This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Make an MMORPG on a Social Network
Copyright © 2009 by Chromacoders.org All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission from the Chroma Coders. We are committed to helping student teams make fun and interesting games and are open to reproduction of text in the book to further this mission. Please contact us at http://www.chromacoders.org to discuss details. Special Thanks to the following folks that helped to raise the quality of the book with their interviews and/or feedback… John Fan, Joseph Kim, and Angelo Yazar
Introduction............................................................. 7 Getting the MMORPG Up and Running ................ 9 Text-Based MMORPG Walkthrough ............... 10 Main Page of “School of Magic”.................. 11 Points Design ................................................ 11 The “Quests” Link ........................................ 13 Familiars ....................................................... 16 Treasury ........................................................ 17 Grand Wizard................................................ 18 Battle ............................................................. 19 Shoppe........................................................... 21 My House...................................................... 22 Wizard........................................................... 23 Legends ......................................................... 24 Help Section.................................................. 25 Forum............................................................ 26 Viral Channels .............................................. 26 Text-Based MMORPG Design ......................... 27 Game Ideas.................................................... 27 Main Page Design ......................................... 30 The “Jobs” Link ............................................ 31 Indie Gigs...................................................... 35 Treasury ........................................................ 35 Studio Boss ................................................... 37 Battles/Parties ............................................... 38 Shop .............................................................. 39 Entourage ...................................................... 40 Walk of Fame................................................ 41 Help............................................................... 42 Forum............................................................ 43 Viral Channels .............................................. 43 Getting a Basic Game up on Facebook…......... 44 Facebook Code Walkthrough ....................... 50 Pre-release Testing........................................ 52 3
.................................... 78 Meme Quiz Mechanic................................... 54 Maintaining the MMORPG ......................................... 68 Comments Mechanic ................................... 72 Passive Play Mechanic.......... 59 Metrics ............................................................. 80 4 ...................................... 55 Weekly Updates ...... 55 Iteration ................................................. 55 Balancing the Economy ............. 58 Clear Expectations .......................................................................................... 71 Trading Mechanic ........................................................................ 60 Social/Game Mechanics to Improve Your Game ......................................... 74 Exploration Mechanic..................................................................................... 62 Notification of New Features Mechanic .. 69 Show off on Profile Mechanic .................... 61 Social Cause Mechanic ...................................... 58 Taking a Break............... 60 Designing for Mass Market ............................................................... 77 Quiz Mechanic ........................... 59 Player Volunteers................... 66 Battle Mechanic .................. 64 Newsfeed Update Mechanic ........................................... 56 Making Money from the Game..................... 60 Games as Systems...............................................................................................................................But How Do I Learn About Making an MMORPG? ................................................ 56 Cheating .. 57 Working with the Community ...................................... 63 Notification of Reward Mechanic......................................................................................................... 61 Gifting Mechanic .... 65 Buy/Sell Mechanic..... 57 Game Balance .. 75 Build My Team Mechanic ................................................ 71 Tournament Mechanic ............................. 65 Lotto Mechanic ............... 65 Help My Friend’s Space Mechanic...........................
125 Blue Light Special Mechanic........ 93 Story Mechanic ........................................................... 86 Donate Virtual Coins Mechanic........................................................... 100 Interview with Friend Stock............ 112 Interview with Zombies..... Vampires........................................................................................................................................... 86 Rating Mechanic ......................... 127 Achievement Accelerator Mechanic..... 124 Limited-Time/Quantity Item Mechanic.......................... 97 Friend Data Mechanic. 127 First-Time Buyer Bonus Mechanic....... 81 Gambling Mechanic.............................................. 82 Auction Mechanic.................................. 95 Harvest Mechanic ................................................................................................................................ 100 Interview with League of Heroes................................. 124 Dual Currency Mechanic ........................................... 98 Internationalization .................... 117 Monetization ................................. 129 Interview with Gambit .. 107 Interview with Friends For Sale............ 91 Mastery Mechanic............................ 126 Need a Refill Mechanic . 89 Hire-A-Friend Mechanic................................... 129 5 ............... 92 Griefing/Prank Mechanic................................. 128 Interviews......Leaderboard Mechanic..................................................... 88 Social Tycoon Mechanic.. 94 Game Photo Album Mechanic.................................... 124 Social/Game Mechanics to Improve Monetization .... 125 Donation to a Good Cause Mechanic ................................. 126 Gift to a Friend Mechanic ......... 84 Collection Mechanic ........ 128 Repeat Buyer Bonus Mechanic.............................................................................. and Werewolves.................................................. 98 Interviews........... 96 Mini-Game Mechanic ...........
.......................... 147 Interview with Peanut Labs ..... 142 Interview with Zong............ 152 6 ....................Interview with Super Rewards........... 136 Interview with Offerpal Media ..........................
You can implement a game system with heavy C++ programming and lots of graphics. While those big games appeal to hardcore gamers. Games are not necessarily about graphics. they are willing to try them out.Introduction It can be done. They don't care about deep 3D graphics. and so has game development. especially if they slow down their already sluggish computers. After developing your game. technology-heavy games like EverQuest and World of Warcraft. you make it available on a social network and get almost immediate feedback from your players. sounds. They may help... The truth is. they usually envision those very fancy. The most important thing in these games is the “fun-ness” of the game system. You are able to add new features every week to enhance the game. There is a silent revolution going on. All they care about is interacting with others. You then quickly iterate and improve your game based on your players’ feedback. but since these games are “free” to them at first. new audiences are being introduced on a daily basis to gaming via the Web and social networks. and other sensory candy. You don’t need artists (you can buy art from iStockPhoto or get freelance art)—all you need is a couple of programmers. there are individual developers and small teams making millions of dollars each month from simple text-based MMO games. When people think about games. or you can take the essence of the system and implement it quickly in PHP. So get rid of your misconceptions and your skeptism. but times and technology have changed. Make a massively multiplayer online (MMO) game in 3 days? It sounds crazy. These people would probably never buy a game. but at the core of every game is a system. This book is the culmination of suggestions and advice given by folks in the Chroma Coders to other developers who have made MMOs on Facebook. 7 . This is where your game team comes in … you can make a simple MMO in only 3 days using PHP.
and barely being able to pay the bills. You need to get a game out as quickly as possible and then constantly improve the MMO service you are offering to players.chromacoders. The online MMO space on social networks changes weekly. and make enough money to pay the bills . To keep up with these changes.. This is your chance. We are in a sea of change. have a solid player base. and get some free code to use as a basis for your MMO. Check out the monetization section of this book to read interviews from companies attesting to this fact. and buy a Ferrari. This is your chance as a small group of developers to become a part of this new revolution in gaming. check out the blog for ideas on ways to improve your game. Just as MMO games are a service. you now have that opportunity. long development cycles. and there are new paradigms for developing games. Visit the site. you will be able to potentially make the game of your dreams. Embrace these new paradigms quickly. and monetizing games. this book is also a service.org). where you can post questions on the developer forum. Unlike traditional games that are developed and then released. and expect to make a living from your passion.The key word here is iteration.. MMOs are a service. We’ve developed tools and code so that your small team can get something up and running in under 72 hours. we'll release free updates to this book at our site (www. In return for embracing this new paradigm. If you’re hungry. have a desire to make a game. Our goal is to help you accomplish your dreams. releasing games. and you'll be successful in your endeavors. Don’t waste any more time … let’s get started! 8 . Forget about publishers. There are small teams of developers who are making millions of dollars every month from simple PHP MMOs.
But simple games done in PHP or Flash that can be easily and quickly played in a browser are accessible to a larger audience. we are talking about building a system — a system where players constitute a majority of the inputs in the system. We’re going to leverage the connectivity of the Web to make this MMO. When we talk about building an MMO. With that said. it makes sense that the developers should make the games as accessible to as many players as possible. The developers mainly provide the context in which the players interact with one another. we are in an era when small teams can create a simple MMO in 3 days and have more users than studios that have invested years working on traditional large-clients-to-download MMOs. it becomes more compelling (and addicting) for new players. where a player has to download a huge client and developers have to invest heavily in the development of the game. So we’re going to skip using C++ and other traditional technologies to get things done. they usually envision traditional MMOs. Today. 9 . other players are the most compelling draw of the game. As your game grows its player base. In these MMOs. Because other players are vitally important to these games. You have to keep in mind that all games are systems. as Raph Koster has said. We are not talking about extensive graphics and audio and other visual candy and fluff that help to make the experience more immersive.Section 1 Getting the MMORPG Up and Running When people think of an MMO. Our goal here is to build a game system as quickly as possible. games that require 10-hour download times to get started turn off the vast majority of potential players.
Some games that have used this design are making hundreds of thousands every month.com/mobwars/).com/schoolofmagic/). The goal of the walkthrough is to familiarize you with the elements of a very popular game design that works well on Facebook. I know the previous line may trigger a reaction among developers … “I don’t know PHP” (or some other technology).facebook. so that you don’t have to think about the login system and other basic underlying infrastructures for an MMO. To make the most of this book. and other aspects of the LAMP stack. you are required to know PHP. we’re going to build an MMO in PHP using the basic LAMP stack (Linux. C++. Apache. We’ll focus on getting the MMO up and running. or some other language. it is easy to pick up these languages and items. and then we’ll discuss the theory and other items to make the MMO more fun over time. Of course. By the way. This book is organized in an iterative manner.apachefriends. The game we will walk through is called “School of Magic” (http://apps. The interfaces are fairly simple. and PHP). MySql. If you know Java. the games that make a lot of money also have a lot of users.html To speed things up. The examples in this book will refer to MMOs on Facebook. MySQL. We will create a text-based MMORPG on Facebook using the successful game design template that other games on Facebook have also used.org/en/xampp-windows.facebook.Specifically. It is a PHP questing game that is done in the same format as “Mob Wars” on Facebook (http://apps. you can download XAMPP at http://www. if you’re running Windows and need to get access to the “LAMP” stack for development. 10 . we’re going to build the MMO as a Facebook app. Text-Based MMORPG Walkthrough We will now do a walkthrough of a successful text-based MMORPG on Facebook.
people will play even if the graphics aren’t that great. We mentioned that these game designs have 5 core components.The basic gist of the game is to “level up” by doing quests. Points Design Let’s break down the point components on the main page. a game is about the system…a game is not about the graphics. The social element comes in when you have to recruit friends to complete certain quests in the game. it will be even more irresistible to play. if someone offers a compelling game with compelling graphics. As mentioned in the Introduction. and it has thousands of players every day. But a bad game with compelling graphics is much harder to pull off without investing millions in marketing. Of course. Main Page of “School of Magic” “School of Magic” is a simple text-based game. If you have a compelling system. 11 .
etc. Mana (a form of feedback to know how much energy the players have to complete quests in the game. Health (lets players know how well they did in battles. Specifically. but a ranking or points system will help players feel as if they are making progress in the game. You see that points are an important part of any of these games. different quests require different amounts of energy) 4. Players need to know where they stand in the game. Gold (how much money players have to buy items in the shop) 2. Experience (a way to show players their progress within the current level) 12 .) 3. In this case. the main “points” in the game help to convey the sense of feedback and/or leveling in the game. they have the following values: 1. Stamina (a form of feedback that lets players know how much energy is required to do certain things in the game) 5. You don’t have to use numerical points in your game design.Notice the values underlined in red in the picture.
and then hit the “Do Quest” button. The points also help players feel more immersed and involved in the game. Specifically. 13 . Let’s look at the rest of the items on the main page. they go to the quest page. Try to be creative and give the points a unique name in your game. Level (a way to show the players’ leveling progress) When you design your game. choose a quest. We’ll cover each section now.6. be sure to create point systems to keep players informed of their progress in their game. The “Quests” Link This link will take players to the place where they perform quests to level up in the game. These points are a strong form of feedback. Each link/tab on the main page leads to a different part of the game.
Quest Page Once they do a job, the page reloads and lets them know how many coins and experience points they have earned.
Some quests require certain inventory items in order to be completed. To perform these quests, you need to go to the shop to buy the relevant inventory items. Another interesting mechanic here is the concept of “locking” — basically, this means that only a certain number of quests exist at each level. More become available as you reach another level in the game. This is an incentive for players to keep questing so they can see what’s next. People have a natural curiosity, and they want to know what’s going to happen next (that is, if you’ve made the game fun enough for people to care about it). Locking items such as inventory and quests until players reach a certain level helps to keep players involved and engaged in the game. Also, note that as you do certain quests, you lose mana (energy). Once you are out of mana, you have to wait a certain amount of time to recharge (see the top right corner of the image to see how many seconds are required to 15
recharge). Of course, a player can buy in-game points from the “Wizard” page to recharge more quickly. That requires a cash payment. Note how this game design has tight integration with the business/revenue component. It is important to keep this in mind — it is one of the reasons why these simple games produce a fair amount of revenue. The game is compelling enough and the revenue design is integrated well enough so that players are willing to pay to advance in the game more quickly.
These are items/animals that you can buy to earn “recurring income” in the game. When a player buys one of these items, they receive a certain amount of income each hour from it. It’s a way to make players feel they are progressing in the game without having to be there. 16
Treasury This is a bank for players. It is a place for them to store their gold. players have to pay a 10% fee to store their money in the bank. 17 . as 10% of the money in the bank gets reclaimed by the game. Of course. Players now have one more strong incentive to level up in the game. note how the player unlocks more of these items/pets when they get to level 10. All the money in the Treasury is safe. Also. This is a great way to help control inflation.Many people enjoy their pets. so if they ever get attacked in the game. and this is another way to keep them engaged. they only lose the cash they are holding in the game.
It is one of the reasons why these games can generate decent revenue for the developers. note how the business model of these games is tied into the game design itself. Once again.Grand Wizard This is the “Game Master” in the game and is automated. and other things more quickly without having to spend time waiting in the game. This is also the page where developers make money. 18 . energy. coins. This is the place players can go to get more points. The “Monetization” section of this book covers the business model in more detail.
or you can go to the Grand Wizard to buy more stamina. After you are out of stamina. note how game design and business model are tightly integrated. you have to wait to battle again.Battle This is the place where players can challenge other players in the game and earn gold. This is another very powerful component of these simple MMO games. Once again. Battling another person in the game is a very powerful form of social exchange. You are battling real people in the game to earn more coins. It is a form of exchange in the game. you use up stamina. Also note that as you battle. Exchanges are important. 19 . It is powerful because it has a social element to it.
and other energy levels that get decreased as the player makes moves in the game help to ensure that the server does not get overwhelmed by players who try to constantly click on the “battle” or “do quest” button. Mana.Another thing to note is that the stamina also helps to prevent the player from battling too much in the game. stamina. 20 .
21 .Shoppe This is where players can buy inventory to do quests. Once again. note that more items get unlocked after a new level is reached. Also. It helps to make the player feel that the quests are real. this is a great way to keep inflation in the game economy under control. the more money goes back to the game. as the more items a player buys.
If the game then has a quest that requires 3 members in the house. the player is more likely to make sure they have enough members in his or her house. 22 . Smart game developers will design quests in the later stages of the game that require a certain number of members in the player’s house.My House This is another social element of the game. That means they are into the game a decent amount. It is the place where you can invite friends to join your house in the game. For example. let’s say a player gets to level 10 in the game.
It helps the player know where they stand in the game. Comments are another form of exchange between players. There is also a comment board at the bottom so friends and others can send you comments in the game.Wizard This is the section that lets players find out about their character in the game. 23 . Some players will keep playing a game mainly because other friends they’ve made in the game leave comments on their board every day.
achiever types to improve their standings in the game.Legends This is a place to have leaderboards in the game. It would be another incentive for players to continue playing in the game. 24 . It is a great way to inspire players who are competitive. Strongest). As you can see in the illustration above. Another thing that could have been added to make things more compelling is to have a leaderboard that ranks the current player as compared to his or her friends in the game. This social mechanic is used in other games and would improve the interactivity and competitiveness of this game. there are leaderboards for several different categories (Deadliest.
clear. and concise.Help Section This is the place to give instructions about the basics of the game. Keep it simple. 25 .
which is a great way to build community. Focus on keeping your forums a friendly environment for players and onlookers alike. Once again. Also. Viral Channels It is also important to note that this game has “viral channels. the comments and posts between players on the forum are a powerful form of exchange. which can scare away new players.” which are ways to use Facebook to get more players into the game.Forum This is the area where players can interact with others in the game. Specifically. 26 . the game uses invites to get players to add their friends to the “House” in the game. Forums are also a great place for players to help each other in the game. keep in mind that your team should moderate the forums so that flame wars don’t set a negative tone for the board. Be sure to include a forum for the players to keep you informed of improvements and changes they would like to see in the game.
