What We Talk About When We Talk About Mid-Core
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What We Talk About When We Talk About Mid-Core

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Stanford University's Design School (d.school as it's stylized) had its first game design class in the spring of 2014. The class, called "Game Design: Making Fun"......

Stanford University's Design School (d.school as it's stylized) had its first game design class in the spring of 2014. The class, called "Game Design: Making Fun" (http://dschool.stanford.edu/classes/game-design-making-fun/) invited me to give a guest lecture on the emerging trend of mid-core gaming. Thank you to teaching team of Michael St. Clair, Mathias Crawford, and Dan Klein for the invite.

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  • 5 of the 10 top grossing games in 2013 were mid-core.Mobile is where most of the growth in the industry is occurring.

Transcript

  • 1. Welcome! What We Talk About When We Talk About Mid-Core by Adam Gutterman Director, Games Monetization Unity Technologies | Unity Games adam@unity3d.com @adamgutterman
  • 2. The Games Mid-core
  • 3. Industry Chatter ”We segment the gaming audience by lifestyle patterns: (1) Hardcore arranges their schedules around their gaming. (2) Mid-core arranges their gaming around their daily schedule. (3) Casual entertains self with games when time presents itself.” ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -- "Games that are easy to learn and allow advancement with short gaming sessions, but are more engaging, more competitive and more challenging than other social and casual games.” ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -- “It's really about distilling what you'd consider a 'hardcore' game down to its core essence [by] making a great, deep game more 'accessible' - both in terms of time… and platform access.”
  • 4. Three Trends ”We segment the gaming audience by lifestyle patterns: (1) Hardcore arranges their schedules around their gaming. (2) Mid-core arranges their gaming around their daily schedule. (3) Casual entertains self with games when time presents itself.” ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -- "Games that are easy to learn and allow advancement with short gaming sessions, but are more engaging, more competitive and more challenging than other social and casual games.” ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -- “It's really about distilling what you'd consider a 'hardcore' game down to its core essence [by] making a great, deep game more 'accessible' - both in terms of time… and platform access.” ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -- “Social” Games MOGs
  • 5. Perfunctory Outline • Common Design Elements • “Social” Games • Multiplayer Online Games (MOGs) • iOS & Android • Common Design Elements of Mid-Core • Audience • Convergence: What’s Next
  • 6. Trend 1: “Social” Games (1) Common Design Elements • Genre = Tycoon = Build for the sake of building • 3X = eXplore, eXpand, eXploit (eXterminate) • eXploit = Resource management • No shared spaces = Persistent single-player world --> little replay value • Theming + Art Direction • Various themes, from farming to restaurant management to city building • Iconic cartoonish graphics • Accessibility • Free • Browser • Gentle, asymptotic learning curve • Quests = continued tutorial • “Being good” = Understanding of rules x Efficient execution --> • Execution in Social Games is trivial • Short session length (<10 minutes) • Energy system • Appointment mechanics • Fit for platform interaction pattern?
  • 7. Trend 1: “Social” Games (2) Common Design Elements • Social interaction • “Social” due to social networks • Parallel play • Lightly cooperative ≈ viral Trojan Horse ≠ pure gameplay mechanic • Friend ladder ≠ Leaderboard ≠ No clear comparative mechanic • Asynchronous • Real identity
  • 8. Trend 2: MOGs
  • 9. Trend 2: MOGs (1) Common Design Elements • Genre = “Tactical Strategy” • 1st Person Shooters, 3rd Person Shooters, RTS, MOBA --> • Match-based, real-time, often co-op PvP • 1X = eXterminate • High replay value • Multiple scenarios + • Deep “character” classes to explore + • New opponents • Theming + Art Direction • Deeply developed narratives in modern war, sci-fi, or fantasy context • Hyper-realistic graphics, graphic representation of violence • Accessibility • Paid --> Free • Internet-connected Desktop (Steam) / Console • Steep learning curve • Understanding of rules is complex (with emergent gameplay and even UI strategies) • “Being good” = Understanding x Efficient execution • Efficient execution has very high correlation coefficient with APM • Medium-to-long session length (15-60+ minutes)
  • 10. Trend 2: MOGs (2) Common Design Elements • Social interaction • Exclusionary in that players are unforgiving to n00bs (steep learning curve) • Engaging in that its synchronous w/real-time chat • Highly cooperative + highly competitive (as pure gameplay) • Clear winners and losers of each match = Clear comparative mechanic • Anonymous identity (but you know who your friends are)
  • 11. Trend 3: iOS & Android Contributing Design Elements • Touch screen (usually) doubles visual modality and UI --> intuitive • Controllers • AirPlay • Native vs. skeumorphic UI • LTE > Wifi = consistent, fast connections • Pervasiveness • Almost everyone has an iOS or Android phone • It’s always in your pocket or bag • Social plumbing (Game Center / GPGS / Facebook) • Multiple ID options • Cloud save states
  • 12. Mid-Core Design (1) Common Design Elements • Genre = “Mid-Core” • Mobile-optimized 4X = eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate --> • eXterminate = asynchronous, active player vs. passive player • Replayability • Same eXterminate mechanic • Game as a service --> never ending fountain new tools of war to learn and employ • New opponents • Theming + Art Direction • Modern war, sci-fi, or fantasy narrative context serves as framework only • Cartoonish realism, abstracted violence • Accessibility • Free • Internet-connected mobile devices • Cloud save states allow for seamless access via all player-owned mobile devices • Steadily advancing learning curve • Understanding of rules grows in complexity as persistency grows • “Being good” = Understanding x Efficient execution • Efficient execution correlates to toolbox and strategy, not APM • Short-to-medium session length (5-20 minutes) • Energy mechanic is present but de-emphasized • Appointment mechanics still very present • Both make more sense for mobile interaction pattern
  • 13. Mid-Core Design (2) Common Design Elements • Social interaction • Many options for player identity and social graph • Asynchronous interactions • Clear winners and losers of each match = Clear comparative mechanic
  • 14. Audience Why Is The Audience For Mid-Core So Much Larger Than That Of Core? • Free • Pervasive platform • The Goldilocks Learning Curve • Easy initial solo gameplay • Complex, deeply engaging elder gameplay • Social Goldilocks Zone • Highly social elder game mechanic • Asynchronous nature is less demanding than real time (email vs. phone) • Players can use real or anonymous identity • Short sessions that can be played almost anywhere • Abstracted violence makes traditionally core themes more accessible • Artistic Goldilocks Zone = not too realistic or iconic
  • 15. Scott McCloud’s Picture Plane
  • 16. Scott McCloud’s Picture Plane Core Mid-Core Casual
  • 17. Convergence: What’s Next Social + Mid-Core • While social games have a far larger audience, mid-core games have a much higher ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) • Can social games incorporate design elements of mid-core to increase its ARPU while maintaining its vast audience? • Will mid-core continue to borrow from social to increase its audience? • Will mid-core crash into social, creating a blockbuster Hollywood four- quadrant film experience of mass appeal? Shared Persistence + Real-Time • Game of War is starting to look like a MOG/MMO • Real-time interactions • Persistent shared world • Are real-time MOGs or even MMOs the next trend on mobile?
  • 18. Thanks! Questions now? Ask away! Questions later? Ping me: adam@unity3d.com @adamgutterman