Social & MobileGame PrimerFocused Game DesignFor a Mature Market
Birth of Social Games: Reach – Spam Spam Spam Retention – Endless Cheap Content Revenue – Energy, Blocking Mechanics“Casual” and “Midcore” is now a thing The term “Gamer” doesn’t really apply anymore. 200+ App submissions daily - more gaming options than ever Bad or Treadmill Games won’t cut itSocial and Casual Revolution
PlayersEasy to learn but challengingProgression and new abilitiesPlay with or against friendsPopular and relevant gamesWill pay for a ‘good’ gamePlayers vs Developer NeedsDevelopersFun FactorInvestmentEngagementViralityMonetization
Most primary retention strategy. Is it “fun once, fun always?”Prototype! Fail faster and follow the fun!Examples: Timing / Action Mechanics Blissful Productivity, or “Fun Pain” Emergence – Games As Toys Slot Machines - Random LootFun Factor(Short Term Experience)“World of Warcraft players play on average 22 hours / week (a part time job),often after a full days work. They’re willing to work hard, perhaps harder than inreal life, because of their blissful productivity in the game world.”– Jane McGonical, SuperBetter Labs
Mechanics creating long term value. The “core loop.”Hint: Simply adding more of the same won’t work long term.Examples: Progression Dynamics - Player Levels and Statistics Opportunity Space - Expansions Collections – Puzzle Pieces Appointment Dynamics and Interval Reward Schedules Nested Contingencies – Quest: Kill 10 Orcs.Investment(Long Term Experience)I have spent ten hours playing Farmville. I am a smart person and wouldn’t spend10 hours on something unless it was useful. Therefore, this must be useful, so Ican keep doing it.”– Jesse Schell, Schell Games
Multiplayer mechanics and community management.Engaged users are your best buds. Give them what they want.Examples: Head to Head Competition Leaderboards – Global, Local, or Social Reciprocity – Tend my Crops, ROYGBIV Gems Clans, Guilds and Point Systems – Realm vs Realm Everyone vs World – City of Heroes Aliens Contests and GiveawaysEngagement(Player to player Experience)“Engagement is the heart of your game.”– Roger Dickey, Zynga
Mechanics that increase reach by providing: A compelling incentive to invite new user An enticing invitation An obvious, low friction channel to share the invitationExamples: Pyramid Schemes and Visiting Friends - Farmville Contact Farming and Suggesting Opponents - Words With Friends Gifting your App – Tricky Messaging Techniques Marketing Tricks – User Segregation & RatingsVirality(Auto-Marketing)Protip: When new installs and reactivations become improbable, focus on cateringto your most engaged, loyal users. They’re most likely to pay anyway.
What will people pay for? Fun and Story (Quest Unlocks, Hard to Sell) Decoration and Identity Primacy and Exclusivity (Seasonal Items) Chance and Rarity (Grab Bags, Mystery Boxes) Competition and Social Value (Sharable Power) Stat Progress and Vanity Scarcity and Consumables (Bullets, Food, Energy) Space and ExpansionMonetization(The Business)“Your game is a store, treat it like one.”– Jon Walsh, Fuse Powered, Inc.
All of these mechanics drive each other.The key is elegance. Beware the “Pizza that nobody wants.”Perform a cost-benefit analysis of every feature. It costs much less to spend time in the design phase.Example: Collections – Collect X Things to Receive Y How do I get the things? For simply playing? Grind, Spam, or Pay What do I receive? Coins – Yay? / Premium Coins – Better, but limited. Consumable, Mystery Box – Repeatable New Ability – Investment, AddictiveThe Whole Package(Connecting Influences)
Games are now a Service industrySeamless and platform agnosticMultiplatform, not Cross-PlatformSocial (Integrated)SnackableAsynchronous, turn-based works!Value ReignsFree (Mostly)Current and Future Games“If you want to work in games, go make something.”– John Comes, Uber Entertainment