We have now covered the basic design elements of the game. Before we begin. your team needs to find a nontraditional audience. feed them. We need to choose a game idea and get it up as soon as possible. etc. We need to stay away from the traditional fantasy RPGs and find a game that is unique and casual. keep in mind that some of the top casual MMORPGs (with millions of players every month) are: 1) 2) 3) 4) “Mob Wars” “Fish Wrangler!” (a fishing MMO) “Pet Society” (a pet game) Trivia games like “Geo Challenge” and “Who Has the Biggest Brain” Game Ideas Here is a list of some ideas for new games: 1) Friend Farm (a game where you buy friends for your farm and you must take care of them — milk them.Also. “School of Magic” uses a game design template that seems to be adopted by a lot of these social MMO games. the game uses notifications to inform players when other players in the game have attacked them. etc. and see how you can improve the design to make something unique and interesting to players. Let’s come up with a list of 20 game ideas we can use as the theme for our game. let’s get started. It is a great way to remind players to come back in the game. To succeed.) 2) A game where you have your friends as fish (Friend Aquarium) and you need to feed them. Text-Based MMORPG Design Now that we’ve discussed the basics of the game design we’re going to use. Borrow what you like. 27 .
you can create more compelling t-shirts. and you buy and sell friends for the shop 15) An MMORPG where you auction off friends.3) A game where you have a Zoo of friends and have to buy/sell them with other folks in the game … we can call it “Friend-imals” 4) Bar Fight (a game where you have a bar fight with others. you save the environment) 7) T-Shirt Shop Tycoon (a game where you run a t-shirt store and create t-shirts to sell them in the game.com but on Facebook 9) A game where you throw a party 10) A tournament for a simple game like 4-square 11) A restaurant MMORPG where you build up your restaurant to serve more folks (Restaurant Tycoon) 12) A MMORPG where you run lemonade stands (Lemonade Tycoon) 13) A hunting game 14) A game where you run a dessert shop. As you level up. etc. leverage the ebay auction mechanic 16) An island game where you have to build your island and compete against others 17) A game where you build an art gallery 28 . and every time you steal a car in the game.) 8) A game that applies strategy to the campus environment … something like gocrosscampus. and you need to level up to get more power and weapons to challenge others) 5) Snowball Fight (a simple snowball fight MMO) 6) A game where you steal cars to save the environment (you are a green vigilante.
Then choose the ones that feel the most compelling or interesting to you. Now that we’ve found an appropriate game. We will make design mockups to give you an idea of how the final game will look. In fact. The goal of this game is to allow players to role-play being a movie star. don’t worry about how pretty or appealing it looks. Get the game out there and then iterate on the user interface (UI) as needed. so we’ll base our game on that idea. We will take the template of the game mentioned above and theme it for movies. Remember. You are encouraged to spec out the design of your team’s game much like we do here. the goal is to get the momentum going and to get a game up as quickly as possible. Players will start as an actor wannabe and go on quests until they reach level 50 — Movie Star. let’s focus on the design. The goal is to turn the idea into an RPG similar to the MMORPG template that works well on Facebook. The “Movie Star” game sounds intriguing and is also casual enough to appeal to the nonhardcore gamer. For now. you can find someone on the Internet to do a UI redesign for as little as $100 — that is what we did with this game. Let’s walk through the design of the game: 29 .18) A game where you run a Tattoo shop and you create tattoos to sell to other folks 19) A game where all life experiences become a mission in the game 20) A game where you become a movie star Feel free to make your own list or to borrow an idea from the 20 suggestions listed above.
we will keep the point system simple: 1) Gold (how much money players have that they can use to buy items needed to do jobs) 2) Stamina (a form of feedback to know how much energy the players have to complete quests in the game.Main Page Design In this game. a way to show players their progress within the current level) 4) Level (a way to show the players’ leveling progress) Let’s look at the rest of the items on the main page… 30 . different quests require different amounts of energy) 3) Star Power (experience points in the game.
We’ll cover each section now. The “Jobs” Link This link will take players to the place where they perform jobs to level up and move toward becoming level 50 (a movie star). 31 .Each link/tab on the main page leads to a different part of the game.
the page reloads and lets them know how many coins and star points (experience points) they have earned.Once they do a job. 32 .
” As shown in the preceding illustration. our theme is becoming a movie star. This aspect of the game will keep people curious about “What’s next” in the game. More jobs become available as they reach another level in the game.” we have set up “Movie Star” so that once a player completes a job. We will also use the concept of “locking. there are only a certain number of jobs available at the player’s current level.” It is also important that. We need to add content that is related to our game’s theme. In this case. Just as in “School of Magic. you consider more than just the layout. Of course. 33 . players will also be able to refill stamina points by buying favors/items from the “Studio Boss. Stamina will recover fully every 10 minutes. he or she loses stamina.Some quests require certain inventory items in order to complete them. in designing the “Jobs” page. To do them. you need to go to the shop to buy the relevant inventory items.
you can expand and add the remaining levels. be sure to add a sense of humor or intrigue to the jobs players have to do in the game. By putting your game’s content into the right tables in the document. At first. it is recommended that you create jobs. As you create content for your game. Also. use the “Fun MMORPG Generator” document that goes along with this book. Once you create the content for these first 10 levels. Here is an example of content for the game: Jobs List: Here is the list of level names for the first 5 levels in the game: Movie Ranking Level 1 2 3 4 5 34 Movie Name Starter Coffee Getter Assistant to the Camera Assistant Camera Assistant Boom Mic Operator . items. you’ll be able to auto-generate the final MMO game quickly and easily.We spent hours coming up with a series of jobs that players would perform before they finally reach level 50 and attain “Movie Star” status. and level names for only the first 10 levels of the game. as your team creates content for your game.
Treasury We have decided to avoid having a treasury in the game. but in a different way).” For the “Movie Star” game.Here is the list of some of the store items in the game: Store Item Name Price Array Name (should not have any spaces in the name – this is how it will be referenced in the database) Massageoil Level Lock (The level when the player is finally able to buy the item) Massageoil.jpg 0 Image Name Massage Oil 0 Please take the time to add basic content as you do the mockup for the game. we will allow the player to have “Indie Gigs” they can do and then earn “royalties” every hour from the projects they do. This is similar to the “Familiars” in “School of Magic. we will have a system where players can visit the “Wishing Well” and toss in some money for good luck in the game. a treasury is meant to help control inflation in the in-game economy (and we will achieve this. Of course. Instead of a bank. Indie Gigs These will be simple jobs that players can use to earn recurring income in the game. It will help give your team a sense of how the game will feel and play out. 35 . These royalties will last for 2 days.
36 .The result is the same — the money will be removed from the economy.
” Players can visit the “Studio Boss” and spend real money and get in-game points. stamina.” we will have a “Studio Boss” who serves as the “Game Master. and coins.Studio Boss Much like the “Grand Wizard” in “School of Magic. 37 .
” we’re going to use the same concept and focus on cooperative interactions instead of combative ones. 38 . Specifically. As a player parties. Having this section helps to provide a powerful social element in the game.” but it’s a cooperative venture rather than a combative one. he or she will lose stamina in the game. Instead of a “Battle Theme. If players run out of stamina. they will have to wait and recharge. we will allow people to “party” with someone else in the game.Battles/Parties This is the place where players can challenge other players in the game and earn gold. This will help to ensure that players don’t over-party and earn too many coins too quickly. they will earn coins as they would in a “battle. When they do. because you get to “Party” with other players in the game.
we need to price the items reasonably so that we take money out of the game. Also.Shop This is the place where players can buy the inventory needed to perform the jobs. which helps to keep in-game inflation under control. 39 . We will list items associated with each level and let players know that they will be able to unlock more items as they reach higher levels in the game.
Entourage This is the other social element in the game. 40 . We will have players build their “Entourage” in the game (much like the “My House” feature in “School of Magic”). As the game progresses. certain jobs in the game will require the player to have a certain number of members in his or her entourage.
Walk of Fame Walk of Fame will be the place for the leaderboards in the game. 41 . and people with the highest star points. It will list the richest players. best partiers.
42 .Help We will also have a “Help” section where players can read specifics on how the game works.
we have a few viral channels we’re going to put into the game. We may also modify the “Party” section so that it lists some of the player’s friends there. to recruit other people for their Entourage.Forum Of course. we can modify it to resemble the MMORPG we’re going to make. we will send a notification to the friend that someone partied with them and they should play the game. but it must also be “viral” so that more people play it and. 43 . Right now. Once we have something up and going. we may give the player more coins. Viral Channels Viral channels are important. let’s get a simple game up on Facebook. It will be a place for players to ask questions. If the player chooses a friend who hasn’t joined the game yet. Also. we will use Facebook’s forum feature to allow for a forum in our game. and to feel as if they are part of a community. Not only must the game be fun. bring in even more players. We also have the “Party” section where players can party with other people in the game. We have the “Entourage” section that motivates players to invite friends. in turn. Now that we have the basic design.
facebook. part I Next step: Choose a name for your game and agree to the Terms of Service. 44 . You can register here: http://www. let’s get a Facebook developer account set up so we can get the MMORPG up quickly.com/developers/ Now you need to set up an application (which will be our “Movie Star” game). First you need to have an account on Facebook. you need to add the “Developer” application.facebook. Here’s a walk through of how to set up an application: Setting up a game application on Facebook.Getting a Basic Game up on Facebook… Since we’re going to develop the MMORPG on Facebook. you can do that here: http://www.com Once you have an account.
where you’ll fill out the basic information for the game.Now you need to go to the “Canvas” section. 45 .
you need to fill out the URL of your application to complete the address that folks will visit to see your game. You also need to specify the server that will house all of the “back end” files for the application. Basically.com/developers/facebook/ This is meant to be for basic hosting. GO TO THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE AND HIT THE BUTTON THAT SAYS “SAVE CHANGES. If you don’t have shared hosting or your own server. or you can take advantage of a special program at Joyent offered to Facebook developers. You can get 1 year of free web hosting here: http://www. 46 .joyent. Once you enter in the data. If you have shared hosting. If your game grows. you’ll be informed that things will be updated in a few minutes. you can set up a directory there to take care of things.Once on the Canvas page. you can always join Chroma Coders and get some free hosting. you’ll need a more reliable hosting service. Good job! Put in server info for your game. Facebook redirects all references to your canvas URL by users to your callback URL.” As long as you have chosen a unique canvas name and appropriate URL.
There are other things you can do in the settings, but, for now, we’ll skip those. We want to get the game out as quickly as possible. The next step is to download the PHP/Facebook client code from the Facebook Development Wiki: http://wiki.developers.facebook.com/index.php/API Get used to the wiki, as it has a lot of important information you’ll need to make your game useful and fun on Facebook. You also need to download the PHP/Facebook client code here: http://wiki.developers.facebook.com/index.php/Client_Libraries Here is a direct link to the PHP library: http://svn.facebook.com/svnroot/platform/clients/packages/facebookplatform.tar.gz Once you download the library, open up the .gz file… Go to facebook-platform -> php directory and grab all the files… Copy them to the callback URL you specified in the “Canvas” section… In the example above, we would upload it to the following address: http://www.chromacoders.org/myfunmmo/ Now, you need to take these 2 files… appinclude.php and index.php and specify a couple of things so that your app will run. To put them in this blog to download, they were saved as appinclude.txt (http://www.chromacoders.org/appinclude.txt) and as index.txt (http://www.chromacoders.org/index.txt). When you download them, RENAME them to appinclude.php and index.php and then upload them to your callback URL directory… Before uploading them to the directory, make sure you open up the appinclude file and put in the right API key and secret key for the following 47
lines — remember, you can find these by going to your application settings in Facebook: $appapikey = ‘4d812e4185a2fb1f69d7161c01c5c6ef’; $appsecret = ‘69de77eb48ca5a0145821cee118d5785′; Click here to find the API key and API secret value again: (http://www.facebook.com/developers/#/developers/apps.php) Make sure the callback URL is the one you specified in the app settings … change the line below to the appropriate address for your app: $appcallbackurl = ‘http://www.chromacoders.org/myfunmmo/’; Upload the files (appinclude.php and index.php to the callback URL directory). Now you can go to your app URL and check out the basic MMORPG. Go to your app address…in this case it is: http://apps.facebook.com/myfunmmo/ You’ll see a page like this:
Here is the screen asking you to add the game... 48
Click on the “Allow” … It’ll take you to your main app page…that should look like this.
That is the start of your MMORPG. Now that you know how to get a basic application up on Facebook, we can focus on getting a more engaging game up. To assist you in getting your game out, we have provided code with this book to help you auto-generate the basics of an MMORPG. You need to fill in the MS Word document with the relevant content for your game and then hit the “Generate Fun MMO” button. Once you click that button, an “Output” folder will be created with the relevant code you need. Copy all of that code into the server directory. It will also create some SQL code. Use PHPMyAdmin or the console to run the SQL and create the relevant database and tables. Of course, you may want to change the images and style of the game that gets generated. You can update the image files to achieve that purpose. 49
Once you do that, copy all the PHP files into the app directory on your server. Keep in mind that while this document helps your team make a basic MMO, success will come from the coding and content tweaks your team makes to keep the game engaging for the players. For example, writing code that sends out a notification TO ALL PLAYERS mentioning the new content you’ve added to the game is a great idea to keep players coming back. There are a lot of interesting ways to modify the game to make it more fun for the players. Many of these techniques are discussed in the next section of the book.
Facebook Code Walkthrough
We’ll now do a walkthrough of some Facebook-specific code so that you have a better understanding of what’s going on. The magic of these social networks is that they have people’s data. Facebook has some very nice APIs and Markup languages to access that data. You’ll notice that the games above use profile pictures of people on Facebook. To do this is very simple and requires using “FBML” (Facebook Markup Language). You can find more about FBML here: http://wiki.developers.facebook.com/index.php/FBML FBML is code that sits on top of HTML, and Facebook then parses and replaces the social data with the FBML references. Borrowed from the Facebook wiki, here is a visual representation of the basic application architecture:
here is the code to display a person’s profile picture in FBML: $user = $_POST['fb_sig_user’]. such as a person’s profile picture.For example. One of those pieces of information involves their “Facebook user id. <fb:profile-pic uid=<?=$user?> /> Note how we close the tag with a "/>" Every page in your app gets a bunch of information about the user. The data sent is via $_POST variables. Among them is the post variable 'fb_sig_user' that gives you the player’s user id. 51 . etc.” This id is a BIGINT and can be passed into many FBML tags to display user data. name.
com/index. You can find more about other parameters here: http://wiki. we also need to ensure that the game IS FUN. It isn’t enough to borrow the interface of other successful text-based RPGs on Facebook. it doesn’t affect you because calling the FBML tags with the user id will render the most current picture. the user id is represented as a BIGINT in the database’s user table.facebook. uid is the id of the facebook user’s profile picture you want to display. The one required parameter is uid. The <fb:profile-pic /> tag takes many different parameters. This user id representation also helps to protect the user’s privacy.developers. The table stores the Facebook user ids of the players in the game.php/Your_callback_page_and_ you Once you get that. This numerical representation of the player helps to keep things abstract enough so that if users change their profile picture or other parts of their social data. you can pass it into the <fb:profile-pic /> tag. Pre-release Testing Aside from these specifics of making an MMORPG on a social network. There are many of these text-based RPGs on Facebook with varying levels of success. As mentioned before.You can find out more about the post variables sent to your app here: http://wiki.facebook.developers. Because of Facebook’s growth.php/Fb:profile-pic Another nuance is in the database structure.com/index. Note how the user table doesn’t store the name of the players. the Facebook APIs and FBML revolve around queries related to the person’s Facebook id. Part of the reason why some of these games are 52 .
” Make sure that players are awarded the right amount of points for reaching different levels and for doing 53 . The experience points for each job will be based on the level associated with the job. Specifically. The reward structure needs to be designed in a way that is fun and challenging. game balance means that the game gives the right amount of points at the right frequency rate in the right manner. your team needs to play the game repeatedly to make sure it feels “fun. this is where metrics come into play. This is one of the main reasons it is important for your team to play the game — so that you can identify any balance issues in the game and then adjust accordingly. In the case of the movie game. You need to keep track of all the jobs that people are taking in the game. Is a parabolic function fun enough for the player? That is where extreme testing comes into place. Once you upload the basic game.100 times more successful than others that look very similar is due to one simple fact: the game balance is done very well. Additionally. we have structured the experience points in the game to be a parabolic function. Make sure that the jobs at the same level are evenly chosen and provide a similar cost/reward structure.
