Making Interactions Meaningful

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Making Interactions Meaningful: Leveraging Social Interactions for Engagement and Adoption -- Aimed mainly at social and mobile game developers, presents 10 Possibly Very Important Principles of Social Game Design. Prepared for a Papaya Mobile Game Academy lecture in April 2012

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Making Interactions Meaningful

  1. 1. Making Interactions Meaningful Leveraging Social Interactions for Engagement and Adoption Mark Wallace @markwallace walkering@gmail.com http://thelastweblog.com http://boyreporter.com Papaya Game Academy lecture April 23, 2012
  2. 2. Every Interaction Counts Best focus for my marketing efforts? (Impressions, Installs, Engagement, Retention, Monetization) Impressions• Big company, Big $? Installs 5m Paying 125,000• Small company, No $? Impressions Installs 100,000 Paying 2,500
  3. 3. Making Interactions Meaningful 10 Possibly Very Important Principles of Social Game Design 1. Leaderboards Are Not Enough 2. Quality Is Not Virality 3. Players Want to Play 4. Social Gamers Don’t Socialize 5. Celebrate the Average 6. Celebrate the Showoff 7. Complement and Compliment 8. It Takes a Faction 9. Friend Robin Dunbar 10. Make Interactions Meaningful
  4. 4. 1. Leaderboards Are Not Enough Small Fish + Big Pond = No Fun
  5. 5. 1. Leaderboards Are Not EnoughSmall Fish + Big Pond = No FunMake the pond smallerCreate segmented leaderboards:- by location- by time- by friends- by game mode- by factionLots of possibilities for leaderboardsthat make your players feel good
  6. 6. 2. Quality Is Not Virality • No viral adoption without social graph (Obvious to you; not obvious to everyone) • Even with a social graph, virality is still hard (Invite spam is not a viral hook) • The most effective viral loops leverage the network effect: Does the player benefit directly from inviting friends? (E.g., the more friends you have, the more crops you can plant) Indirect benefits work too (E.g., invite 10 friends and get a free blue flowerpot) • You need metrics for this to work (Virality has its own funnel and mechanics)
  7. 7. 2. Quality Is Not ViralityInteractions generated per player (invites, wall posts, etc.)Signups generated per Interaction I * S = k-Factor: rate of viral growth (Basically. There’s a little more to it than that.)Goal: Every active player creates at least one new active player (Holy Grail: If you can do that, you can zero out your external marketing budget.)Raise Interactions:• have more players• create more opportunities to generate interactions• increase period in which players generate interactions (most invites, etc., are sent early in a player’s tenure)Raise Signups:• create more effective impressions / meaningful interactions
  8. 8. 3. Players Want to Play...as opposed to signing up or logging in Make invites / impressions more attractive by offering something more (some value, activity, or both) • Come play our game! • Your free unicorn awaits! Click here to accept. • Gandalf needs your help. Click here to battle the dragon! • Frequency discounts value • A/B testing
  9. 9. 4. Social Gamers Don’t Socialize It’s tough to get people in the same place at the same time especially for a mobile social game (frequent but short play sessions) • Don’t count on concurrency • Design for asynchronous play • Direct competition
  10. 10. 5. Celebrate the AverageUnderstand how you expect most players to play your gameand design for this At least: • session frequency (how often) • session length (how long at a sitting) • player tenure (how many months) A few things you can measure and cross-reference: • timing of purchases... • number of friends... • number of sessions... • progress through game... (and many more) If you know when people are most likely to do something, then you know the best moment to offer them the chance
  11. 11. 6. Celebrate the ShowoffIn addition to averages, provide support for the outliers • Let them spend as much as they want • Let them show off their accomplishments • Create ways for players to see what’s ahead e.g., visits to other players’ farms, castles, etc. (they’ll want it for themselves) • Create ways for prospective players to see your game see weewar.com for a great example
  12. 12. 7. Complement and ComplimentNot all players are the same; take advantage of this • Letting players specialize (to an extent) creates a system of interdependence: - You fight vampires better - I fight werewolves better - So join my crew and we’ll both be better off • Don’t overdo it; people need to be able to play alone • Let players thank and compliment each other as well Sincere appreciation can go a long way • Stronger social bonds make your game stickier
  13. 13. 9. Friend Robin Dunbar *Not all social bonds are created equal ~40 strong ties ~150 moderate ties ~500-2,500 weak ties• Design with these limits in mind• Don’t ask players to keep track of too many people• Create ways for people to belong to smaller groups (could be on a temporary basis) * British anthropologist
  14. 14. 8. It Takes a FactionCreate competing groups to foster a sense of belonging • “Us vs. Them” is a powerful motivator • Factions don’t need to compete directly • Create game mechanics around factions e.g., factional advantages for being in the lead
  15. 15. 10. Make Interactions MeaningfulIf you can’t throw money at the problem (and even if you can),use social interactions to create meaning for your playersAt their best, games are experiences we share with other playersWe’re more prone to share the experiences that meansomething to usWhat makes an experience meaningful? • attainable goals and a welcoming community that’s not just a sea of anonymous faces • easy to participate, but you’re rewarded for putting in effort • you’re offered value rather than asked for things • showcase for accomplishments; everyone can contribute • united for a common cause; people want to help each other
  16. 16. 10 Possibly Very Important Principles 1. Leaderboards Are Not Enough 2. Quality Is Not Virality 3. Players Want to Play 4. Social Gamers Don’t Socialize 5. Celebrate the Average 6. Celebrate the Showoff 7. Complement and Compliment 8. It Takes a Faction 9. Friend Robin Dunbar 10. Make Interactions Meaningful • A set of strategies to pick and choose from • You may use all, some, or none of these • They should help you increase engagement and adoption without throwing a lot of money at the top of the funnel • Not all games are created equal • Use the techniques that are right for your game (metrics!)
  17. 17. Making Interactions Meaningful 10 Possibly Very Important Principles of Social Game Design Mark Wallace @markwallace walkering@gmail.com http://thelastweblog.com http://boyreporter.com Papaya Game Academy lecture April 23, 2012

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