Free	  to	  Play,	  Tricky	  to	  Design	           Aki	  Järvinen,	  Crea9ve	  Director,	  Ph.D.                         ...
Social	  games?	  •  Games	  on	  mobile	  or	  online	  which	  leverage	     social	  network	  @es	  for	  gameplay	   ...
5	  Things	  you	  should	  know	  about	           Social	  Game	  Development       	  •  It’s:	       –  Metrics-­‐driv...
Agenda	  •  Free	  to	  Play	  –	  what	  is	  it?	  •  Two	  kinds	  of	  F2P	  •  Tips:	  How	  to	  design	  for	  F2P	...
Defining	  Free	  to	  Play	                                      5
What	  is	  it?	  •  ‘Free-­‐to-­‐play	  (F2P)	  refers	  to	  any	  video	  game	  or	  social	     or	  mobile	  applica...
                      “F2P	  sucks”	  –	  well,	  not.                                                        	  http://bl...
F2P	  games	  and	  game	  design	  •  Two	  kinds,	  in	  terms	  of	  game	  design:	      –  ‘Core’	  F2P	  model	     ...
’Surface	  F2P	  game	  design	  model                                             	  •  Selling	  more	  content,	  such	...
Surface	  model	  –	  Tricky?	                                              	  •  Pre_y	  straighSorward	  •  Surface	  mo...
Surface	  model:	  Quali@es                                           	  •    Lives	  and	  dies	  with	  the	  simple/sin...
Two	  F2P	  game	  design	  models                                     	                       Surface     	              ...
’Core	  F2P	  game	  design	  model                                            	  •  Selling	  variety	  of	  virtual	  go...
Core	  model	  –	  Tricky?	  •  Definitely!	  •  Core	  brings	  with	  it	  complex	  systems;	  mul@ple	     con@ngencies...
Core	  model:	  Quali@es                                      	  •  Free	  play	  needs	  to	  be	  accommodated	  as	  we...
The	  Latest	  Hotness	  in	  Core	  Model                                                	  http://deconstructoroffun.blo...
Tradi@onal	  VS	  F2P	  Game	  Design	  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advance_Wars   http://apps.facebook.com/armyattack   ...
Core:	  Tricky	  to	  Design	  •  Bo_om	  line:	     –  Core	  F2P	  mechanics	  are	  a	        breed	  of	  their	  own	...
5	  Tips	  for	  F2P	  game	  design	                                                  19
1.	  Design	  for	  Reten@on	  •  retention ¦ri ten ch ən¦•  noun•  the continued possession, use, or control of   somethi...
DnRUMoving	  the	  Needle	                                        	  Profitable	  Game	  Design	  	                        ...
Reten@on	  is	  everything	  The	  short	  and	  long	  term	  ‘winters’	  need	  to	    be	  crystal	  clear	  in	  your	...
 Content-­‐driven	  reten@on,	  or 	  Skill-­‐driven	  reten@on,	  or	  both 	                                            ...
24
2.	  Design	  for	  Virtual	  Goods	  and	  how	  to	         surface	  them	  via	  merchandizing      	                 ...
Case:	  Profitable	  Game	  Design	         FB Credits Revenue Distribution                                           26
3.	  Design	  for	  Rivalries                                             	  •  =	  Design	  for	  a	  virtual	  arms	  ra...
4.	  Design	  Away	  from	  Content                                            	  •  Design	  gameplay	  systems	  •  In	 ...
29
5.	  Design	  for	  Pay	  to	  Win…	  •  …but	  balance	  for	  grind	  to	  compete/commit	  	  •  Furthermore,	  design	...
31
6.	  Design	  away	  from	  	                    audience	  fa@gue     	  •  Design	  for	  conven@ons	  yet	  12	  months...
Execute	  all	  this…	                                33
…	  and	  you	  are	  designing	           	  for	  high	  LTV!                               	  =	  Your	  players	  Stay...
Fun	  mone9zes	  well,	  and	  F2P	  takes	      nothing	  away	  from	  the	  fun!  	                                    ...
h_ps://www.facebook.com/CrazyPenguinWars                                       	                      	                   ...
ajarvinen@digitalchocolate.com    	                      h_p://www.digitalchocolate.com         	  Thank	  You!	          ...
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Free to Play, Tricky to Design

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My talk from Northern Game Summit at Kajaani, Finland, focusing on tricks of the trade regarding design games that are free to play but monetize with micro-transactions such as in-app-purchases. The design problem is broken down to two approaches, with emphasis on the more complex model of monetizing with a variety of virtual goods. The presentation ends with 5 tips on how to design for F2P success.