Once you have made the game balanced and fun. Of course. you have a working MMORPG. Congratulations :) But How Do I Learn About Making an MMORPG? The goal of this book is to help you get an MMORPG up as quickly as possible. 54 . In the case of these MMORPGs. Keep in mind that under the new paradigm. so that they feel they are making progress in the game. check out the next section for specific design ideas to improve and enhance your MMORPG. while at the same time being challenged. Now that your team has a basic MMORPG out. If we only wanted you to read about making an MMORPG. this feedback can only happen if your team actually has an MMORPG out. we have some parameters in the FUN MMORPG Maker document that you can tweak to give players the right amount of points for each job. we would have included more theory in the first section.quests. your players will help you design your MMORPG by giving you feedback on the game.
Playfish mentioned that “Who Has the Biggest Brain” was updated over 100 times after release to make it successful.Section 2 Maintaining the MMORPG Now that you have a basic game in place. For example. Weekly Updates It is vitally important to keep updating the content in the game every week. you may want to release more levels in the game. When the game was first released. and it also helps to keep things interesting. Another week may add a series of new items or limited-edition items in the game. Many players 55 . When you do updates. This will keep users coming back. one week you could hold a tournament. you should send notifications/e-mails to current registered players letting them know about the new updates. it was not an immediate success. The game is a service. Are you willing to update and improve features every minute? Some developers updated their game 50 times in one hour to address the feedback and suggestions of some of the early players of their game. Another week. It is another way to show your commitment to your players. It is one of the most successful games on Facebook. Here are some themes to keep in mind now that you have a game released: Iteration You must be willing to constantly iterate on the game. and you must keep updating and improving it. let’s talk about some of the subtle things to keep in mind as you improve the game … and let’s also talk about enhancing the game. It took a few months of improvements before it finally reached the top 100 games on Facebook. and it will also help to make the game more fun so that more folks want to join. which is partially due to constant iterative improvement on the game.
Check out this paper to see the effects of inflation in other MMORPGs: http://www. Patch them 56 . as they will impact the fun of the game.htm One game designer wisely suggested that the game should have a “wishing well” that players can throw money into and make a wish.flyingscythemonkey.com/Money_Supply_White_Paper. Another thing we did was to have a way for players to donate money to the new feature. This can happen when there is no proper balancing of the sinks and sources of points/currency in the game. It is a good way to help remove money from the economy in a way that is positive to the players in the game. You need to make sure you catch these issues quickly. If they donated a certain amount. If honest players see that cheaters always win. If there is a massive change. Why is balancing the economy so important? The answer is because it has an impact on the fun of the game. Cheating If you have a successful game. there may be something going on. If there is massive inflation in the game. It happens in almost every game. you need to make sure it doesn’t get inflated. this has happened to other games — but if you take the proper steps. so sending them a message about new and fun content is a good way to remind them of the game while respecting their time. Yes. they would get recognition as funding a new feature in the game. you can make sure the economy is a strong way to keep the fun in the game. they will leave the game. So you need to keep track of changes in the game. They will try to find ways to exploit the game and ways to gain more points. This was another positive way to help remove money from the economy and keep inflation in check. Look into it. Keep track of the top players in the game by points every 4-5 hours.may forget about your MMORPG if not reminded. players will stop liking the game and leave. You’ll also hear about exploits that allow folks to get a lot of money or points quickly. Balancing the Economy If you have a virtual currency in the game. people will try to cheat the system.
It is possible to make a lot of money from these games provided you make something that is compelling. in general. When a game is balanced. look into options such as allowing players to buy virtual currency in the game. Some MMORPG developers hire people specifically to think about balancing items and quests so that nothing is out of control. Balance is crucial. your focus should be on serving and responding to your players. and addictive to players. Game Balance It is important that your game is properly balanced. You can also use banner ads from sites such as Social Media and Cubics or affiliate offers from sites such as My Offerpal and Super Rewards. players will notice and may even stop playing. your chances of growing may be limited. Of course. Yes. and other RPG elements. When it is out of balance. making sure the MMORPG runs somewhat smoothly. Get your game up to 5. fun. When you are ready to monetize. it is fun. and then look into monetization. At first. battles. which is a fine and commendable goal. you could be the exception to this rule. When you have a new game. you should first serve your players for a while. it is easy for these components to get “out of whack. But. and new players get a sense that you are trying to milk them for money. Monetization techniques are covered in the next section of this book.000 or 10. missions. As of this writing. Making Money from the Game Your ultimate goal may be to make money from the game.000 daily users before thinking about monetization.quickly and then either ban the folks who used the exploit or remove the points they got unfairly. some folks even set up spreadsheets in Excel to run simulations to make sure their game is balanced. however.” Make sure you properly balance the game. Because you have points. And you should test 57 . some of the folks at Super Rewards mentioned giving million dollar payouts to single developers.
They then test and apply changes to the practice version before moving them to the live app. You have to respond to a lot of things at once. They need to know that you’ll be there and are committed to making the game work. there will be social issues that arise — and these problems will probably be more draining than most of the technical issues that you encounter in the game. especially if you are developing alone without a partner … even if the community is helping out. Because MMORPGs revolve around people.new items before releasing them. it is important that you regularly respond to the members of your community. or get a volunteer admin to help respond to issues and questions. I’ve found that taking a few days off after 3-6 weeks of development helps to keep me focused on improving the game. Another option used by some developers is to set up a test version of the game as a separate app. Taking a Break Developing an MMORPG can become intense at times. Taking a break is a good way to recharge (but make sure you inform the players that you’ll be gone for a bit). 58 . and not all of these issues will be technical. make sure you let them know you’ll be unavailable for a while. Make sure you keep building on that trust by consistently being responsive to them and by being open to their feedback and suggestions. Doing this will earn you their trust. because a new item may upset the game balance. If you need to take a break from responding to the community. Stepping away from the game also gives me clarity and insights into new ideas that can be applied to the MMORPG. Working with the Community Right from the beginning. You run the risk of burning out and losing the motivation to keep updating the game if you don’t take a little time off. Constant development without a break can get frustrating.
Be crystal clear about how you expect your players to behave. and comments toward others are setting a bad tone in the game. Another important way to learn is to keep metrics on everything in the game. and then analyze the reports. There may be a person who creates issues with other players in the game. you can start doing split A/B testing. a place for fun and relaxation. We focused on making my game a positive experience. You need to keep experimenting so that you can tweak the game to make it a better and more compelling experience. Split A/B testing is important because minor changes in certain areas may have a huge impact on the success potential of the game. behaviors. We’ve found that to be effective. With metrics. Metrics Studying other MMORPGs is one way to learn about the games. and if they continue with their unacceptable behavior. and then you must make sure you reinforce that culture with your attitudes and behaviors in the game. Make sure you are clear about the social tone of the app. you’ll get an idea of how long people spend in the game and what people are doing in the game. then you can do a permanent ban. These people exist. For example. be sure to block them from the app. You can ban them temporarily at first. You’ll then be able to modify and iterate based on this data. and if their attitudes.Clear Expectations Every MMORPG will have a culture based on the developer and the players. Proper analysis and use of this data are what can 59 . You need to have an idea of the culture you want. and then block/ban people who violate those rules. which may ruin the experience for others. you need to know: • • • • How many invites were sent today? How many people leveled up in the game? How many players played the game today? How many new players from yesterday returned today? Once you have this data.
Let’s say that 20% of the players who join the game decide to stay. To make that 15-minute play experience compelling. make sure your design team finds ways to make it feel very social and productive. so make sure you put a metrics system in place early on in the game-release process. You need to work on building this system and its components so that the game will run as much on its own or on a methodical fashion as possible. the game needs to create a compelling 15-minute daily play experience for the casual player. 60 . The player should be able to achieve something and interact with several people in the course of 15 minutes. To reach the broadest audience. For example. To help lighten the load. you’ll need help addressing all of the questions and customer service needs of others. You can give people who volunteer a special badge in the game. you may want to ask some of the people in your community to be volunteer admins. you are developing a “system” … and this system has users who provide inputs into the system. so that they have clear instructions of how you expect them to treat people asking for help. etc. Player Volunteers As your game grows. You have this statistic because you kept metrics (mentioned previously). Designing for Mass Market While most social games have a few dedicated fans that play for hours at a time. it is important to keep in mind that the broadest audience will casually play the game. which in turn produce outputs such as results. Games as Systems At the heart of it all. part of your game system is (hopefully) getting new players into the game quickly.separate you from the rest of the game developers. Most folks will be willing to do it for free. Make sure you write up a tutorial for volunteers who help out with the game. The volunteers will help things run smoothly.
players take care of a little “garden” — and the more they play the game. It has millions of players each month and is one of the top 25 games on Facebook (as of this writing). they accumulate points and money for a social cause. and the more they tend their garden. Systems-level thinking is critical for making the game successful. Social/Game Mechanics to Improve Your Game We have covered the design of a standard PHP-based RPG on a social network. but that is only a start. and it will have a positive effect on the whole system. so be sure to keep in mind that you are really building a system here. 61 . and the actual game is only one part of it. New mechanics will also help your team differentiate itself from other games on social networks. you may want to add new mechanics so your players have more fun. so that 40% of the players who join the game decide to stay. You have modified this part of the system.facebook. then the more square feet of land is saved.com/greentrees/home. Here is a list of interesting and unique social and game mechanics found in some games on social networks: Social Cause Mechanic This is a mechanic in which people play the game to help a social cause. As your small team develops the game over time. In this game. the more they send plants to friends. (Lil) Green Patch (http://apps.Now you tweak a few things and add a tutorial. As the players engage in the game.php) uses this mechanic very successfully. This is why you need to measure all parts of the game — so you can figure out ways to optimize various subsystems of the game to keep it running smoothly. such as saving wildlife or the rainforest.
This aspect of the game helps to bring in another audience group.” it is worth playing. A game may have a section that allows you to send gifts to your friends. These gifts are expensive items that would normally be hard to get in the game world. Here is a sample of their gift page. Gifting Mechanic This is a powerful mechanic and a subset of “exchanges. it becomes socially acceptable to send someone a gift. It is not considered “spam.” but since this game helps to impact the “real world. Because of this.” but a nice gesture. Successful games like “myFarm” use this mechanic to help increase their audience. Showing each player the exact amount of land they have saved gives them a personal sense of contribution that keeps them coming back. which is very simple and effective: 62 . They are inspired to visit the game so they can do more good. exchanges are very important.Note how this is more compelling than just the game making a standard monthly donation on behalf of everyone in the game. They have over a million players each month. So gifting then becomes a way for players to get items they would normally not be able to get in the game. Some people would never play games because they consider them to be “a waste of time. Gifting is a powerful exchange that your small development team can use to bring more new players into the game.” As mentioned before.
they are actually saving part of a real rainforest. You 63 . Your game may not be on their profile and may not be easy to find in their list of apps. They see the number of square feet saved by them personally grow as they use this mechanic. out of mind. there are some games such as “(Lil) Green Patch” (http://apps. it may be harder for people to find your game. Here is the message a player sees on the “(Lil) Green Patch” page: “Select a plant for your friends to grow in their Green Patch. Notification of New Features Mechanic Out of site.facebook.php) in which a player saves more habitat as they send out gifts. For every 10 friends receiving a plant you save 1 square foot of rain forest from deforestation!” This is a very powerful incentive for people who want to do their “daily dose of goodness” for the world.Additionally.com/greentrees/home. As social networks change the way apps access players. By sending gifts in the game.
64 . Send players a notification that they have won something that day. It is the same reason why folks play the lotto. Make a plan to release new content or features on at least a weekly basis. and send out a notification about it to everyone who has installed your app. It is a great way to bring players back and also to develop more cpositive feelings for your game. Players like to feel as if they have won something. and then provide a link so they can claim their prize.can send notifications to them announcing new features. Notification of Reward Mechanic This is another way to bring people back into the game. You can set up a reward schedule that selects 5-10% of your player base every 8 to 12 hours and send them a notification giving them a random reward. If you do this on a regular basis. it is a great way to bring people back to your game.
and so on. Lotto Mechanic This taps into the gambling mechanic. utilizes the power of social exchanges. The story published to the feed should be interesting. The random reward schedule can be very addictive. Another way to consistently get it published is to publish a message the first time players visit the app for the day. It is a good way to bring in new players. Help My Friend’s Space Mechanic This is a mechanic that. In this case. cleaned. because when people learn that their friend helped their patch. once again. you ask players to help their friend’s stats in the game. 65 . This promotes the social aspect of the game. they are inclined to reciprocate. compelling.Newsfeed Update Mechanic A way to gain more social distribution (a game gets more players by having players expose the game to their friends) is to announce some of the events your players have performed to their feeds so that it may get picked up by the newsfeed and shared with friends. This is one of the reasons people play slot machines. They visit the app and help their friend’s patch in the same way. and ideally funny. (Lil) Green Patch uses this mechanic by letting players know that a friend’s patch needs to be taken care of.
Friends for Sale (http://apps. which they can use to buy items and level up.htm) also uses this lotto mechanic. Note how the combination of the lotto mechanic and the collection mechanic is used to keep people addicted to the game. The Scratch and Win game (http://apps.facebook.com/scratchit/play. Buy/Sell Mechanic This is another very powerful mechanic. They constantly return because they want to level up in the game and find out about new prizes and collections. This mechanic has been used in many games on Facebook.Games like Pull Tabs (http://apps. They then enjoy investing that profit to buy more items and make even more profit … a very addictive cycle.facebook.facebook. The premise of the game is 66 .htm) give people the chance to play a lotto-like game and win rewards and virtual coins.com/friendsforsale/) is a very popular game that was once one of the top 5 games on Facebook.com/pulltabs/play. People like to buy and sell items in games to make a profit.
that you buy and sell friends. You purchase friends, and when someone else buys them from you, you make a profit. The game merged two very powerful themes to gain huge success. Specifically, they merged the buy/sell mechanic with friends (a cornerstone of social networks) to make a fun and addictive game.
Another game that is hugely successful in using this mechanic is “Be a Tycoon” (http://apps.facebook.com/beatycoon/). In this game, a player makes purchases; every 20 minutes, the game updates the prices of items. If players see that one of their items increased in price, they sell and make a profit. They invest that profit into buying bigger and better items and level up. 67
This is another form of exchange between players. Many text-based RPGs on Facebook have an option where you can challenge other players in the game to win points and money from them. This is a powerful way to make a game social and fun — social because people get to battle other real people and fun because as they perform battles, they win in-game rewards such as points and coins. Many games integrate the battle mechanic extremely well, including games like “School of Magic” (http://apps.facebook.com/schoolofmagic/) and “Mob Wars” (http://apps.facebook.com/mobwars/). The battle mechanic provides a great way for players to meet other players and fulfills the social needs of players.
Of course, it doesn’t necessarily have to be battling that gets people to interact with others in the game. You can take the same concept and use it in a cooperative way. For example, two players may be able to jello wrestle each other for in-game points and coins, or players may be able to hug or kiss each other for these same rewards.
This is another very powerful form of exchange among players. Players will revisit a game purely to see the comments that other friends/players in the game have posted on their comment board. The great thing about comments is that once a developer makes a comment board in the game, they don’t have to add new content to it (of course, they can if they want to) … but players will visit another person’s comment board and express 69
themselves.com/index.php/Fb:comments). Implementing a comment board on a social network like Facebook only takes about 5 minutes.developers.facebook. 70 . You can use the “fb:comments” tag (http://wiki. A way to leverage this even more is to send the player a notification when someone posts a comment on their wall.
players are able to exchange items with other people and make new friends via these exchanges. Trading Mechanic Trading is another powerful form of exchange. Trading is another solid reason for people to be social in your game. Creating compelling content that players want to post on their profile is a great way to attract more players as well as to remind the original player to visit the game again. or gives their stats in the game. The profile box your team creates may also have a social mechanic to it. Find something to add to the profile that helps to express the player’s identity/achievements in the game. With trading. For example. The game has a dedicated forum where folks can post items to trade. Games like “Pet Society” use this effectively to keep folks engaged. you can show a person’s stats in the game.Show off on Profile Mechanic Most social networks have profiles. or displays their achievements in the game. 71 . and then include a button at the bottom that says “Challenge Me” or something else that would inspire a player’s friend to get involved in the game. You can create a box on the profile that represents the player’s character in the game.
To get the other sofas. The game awards cash and in-game prizes to people who compete in the tournament. If you have a weekly tournament that requires players to compete every day during the week. players have to trade with others in the game. the store lists only 5 of the 10 lamps. there may be 5 different sofas in the game. For example. they have to trade with other people in the game.facebook. The money can be a draw. Tournament Mechanic This leverages most people’s innate sense of competitiveness. Games like “Fish Wrangler!” (http://apps. as the game can give players badges for collecting a complete set of items in the game.com/fishwrangler) use the tournament mechanic.Your team can encourage trading by giving each player a subset of the total types of items in the store. To get the remaining lamps. it give them another reason to visit your game daily. The game is designed so that each player sees only 2 of the 5 sofas at the in-game store they visit. too. the game can give out a badge if the player collects all 10 different lamps in the game. but if 72 . To get certain items. For example. However. they must trade with others in the game. Your team can tie this into badges.
