meteor Games' Island Paradise </li></ul><ul><li>Questions, Questions </li></ul>
  3. 3. Idea
  4. 4. 'Social' 
  5. 5. 'Games'
  6. 6. 'Viral'
  7. 7. 'Distractions'
  8. 8. B.F. Skinner
  9. 9. Does it matter? Especially if I can make one in ~three months and it will output > $100k / month
  10. 10. Alas, 9am Saturday is no time for moral prognostications. Maybe in 40 minutes...
  11. 11. Three Rings Background <ul><li>Nearly nine years in the trenches of Indie MMO mayhem </li></ul><ul><li>2001 Founded, started Puzzle Pirates (Casual MMO) </li></ul><ul><li>2003 PP in Beta testing, team of 6 </li></ul><ul><li>2004 Launched PP, subscription, barely break-even </li></ul><ul><li>2005 Miniclip and Doubloons (virtual currency) launch. Fast growth, profitable, team to 15 </li></ul><ul><li>2006 Raise $1.4M, start Bang! Howdy and Metasoy (Whirled) </li></ul><ul><li>2007 Raise $3.5M, ship Bang! Howdy (fail), team of 30 </li></ul><ul><li>2008 Lose ~$2.5M, ship Whirled Beta and many cool multiplayer Flash games, team of 37 </li></ul><ul><li>2009 Raise $1M, layoffs down to 30, launch Whirled, disappointed, start making FB games, lose ~$1M </li></ul><ul><li>2010 Profit! </li></ul>
  12. 12. Puzzle Pirates Metrics <ul><li>Revenue Graph </li></ul><ul><li>Active users </li></ul><ul><li>Registrations </li></ul><ul><li>The Funnel </li></ul><ul><li>Revenue per user metrics (ARPPU) etc. </li></ul><ul><li>The issues: finding sustainable volume channels for acquisition </li></ul>
  13. 13. Puzzle Pirates Population
  14. 14. Puzzle Pirates Revenue & ARP(P)U
  15. 15. Puzzle Pirates Funnel
  16. 16. Whirled <ul><li>Mash-up of various ‘big ideas’: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Player-created virtual goods </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social network meets virtual world </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Multi-player Flash games, both in-world and stand-alone </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Hard to explain: customer proposition unclear </li></ul><ul><li>Customer acquisition hypothesis untested until launch: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Embed games out on Flash portals > clicks back to Whirled </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Email / sharing virality </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Flash game developers seizing virtual goods / multi-player platform </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Hypothesis uniformly failed by mid-2009, leaving team demoralized and unclear on next path </li></ul><ul><li>However, robust player community stabilized </li></ul><ul><ul><li>~10,000 daily registered players, ~300k active unique visitors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>~$15-18k monthly revenue </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Creators earning good beer money </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Revisit to optimize funnel, virality and monetization in 2010 </li></ul>
  17. 17. Whirled Population
  18. 18. Whirled Revenue and Registration
  19. 19. Whirled Friendships
  20. 20. Whirled Discussions
  21. 21. On Customer Development <ul><li>Steve Blank </li></ul><ul><li>Eric Ries: www.startuplessonslearned.com  </li></ul><ul><li>How to reduce product development risk </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Create hypothesis ('Kids would like to make their own virtual world') </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Verify hypothesis as early as possible with minimum investment </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>'Getting out of the building’ </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Do not proceed to development or marketing scaling until proven </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Metrics-based verification and iteration </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provide Clarity of objectives to the team </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A framework for rational investment, or ceasing it </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>  </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>  </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Three Rings CD Process <ul><li>Each step is a 'Gate' where the project can stop and iterate </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Concept Brainstorming </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Concept Testing of Ad Click-through, Sign-up </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Prototype Development </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Test Prototype for Returning Players, Funnel </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>MVP Development </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>MVP Test: Funnel, Returning, Retention, Purchase / Viral intent </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Customer Acquisition: focus on funnel and viral </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Monetization: implement hard currency, test sales </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Operations: continued iteration on all metrics and game improvements </li></ul></ul></ul>
  23. 23. Whirled Games
  24. 24. Whirled Games <ul><li>Launched August 2009, on Whirled tech platform </li></ul><ul><li>Not viral, notifications channel noise </li></ul><ul><li>Daily Games feature not unique </li></ul><ul><li>Noisy data between Whirled.com players and FB app </li></ul><ul><li>No clear monetization path beyond upsell to Whirled </li></ul>
  25. 25. Everything
  26. 26. More Everything
  27. 27. Even More Everything
  28. 28. Everything DAU
  29. 29. Everything Revenue
  30. 30. Everything <ul><li>Started August 2009 </li></ul><ul><li>Built lightweight 'samsara' tech platform </li></ul><ul><li>Big hit in the office and first degree friends </li></ul><ul><li>Highly retentive: get the collecting bug </li></ul><ul><li>Very social, but speaks to the existing players / friends </li></ul><ul><li>Not viral, doesn't reach out well </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Added 'little lost card' posts, some small lift </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Added free gifts on the first page </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Optimized to popular memes, sorta </li></ul></ul><ul><li>One engineer(ish) for a few months, then gave up in Jan </li></ul><ul><li>Steady growth since: a sleeping giant? </li></ul>
  31. 31. Bite Me
  32. 32. More Bite Me
  33. 33. Even More Bite Me
  34. 34. And of course....
