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Casual Connect United In Action - Monetization Design for Free-To-Play Games

Detailed overview of best practices for monetization design in mobile free-to-play games

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Casual Connect United In Action - Monetization Design for Free-To-Play Games

  1. 1. United In Action: Free-To-Play Monetization Design Dave Rohrl Owner, Mobile Game Doctor LLC
  2. 2. Goals • Overview of Free-To-Play Monetization Best Practices • Viewed from a design perspective • Long on case studies; light on numbers • Going broad on a variety of topics • Purchase motivations • Categories of items • Advanced selling techniques • Monetization optimization
  3. 3. Working Group • Dave Rohrl, Chair – Owner, Mobile Game Doctor • David Chiu – Owner, DC Game Consulting • William Grosso – CEO, Scientific Revenue • Bruce Harlick – Sr. Game Designer, Hangar 13 • Ethan Levy – Executive Producer, N3TWORK • Bryan Mashinter – Director of Product, Wooga
  4. 4. Ground Rules • Ask questions any time • Will do my best to answer • Slides available afterward
  5. 5. Why Free-To-Play
  6. 6. How the story is told
  7. 7. In successful F2P dev, these two functions are unified inside the dev team
  8. 8. So Why Free-To-Play? • Massive Audience • Ongoing Revenue • Evolving Product & Community • Best Revenue Potential • Lets Players Spend
  9. 9. Revenue Streams
  10. 10. Revenue Streams • Advertising • In App Purchases • Skill Gaming
  11. 11. Advertising • Pluses • Easy to insert and update • Wide variety of units • Easy to design for • Minuses • Hidden complexity • Lower total revenue
  12. 12. Advertising Types • Display • Traditional banner ads • Unobtrusive • Low rate of interaction • Very low CPM • Video • Current standard in mobile ads • Can proxy for IAP • Interfere with experience • Good CPMs • Good fill rate
  13. 13. Advertising Types • Interactive • Emergent • Rough representation of gameplay • Hard on UX • Amazing CPMs • Lower fill rate, gaining momentum
  14. 14. Hidden Complexity • Multiple networks & mediation • Custom deal negotiation • Surfacing • User experience • Competitive “leakage” • Additional tech issues (e.g. pre-caching)
  15. 15. How Much Money Can You Make • Steadily declining over time • Short answer – not enough to grow without IAP
  16. 16. In-App Purchases • Pluses • Enables large-scale spending • Single, consistent implementation (per platform) • Minuses • Low conversion rate • Challenging design • 30% platform tax
  17. 17. Virtual Currency • Use virtual currency • Funny money syndrome • Variable price points • Seed currency encouragement • Breakage
  18. 18. Alt-Money – Skill gaming • Pluses • Easy model • High ARPU • Minuses • Smaller market • Limited open platforms • Good for ad-supported games • See me for best practices 
  19. 19. Why Players Buy
  20. 20. Time & Convenience
  21. 21. Competitive Edge
  22. 22. Competitive Edge
  23. 23. What About “Pay To Win”? • Selling competitive advantage that cannot be gained without paying • Is this ever ok? • PvE vs PvP • Skill vs. engagement • Consider matchmaking progress • Be cautious of in-match
  24. 24. Power & Validation
  25. 25. Power & Validation
  26. 26. Group identity
  27. 27. Completing the collection
  28. 28. Vanity & self expression
  29. 29. Vanity & self expression
  30. 30. The joy of spending
  31. 31. The joy of spending
  32. 32. Top monetization motivators: • Time & convenience • Competitive edge • Power & validation • Group identity • Collection/completion • Self expression/vanity • Joy of spending
  33. 33. Mechanics of Monetization
  34. 34. Converting Why Into How • Emotions drive players to spend • You must give them stuff to spend on • Stuff must align well
  35. 35. Monetization 101 • One-Offs • Collectibles and Gacha • Consumables
  36. 36. One-Offs • One-time purchases that add permanent value to the game
  37. 37. One-Offs • Pluses • Clear value proposition • No purchase fatigue • Minuses • No recurring revenue • Fresh content can be expensive
  38. 38. Collectibles & Gacha • Large array of objects with variable rarity • Supported by explicit collection UI • Weighted random drops, often bundled
  39. 39. Hearthstone Cards Brawl Stars
  40. 40. Clash Royale Chests Dungeon Boss Summons
  41. 41. Collectibles and Gacha • Pluses • Highly repeatable • Can drive high spend • Minuses • Can feel discouraging • Need to stay ahead of content train
  42. 42. Warning: Gacha Legal Issues • Some view as slot machines for kids • Increasing regulatory environment • Disclosure requirements: • Started in China • Now part of iOS review guidelines
  43. 43. Consumables • Single use items • Consumed during gameplay • Kept in inventory
  44. 44. Candy Crush Saga Game of War Trailer Park Boys
  45. 45. Consumables • Pluses • Most repeatable • Low content load • Minuses • Easy to mis-balance • Value proposition must be strong
  46. 46. Monetization 202 • Events • VIP Status • Currency Subscriptions • Bundles
  47. 47. Events • Time-limited period with exclusive/additional rewards • Leveraging classic selling techniques • Urgency • Limited supply • Herding • Influence: The Power of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini • Beware of overuse/fatigue
  48. 48. Dungeon Boss
  49. 49. Currency Subscriptions • Compelling value proposition • Helps drive retention • Strongly encourages store interactions
  50. 50. Top Eleven
  51. 51. Loyalty Systems • Provide benefits in a variety of game areas • Tiered system with strong benefit ramp • Climb VERY slowly unless paying
  52. 52. Big Fish Casino
  53. 53. Bundles • Combined offers • Overwhelming value proposition • Custom offering logic
  54. 54. • Encourage player to make first purchase with a very attractive offer Juggernaut ChampionsAdCap and Best Fiends Forever Bundles – First-Time Buyers
  55. 55. Bundles: Time-Limited Offers Dungeon Boss
  56. 56. Office Space: Idle Profits Bundles: Event-Linked
  57. 57. Tactical Optimization
  58. 58. Shop UI ▪ Have all items in each section viewable without scrolling ▪ Easier for comparing packages ▪ Clearly call out bonuses for bigger packages ▪ Call out Most Popular and Best Deal packages
  59. 59. Minimize friction  increase conversion and ARPPU!
  60. 60. Shop Tutorial • Seed players with some hard currency at the beginning • Lead them to the shop • Guide them thru a “free” introductory purchase • Player gets a taste of the benefits of buying (like free samples at Costco!)
  61. 61. 1) Hard currency unlocked 2) Show players where they can spend them Almost a Hero
  62. 62. 3) Introduce to shop with free introductory purchase Almost a Hero
  63. 63. A/B Test EVERYTHING! ▪ During soft launch, conduct A/B tests to determine: ▪ Shop UI ▪ Optimal pricing tiers ▪ First Time Buyer Packages and Time Limited/ Event Bundles ▪ When to introduce ▪ Placement ▪ Price ▪ What’s in the bundle ▪ Expiration Dungeon Boss
  64. 64. Closing Thoughts
  65. 65. Closing Thoughts • Have a rich monetization technique blend • Understand your players’ motivations and needs • Deliver real value on every transaction to maintain user trust • Pay attention to your merchandising • Tactical optimization matters • Test everything
  66. 66. Thanks! Questions? Dave Rohrl Owner, Mobile Game Doctor LLC “We Make Your Games Better” dave@mobilegamedoctor.com

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