For example. One can imagine a situation where your team announces over $10. “Fish Wrangler!” is able to say they give away thousands of dollars because they are giving away so many in-game prizes and points in the tournament that it would be the equivalent of thousands of dollars in cash.000 of those $10 virtual-coin packs in the tournament and help to make the tournament feel “large” because of the total giveaway value. that counts as real money in their minds.000 virtual coins in the game. you can give away 1.000 in prizes. If you charge $10 for 1. you are in the “Aspiring Class” for “Fish Wrangler!” 73 . consisting mainly of in-game virtual coins. if you have a small number of points. “Fish Wrangler!” has nine different classes for the tournament.you give players more virtual coins or items for winning the tournament. Also note how the games have tournaments for different classes of players. It’s a good idea to put players into different categories for the tournament. depending on their points in the game.
This is a great way to add “new content” to the game that doesn’t require much work.com/fishwrangler). One can imagine taking this con74 . and “Fish Wrangler!” capitalizes on this fact by letting players know that they are supposed to play the game passively while they are also engaged in other activities on the Internet. some players will visit the game just to check out the leaderboard rankings. you can also make your tournaments last a month.Another thing to notice is how the game provides daily as well as seasonal leaderboards — this keeps people interested and makes them want to come back daily and check out the current leaderboard rankings. Another fantastic thing about tournaments is that they count as new weekly content. Of course. you can reuse it week after week. Fishing consists of clicking a link. In fact. Designing a game that is fun and passive is a way to reach the casual gamer. Find the time frame that works best for your players. you have to wait 5 minutes or so to go fishing again. If the leaderboards can change constantly. because once you have completed the code base for the tournament. This is a very important aspect of the game to implement.facebook. Passive Play Mechanic This is an interesting mechanic that is found in the game “Fish Wrangler!” (http://apps. Fishing can be a very passive activity. after you try to “fish” a few times. as it helps to build engagement and increase the number of times a player visits the game in a day.
Exploration Mechanic The adventure/exploration mechanic can help make the game interesting.cept and applying it to a hunting game or any other type of theme where waiting for long periods of time is part of the activity. For example. This sense of being able to discover and explore new places — and the new items and quests that go along with the new area — is a great way to keep the game interesting and compelling for long-time players. Since pictures of people are naturally provocative. we think of exploration in the traditional sense of exploring new worlds.com/humangifts/) allow players to explore the photos of other players and then buy the pictures. Games like “Owned!” (http://apps. Of course.facebook. The great thing about using photos and profile pictures is that they are readily available and do not require your team to create more content. If a player gets to explore the photos and profile pictures of other players. 75 . As players level up in your game. we can apply this concept to new user-generated content. they then have access to new worlds and areas in the game. exploring photos is compelling for some players. “Owned!” is able to keep players engaged for a long time without the developers having to spend a lot of time generating content for players. But on social networks. it feels as if he or she is exploring a new world or starting an exciting adventure.
especially if you have a comment wall underneath a profile picture or photo that lets the players who are browsing add comments. Exploration of photos aside. Games like “Mouse Hunt” (http://apps. 76 . be sure to notify a player when someone leaves a comment on his or her photos.Additionally.com/mousehunt/) have a whole fantasy world that players can explore. Of course.facebook. having new worlds and areas in the game to explore helps to enrich the fantasy aspect of the game. exploring photos of other people is more social and can help to make the game more compelling. The exploration helps to build a deeper sense of immersion in the game.
facebook. This concept involves recruiting friends to form an alliance in the game.com/schoolofmagic/). players are encouraged to invite friends to join their magic house. As players progress in the game. they have an advantage in battles — so people will earn more gold and other points by having more friends in the game. 77 . For example. they are confronted with quests that require them to have a certain number of people in their house before the quest can be completed. when players have members in their house.Build My Team Mechanic This concept is embraced by most of the standard text-based RPGs on Facebook. In addition. in the game “School of Magic” (http://apps.
These quizzes are ways that help players relate to your game a lot more. This is a very powerful technique that can help the game to grow. and the game then requires that he or she performs a quest that necessitates having a friend join the game. Some well-designed games on Facebook leverage this mechanic in many different ways to help keep their game growing.” and so on. Of course. You can also leverage this technique to increase the number of players in a game by offering “special items” in the game that can only be earned if players “recruit 5 people into their house” or “bring 3 more recruits to the Godfather. there are other games that also use this technique. For example. Games like “Mob Wars” require you to have friends join your mob. the player is more likely to do that.If someone has invested 4 hours in your game. People seem to enjoy finding out more about themselves and their friends.” one could imagine a quiz called “What kind of animal are you?” that asks players 5 to 7 questions and then 78 . Quizzes can be created as weekly content. Quiz Mechanic Quizzes can be addictive. for the game “Pet Society.
and the results are published to the player’s feed so that friends can see it. You can even ask players to invite friends to take the quiz. “Street Racer” makes players take a quiz when they first enter the game. This is a good idea for promoting the game. and it may draw them into the game. They made the quiz a separate app on the social network. The quiz relates to the “type of car” the person is. Their friends may see the quiz. 79 . Some game developers have created quizzes that a person must pass before being allowed into the game.tells them the animal they are. You can then ask the quiz takers if they want to post the quiz to their news feed or on their profile. It made people feel as if it were an honor to be invited into the game. and once the player took it. there would be a link to the actual game. This is a very simple and effective tactic that your game can also benefit from. Another thing your team can do is to have a section where you list the results of friends who also took the quiz.
Meme Quiz Mechanic This is a variation of the quiz mechanic. a quiz based on a new blockbuster movie. For example.000 daily users in only a few short days.com/qwhichtransfo-dagfi/) leveraged the release of the movie "Transformers 2" to reach over 100. The app "What Transformer Are You” (http://apps. Ideally. 80 . It involves making a quiz on a current pop-culture meme.facebook. the game’s theme will match the theme of the quiz. Create a new app for this pop-culture quiz and then promote your game at the top of the app.
Your team can look into upcoming pop-culture memes in movies. 81 . This includes having daily leaderboards as well as weekly leaderboards. and other stats in the game (like wins against other players) can be very compelling. Leaderboard Mechanic Leaderboards tap into the competitive nature of people. they can sometimes be intimidating. Leaderboards that list the top players in the categories of in-game money. Doing this will give all players a chance to have their names appear on the leaderboards. For someone just starting out in the game. seeing that the #1 in-gold person has 500 billion coins may be daunting. music. experience points. They give some players another motivation to keep playing the game. That is why your team should consider taking steps to narrow down the leaderboard so that is constantly changing. and holiday themes to make appropriate quizzes that also promote your game. making it compelling and attainable. Keep in mind that global leaderboards aren’t too meaningful to all players — in fact.
Players can 82 . Players who sees their in-game gold ranking relative to friends may be more compelled to keep playing to move up the rankings. Poker and card games are springing up all over these social networks. you’re more compelled to play until you beat their score because you’re “smarter than them. if only to beat their friends. these games are making real money. Seeing their ranking relative to friends provides more meaning to them and may compel them to keep playing. “Who Has the Biggest Brain” uses this mechanic well by displaying a player’s ranking relative to friends.You can also have leaderboards that specifically relate to friends’ scores in the game.” Gambling Mechanic Gambling can be addictive. because players do not win real money in the game. If you are playing the trivia game with friends and notice that a not-too-smart friend has beaten you in the friend rankings. In addition.
This will give them even more incentive to keep playing the game. If they reach the next level today. (http://apps. and they may win or lose coins accordingly. One can imagine having a daily card game that people can play. and other activities where they can make a wager that they either win or lose.com/slotsbandit/) Another option is to give people a hand every time they reach a certain level or whenever they challenge their friends to a battle in the game.facebook. card games. 83 . Other games can also add the gambling mechanic to their games. People love slot machines. Allowing people to have 3 card hands or slot machine pulls each day is a compelling reason for people to keep coming back to the game on a daily basis. Games like Blackjack and Poker are simple gambling games that you can add to your game to make this happen. This is a very resourceful way to give players their gambling needs in a legal way.buy “virtual coins” to play more of the game. wagering a certain amount of virtual coins in the process. they get a chance at another card hand to win more money.
The auction itself feels like a game. Most of these games are set up so that the house wins over time. someone lists an item for sale and other people bid on it with virtual coins. this is a good way to help resolve inflation in an economy. you can show the people who have posted bids and allow players to post comments about the auction. except that in an auction. and people will go out of their way to do what is necessary to try to “win an auction. 84 .” On the bid page. Auctioning is similar to trading. Auction Mechanic This is another fun mechanic that emphasizes the social aspect of these games. In the long run.Also. these games will help take money out of the economy. too.
This concept also helps to peak the players’ curiosity. Specifically. you can have items that only certain players can purchase. You can combine this auction mechanic with the user-generated content mechanic to allow players to auction off surprise photos to other people in the game. In order for others to obtain them. These auctions are an interesting and fun way to help players conduct exchanges in the game. you can combine this mechanic with the collection mechanic to help create a more compelling game. 85 . These photos can be kept “sealed” and then unlocked by the person who wins the auction.“Be a Tycoon” uses this mechanic well to help players sell their rare items to other players in the game. they have to buy them from these players in an auction. Once again. as they want to know what the photo looks like.
you can have quests in the game where people have to collect 7 items to unlock the quest. Completing collections gives people a sense of achievement. and people will go out of their way to find ways to collect all the badges. you can have a bunch of badges available in the game. 86 . they have to perform 7 other mini-quests. Additionally. One diamond may be found at level 4. Introducing this mechanic into the game is a very powerful way to keep players coming back. Additionally. For example. and Facebook apps like “Compare People” do this well. To get these 7 items. By leveraging this collection mechanic with some other mechanics. Rating Mechanic People love to rate other people in one way or another.Collection Mechanic People love to collect things. You can also have sets of items in the game that people need to collect to receive certain badges or special powers. while another diamond may be found at level 10. For example. or additional activities and quests that get unlocked every time a collection is completed. you make a more compelling experience for players. you can add other benefits that amplify the sense of accomplishment that comes from completing a collection. such as new powers. A player has to collect all 5 diamonds to get a special weapon they can use to win more battles against other players in the game. These diamonds can be found as players reach certain levels in the game. “Hot or Not” capitalized on this concept on the general web. special bonuses. some of these diamonds can only be obtained by trading with other players in the game. Imagine creating a fantasy game that contains 5 special diamonds.
com/chromahuggable/) does it well. and the new players have to go on and rate their friends.” As the player selects them. and then listing the results of these social contests. such as: “78% of people think John is more likely to travel the world someday.The main focus of this mechanic is to present the player with two friends. It asks the player to select 10 friends from a list as a person’s “most huggable friends.” and asking people to rate someone as compared to others. Over time. and an app called “Huggable Friends” (http://apps. satisfies a compelling need for players. and then ask the player a question such as: “Who is most likely to travel around the world?” As a group of friends answers this question.” People have a very strong “social curiosity. There is another simple way to use this mechanic. an invite is sent out to those players. 87 .facebook. your game can then give the results. the app’s database has a ranking of how many people voted for a certain person.
Have categories of donations including “Bronze Level” (over 1 million coins donated).Results for this app are unlocked once a person invites 15 to 20 people. the players who donate the most virtual coins can have their names listed in the “Donor Wall” for that feature. This concept can be reskinned for other ratings such as “Most Lovable Friends” or “Most Kissable Friends. and “Gold Level” (over 100 million coins donated). 88 . While you can have a “tax” in the game that helps to combat inflation. You can have a donor area that states that the new items will be implemented once 1 billion coins are donated. “Silver Level” (over 10 million coins donated). Additionally. Donate Virtual Coins Mechanic This is an effective way to help combat inflation in the game. if you’re going to a new set of weapons in the game). another way to achieve the same results in a “positive” way is to have a “Donation area” — tell the game community that a new feature or quest will be unlocked once there are enough virtual coins donated. This will be a compelling and positive way to resolve inflation in the economy.” and so on. Have badges that correspond to the level of donation. You can also give people a badge for donating a certain amount to a certain feature (for example.
you can have a small link at the bottom of the page that represents the feature to show the main donors or “top 5 donors” for a feature or quest. Another suggestion mentioned at the game developer’s conference as a way to combat inflation is to have a “wishing well” in the game. This is another potential way to help resolve inflation in the economy. Players can go to the well.com/celebrity_life/) use this feature. The fee is usually 10%. Social Tycoon Mechanic 89 . So the bank is a safe place for players to put their money. Also. make a wish. there is a “fee” to store money in the bank. Having a list of donors and showing that they helped out the game is a form of social status in the game community. including “Mob Wars” (http://apps. there is the tried-and-true method of having a “bank” in the game where players can store their money.” (http://apps. once the feature is released. and it helps to take money out of the economy and control inflation. Money in the bank cannot be taken away from players when they battle others in the game.facebook. Finally.com/mobwars/) and “Celebrity Life. and throw a certain amount of money into the well. Of course.Additionally. many people love recognition. Many games.facebook.
Players have to manage resources in order to grow their empire. Make sure the game handles potential economic inflation well. The social element combined with the management aspect of such a game makes it a very compelling experience. you can enhance the social element of the game by having players hire other people in the game to help take care of the farm. In “Farm Town” (http://apps. a zoo. In addition to this. 90 . make sure that it is in line with the money they have to spend to produce the items. it is important to ensure that the management aspect of the game is balanced. If your team decides to add a social tycoon mechanic.com/farmtown/). If players make money off the items they manage in the game. This creates a very powerful variation on the Tycoon genre.facebook. That money can be reinvested to grow better crops on their farms. They start out with seeds that they must grow. This empire could be a mob. players have to grow their own farms. a farm.Management simulations are a simple and fun way for players to feel a sense of achievement. and so on. and then they harvest them and make money.
A player can hire their friends.facebook. In a way.com/restaurantcity/). wait on tables. Players hire their friends to do tasks in a restaurant. A player can hire their friends to cook food in the game. it is good as a viral loop because you can notify the player’s friends of their job status in the game. This simple mechanic provides a fun way to interact with friends. 91 . this is a social version of the Sims because you role-play storylines using your friends without requiring them to also play in the game. and other restaurantthemed jobs. and other things a restaurant owner can do to employees.Hire-A-Friend Mechanic This is a passive variation on the social tycoon mechanic which happens in some role-playing games such as Restaurant City (http://apps. However. The hired friend does not need to actively participate in the game for the player to include them in the play experience. dress their friends.
they get to unlock special rewards. A player may have to do a job 20 times to attain a basic level of “mastery” for the job. there is very little reason for them to go back and redo the level.facebook. 92 . Mafia Wars (http://apps. These incentives for mastery help to make repetitive tasks more interesting and rewarding to players. Mafia Wars also has different tiers of mastery. the player gains a skill point. adding a level of “mastery” to the content helps to incentivize players to repeatedly play through the same content as they focus on attaining mastery for each job. This surprise reward is an incentive to master all the jobs at the current level. Players have to master all the jobs at the first tier before they can earn the second tier of mastery for all of the jobs at the current level.com/inthemafia/) uses this mechanic to get players to constantly replay the same content. The player is then told that if they master all the jobs at the current level. Every time a player masters a job. At the second tier. However.Mastery Mechanic Once a player goes through a certain content level in the game. Players may be curious about the specifics of the surprise reward and will play to find out. players earn more rewards.
doing annoying things. Those friends can then go to their own farm and remove the bugs and earn experience points for doing so. Players can leave bugs and weeds in their friend’s farm. However. but allowing friends to prank each other and then benefit from the 93 . and being disruptive. the act of harassing and annoying others in the game. allowing players to exercise a lighter version of the same griefing behavior in a playful way with their friends in a game can help to build a stronger friendship. it helps to add a new emotional dynamic to the game. There is a limit on the number of experience points one can earn doing this per day. By making negative comments.facebook. When a player does this. their friend receives a notification about bugs being placed on their farm. griefers can make the game experience bad for other players. As long as the prank is easily reversible and serves as more of a light-hearted humorous exchange.Griefing/Prank Mechanic Griefing.com/barnbuddy/) use this mechanic to help create a wider range of interactions between friends in the game. Allowing players to do pranks to each other in the game is a fun and humorous way to help friends interact with each other. has been a huge challenge for many traditional MMOs. Games like Barn Buddy (http://apps.