  35. 35. Bite Me   
  36. 36. Bite Me <ul><li>Started Jan 2009 as 'Vampire Whirled', Whirled mini-MMO </li></ul><ul><li>Pivoted to FB in ~July 2009, still on cumbersome Whirled tech </li></ul><ul><li>Pivoted to Samsara in September </li></ul><ul><li>Began FB ad tests in early October </li></ul><ul><li>Passed  </li></ul><ul><li>Passed Customer Acquisition with K of 0.7 in October </li></ul><ul><li>Passed Monetization (Action Points = Flush. Thralls = Big Win.) </li></ul>
  37. 37. Bite Me Revenue
  38. 38. Bite Me <ul><li>Hit a wall optimizing funnel (~26% conversion) </li></ul><ul><li>K = ~0.60, trying to bump with new features </li></ul><ul><li>Avg lifetime is ~12 days </li></ul><ul><li>Monetization: 4.5c/DAU, fantastic </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of high K is limiting factor for growth </li></ul>
  39. 39. Puzzle Pirates Treasure
  40. 40. Puzzle Pirates Treasure <ul><li>Started October 2009 </li></ul><ul><li>Puzzle Pirates puzzles tied together with collections for FB </li></ul><ul><li>Failed funnel with complexity of Puzzle Pirates puzzles </li></ul><ul><li>Passed by simplifying puzzles </li></ul><ul><li>Going towards monetization and retention tests </li></ul>
  41. 41. Puzzle Pirates Treasure Return Funnel by Test Group
  42. 42. Puzzle Pirates Treasure <ul><li>Finishing off MVP, adding viral and $ </li></ul><ul><li>Launch April/May </li></ul><ul><li>Funnel players to PP FTW? </li></ul>
  43. 43. DownTown
  44. 44. DownTown
  45. 45. Downtown <ul><li>Market-tested 6 game ideas on Facebook with ads </li></ul><ul><li>DownTown showed 3-5x CTRs and sign-ups </li></ul><ul><li>Not just art style - beat alternative name Block Party handily </li></ul><ul><li>Broad appeal </li></ul><ul><li>Built prototype, testing showed tutorial problems </li></ul><ul><li>Streamlined tutorial, march to MVP </li></ul><ul><li>Launch in April </li></ul>
  46. 46. ooo Lessons: Playing to Facebook <ul><li>Game Design simplicity </li></ul><ul><li>Social Objects at the center </li></ul><ul><li>Cute Cute Cute </li></ul>
  47. 47. ooo Lessons: Metrics <ul><li>Tools: </li></ul><ul><li>Google Analytics: sort of useful </li></ul><ul><li>Kontagent: quite useful </li></ul><ul><li>Panopticon: very useful, insane investment </li></ul><ul><li>Key Metrics: </li></ul><ul><li>Funnel (various paths / slices) </li></ul><ul><li>Cohort metrics for returning, retention, revenue </li></ul><ul><li>In-game economy, player actions, general activity </li></ul>
  48. 48. ooo Lessons: Technology <ul><li>De-framework </li></ul><ul><li>Accept that games are write-heavy </li></ul><ul><li>A virtualized cloud and auto-scaling are friends </li></ul>
  49. 49. An Assessment of Prospects for the Facebook Platform <ul><li>  </li></ul>
  50. 50. The Ethical and Ludological Implications of 'Social' Games
  51. 51. Special Guest: Meteor Games' Island Paradise
  52. 52. Special Guest: Playcrafter / ZipZapPlay's Happy Habitat
  53. 53. Questions, Questions [email_address] thefloggingwillcontinue.com

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