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Big Bucks for Bits and Bytes: A holistic approach to selling virtual goods


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The Free to Play (Freemium) model has gained more and more widespread acceptance in the marketplace during the course of last years. Now even retail developers and publishers are trying to get into the market and a lot of "classical" game designers are trying to figure out how (or what) to best sell virtual products, be they items, unlockable content or comfort features.

Naturally most designers approach this challenge by taking a look at the traditional domain of game design: The features. This usually ends with them directly focusing on the design of the virtual goods themselves. This talk presents a more holistic alternative by looking at the entire chain of events and actions that a user undergoes on his way from player to payer. Through this lens it will point out some important factors that influence a game's monetization.

Generate Awareness: The first step to selling a product is to have your users know of it. In the real world this is mostly done through ads, but advertisement for micropayments isn't something that's done yet. Instead there are other ways to show off virtual goods. This talk will present the attendees with ways to increase the in-game visibility of an item: Example methods for this are to highlight it's use through other players and to properly design your shop to affect a player's knowledge of your items.

Generate Desirability: Once the player is aware of your product he needs to be motivated to buy it. Examining all the different elements that raise or hinder an item's valence, the lecture provides some insight into how to make your products more desirable. This will be done through examining different types of players and their wishes and presenting various categories of goods that speak to them. The talk also delves into the pricing of virtual items and give a set of tricks and techniques to further increase the perceived value of a virtual product.

So in short, this lecture will give you a look at the entire player experience in regards to micropayments and tell you how you can shape it to the advantage of your game's virtual goods.

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Big Bucks for Bits and Bytes: A holistic approach to selling virtual goods

  1. 1. Big Bucks forBITS AND BYTESA holistic approach to F2P monetization
  2. 2. LectureOVERVIEW
  3. 3. Speaker DetailsMartin Nerurkar Dipl.-Ing. Architecture Lead of Game Design Gameforge Productions
  4. 4. What to ExpectMonetization in F2P Games A few current approaches A look at the user experience A bag of tips and advice
  5. 5. Presentation GoalsMy goals are… Toolbox Designers: Ideas and approaches Companies: Increased revenue Users: Better experience
  6. 6. CurrentMODELS
  7. 7. Lifetime OverviewVisitor User Payer
  8. 8. Lifetime OverviewVisitor User Payer
  9. 9. The Simple ApproachUser Payer
  10. 10. The Simple ApproachUser Product Payer
  11. 11. Worst CaseUSER STORY
  12. 12. Game Login
  13. 13. Game Login Mary Johnson
  14. 14. Game Login Big Mick
  15. 15. Game Login ShadowBlade666
  16. 16. Holistic ModelExtended approach Be aware of entire process The steps every user goes through Make it as easy for players as possible
  17. 17. 5-StepsAware- ness Desire Sale Under- standing Ability
  18. 18. Why use this model? Small changes can have large effects Effects multiply with product design Can help reduce frustration for user
  19. 19. Advice andMETHODS
  20. 20. ?
  21. 21. AwarenessMake product visible Player needs to be aware of existence Danger of being too intrusive
  22. 22. Awareness methods Shop Advertising Embedded products Other players
  23. 23. Shop
  24. 24. Mixing premium with non-premium Non-payer sees products Products are comparable Makes premium transparent
  25. 25. Increase visibility of shop Don‘t hide the option Lead player into it Highlight to attract attention +30%
  26. 26. Advertisment
  27. 27. Ads can be used in many locations Loading screen, launcher, website… Can be obnoxious Can break immersion
  28. 28. Ad space needs to remain interesting Mix in regular game infos Refresh content frequently Can be personalized with special offers
  29. 29. Awareness recap: ! Advertising Shop
  30. 30. ?
  31. 31. UnderstandingExplain product functionality Makes benefit to player clear Some items are more intuitive than others
  32. 32. Understanding methods Tutorial Demo products Help text
  33. 33. Tutorial
  34. 34. Can explain complex context Requires significant work Useful for very desireable items
  35. 35. Demo Products
  36. 36. Is very effective Player is aware of existence Using item makes its value well understood High desire items can give a taste
  37. 37. But has some dangers Frustrating if used at the wrong time Annoying if special status was unclear
  38. 38. Understanding recap: ! Tutorial Demo products
  39. 39. ?
  40. 40. DesireIncrease value of product Value only perceived Mostly based on functionality and artificial scarcity
  41. 41. Desire methods Events Price Virtual physicality (items) Duration
  42. 42. Events Christmas Tree
  43. 43. Types of limitation Limited number Limited sale duration Limited availability
  44. 44. Very effective Limited special/unique items Limited payment bonuses Limited ingame discounts
  45. 45. Advantages of artificial scarcity Increased perceived value Reduced time for judgement Feeling of missing out
  46. 46. Pricing
  47. 47. Price is closely linked to value Free products are seen as worthless High prices create a feeling of quality High prices reduce availabilty
  48. 48. Prices are relative Products are bargain only compared to others Keep in mind the prices of all products Look at the prices of your competitors
  49. 49. Adjusting prices later on is difficult Start with high prices (careful!) Test your prices as soon as possible Add new, better items and remove old
  50. 50. Desire recap: ! Events Price
  51. 51. ?
  52. 52. AbilityEasy access to product Step 1: Payment Step 2: ShoppingRelevant for first payers
  53. 53. Ability methods Payment Options Starting Bonus Shop Design
  54. 54. Payment Options
  55. 55. Provide variety Countries favor different methods Weigh options based on revenue
  56. 56. Starting Bonus
  57. 57. Starting coupon Not using coupon would be a loss Player sees payment system
  58. 58. Starting hard currency Player will take a look at products Wrong spending can be frustrating
  59. 59. Ability recap: ! Payment Options Starting Bonus
  60. 60. LectureTAKEAWAY
  61. 61. Wrapup Aware- Under- ness standing Desire Ability SaleFive steps to… …improve …be more profitable …create a smoother experience
  62. 62. TheEND
  63. 63. Questions?Available for hire or contractContact info Graphics by