This mechanic also helps to make the game more entertaining to more types of players as there are specific players that enjoy griefing/pranking more than constructive gameplay. The players have to battle these bosses and may even feel a sense of obligation to these ingame characters. In addition to unlocking more jobs as players level up in “Mafia Wars. and it will keep them coming back to the game. 94 .prank is a great way to enhance the range and types of player interactions in the game. or creating special mini-missions for the characters. having boss fights. Adding a story to your team’s game can make it more compelling and entertaining for players. the story mechanic is a powerful tool to make players feel more engaged in a game. Whereas most text-based RPGs on Facebook have the player only level up and unlock more tasks and jobs to do on the quest. As your team adds quests to the game. Story Mechanic When it is done correctly. You might also want to have a back-story for the character that unravels the life details of the character as a player levels up in the game. This all makes for a more engaging experience for the player.” they get to meet new bosses and characters in the game. games like “Mafia Wars” have helped to make the quest more entertaining by adding a sense of story to the quest. consider making memorable characters and having the players interact with the characters by doing jobs.
As players play a game. they may run into the pictures created by the game and that may inspire them to play the game. many would love to have mementos that reflect their achievements and expressions in the game. 95 . It also allows them to express themselves in a unique way. As people browse photo albums of friends. These pictures serve as a way to allow players to feel more involved with the game.” and then the photos get uploaded to the player’s photo album.Game Photo Album Mechanic One of the primary motivations for people to visit social networks is to view pictures and videos of other people. Games like “Pet Society” use this mechanic. and this helps to promote the game to the friends of the player. A player is able to take photos of their home in “Pet Society. as the photos created by the game are different from the traditional photos a player uploads onto a social network. Your team can leverage this mechanic by creating unique pictures as the player levels up in the game.
the app can keep growing throughout the week. Before this mechanic. games would grow a lot on Monday and Tuesday and then level off for the rest of the week. When a player plants their crops in Farm Town.com/farmtown/) and many other farm games. they have to make sure they come back when their crops are ready.Harvest Mechanic The harvest mechanic is a powerful method to increase your game’s daily engagement. One of Zynga's game designers pointed out that this mechanic circumvents the traditional growth cycle of apps. This is a powerful incentive for players to keep coming back day after day because they do not want to have their crops spoiled. or risk that they spoil. Leveraging this mechanic in new contexts can be a very powerful way to keep your app growing and engaging for players. 96 . It has been used in Farm Town (http://apps.facebook. With this mechanic.
you can have certain jobs require a mini-game to earn all the points for that job. 97 .facebook. To make the text-based MMORPGs more engaging. These mini-games can use simple game mechanics like match-3 or a desktop tower defense style to keep a player engaged in the game in a fun way.com/mobsters-two/) uses this mechanic to provide a variation on the "Mob Wars" experience. Mobsters 2 (http://apps.Mini-Game Mechanic There is an emerging trend in some text-based games on social networks to include a basic mini-game in certain sections.
a player can defeat a boss more quickly if they have chosen friends with high stats in the game. The fact that a friend benefits from their success in the game is a great way to keep them incentivized to progress in the game because they are helping themselves and their friends. and one of them is now one of the top 100 games on Facebook: http://apps.facebook. there are a lot of people who would be willing to play these casual games if they were translated into their native language. War games have been made in Spanish. Games like “Friends for Sale” (http://apps.facebook. The Friend Data mechanic involves leveraging the points and other goodies earned by the player and using those stats to help their friends. In Mafia Wars.php 98 .com/guerre-di-banda/index. Internationalization There are many people from non-English speaking countries who use Facebook. While many of the game developers create their games in English.Friend Data Mechanic Part of keeping a player engaged in a game is to give them as many positive incentives to play as possible. One of these incentives can be helping their friends.com/friendsforsale/) have been copied and translated into Spanish with much success.
consider translating the game to other languages to gain many more players. 99 .Once your team finds a formula that works.
It goes on MySpace and Facebook. say. It actually hasn’t been doing very well at all.” which is a fantasy RPG primarily text-based game. my name is Joseph Kim. How about you introduce yourself? Joseph: Hi.facebook. Hopefully.” a similar fantasy RPG-type game on MySpace.Interviews In some of the interviews below. and I am a small developer on Facebook and MySpace. The first is called “League of Heroes. As I mentioned. you’ll read about developers and the challenges and opportunities they face with the games they have on social networks. we can kind of tweak it and improve it so that it is a little better. “League of Heroes” is doing OK. I think “League of Heroes” is doing OK. Interview with League of Heroes http://apps. Interviewer: How are those games doing and what's the benefit of. but we’re working on it. And we also have a game called “Soul Wars. “Soul Wars” is a work in progress. We wanted a game that was very different from the “Mob Wars” Mobsters type of game and have a different mechanic and really to be kind of hard to copy. So. we introduced a lot of manual mechanisms for the game so we could be very different.” What exactly did you do to make it different from the “Mob Wars” type clones? 100 . We have two games. and we could kind of protect our sort of our niche space. Interviewer: Let’s talk about the game mechanics for “League of Heroes. MySpace versus Facebook or Facebook versus MySpace? Joseph: Well.com/leagueofheroes/ Interviewer: I’m here today in Silicon Valley and with me today is a special guest. we’ve got very small games that are very nichy and intended to be so.
Interviewer: Out of all these group mechanics. we put an emphasis on leagues. So. You can have a maximum of up to 11 members in the league. art and then we add new missions every week. We also have something called league alliances because we wanted to try and enable people to communicate with each other as much as possible. the ability to form a league with other players and to communicate with these players and to work as a team against other groups of players. we wanted to create a game that was kind of. with our leagues it’s actually a little bit complex. I think having leagues does help because it helps people meet one another. An alliance is essentially a group of up to three leagues that would work together against other heroes versus villains or to even compete against other hero alliances as well. We have heroes and villains so you can create a league of heroes or a league of villains. The first thing we did is we tried to add more of a social component to it so the name of the game is “League of Heroes. We try to really crank up as much community aspects of the game as we can. and when people form these social relationships it’s much harder for them. I think. story based. The other thing that we did is we tried to make it hard to copy by including a lot of manual stuff. but you are only able to be part of one league. so that would be like missions. Each mission includes a lot of background and story. So they stay more en101 . Interviewer: Let's talk about the community and leagues. What specific mechanics or guild structures are you using to build that community and to build the league structure within your game? Joseph: So. This is something that you don’t do with some of the other games. which are usually more individually based.Joseph: We did a few things. and then the mechanic is pretty simple. what mechanics have you seen work best in terms of engaging users and keeping them coming back? Joseph: Well. focused around community leagues and two. You battle each other.” So. to leave the game. and you have communication tools like league boards or league messaging between other members within your league and with other leagues. It also formed groups of leagues. for one. You form the league.
I think it’s nice for us to do that because the users can see their contribution to the game. and I do a bit of writing as well. Interviewer: How did you find these writers. and we’ve got some of our users writing some of our missions. The writers will create stories around some of the characters that we have so we have heroes within the game that players can find. and we had people submit writing samples to study. and we try to build stories around the missions so they can actually battle them within the game as well. Primarily.gaged with the game as opposed to if the game were more of a singleplayer experience where if you just left. Interviewer: You mentioned stories being an important part of the game. And you know. He has been writing. It’s the same reason why people read a book or watch a movie. Because leagues are dependent upon each other. We’ve got our full-time writer. and what did you look for to make sure that they have the right style or theme that you wanted? Joseph: We found these writers through … I believe it was a number of writing associations. 102 . but we do use a few missions written by users. but we do occasionally get missions that users send in to us to be used for the game. How do you develop the story. and how does that keep progressing? Joseph: We actually have writers. but eventually we found somebody who seemed to fit. I think they would play this game. there would be no repercussions. People enjoy stories and the characters. I think for us life is all about stories. We have a link where users can submit their own missions and even characters for the game. it does seem like if one person leaves and if they built a friendship there that people within leagues tend to reach out to one another and be back in the game once they leave. so it took quite a bit of time. It’s very difficult finding somebody who is right for our particular genre. we’ve used more of the characters that our users submitted. Interviewer: How do the users writing the missions go? Do you find that useful? Joseph: Most of the missions are written by our game writer.
Interviewer: Aside from that. or are these social quests or social missions that are league versus league. To me the challenge really isn’t about developing on Facebook. Interviewer: How do you address then keeping it engaging and interesting and compelling for the users to keep coming back? And what do you have to do? Joseph: Well. We’ve made a lot of mistakes here and there. or how does that work? Joseph: Right now. The technical challenge to us is pretty trivial. 103 . We are very limited in the time that we have to play the game. We do make mistakes when we change something. but they’ve stuck around. very difficult. that’s always been very. and it seems like we’re one of the few that actually engage with our users on a personal basis. so the challenge was saying to the users who may request features in the game that are actually not good for the game. what are the challenges of developing on Facebook in terms of game development that you have encountered? Joseph: Challenges? I don't know. For us that’s the main challenge. There are so many other alternatives. keeping the users engaged to the game and involved and just making a good product. but maybe that’s something we should look at. From what our users tell us. they are basically individual missions. There’s kind of a balance between trying to do what your users want but also doing the right thing for the game. We really haven’t looked at social missions. There’s so much competition out there. making it better. So our community manager is in chat with the users and responds on the forums. for us it’s challenging because we’re very small. For us. but I think fortunately for us our users have been pretty understanding. The challenge is really about developing the game. Interviewer: Do you have a community manager to help placate the users and the players and let them know that people are listening to them? Joseph: We do.Interviewer: In terms of writing. are these quests more about versus the computer.
we always see a dip in our revenue. because we are so small. Interviewer: Sure. like everyone else. like Zynga and SGN. For us. I think at the point where we are able to gain more users and have the time and energy to introduce items where we know that 104 . There are a lot of competitors in the space. but for us.that’s pretty rare. Interviewer: Let’s talk about monetization. so when we have introduced new items. what do you think are the opportunities for some small group of developers who do want to make a game on Facebook or MySpace? Joseph: I actually think that it’s getting more and more difficult. We’re probably easily over 80% in terms of direct payment versus offers. And then. So. Interviewer: Speaking of big companies versus small companies. For us. we use the offer networks like OfferPal and Gambit and we also take direct payment. we know that that works. How do you monetize this game? Is it advertising? Is it something else? Joseph: We. The Zyngas and the SGNs of the world don’t seem to be doing that. So. They cross-promote. the majority of the money comes through direct payment rather than through offers. they are beginning to own most of the distribution on these platforms. we just introduce new items. it’s just managing our time and resources. I think there is a challenge. The big guys out there. Interviewer: Is there anything else you are going to try in terms of monetization to either raise revenue? Do you have special virtual goods or virtual items that people can buy that are a limited edition or something like that? Joseph: Yes. I think what we’re trying to do again is make games that are niche and under the radar and eventually to move more and more mainstream as we are able to build an audience. Joseph: I think there does come a point where it makes sense to introduce limited-time items. It’s possible that if you get any sort of traction they’ll just copy you and just annihilate you with their distribution. For us.
we try and give as much warning as possible and provide as much information as possible about new features and then. period. But. again. I think it’s a definite move starting then. we’re on a two week release schedule. or is there some kind of constant cycle? Have you tried three days. We got a lot of negative feedback whenever we’ve done that. That was early on. release on a regular two-week schedule. so for us it’s been probably once every two months.it’s going to be balanced. because then you don’t clutter the store with all the items that you come out with. do you try to release that weekly. At this point. or have you experimented with different time frame releases? 105 . We used to just come up with stuff and then release it. The challenge from the interface perspective is you don’t want to have too many items in our store. Joseph: But we probably should introduce some more and more. We try and warn our users now about what’s coming out rather than just introducing new features without any sort of warning. or is it every month? How does that work? Joseph: We introduce new items rarely. for now we’re just focused on rolling out new items. but now we need to get a more regular release schedule. Interviewer: For your missions and your other content or features for the game. That’s where I guess time-limited offers for special items may make sense. Interviewer: Do you then make an effort to roll out new items every week or new stories every week. Interviewer: Sure. I think for that period of time it worked. or is that also on a monthly or a semi-monthly or every two months basis? Joseph: We used to be on an ad hoc release schedule. Interviewer: Have you thought about doing it on a weekly schedule. We just needed to get stuff out fast.
we would consider it. we would be on a weekly schedule but we don’t. we’re being much more systematic about our approach to pricing and game balance. So I think we’ve just been fortunate that despite reaching the maximum level people still want to play. and many have reduced because when you’re at the higher levels there aren’t many players up there. How much money would be gained at that point? So. If we were to think through that a little more carefully. we have an ability for them to reduce their level. We’ve used kind of an experimental system. Interviewer: Let’s talk about the game balance issues. Interviewer: Do you guys have a trading option since you do have limited items. So if we did have more features to release. potentially? Can players trade with each other in terms of trading items within the game? Joseph: Right now. How do you balance this game? How do you make sure that the social features and that some of the quests and stuff like that are balanced properly? Joseph: That’s been very difficult for us. So that’s kind of how we started that. We’ve come up with some algorithms where we definitely try to pre-plan how many battles does it take to get from level one to level two. In fact. we’re on a two-week schedule because we’re not releasing that many features. though … we try to be a little more systematic. and then we get feedback from our users and see some items were mispriced and some items were too powerful and then incrementally we change them. but they still stick around. actually. it’s been difficult for us because we did have a lot of users max out and we haven’t added anything new for them. Interviewer: How do you handle people who actually do max out on their levels? Do you add new levels then towards the end? Joseph: So.Joseph: In our case. The new games. 106 . we don’t and the reason why we don’t is we haven’t thought through the game balance issues. the next game that we’re releasing. We just kind of come up with what we think is fair.
commit to it because it takes a lot more time. Be prepared for the time commitment. You want to beat people at this game. I didn’t think it was going to be so time intensive. If you're going to do it. How about you introduce yourself? John: Hi. Interviewer: What suggestions or advice do you have for teams looking to get into this space and make their own MMO? Joseph: My advice would be to pre-plan as much as possible. Interviewer: What’s next in store then for your small studio? Joseph: Well. this is John Fan. and the social aspect. We got an achievement-based game. so I think it’s two parts. for me. because of the friendship made in the game you stick around. You want to have as many kills as possible or as many bounties as possible.com/friendstock/ Interviewer: Hi. It’s just going to be a matter of us managing our resources and executing to get these games out. that PvP aspect. Interviewer: Thank you.Interviewer: Why did you think they still stick around? Is it the social aspects that keeps people engaged? Joseph: Yeah. I'm at a Facebook Development Meetup and with me today is a special guest. Interviewer: What game did you make on Facebook? 107 . One is the ability to continue to battle with other people. but it wound up taking a lot of time. I think it’s the social aspect. at least. Interview with Friend Stock http://apps. hopefully within the next two to three weeks.facebook. our very small studio will be releasing another Fantasy RPG. and we’ve got a bunch of games planned. Cardinal Blue Software.
So my partner spent a lot of time fixing some of those mistakes. and we also moved to using EC2 and RightScale so that helped a lot. So. Interviewer: What then did you do to increase the number of users to tens of thousands every day? John: The main issue was that we had — it was a number of technical issues with regard to how we were using memcached and how we were setting up the server.000 daily active users primarily due to server scaling issues. but the difference was that for each person you can have multiple owners because it’s a stock. Interviewer: When you first released it. The initial reaction was actually a little bit slow. John: Well. the idea is that you can invest in your friends and watch their value go up. since EC2 is something that’s really standard. or do you think it’s better for someone to actually run it all themselves? John: I definitely would recommend using EC2 or another service like that because you don’t want to be hosting the servers yourself. I guess. if you have any issues. it was similar to some extent to “Friends for Sale” and “Owned!”. Interviewer: So this game wasn’t even possible then before social networks? John: That’s correct. too. outsource services for scaling? Do you find that the better way to do it.John: Friend Stock. what was the response? It just seems very different than most other games. In addition. Interviewer: How do you find then EC2 and some of these other. there are lots of other people that have the same configu108 . such as RightScale. We spent several months with about 3. Interviewer: What’s the game about? John: It’s a game in which each person is a stock that others can buy and sell.
