How social gaming habits are formed: Storm8’s “iMobsters”<br />Jimmy Chen • habits.stanford.edu • Spring 2010<br />
What are social games?<br />Role-playing games with social interaction between players<br />Fundamentally text-based<br />...
Why do social games matter?<br />Profitable – Zynga, Playdom, Storm8, and others have become multi-million businesses<br /...
How is the habit formed?<br />
How is the habit formed?<br />Green Dot<br />Purple Span<br />Gray Span<br />Blue Path<br />
1. Download/play for the first time<br />Player hooked in by attractive opening graphics, word of mouth, or placement<br /...
2. Early 5-10 minute play sessions <br />Player is guided through an easy path of actions to get him started in the game w...
3. Mid-game 2-3 minute play sessions<br />Players choose a “strategy” to pursue in the game and spend time (~7 days) imple...
4. Player reaches a routine<br />Once the player reaches a certain level, most game interactions become maintenance of the...
Lessons from this model?<br />Make the initial Green Dot behavior easy. The game is easy to download and advertised promin...
Disclaimers and Uncertainty<br />These conclusions are drawn from a combination of reading Storm8’s promotional material a...
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Social iPhone Game Habits

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"Recently got an iPhone and now I am addicted to checking out apps and playing storm8 games. Is there a 12 step for this?" - Storm8 customer

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Social iPhone Game Habits

  1. 1. How social gaming habits are formed: Storm8’s “iMobsters”<br />Jimmy Chen • habits.stanford.edu • Spring 2010<br />
  2. 2. What are social games?<br />Role-playing games with social interaction between players<br />Fundamentally text-based<br />Rewards users for opening the application frequently. Game elements “recharge”<br />Motivation for playing is to outperform peers<br />Usually played through Facebook or iPhone – iMobsters is available for free in the Apps Store<br />
  3. 3. Why do social games matter?<br />Profitable – Zynga, Playdom, Storm8, and others have become multi-million businesses<br />Addictive – once the habit is formed, these games become a significant time investment accessed several times daily<br />New – social games have only become popular over the past few years. It’s easy to trace habit formation by comparing how people approached games before social games<br />
  4. 4. How is the habit formed?<br />
  5. 5. How is the habit formed?<br />Green Dot<br />Purple Span<br />Gray Span<br />Blue Path<br />
  6. 6. 1. Download/play for the first time<br />Player hooked in by attractive opening graphics, word of mouth, or placement<br />A Green Dot behavior – only done once<br />Trigger: seeing an advertisementAbility: game is freeMotivation: game looks fun<br />
  7. 7. 2. Early 5-10 minute play sessions <br />Player is guided through an easy path of actions to get him started in the game world<br />Player is constantly rewarded/complimented for doing trivial tasks<br />Player develops some sort of attachment to the game in this phase, ~1-2 days<br />A Purple Span behavior, as the behavior of playing the game increases over a period of time<br />Trigger: push notifications, and thinking about the gameAbility: game is downloaded and always availableMotivation: want to outperform peers<br />
  8. 8. 3. Mid-game 2-3 minute play sessions<br />Players choose a “strategy” to pursue in the game and spend time (~7 days) implementing that strategy<br />Playtime decreases as players get more used to the features and interface<br />A Gray Span behavior, as behavior decreases over a period of time<br />Trigger: push notifications, and thinking about the gameAbility: game is downloaded and always availableMotivation: want to outperform peers – by strategically outmaneuvering them<br />
  9. 9. 4. Player reaches a routine<br />Once the player reaches a certain level, most game interactions become maintenance of the character, to be done at regular intervals – i.e. optimally, once every four hours<br />Player may develop a daily routine for maintenance, like playing for 5 minutes while sitting on the toilet or before bed<br />This is a true “habit” – a Blue Path behavior done from now on<br />Trigger: attached to another habitAbility: game is downloaded and always availableMotivation: want to maintain character, or to reach an arbitrary goal in the game<br />
  10. 10. Lessons from this model?<br />Make the initial Green Dot behavior easy. The game is easy to download and advertised prominently.<br />Captivate to create a Purple Span. The early stages of the game are filled with action and positive feedback.<br />Make the Blue Path easy. Game mechanics promote doing familiar behaviors indefinitely at frequent time intervals.<br />
  11. 11. Disclaimers and Uncertainty<br />These conclusions are drawn from a combination of reading Storm8’s promotional material and from my own personal experiences, so others may experience the game differently. Certainly others may find that the game does not become a habit for them – but why? This is an open question and perhaps fodder for future discussion<br />Jimmy Chen • habits.stanford.edu • Spring 2010<br />

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