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Game Design is Business Design

The game industry has changed. A rapid shift is underway as we move from a packaged goods dominated past to a digital, free to play dominated present. More players then ever enjoy the widest range of games of any time in our industry's history. In this new world, the designer’s role has changed dramatically. The successful designers of our digital present are not only masters of fun, but also masters of business models and monetization. This lecture talks about the changing role of game designers and presents case studies of how they can successfully apply business design to their practice.

Find out more at www.famousaspect.com

Game Design is Business Design

  1. 1. game developer conference | f2p design & business summit | mar 13ethan levy | cofounder @quarter spiral | consultant @famousaspectGame Design is Business Design www.QuarterSpiral.com
  2. 2. A brief history of Ethan Game Design Game Production Design Consultant Metrics & User Test• 10 years experience as a game developer• 30+ shipped games, multiple awards and nominationswww.QuarterSpiral.com
  3. 3. www.QuarterSpiral.com
  4. 4. what do you want to get out of this session?Desired takeawayswww.QuarterSpiral.com
  5. 5. my motivation for giving this talkBetter freemium designBetter communicationwww.QuarterSpiral.com
  6. 6. www.QuarterSpiral.com
  7. 7. www.QuarterSpiral.com
  8. 8. www.QuarterSpiral.com
  9. 9. KingsRoad by Rumble Entertainmentwww.QuarterSpiral.com
  10. 10. www.QuarterSpiral.com
  11. 11. www.QuarterSpiral.com
  12. 12. www.QuarterSpiral.com
  13. 13. www.QuarterSpiral.com
  14. 14. Emotion is key to monetizationwww.QuarterSpiral.com
  15. 15. Impatience Clash of Clans by SuperCellwww.QuarterSpiral.com
  16. 16. Impatience Clash of Clans by SuperCellwww.QuarterSpiral.com
  17. 17. Impatience Clash of Clans by SuperCellwww.QuarterSpiral.com
  18. 18. Envy CSR Racing by Natural Motionwww.QuarterSpiral.com
  19. 19. Envy CSR Racing by Natural Motionwww.QuarterSpiral.com
  20. 20. Envy CSR Racing by Natural Motionwww.QuarterSpiral.com
  21. 21. Dominance Bejeweled Blitz by PopCapwww.QuarterSpiral.com
  22. 22. Dominance Bejeweled Blitz by PopCapwww.QuarterSpiral.com
  23. 23. Dominance Bejeweled Blitz by PopCapwww.QuarterSpiral.com
  24. 24. Accomplishment Bubble Witch Saga by King.comwww.QuarterSpiral.com
  25. 25. Accomplishment Bubble Witch Saga by King.comwww.QuarterSpiral.com
  26. 26. Accomplishment Bubble Witch Saga by King.comwww.QuarterSpiral.com
  27. 27. Exhilaration The Last: Stand Dead Zone by Con Artist Gameswww.QuarterSpiral.com
  28. 28. Case Study - DragonValewww.QuarterSpiral.com
  29. 29. The paragon of success DragonVale by BackFlip Studioswww.QuarterSpiral.com
  30. 30. #4 iPhone | #1 iPad grossing of 2012www.QuarterSpiral.com
  31. 31. Core loop Gate Dragon level Build Breed Build a park Breed dragons Sink gold & time Sink food Tap food Tap gold & time Gate Town levelwww.QuarterSpiral.com
  32. 32. Impatience DragonVale by BackFlip Studioswww.QuarterSpiral.com
  33. 33. Exhilaration DragonVale by BackFlip Studioswww.QuarterSpiral.com
  34. 34. Events DragonVale by BackFlip Studioswww.QuarterSpiral.com
  35. 35. Control DragonVale by BackFlip Studioswww.QuarterSpiral.com
  36. 36. Need DragonVale by BackFlip Studioswww.QuarterSpiral.com
  37. 37. On accessibility of monetizationwww.QuarterSpiral.com
  38. 38. Ease of access Dragon Age Legends by BioWarewww.QuarterSpiral.com
  39. 39. Ease of access Dragon Age Legends by BioWarewww.QuarterSpiral.com
  40. 40. Be present War Commander by KixEyewww.QuarterSpiral.com
  41. 41. Show me the money Zuma Blitz by PopCapwww.QuarterSpiral.com
  42. 42. Show me the money Zuma Blitz by PopCapwww.QuarterSpiral.com
  43. 43. Show me the money Zuma Blitz by PopCapwww.QuarterSpiral.com
  44. 44. Show me the money Zuma Blitz by PopCapwww.QuarterSpiral.com
  45. 45. Show me the money Zuma Blitz by PopCapwww.QuarterSpiral.com
  46. 46. Show me the money Zuma Blitz by PopCapwww.QuarterSpiral.com
  47. 47. Whale huntingwww.QuarterSpiral.com
  48. 48. Possibility of infinite monetization Temple Run by Imangi Studioswww.QuarterSpiral.com
  49. 49. www.QuarterSpiral.com
  50. 50. Social elder game Life is Crime by Red Robot Labswww.QuarterSpiral.com
  51. 51. Luxury goodswww.QuarterSpiral.com
  52. 52. Currency package pricing The Last Stand: Dead Zone by Con Artist Gameswww.QuarterSpiral.com
  53. 53. Weekly events Fifa Ultimate Team by EAwww.QuarterSpiral.com
  54. 54. Putting theory into practicewww.QuarterSpiral.com
  55. 55. Sample game: Smash TV Saga• Classic score based arena shooter re-imagined for Mobile• Bite sized levels played for high score• Compete against friends’ scores, earn achievements and medals www.QuarterSpiral.com
  56. 56. X statement• Single sentence that describes the essence of the game• “Razor” used to make decisions• Punchy & memorable Meaningless X statement Return of the arcade classic Meaningful X statement Compete and cooperate in an over the top, reality TV shooter.www.QuarterSpiral.com
  57. 57. Analogs, antilogs and leaps of faith• Idea taken from Getting to Plan B• Analogs: successful games you want to be like• Antilogs: similar games you want to avoid• Leaps of faith: elements unproven in the marketplacewww.QuarterSpiral.com