So this sort of created competition between the groups. for example. Then. Interviewer: Can you talk about the community aspects and social aspects of your game? What do you find provocative. we put in a lot of features to allow us to designate people to be community managers and community helpers. Interviewer: Can you talk about other social aspects and social mechanics that make the “Friend Stock” experience more compelling to the players? John: From the beginning. involves a lot of communication between users. After that. a diamond.rations so you’re not debugging the configuration that you developed yourself. a heart. people from the same country or people of some affinity together. even when we had server problems and so forth. for varying prices and give those to their friends. we had commenting so you could write messages to each other. To promote this activity. So that was very helpful because we ended up recruiting about 50 community helpers and 10 community managers for our applications. since we only had two people. and what do you think keeps people coming back? John: The game. I think that added a lot to the “Friend Stock” experience. like any of these social networking games. such as a rose. Something unique that we’ve done is. we actually created a page in which they can list their group and use Virtual Currency in the game to push their group up in the rankings. They actually did quite a lot of work in terms of dealing with all the issues of providing really good customer support for the users. so you’d see the Turkish group rise up and the Greek group would supersede them and they’d race back and forth — pretty much every nationality or every type of player has a group within “Friend Stock” now. we also noticed that users ended up creating a lot of Facebook groups to promote their particular group of friends on Facebook or group of people who were playing this game. we added gifting so that users could buy virtual gifts. 109 .
which means that. but it’s much easier if you actually have planned it out in the beginning. It’s sort of in-game advertising for the game itself. Whenever we find it. Although users are happy to become richer and to watch their stock price go up. it does not lead to long-term game play. Interviewer: Let’s talk about. How do you actually sponsor or support or encourage some of this out-of-game development and fan worship? John: There’s just been some of this so people have created some interesting videos on their own. Virtual Currency is sort of created out of thin air. People are making videos about the game and stuff like that.Interviewer: Any other surprising or emerging properties from this group? Is it almost like guilds competing against each other? John: In some sense. like they’ll list all their members and try to support each other. I mean. but some of the groups have taken the game very seriously. Interviewer: What options or what solutions are you going to do to potentially fix this? Are you going to put on a tax or something? 110 . Interviewer: Are there any other surprises that you had while you developed this game? Any other interesting experiences or understandings that have come about through the whole running of this social game? John: I think the biggest lesson we’ve learned is that when you have an economy. the fan pages and fan support for the game. That’s something we’re looking to fix. then. It’s not so much an emerging property. probably 60-70% of our ads are actually these fan-created videos. Except for the ads for buying tokens. The Malaysia Singapore group has already organized two live gettogethers. So we actually have a major issue in that the game — the transactions are not closed. we try to support it by actually adding it back into the application rather than running ads all the time.” The European “Friend Stock” groups are planning a meeting in Greece in the fall. where 30 to 50 people actually get together and talk about “Friend Stock. the groups definitely get together and have a certain mission. you should plan it ahead of time. as people play.
that leads to more engagement. Gambit. That’s pretty much it. it’s something that you can come in every few hours and repeat again. SpareChange and SocialGold. 111 . We’re not actually running PayPal directly ourselves. Part of the issue is how we transition from the existing economic system or whether we just launch a brand new application with a fixed account system. They take a margin and issue us our check at the end of the month. And then they collect the PayPal or credit card payments. we’re creating a new economic system. Do you just use ad networks or is it Virtual Currency? John: We have Virtual Currency primarily. We have direct payments for users. We use PayPal and they buy the Virtual Currency. John: I think one of the mechanics that we have is boosting. Interviewer: What’s next in store then for the game? John: Well. like creating repeated actions. We’re currently using one of several paying systems. such as OfferPal. as opposed to starting with a faulty economic system and trying to patch it. You mentioned gifting. Interviewer: Let’s talk about monetization. So. all you can do is buy and it’s a onetime action. Interviewer: Thank you very much. With boosting. which is when you have buying and selling.John: We’ve come up with a new economic system. Interviewer: Are there any other social or game mechanics that you guys are using that you found to be very effective in terms of making your game an awesome experience? You mentioned commenting. Interviewer: What suggestions do you have for other game developers who want to make their own social game? John: Fix your economic system and let the game play derive from that.
wow. Interviewer: When you first came out with that. like many other companies. It's hot or not with a market economy. I'm at Engage Expo and with me today is a special guest. Siqi: So. it was a huge big deal.com/friendsforsale/ Interviewer: Great. and I was looking around the line and I was like. this story is long and complicated. What inspired us to come up with it? Interviewer: Yeah. Interviewer: Congratulations on that.Interview with Friends For Sale http://apps. What inspired you to come up with that idea? And what were the challenges as you were developing it? Siqi: Well. this line is just full of guys.facebook. it still is a big deal. hit on hot girls. the one we're probably best known for is the one called Friends for Sale. buy and sell people to be your pets. We were at Tao for our two year anniversary. How about you introduce yourself? Siqi: Hi. We're in line at a table from the club. I'm Siqi Chen and I'm the Founder and CEO of Serious Business. but I was in Las Vegas with a friend of mine. This sucks. Interviewer: What games have you done? Siqi: So. right? 112 . Interviewer: What does Serious Business do? Siqi: We make social games on Facebook. It's actually bigger than it's ever been. and in turn they ask for you and other people to buy them. Siqi: Thanks. I was broke at the time. and my friend was loaded so we managed to get a table that night.
In hindsight. So. They let us in and we’re at a table with 12 hot girls. you know what? Facebook is the first time in history where you have access to any given person's complete social data. he points like to the front. right? Interviewer: Sure. actually. And I thought. right? Therefore. I was right. you even did like a Mafia game. Siqi: My friend was like. Well. my friend and I turned it into a game called Friends For Sale where it's really good to be a rich dude or a hot girl. and you paid how much for this? $500. what started me to do social games is the week the platform came out I was playing the game Diplomacy with some of my Y-Combinator startup friends. it's good to be a rich dude or a hot girl. 113 . Siqi: So. That's beautiful. That will be the biggest company. and I thought. ironically. And we're just sitting there and every turn took four hours. What inspired you to keep going because I know it was something where you weren't too enthusiastic about it at first. In fact. the biggest company on this platform will eventually be the EA Games of Facebook. I sat down and I was thinking about it. Interviewer: Before that. and there is like 40-50 ridiculously hot girls. I was like. So. The only way to get in at the time was to get a table as a guy. OK. chill out. I think it was the first Mafia game on Facebook. and this would be great on Facebook. let a few guys in that bought tables. It was the month after the platform came out. Who your friends are. Siqi: I did. how can I make that into a game? Interviewer: Yeah. Siqi: And the bouncer went. the biggest game. across the room in front of Tao. this is a game where you play with your friends. I'm pretty sure it was. you did some other games on Facebook.The club is going to be full of dudes.000 bucks? Interviewer: Yeah.
Siqi: We had banner ads. what was the response and what happened? Siqi: Oh yeah. that was crazy. we can't do anything. immediately. So. Siqi: Yeah. That was like. We're making an incredible amount of money from the ads". So. can we please buy some money? For the first two months. "This is great.Unfortunately. we were getting Saudi Sheikhs messaging us. Interviewer: And that's when you put in the virtual economy. now we have a business. Interviewer: Oh wow. but after we tuned it. Interviewer: Sure. yeah. And then. were you even thinking about balancing the economy or dealing with inflation issues? Was that even on your mind then? 114 . when you released it. you know what? So many people have messaged us and asked to buy [coins]. Interviewer: Oh really. We built some metrics beforehand to tune it. Interviewer: For two months then. It just kind of blew up all on its own. and we were like. why don’t we sell [coins] to them. especially where you play with your people or your pieces are people and they are your friends. It turns out that people are pretty satisfied with largely single player RPG experiences and they monetize extremely well. Going back to Friends for Sale. I wasn't right about what would work on Facebook? I thought it would be games. you actually had banner ads on there. Siqi: We were happy making money off of ads. we weren't selling anything. that's when we put in the virtual goods in. The only thing we could do was try to keep the site up. Then we said. immediately. whoa.
When I first saw Mob Wars. Mob Wars. Biggest surprises? I can't think of any. Interviewer: OK. It 115 . or it could grow more? Now. And meeting new people and dating people and asking people out and flirting is never going to get old. Well. right? And meeting new people and maintaining those relationships through the only connection that you have which is Friends For Sale is highly retentive. inflation. Interviewer: What would you say are the three biggest challenges or learnings. I didn't think it was a very good game. you say that you have more users now than you had before. but at the time when it first came out… Mafia Wars didn't exist a year ago. It was constantly on my mind. Interviewer: Aside from the virtual economy thing then? Siqi: Yeah. Interviewer: And what was the solution then? Siqi: Proprietary. It’s not fun. I think the biggest surprise for me is just how much the X Wars genre has taken off. like surprises. It's still big now. Siqi: It's only been a year. And we didn't fix that for a whole year. That is evergreen. The flaw with the mechanic is that prices only ever go up. and that’s made Zynga? So. Very few people remember this. What can other developers take from your experience in terms of actually keeping users coming back? Siqi: I think we've always believed it as a sustainable product because what it is is kind of user-generated content where the content is people. It was really hard to come up with a good solution for that one without pissing off all of our users. and very little money gets taken out of the economy. sure. What were some of the other challenges once you actually started? Did you think that it would be a fad.Siqi: It was. I think the biggest surprise… I can't name three. that you've had with this whole experience? Siqi: Huh. Interviewer: Exactly.
So. very early. a couple million. where do you see now the future of social games going? Do you feel that the space is already set? All the things have already been determined? Siqi: I think empirically. aside from game play then. we paid a dear price for not investing in that genre very.didn’t fit into my idea of what a social game was supposed to be. Interviewer: Thank you very much. as I was driving here. But if you look at Farm Town DAU. maybe. It's not too late. 116 . which is why Farmville is 10 times bigger now than Farm Town. three million users which is no joke. that was my biggest surprise. Interviewer: Do you think. Siqi: I think how large Farmville is compared to Farm Town doesn't necessarily correlate with it being a better product although it's different and certainly better in some ways. It's three or four times bigger now. Interviewer: Any last words then for other developers looking to get into social games? Siqi: It’s early. It's still a young space. But I think Zynga has gotten user acquisition and retention down to a science. the space is just so different than normal traditional game space because you look at Farm Town that actually has live chat. Mark Pincus said that they consider game development a science not an art which makes sense. Come compete with us. though. and then you look at Farmville which has no chat in it. Interviewer: So. obviously not. Farmville is much bigger. and it's like 100-200 employees right there. Interviewer: So. Obviously. Obviously. data metrics is probably the most important thing in social games. right? Farm Town came out of nowhere. Siqi: I think I read. and it's reflective of those learnings and those technologies. That's a really meaningful business. and it's one of the largest games on Facebook.
You have progress bars and money raised and several things that. So. definitely had several game-like features. the entire horror genre. "Oh.facebook. I think… I may not have been the first game because people had taken games that. just like you could on Kongregate but now here on Facebook. And what games did you do? In fact.com/vampires/ http://apps. the first games that I think everybody may be familiar with are the zombies and vampires and werewolfs and that sort of games. it definitely has plenty of those type of components. There's leaderboards. even before I did that.com/zombies/ http://apps. existing flash games and said.Interview with Zombies. How about you introduce yourself? Blake: Hi. as any game designer can look at and say. which was about a month after the platform launched. here you can play Tetris now. 117 . you know. That.com/werewolves/ Interviewer: I'm here at Austin Game Developers Conference and with me today is a special guest.facebook. while not a game. even before I did that. It was just like.facebook. I can now put this game on Facebook". my name is Blake Commagere and I'm an indie game developer. Vampires. I think you were one of the original social games out there. I've been building games on the Facebook platform for pretty much since it started. and Werewolves http://apps. "Hey. actually. Blake: Yeah. but they didn't create a game for the platform that had social functionality. Interviewer: Nice. I was one of the lead developers of Causes on Facebook. you know. this is a game" even though technically it's fund raising for non-profits and not just a strict game. But actually.
my experience in viral marketing started. And just. I think. Of course. by the time I started developing my games I was very familiar with the limits and capabilities of the platform so I had a good understanding of. I definitely had the benefit of having worked with these people that are just experts in the industry. you worked on the Causes game or Causes app. I'm the obnoxious friend that tries to get you to go see every one. Interviewer: Sure. Every one was even… It became like a viral meme. I knew it would resonate with my friends. and I guess it took me about a week and a half. both Napster and Plaxo pioneered several viral loop techniques. you released it and you had that killer viral loop. yeah. actually. So. very compelling and. obviously. back in 2002 at Plaxo. They're scary. How did you come up with that viral loop. 118 . So. I love horror and just for whatever reason had a moment of clarity where I was like: this would be so fun to have a zombie application and largely made it in such a way . beyond just the actual functionality of it.zombies were very natural. and did you even know it was called a viral loop then? Blake: Yeah. the geek community loves zombies. My inspiration probably comes as no surprise to anyone is that I'm a huge horror fan. you know. but Plaxo benefited from some very talented people that came from Napster originally. And so absolutely. the copy. obviously. so when it came time to start applying that to my own products like. especially. no matter how bad it may be. I'm not sure if everybody is aware of this. and what did you learn from that that you can actually take to make your games killer because they just blew up. I had an opportunity to work with some phenomenally talented people. and then what inspired you to make these other types of games. hey here's all the things I can do. starting building it. let's see. I mean. I learned a ton. Causes had a very specific viral loop. I thought it was an excuse to have something that's going to be viral and reach out to people. They're funny. Blake: Yeah.Interviewer: So. Interviewer: So. Blake: Love horror movies.
I think the first day. because I released it.. They're going to love it a lot. it was the 27th of June. So. you know. I made that. Blake: Yeah. I got up the next morning to check it because 119 . If you passed along something funny. I believe. "Whoa. They want more. I turned it live and I was limited to 10 people.. You'll want to pass it on to your friends. the whole thing. right? You'll do it once. very designed to press certain buttons in people. And be like. hey. I did a couple of my friends think this is going to be awesome. And at this point Facebook had already said. What happened? I mean. so I'm going to make it a 'little bit humorous. right? Interviewer: So.the text of these invitations and that sort of thing. With the zombie one I'm like OK. or when did you realize it was going to be this huge thing and it's going to be like a cultural meme.. humorous content at a rate faster than people can consume it is. but you're not going to pass along the same funny thing 800 times. I'm looking to make them laugh. the end of June. that sort of thing. so you need to constantly create new content. Interviewer: Sure. designed that into game play so that it'd be a little like. did it just blow up in the first day or two days. you're only allowed to do 10 invitations per user". You'll find it funny. I made a compelling message that was entertaining and. a little tongue in cheek and kind of go for that angle. is like hey we want to try and make it touch someone. hey the user gets a cookie. They're going to keep coming back and doing it. this is personal to inspire them to do this. and there were already articles and people saying no more virality on Facebook. And it's a double-edged sword because humor absolutely can be very viral. I'm looking to entertain people. but it travels very fast and it's consumed very fast so you can imagine. This was after. I think.. you released it. And the one in Causes. Blake: So. You have teams of writers doing that for shows that only exist for an hour. They want more. They want more. and they'll get a kick out of it. And creating new. of course.
I built it using LAMP stack which there are right and wrong ways to scale. That's definitely beyond my Friends list. and I think it was seven days. Interviewer: Exactly. right? By the end of that day it was over a thousand... oh crud. really focused on trying to make revenue. you know. six days. I benefited from past experience.. I'm. this one and that one. Blake: And I was just like. At that point it was already 200 people.. but how much money is it making? Not very much. I never actually really. They made enough money to keep it running and to do it as a full time job. I had several people ask me. largely and scaling then. and I can make ends meet and. this one. And so.I wanted to see how many of my 10 buddies had converted. the first iteration I was just like. this is taking off is when my server went down for the first time. Blake: I mean. so I put ads up on it and didn't really do anything else in that world because frankly the ads didn't make an amazing amount of money. so I dealt with scaling at previous companies so again this is stuff I had done in some capacity. you know. the first things I started doing were just like. just never as a one man show. oh crud. I don't know? Blake: Yeah. Interviewer: How did you deal with scaling because that probably would have been a surprise. it had hit a million active users. just get something functional and working. I get to make games for a living. holy crap. I need to change this architecture so it can support growth and that sort of thing because. Interviewer: How did you deal with monetization? Did you just put ads up? Where you thinking of turning it into a business because at that time it still wasn't clear that social games could actually make so much money? Blake: Yeah. At that point I was obviously. maybe. That was really awesome. like yeah. So. I've got to take care of this piece of the puzzle. maybe. I think the moment I realized. 120 . So. Interviewer: Nice. I'm not part of a giant machine. whoa.
You've played games that you're so addicted to and so obsessed with. I want this to be easier. Obviously. releasing features fairly frequently. And it meant. I read every crazy thing I could get my fingers on to try and. And I know I don't have that skill set yet. I had a lot to learn and I just kind of stumbled my way through.. you know. you know. well you're asking for this but I know you don't want it because if I implemented it that will definitely not be fun. were you adding new content then every day. I probably was doing pushes. You have to be careful. It was great. architectural changes to support that and then adding new feature sets. every week? How did you keep it going because you had a huge hit for a reasonable time and even when the virtual economies were kicking in to social games? Did you start trying to do that? Did you start adding new game mechanics? What happened after you released it? Blake: Yeah. this is not a game like. I want it to be less.. and I've always been a gamer so I tried to draw from my own experience which. 121 .. you can't give everybody exactly what they always ask for because. of course. So. talking to friends. oh. you know. weekly. inevitably. wow. Interviewer: Sure. crap. so shortly after release I had users just clammering. what I ended up doing was just largely relying on user feedback. at least.. I couldn't do everything people asked and there was plenty of things that I'm like. get better at it because I obviously recognized: well. so I tried to improve constantly on that. I want it to be. And so. obviously. meeting people that were in the traditional gaming industry that were very generous with their time and explaining things. I want to make something that good. and I'm like. I think a common joke that people run with this is that if people did game design like they do web design you would distill your game down to nothing but a big red win button that the user has to press only once and be done with your game forever. actually. I'd love to be able to do this. I had users largely dictating the upcoming feature set because they were so passionate about games and they said.Interviewer: While you were developing this. Blake: So. being a gamer your whole life it's not the same as being a game designer.