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Free to Play, Tricky to Design

  1. 1. Free  to  Play,  Tricky  to  Design   Aki  Järvinen,  Crea9ve  Director,  Ph.D.   1    Northern  Game  Summit,  Kajaani,  September  28,  2012    
  2. 2. Social  games?  •  Games  on  mobile  or  online  which  leverage   social  network  @es  for  gameplay   –  Browser:  e.g.  Facebook   –  Mobile:  iOS,  Android   2
  3. 3. 5  Things  you  should  know  about   Social  Game  Development  •  It’s:   –  Metrics-­‐driven   –  SoQware  as  Service   –  Cross-­‐plaSorm   –  Free-­‐to-­‐play  business  model   –  Extremely  compe@@ve  market   3
  4. 4. Agenda  •  Free  to  Play  –  what  is  it?  •  Two  kinds  of  F2P  •  Tips:  How  to  design  for  F2P  success   4
  5. 5. Defining  Free  to  Play   5
  6. 6. What  is  it?  •  ‘Free-­‐to-­‐play  (F2P)  refers  to  any  video  game  or  social   or  mobile  applica@on  that  has  the  op@on  of  allowing   its  players/users  to  play/download  without  paying.’   h_p://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_to_play  •  The  term  ‘freemium’  implies  a  ‘premium’  version    •  F2P  ≠  Freemium   6
  7. 7.   “F2P  sucks”  –  well,  not.  http://blog.sergeydgr8.com/2011/08/19/need-for-speed-world-sucks-other-free-to-play-games-suck-too/ 7
  8. 8. F2P  games  and  game  design  •  Two  kinds,  in  terms  of  game  design:   –  ‘Core’  F2P  model   –  ‘Surface’  F2P  model   Surface   Core   8
  9. 9. ’Surface  F2P  game  design  model  •  Selling  more  content,  such  as  levels  or  addi@onal  tries  •  And/or  selling  specific  func@onality:  par@cular  game  mechanic   for  e.g.  convenience    •  Design  is  embedded  into  the  content  structure,  or  single  /   simple  core  mechanic   9
  10. 10. Surface  model  –  Tricky?    •  Pre_y  straighSorward  •  Surface  model  is  simple    •  It’s  value  proposi@on  is  immediately  clear  to  even   the  most  casual  of  players   Pay  to  play   more!   10
  11. 11. Surface  model:  Quali@es  •  Lives  and  dies  with  the  simple/single  mechanic    •  Tied  to  content  produc@on  •  No  need  to  include  a  virtual  currency  in  the  design  •  No  free  way  to  play  for  the  player  aQer  the  ini@al   wall  hit,  in  terms  of  content  or  difficulty  •  Yet,  if  you  reach  significant  download  numbers,  can   be  very  profitable   11
  12. 12. Two  F2P  game  design  models   Surface   Core   12
  13. 13. ’Core  F2P  game  design  model  •  Selling  variety  of  virtual  goods  rather  than   gameplay  content:     –  Game  resources   –  Func@onal  items   –  Early  Access   –  Time   –  You  name  it!  •  Sinks  &  sources  virtual  economy  model   13
  14. 14. Core  model  –  Tricky?  •  Definitely!  •  Core  brings  with  it  complex  systems;  mul@ple   con@ngencies  across  sinks  and  sources   14
  15. 15. Core  model:  Quali@es  •  Free  play  needs  to  be  accommodated  as  well  •  Thus,  conversion  a  lot  tougher  •  Yet  built  for  repeat  purchases  •  Flexibility:  More  items  means  more  price   points  •  Result:  Supports  higher  customer  life9me   value  (LTV)goals   15
  16. 16. The  Latest  Hotness  in  Core  Model  http://deconstructoroffun.blogspot.fi/2012/09/clash-of-clans-winning-formula.html 16
  17. 17. Tradi@onal  VS  F2P  Game  Design  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advance_Wars http://apps.facebook.com/armyattack 17
  18. 18. Core:  Tricky  to  Design  •  Bo_om  line:   –  Core  F2P  mechanics  are  a   breed  of  their  own   –  Core  F2P  is  a  ‘design  lens’  of   its  own   18
  19. 19. 5  Tips  for  F2P  game  design   19
  20. 20. 1.  Design  for  Reten@on  •  retention ¦ri ten ch ən¦•  noun•  the continued possession, use, or control of something   20
  21. 21. DnRUMoving  the  Needle    Profitable  Game  Design     21
  22. 22. Reten@on  is  everything  The  short  and  long  term  ‘winters’  need  to   be  crystal  clear  in  your  players’  minds     22
  23. 23.  Content-­‐driven  reten@on,  or  Skill-­‐driven  reten@on,  or  both   23
  24. 24. 24
  25. 25. 2.  Design  for  Virtual  Goods  and  how  to   surface  them  via  merchandizing   25
  26. 26. Case:  Profitable  Game  Design   FB Credits Revenue Distribution 26
  27. 27. 3.  Design  for  Rivalries  •  =  Design  for  a  virtual  arms  race  between   individual  or  alliance  rivals   27
  28. 28. 4.  Design  Away  from  Content  •  Design  gameplay  systems  •  In  live  produc@on  context,  aim  for  profitable   game  design  =  feature  ROI     28
  29. 29. 29
  30. 30. 5.  Design  for  Pay  to  Win…  •  …but  balance  for  grind  to  compete/commit    •  Furthermore,  design  for     –  Pay  to  progress   –  Pay  for  convenience   30
  31. 31. 31
  32. 32. 6.  Design  away  from     audience  fa@gue  •  Design  for  conven@ons  yet  12  months  into  the   future   32
  33. 33. Execute  all  this…   33
  34. 34. …  and  you  are  designing    for  high  LTV!  =  Your  players  Stay  and  Pay  within   the  Core  F2P  Model   34
  35. 35. Fun  mone9zes  well,  and  F2P  takes   nothing  away  from  the  fun!   35
  36. 36. h_ps://www.facebook.com/CrazyPenguinWars     36
  37. 37. ajarvinen@digitalchocolate.com   h_p://www.digitalchocolate.com  Thank  You!   @aquito  on  Twi_er   37

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