  58. 58. Smash TV analogs• Ratchet and Clank ✦ Leveling weapons ✦ Fast and furious gunplay• Bubble Witch Saga ✦ Short, rewarding levels ✦ Leader board competition ✦ Earned currency and boostswww.QuarterSpiral.com
  59. 59. Smash TV antilogs✦ Smash TV Arcade ✦ Don’t be a quarter monster ✦ Engagement not frustration✦ Simcity Social ✦ Social network integrity ✦ Multiplayer not friend gatingwww.QuarterSpiral.com
  60. 60. Leaps of faith mobile/tablet CRAVEsynchronous multiplayerwww.QuarterSpiral.com
  61. 61. Monetization philosophy doc• Identify player types• Identify a small # of monetization emotions (2-3)• Don’t try and do everything, make a small number of distinct choices• Each emotion should be a razor moments the future to evaluate monetization you use in• Razors are used when writing feature briefs• Define core loop, sinks and tapswww.QuarterSpiral.com
  62. 62. DominanceSmash TV Saga is a score based game where each level is a uniqueleaderboard that the player competes to dominate against his friends.Leaderboards are heavily emphasized in game: they are shown before andafter levels, in-game notifications show when you’ve passed a friends scoreand the game encourages you to brag on your friend’s wall after toppinghis score.AchievementSmash TV Saga has multiple achievement systems to entice the player.Each level, he can earn a number of predetermined levels. In addition,there is a global achievement system similar to XBLA. Points earned bycompleting achievements and earning medals are used to purchasepowerful weapon upgrades.www.QuarterSpiral.com
  63. 63. Core loop• Simple diagram that lays out core experience• What are the sinks (player spends consumable)?• What are the taps (player earns consumable)?• What are the gates (what gates progress in each section of the game)?www.QuarterSpiral.com
  64. 64. Smash TV Saga Gate Player level Kill Guns Kill hordes of enemies Purchase and upgrade Sink ammo, time Sink gold, stars Tap stars, money, xp Tap guns, ammo Gate Lifetime Starswww.QuarterSpiral.com
  65. 65. Business model canvas• Created by Alex Osterwilder• Interesting tool for business model innovation• Helps imagine all the factors of a business model simply on a single page• Holistic view of your service• www.businessmodelgeneration.com/canvaswww.QuarterSpiral.com
  66. 66. Canvas for Smash TV Saga Provides insight and value very quicklywww.QuarterSpiral.com
  67. 67. Feature brief• High concept• Success metric ✦ Monetization, engagement, virality, retention, quality• Single screen mock up• Sinks and Taps• Descriptionwww.QuarterSpiral.com
  68. 68. Proposed feature - smash pad• During each round the player picks up money and home goods• In between levels, the player can visit his SmashPad to decorate it with items earned• The player’s friend can visit his SmashPad, choosing to “Bro Out” or “Blow Out”• Monetization: The player can buy premium home goods using the game’s purchased currency.www.QuarterSpiral.com
  69. 69. Using our razor•Feature rejected!• Proven mechanic – houses in Sims Social• Based on emotion – Jealousy/Vanity• Social interaction with “Bro Out” vs “Blow Out”• Does not map to our key emotions.www.QuarterSpiral.com
  70. 70. Proposed feature - phone a friend• In level, there are buttons to “Phone a Friend”• Each type is a super ability with a cooldown time• Example: “Lifeline” fills you to 200% health• Using “Phone a Friend” costs a Smash Token• Smash Tokens are earned on level up, but can also be purchased in large quantitieswww.QuarterSpiral.com
  71. 71. Using our razor•Feature accepted!• Super abilities will help the player earn high scores• Super abilities will help the player earn medals• Super abilities are consumable based• Super abilities are available to free and paying playerswww.QuarterSpiral.com
  72. 72. How much can I make?www.QuarterSpiral.com
  73. 73. www.QuarterSpiral.com
  74. 74. www.QuarterSpiral.com
  75. 75. www.QuarterSpiral.com
  76. 76. Gasketball by mikengregwww.QuarterSpiral.com
  77. 77. Punch Quest by Rocket Cat Gameswww.QuarterSpiral.com
  78. 78. Ask yourself• How many players will I get?• How many will convert to payers?• What LTV do I expect from the average player?• How much will I pay to platform holders?www.QuarterSpiral.com
  79. 79. Super simple forecast Try for yourself with Forecast Questwww.QuarterSpiral.com
  80. 80. F2P forecast calculator http://apps.facebook.com/forecastquestwww.QuarterSpiral.com
  81. 81. Continue the conversation...• Tools and templates blog.quarterspiral.com• Follow @QuarterSpiral• Contact ethan@quarterspiral.comwww.QuarterSpiral.com
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The game industry has changed. A rapid shift is underway as we move from a packaged goods dominated past to a digital, free to play dominated present. More players then ever enjoy the widest range of games of any time in our industry's history. In this new world, the designer’s role has changed dramatically. The successful designers of our digital present are not only masters of fun, but also masters of business models and monetization. This lecture talks about the changing role of game designers and presents case studies of how they can successfully apply business design to their practice. Find out more at www.famousaspect.com

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