I guess. you can't do a four year dev cycle on Facebook. two guys can make a movie that's very creative like Primer and. 122 . you know. in my opinion. Obviously. for small indie games to be breakthrough hits because. there is always going to be room. and that's going to be a game changer for what you can do in Flash. It is only a two-year-old space. how long will it take to develop something versus. successful game that. and are you still going to try to work on your current hits that you've had or what's going to happen? Blake: Well. if we've learned anything from the Wii. I spent some time talking with some friends about that the other day. That doesn't preclude an industry from also having transformers. just like Hollywood has: hey. connects with people. having these higher production values. are never going to have a 10 million dollar budget to build a game. slightly older. too. OK..I think the PlayFish games are very well designed.Interviewer: And so. you know. maybe. So. that would be crazy. if anything. It's such a new. you know. and I think that's a trend that will continue. has a huge indie breakthrough success. I think it's going to be amazing when Flash starts supporting hardware acceleration. it's that you don't have to have as many pixels per square inch to build a successful and fun game. I think having one doesn't mean the other isn't ever going to be successful or not have room for it. I think you will see certain trends like higher production values coming in and you see games like . you know. At the same time. and I think indie game developers. But you don't need a 10 million dollar budget to build a fun. obviously. There will always be a sweet spot. I think there will be a trend towards higher production values. I think there will always be room for both of these kind of things. But I think there is room for pushing that out. yes. right? Which is not going to win any awards for its writing but. I think there's still a lot of opportunities.. where do you think now social games are going. Obviously. it's big fun and it resonates with an audience in a different way. their production quality is much higher than most games that are on this platform.
So. too. probably what you may see is things that you also see in the traditional gaming industry more and more. It's. 123 . so working on games is fun that tends to attract some very talented people which provides the opportunity to work with wildly talented people. at the same time. The same.Interviewer: Any last words then for social game developers out there? Blake: I think this space is amazing fun. your competitors are going to be wildly talented. Interviewer: Thank you very much. on the other hand. it's an intensely competitive space but very fun and I intend to do it as long as I can and as long as there's enough of a market that someone like me can make games in that space.
Therefore. At first glance. Specifically. it may seem that inflation of imaginary coins does not matter. and then you sell virtual coins in your game. In these new scenarios. Another huge issue with inflation is that if there is too much money in the economy and it has little value. This new currency needs to be tied to real money. 124 . you’ll have some players playing for free and some players paying tens of thousands of dollars to play. you end up making more money. you can introduce a new currency that players can use to buy items and features in the game.Section 3 Monetization The ways to make money from games have changed. The only way that players can get these points is if they pay real money in some way. the player starts to play your game for free. In older paradigms. But it does matter because too much inflation takes the “ fun” out of the game for many players. your game revenues take a large dip. then there is no incentive for players to purchase virtual coins in your game. Under this model. developers would sell their games in a store or online. In the end. There is a way to combat this. Social/Game Mechanics to Improve Monetization Dual Currency Mechanic In-game inflation is a serious issue. and the players would first buy the game and then “own” it.
thereby raising revenue in the game. If a lot of the second currency is introduced. Most text-based MMORPGs on Facebook use this method. 125 . this will encourage people to purchase the item as quickly as possible.The benefit of this requirement is that the second currency will not suffer from massive inflation. Blue Light Special Mechanic Announcing a one-day-only sale where players get twice as many coins or goods for the same price will cause a huge rise in sales and raise revenue for that day as well as raise revenue over the rest of the week. if your team’s game revolves around Wizards. That is a good thing. For example. Limited-Time/Quantity Item Mechanic Saying that something is available only for a limited time can motivate people into acting quickly. you can put a “special spell” on sale but state that only 250 of them are available. If your team introduces an item in the game and mentions that it is available only for a limited time of 24 hours. The “Limited Quantity” variation of this mechanic involves mentioning that there are only a certain number of items available. then your game is making a lot of money.
com/greentrees/) allows players to fill out offers so that the player can increase the amount of square feet they save in the rainforest. As these players benefit from their in-game purchases. it will inspire other players to buy items later on to keep up with them. When they are out of stamina. some players aren’t very patient and want to play immediately. Of course.The sense of urgency created with a one-day-only sale combined with the benefit of receiving extra coins or items will inspire more players to make a purchase that day. offer them the option to “recharge their energy” by visiting the game master in the game. they have to wait 10-20 minutes before being able to resume play. Donation to a Good Cause Mechanic Most people have altruistic tendencies and enjoy contributing to good causes. 126 . When players run out of stamina.facebook. since their purchases will benefit the cause. Letting people fill out offers or buy items that will also help to contribute to a worthwhile cause inspires more people to make purchases in the game. Need a Refill Mechanic Most of the text-based MMORPGs have a stamina option for the game. “(Lil) Green Patch” (http://apps.
Your team should offer an option that allows folks to buy items or currency for a friend. Achievement Accelerator Mechanic People like to earn badges. If you have certain badges in the game that can only be earned within a certain amount of time.facebook. Gift to a Friend Mechanic Gifting is a very popular form of social exchange. but they will happily buy an item for a friend since it is a gift for a friend. it will motivate players to get that badge before time runs out. 127 . “Celebrity Life” (http://apps. You can offer people special items that they can purchase and that will help them earn the points needed to get the badge more quickly.For example.com/celebrity_life/) lets players know that they can wait for their energy to recharge or visit the “Sugar Daddy” to buy a recharge. People may not buy game items for themselves.
the most difficult part of the monetization process is getting players to make the first purchase. they get a higher bonus than before. the bonuses will exceed the value of the coin purchase. he or she may be willing to buy in-game power-ups that allow them to get the badge in time.For example. One option for doing this involves offering double bonus points to every new person who makes a first purchase. Once a player is used to buying one thing in the game. The player will then get a sense that every time they make a purchase. 128 . they get a bonus of 15 million coins. they are much more likely to buy more items in the game. First-Time Buyer Bonus Mechanic Getting players to make the first purchase may be the most difficult part of the monetization process. Pretty soon. Therefore. the second time a player makes a purchase. One way to influence these people to purchase more is to give them an incremental bonus every time they buy something. it is easier to get previous buyers to buy more items. they are much more likely to buy more items in the game. The third time they make a purchase. and the player does not receive enough roses in time for the badge. where players can help their friends in the game earn the badge more quickly by giving them a power-up item. it is worthwhile to motivate players to get over the mental barrier of making the first purchase. That is fine and rewards loyal players. if you have a “Valentine’s Day Badge” that can only be won if others in the game give the player 100 roses. they get a bonus of 10 million coins. Therefore. Repeat Buyer Bonus Mechanic As previously stated. You can combine this with the “Gift to a Friend” mechanic. A smart development team may also have a special option whereby the first purchase doubles the donation to a good cause. Once they do. too. For example.
and with me today is a special guest.Interviews In some of the interviews below. We specialize right now in online games. optimization. makes it really easy to monetize your audience with virtual goods. How about you introduce yourself? Noah: Hi. what services then do you offer? How would game developers use your service if they have a social game on Facebook or any other place? Is this only for social networks. you're not going to go fix it yourself. if you have a broken car. so it's really for anything on the web that needs to monetize. all the other buzz words. or is it something else? Noah: Yeah.com Interviewer: I'm here at the Engage Expo in San Jose. you could do it yourself and hire the people or work with us where we spent the past year and a half developing the technology. you’ll read about developers who are making millions each month from their simple games. alternate payments and. So. and we wanted to build a solution to help monetize our audience. Interviewer: You know. basically. You take it to a mechanic. the President of Gambit. So. we built the system that does credit cards. and if you want to monetize it. I'm Noah Kagan. grow it. So. Interview with Gambit http://www. PayPal. California. fraud. Interviewer: What's Gambit about? Noah: That's a good question.getgambit. so the value we provide is that if you're building a game. build your game. Read the interviews and find out what you need to do to make this happen for your team’s game. it's kind of like. optimize it. we were game developers for about a year and a half. but really managing and growing your revenue side and 129 .
these are good things that you actually do and not do while you're developing your game". that's great if every user is worth a thousand dollars. so you need to get them back to a certain period. It takes about less than 30 minutes. Now. a developer then develops a role-playing game on Facebook. "Alright. it's really more of a complete solution versus just like. we're a PayPay button or we'll manage your payments for you". his actual priority was not revenue. So. raise monetization and enhance the experience for players? Noah: So. So. what we help people do. "You have 10. besides the system performs higher than most of the rest in the industry. is what is your priority? And so. let's monetize. let's monetize". Noah: Yeah.000 users". you know at that point you are more likely to invite friends and then spend the money. Interviewer: And how would they use your service? Noah: It's really easy. "Hey. actually I was meeting with a game company a few days ago. And so. Interviewer: So. It's a plug-and-play solution. and you can start selling your virtual currency. like seven days. "Hey. So. Interviewer: Can you talk about some of the strategies that developers can use to improve their game. kind of Domino's pizza style to get it set up. I think the real value that we can provide on top of that is. 130 .you can put an offer in our payment system. It was actually growth.trying to be a partner for that because we understand what game developers want. You can drop it in. and they're like. the retention system is kind of crappy. but it was like. but it's a social game so it's more of a volume play. You know. it was identifying . I was like. we have an expertise in building games and saying. And the thing with that is that you need to have focus and priority. "Here are the things you need to look for in your notifications".
a lot of the stuff that is specifically on the Facebook level. every week it's a reset. and I think there's still tons of money to be made.I hate when people say metrics because it's so generic and easy. which is really smart which is what I think a lot of people should be doing. So. You know. I get my notification. I mean. the biggest thing . what they do. Other things on retention stuff that are to consider are just the mindset of why does someone want to come back and why does it make sense when someone actually comes back. On the retention level. what would I be doing as a game 131 . I get like Ash has beat me and that's when I want to come back to it. Noah: You have to tend your garden every 15 minutes. they make a weekly contest. Or you have to go tend your friend's garden and you can watch out for them. So. Secondly.Interviewer: Can you talk about other strategies that developers use for retention? Have you seen any techniques that have worked pretty well? Noah: Yeah. And there's that social aspect of I want to do it because my friends are going to see my score and I want to beat them. and the reason what they've done that is real smart is three things. So. is looking at notifications when a friend or someone close to you has passed you in the system. those are the kind of standard tactics that people are using today. It's less about spamming your friends and getting them to do it. and so I'm like. Interviewer: Do you have any other suggestions for other things that developers can use to enhance or raise the amount of people that they're serving with their games? Noah: I think people are not recognizing that the market is beginning to get really saturated. but basically get into certain points in the game and retention . They do it all the time. a lot of these farm games and RPG social stuff? Interviewer: Yeah. One.it's a lot about… Bejeweled Blitz is a game I'm personally addicted to. The question is if I were not doing payments. I've got to go back and do it. It's a weekly thing. or things are going to go bad.
you have to consider where you're really going to have a chance at winning against that. there's payment solutions. Then. Hives. oh. 132 . if you're a game developer. So. The challenge now is when we were building games. sports stuff. so let’s sell them something. Within the Facebook ecosystem I would go to international countries. It's a little obsessive. So. Interviewer: Sure. viral. third is like gambling and skilled gaming. but would you rather be a big fish in a small pond or basically create something that's going to be copied and dominated versus you have a really nice business that no one else knows about it.developer? I would be going where people aren’t. Secondly. so building on Open Social. There's way too many but focus on ways that they could utilize those payment solutions better. Now. There's really not that much of it. build a user base and then we're like. MySpace. we were through with retention and then it was. They don't have the volume. so build revenue streams. S. It doesn't have the appeal and the significant growth as Facebook which is really strong. what else do you see everything going in terms of games. social games? Noah: I study and play this up way too much. Interviewer: So. if you really want to have a long-term strategy you need to be spending a significant amount of money or figuring out opportunities. now it's retention. build additional ways that other game developers can make money. instant growth. something we talked about before. it was mostly about spam. One is infrastructure. like if you look at the top 15 Facebook apps. These countries have an average revenue per user significantly comparable to the U. So. you're really competing against companies. and it's a huge opportunity. oh. over 40 percent are funded companies that have developed million dollar games. Noah: So. aside from internationalization. Actually three. The two opportunities actually right now that are still available. money. oh.
and they're 15 to 19. get women. The thing is. If you are an individual Flash developer that's been building the kind of non-persistent.no one is advertising specifically to international users. so I played them pretty obsessively for a few weeks. So. you're not going to be able to produce the amount of content that a large company is going to do. and no one has really tackled that stuff. I feel like people quote all of these numbers. So. Oh. The user play is a lot different than a standard text-based MMO game. you really think that the text-based MMOs still have legs? Noah: I don't want them to. Interviewer: Can you talk about the transition from text-based to Flashbased? Have you seen any differences in terms of revenue per user for text-based versus Flash-based? Does it even matter? Noah: You know. The graphics are much more detailed. Like. Interviewer: Sure. they're 35. unless you have a big team of 30-50 people. you can get same value of user in a foreign country as you could in America. I would say the text thing is kind of easy money now. but you get one third of the cost. Flash games. you're going to get more out. One tip I would suggest is that Facebook advertising . but still. if you actually look at rates. one time. that are African. I want them to die. That's the only way to make a lot of money. you could build a text game. Noah: And that's the kind of thing that you see in Flash where it's a much more rich experience. But what I've seen. My girlfriend was pretty annoyed 133 . it's kind of like a common sense thing. in the Midwest. As much as I want to harp on it. And the challenge with developers today is that. I think there's opportunity to build something unique that has a chance of making a lot of money versus just the standard text thing. Noah: There's a lot of money to be made in that. put a certain niche on it. You put more into the game. Interviewer: Sure. it's for kids.Interviewer: Sure.
and what happened though I'm just bored. So. Interviewer: I hear a lot about offers. the users are just a lot more addicted and committed. 134 . Other versions are doing well. that's the genres that are doing really well. a mafia one is different than a vampire one. So. the average revenue is going to be a lot higher. Then. Is that something that should even be considered for developers? I mean. and alternative payments. I go to the next one and yeah I get it. have you seen other types of game mechanics or game interaction structures that actually monetize better? Noah: That's a really good question. like Zynga has taken two years to actually build. I do have a theory that probably needs to be fleshed out. It's just what we hear about. so this is an opportunity where they can sign up or pay for a service that you get the affiliate for. So. I still think… So. But it's still the same system that you plug-and-play. like fish stuff. we were using providers that had offers. your stuff is going to get boring. it's maybe two to three. It's ice creams and there's different flavors so. like tending to people's things. And the overnight successes. So. there's this standard RPG template. What are those about? Noah: So. You need about three years to build a really significant business or stake hold within a game or social community. You're never going to make money on them. you know. like an aquarium. they're international or they're really young. like Farm Town. And what's really great about it is that people who are never going to pay. are few and far between. anything that's taking a significant amount of upfront investment. when we were game developers. they are either freeloaders. in terms of the tech stuff. So. And I feel that unless you have a really deep experience and you have a lot of people that build it. it just does well.with it. free offers. like virtual worlds. basically. Interviewer: You know. Virtual worlds. like the garden stuff. the restaurant stuff. and it's going to die out. There's even something around fishing. the farm stuff. I get it. like Habbo and WeeWorld and things like that.
We're seeing people increase revenue of 10 to 20 percent just by adding alternative payment and "offers". That's a really great scenario and I think the future of the industry is about relevance where personally I like burritos. So. 135 . There are some negative offers where the users are signing up for free things and nothing in life is free. they want Netflix so they buy Netflix. You have to be careful about your community. Let's say Netflix is one of the major examples. see what things are working and what aren't and control that for long-term success. at least. You send a mass mail or notifications or you put up a post. So. I think that's a really easy win if you're looking to increase revenue. that your exchange rate for that significant day is going to be doubled. So. every day. pays $20. So. the best thing for me is how do you sell toilet paper where they are going to need it every few weeks or. that's a good situation. if I could go buy burrito coupons and at the same time get my vampire points. let's say. 20.00. Netflix. it's a really good situation for everyone. We haven't seen where it over compensates because if it goes up 5x it's going down 5x. and we've actually seen revenue increase 5x. what you do on a random day you tell them right in the morning. one of the studies that I like to talk about is a few clients have implemented a blue light special. You don't announce it. I think you need to think long-term about how do you build microtransactions. and Netflix gets a new customer. 50 percent? Noah: That's a really great question. I think there's a lot of opportunity for people to test that kind of system out. maybe. for 2x you get a 5x. So. the user is not going to pay you but. basically. even from having that exchange rate. so it definitely makes sense. they get the coins and they get the Netflix service. Interviewer: Can you talk about other ways that you've seen revenue spike up 10. and that's why we provide a lot of tools to. there's good and bad about it. So. So. And it actually stays higher for the next few days.That's basically the bottom line. you get the 20 bucks.
If you're a new developer. You always hear people like. right? And then. go do it. Interviewer: What's the website that people can visit to get started? Noah: Yeah. A larger studio. and I am the President of Super Rewards.com. How about you introduce yourself? Adam: I am Adam Caplan. That's the bottom line. Start with something simple like a text-based game.com. You have no idea it's us. Interviewer: How do you spell that? Noah: g-e-t-g-a-m-b-i-t . it depends on different stages. with our service. we work with them with more of a custom solution that's fully integrated. Interview with Super Rewards http://www.srpoints. I just say. Interviewer: What’s Super Rewards about? 136 . If that works and you make some money. and it's just really about how we make the user experience as well as maximizing revenue at the same time. You never know. It takes five minutes. and with me today is a special guest. engaging your game. It's getgambit. there's money and there isn't money. you need to be focused on growing.com Interviewer: I’m here at the Game Developers Conference. Don't make excuses and go try to build anything. Start monetizing. retaining. Interviewer: Thank you very much. then you can even hire people or flesh out more into different ideas. but your priority really should really be growth. throw us in.Interviewer: How can developers get started then with your service? Noah: Oh. Developers.
We could just show our CPA offers attached to some product. fill out a survey. We also provide a way for consumers to earn virtual currency for free by completing advertising offers. Interviewer: What services do you exactly offer? Is it just people who come and fill out surveys or what? Adam: We provide a way for developers to monetize the users either directly with users paying for virtual currency.Adam: Super Rewards is a virtual currency monetization platform used by game developers in the social media space. to play the game. we provide it. sign up for some product like Netflix or a mobile ring tone service or a newspaper subscription. et cetera. And the developer rewards the user with virtual currency to use either within the game. a lot of standalone sites. you name it. cash in the mail. The beautiful thing about virtual currency is it provides flexibility. for a subscription. anything from play span marketplace to Crunchyrole to Wild West Online to Our World. Interviewer: Do you have to be an application on Facebook? Adam: Absolutely not. so if one offer might pay out 137 . download whatever that virtual currency is used for — we just provide a way to fund that virtual currency. You can be a standalone site of any kind. Adam: That’s the primary way we use today. gift cards. So we are working with about 800 applications across the social media space today but also 20 to 30 standalone sites. it’s a $10 price point and you want it to show only offers that would pay up $10. any way of getting a dollar or two to get you to pay for something directly. from credit cards to PayPal to charging it to their mobile phone. whatever that service is that provides an inflow of revenue to the developer. For example. MMORPGs. So. we could do that. Interviewer: So most developers who do this in their game. put a check in the mail. virtual worlds. They can pay through any one of a couple of hundred different methods around the world. they do need to have virtual currency in the game for this to work. if you have a game. It doesn’t have to be that.
$3. come back to it over time and follow their character through a story line. Where we might have three or four games making individual developers a million dollars a month. We see those types of games monetizing. we have several developers we work with just in the social media space. The things they do are around pricing virtual items or how to optimize the flow of users to a page. They are individual developers. Things like tips for your own game. Interviewer: Can you talk about some of the good design practices that game developers and designers can use to either optimize their virtual economy or generate more revenue in a way that’s sustainable? Adam: Yeah. Interviewer: Can you talk about the potential revenue that indie developers can make using your program or system? Adam: Well. We have a game advisory team as part of Super Rewards whose sole job is to work with our partners on optimizing their sites. you know. so I guess there are a whole variety of different tricks and tips that we work with our developers on. 25-year-old guys that are earning a million dollars a month through Super Rewards. Interviewer: Oh really. But I think if you look across our platform today.000 plus a month. by far and away the most lucrative area is still the role-playing game category where there are people very vested in their character development. we have hundreds of developers making $10. awesome. how to make a story line more consistent. Adam: So if you have a hit game that consumers are passionate about playing and are willing to incorporate virtual currency in a way to monetize the user again and again and again who are passionate about playing your game. many.50 and another might pay out $6.50. you could combine the two to get the $10 price point. how do you have persistent characters? What sort of virtual items should you be charging for or implementing? We have a team dedicated to that. 138 . They can come play for awhile. many times some of the other games.
The other thing we do on our end is we’re always refreshing our offers. Interviewer: So that’s by adding new content every week or something else like that. are there any other things that also produce good results for indie game developers? Adam: Yeah. really take something you’re passionate about and make that available to folks out there and make a great living from it. where someone comes out with a special sword or a special engine for a car. and 100 offers that are no longer monetizing drop off. Every day we add 100 new offers to the platform. It’s always. how do we keep fresh advertising offers in front of the consumers so they’re always coming back and saying.Interviewer: Sure. the people who are making a million a month. Tomorrow I want to download a ring tone to my file. For example.” It's always changing. or how do you guys actually keep that consistent or is it just part of the life cycle? Adam: It’s two things. Adding in that fresh content that fits in with the story line is really. Adam: And so. It’s only available … 100 of them available and it’s available for 24 hours. every day. 139 . really powerful. today I’m going to sign up for Netflix. Things around trophy cabinets and adding collectible trading cards. does that go down over time. some of the interesting things we are seeing now are around meta games on top of standard flash games. we are doing a lot of work on our end to come out with a product soon that will help our development partners add these meta games. “How can I get my free points? Well. too. Interviewer: Now. Interviewer: So when you talk about these limited-item things. I mean. one of the really great things we’ve seen is limited-item virtual goods. People just take that stuff up like crazy. Adam: Yeah. It’s the developer keeping the content fresh and consistent. this is a way to really.
the variation is very wide. maybe. but there’s an extra element of fun and participation. a dollar per active user a month. Maybe. I mean. it’s playing the same game and achieving certain things. playing a different selection of games. You would get that whole set by playing all the different flash games and attaining certain scores then? Adam: Maybe. Interviewer: Developers.000 a month or whatever. You might have games that are making 10 cents. but it’s all about how you engage the user to keep coming back and perhaps pay credits. a score multiplier or some other element of the flash game play.It might fall outside the normal flash game. Interviewer: And so. and it’s a way to monetize with virtual currencies where you might have a game that doesn’t typically have a virtual currency in it. say. 140 . which would give an indie developer freedom or whatever to quit their job. you can make that sort of money. but you might have games that are making $20 per active user per month. Interviewer: How would trading cards actually make money. With that trading card. because I know a lot of indie developers who do flash games? Adam: So let’s say that by finishing a particular flash game or getting a certain score. You use credits to collect these tradable items that might have an impact on. so if you’ve got 10. it became part of a collectible set and your aim was to continue building this collectible set — it adds this extra element of continuous game play around the flash game. Maybe. the player is trying to collect that whole set.000 active users across a month and they are coming back on a regular basis. Some games. maybe. $10. how many active users or daily active users do they need to actually make a decent amount of money? So to make. that’s right. you are rewarded a particular trading card. if they have a game. how many daily actives do they need for that? Adam: We definitely on our platform say on average earnings of.
you can pick up a lot of tips from their applications of games that demonstrate how viral these things can be and what sorts of things that users are passionate about doing. Interviewer: You have other competitors. and we think it’s a great industry to be part of. We think that’s a very big market. Interviewer: People can integrate this into their flash game. If you look at the leaders in the space that are doing well in the social media space. What do you want your credits to be worth? And then it spits out some IFrame code. Adam: It’s “s” for super and “r” for rewards. points. We have 4 to 5.com. The flexibility of our offering.com. so it puts into the hands of the developer exactly how they want this to be displayed. We encourage all indie developers to get out there. and we’re just beginning to understand it. The breadth of advertising offerings. Interviewer: If people want to find out more about this and want to get started. Adam: Absolutely. It’s a very simple sign-up process with us. You can put that in your application. 141 . too.com. what do they do? Adam: Come to srpoints. We’re excited to be part of it.000 different offers in our platform today. which is more than anybody else. So. because we certainly have a lot of folks making themselves very wealthy people through us. whether it’s a social networking site or a standalone site. I think. or you can take an XML feed of our offers and custom-build the offers into your flash application. we have offerings in 80 countries around the world. What site it sits on. there isn’t anybody else that is having this XML feed at the moment. Let us know what your currency is called. Interviewer: S-r-points. we’re very flexible. What do you guys offer versus your competitors? Adam: There’s a couple of things.It’s an incredible range.
online games. mobile apps and other social publishers. virtual worlds. Our turnkey monetization platform helps developers make money by giving their users the option to either buy their virtual currency -. Finally. we really think of ourselves as partners to you guys.com Interviewer: Thanks for doing this e-mail interview.or earn it in exchange for taking part in any of our 4. Interview with Offerpal Media http://www. Interviewer: Great. of pricing things differently. What is Offerpal and how can developers use it to make money? Matt: Offerpal Media is the leading virtual currency monetization solution for social applications.offerpal. Getting people to the offer page more effectively.So. which we don’t charge for but how can we make you guys more effective. It’s all about a consulting service. install program and more -.all designed from the ground up for the social and gaming environments. account management. customer service team. Interviewer: How is this service better than others? Matt: The Offerpal platform is powered by a sophisticated optimization 142 . particularly if you have an international component to your user base.000+ targeted advertising offers. analytics tools. social networks. it’s about what advice can we give our partners on ways that integrate the things they can do on their end around adding in limited virtual items. fraud prevention systems. The platform also comes with the industry's leading optimization engine.through more than a dozen global payment options -. we monetize far more effectively than anybody else internationally because we just have a bigger breadth of offers. Thank you very much. There’s a team of folks whose job is not about how do we make our advertising platform more effective.
At the core of our optimization engine is a series of proprietary algorithms that look at user profile data. We also offer XML and JSON feeds so that developers have complete flexibility in how they integrate with us.Our analytics tools give developers actionable insights to help them optimize their virtual economies .We offer greater flexibility and customization in our platform . This optimization engine delivers higher Revenue Per User than any of our competitors. 143 . or through contextually relevant links such as when a user wants to purchase a virtual good but does not have enough currency.We have coverage in 190 countries and have localized our offers and User Interface into more than 25 native languages Interviewer: What are specific and unique monetization integration points that developers can use to raise revenue? Matt: There are many ways that developers or game publishers can integrate our virtual currency payment options. Other ways that our service is better than others include: . These feeds literally let the developer manipulate the data however they see fit so they can run our offers in whatever way makes the most sense within their game play. custom offers not found elsewhere . and then drive users to it through multiple touchpoints such as through an "Earn Currency" tab in the main nav bar. through special promotions. The primary method is to embed our "offer wall" as an I-frame within the app or site.We have a larger and more responsive customer service team . social behaviors and other criteria to improve targeting and relevancy for the end user.engine that improves conversions and maximizes revenues for our publishers while managing lead quality and delivering the highest ROI to our advertising partners.We have more offers and a greater mix of unique.
sometimes up to 100 new offers every day. 144 . premium item of extreme value. Some of our most successful partners are "indie" developers with just one or two people doing all the work. So yes. they'll play it. Many of our publishers have been with us for a year or more and their revenues are still climbing. once a month . So the longer it runs. They key is for developers to maintain a healthy and balanced virtual economy. those items always generate a large spike in revenues. So as long as your users are engaged in the game and active in the virtual economy. many of our publishers are constantly adding new virtual goods into their marketplace. so there's always the demand for those new items. there's no reason why revenues should decline. If people like your game. so that users always have plenty of new offers to choose from. in fact many of our developers are currently college students who decided to build an app in their spare time. we help prevent a decline in revenues through our intelligent optimization engine.Interviewer: Do the revenues disappear after a month? How do developers raise their revenue month after month? Matt: Not at all. all of which we can help with. All it takes is a good idea and a keen understanding of game mechanics and design. which comes with managing your sources and sinks. and they'll tell all their friends to play it. They might add new items on a daily or at least weekly basis. and before you know it you've got a hit.those kinds of things. When they do. And then there's the fact that we're constantly adding new offers into our system. monitoring for fraud . which actually "learns" more about a developer's users and their behavior patterns as it runs inside the game or application.say. and then occasionally . For instance. Interviewer: How big does a team need to be to create a profitable game? Are students doing this? Matt: That's the beauty of this business . We add 25 or 50. and the better it performs.add a specialty. testing your exchange rate. the more effective it becomes at targeting users with relevant ad offers. Also.small teams can be just as successful as large ones.
which obviously helps monetize more effectively.Exchanges . We've found that these work really well.Feedback . what is the best way to integrate offers into Flash games? Matt: Right now Flash developers can integrate our offers through XML and JSON feeds. The nice thing about these feeds is that there's no limit to how they can be integrated .taps into the long-held human desire to amass an entire collection or set of items .Collecting .Leveling up .encourages competition by motivating users to want to appear on the leaderboard.encourages users to interact more deeply with their peers by creating structured social interactions that can be explicit and implicit . a universal leaderboard or just among friends . giving the user the opportunity to earn bonus coins for completing the offer. Some of the best game mechanics for social games and applications include: . Interviewer: What are good game design mechanics you've seen help to keep players engaged and coming back? Matt: Game mechanics is something we study very closely here at Offerpal.Interviewer: What about Flash and virtual coins. whether it's the first level or the one hundredth level . whether it's a daily leaderboard or all-time leaderboard. because they're so important in helping keep users motivated and engaged. We are also working on creating an API for Flash developers to make it even easier to integrate our offers.helps motivate users progressively and gives them that sense of satisfaction from having completed a level.helps the users master your game quicker and more easily by offering feedback and instructions on how they're doing or how they could do better 145 .it's entirely up to the developer's imagination. For instance. there's a Flash-based farming app out there that pops up one of our offers in a bubble when a user happens to plow a certain section of the field.Leaderboards .
etc.that they can tap into a user's social graph to make the gameplay more fun and more rewarding. . As game developers become savvier about implementing virtual economies and selling virtual goods. Interviewer: What are compelling revenue numbers you've seen? Does Flash monetize better than a text-based game? Where do you see the future of the space going and how can someone getting started now make the most of the opportunity? Matt: We've seen some incredible revenue numbers from our developers.Customization . text. ensuring that they won't go play a similar game somewhere else because of the commitment they've made in customizing their experience with your game. people get more out of them and start playing more often. simply because it can use the graphics and visuals to draw the users in deeper to the experience.a nicely designed Flash game will typically outperform a simple text-based game. Our network-wide average is more than $80 per day for every 1. we see the most successful games becoming more and more social.creates a barrier to exit by allowing users to customize their experience.Flash. Some are making more than $1 million a month. We also expect virtual economies to continue to evolve. When games become not just entertainment but also a way to bond with friends and acquaintances. and for game developers to get more sophisticated in terms of delivering virtual goods and managing their economies.000 Daily Active Users. That's the real benefit to games on social networks or even on the open web . if all else is equal. 146 . with many others making hundreds of thousands of dollars every month. then yes .doesn't matter so much as the game itself. The format of the game . Consumers have shown that they're enthusiastic about taking part in virtual economies and view them as an exciting part of the in-game experience.. In the future. the opportunity to monetize their games will grow accordingly. Is it really engaging? Is it fun to play? Do people enjoy playing it with their friends? Does it give them reason to come back frequently? That said.
too much friction to actually get to what you want. billing address.Interviewer: Great. Interviewer: What’s the specific benefit then of paying via cell phone versus credit card? David: Paying with a credit card involves you standing up and getting to your wallet. Thank you very much. typing 16 digits. which results in much. you’re saying now that players are actually paying with their cell phone or exactly what? David: That’s right. And so. we 147 . much higher conversion rates. When you want to buy something which especially is virtual goods or points for a game.com Interviewer: I’m here at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. I’m David Marcus. That charge gets added to their phone bill at the end of the month.zong. taking your credit card out. Interviewer: So. Interview with Zong http://www. it’s just too complicated. expiration date. there’s a lot of leakage. Interviewer: What’s Zong about? David: Zong is a frictionless mobile payment system for games and social networks. Basically. the Founder and CEO of Zong. what we do is make the payments a lot easier than with credit cards or any other payment method. wherever it is. and with me today is a special guest. They pay with their cell phone. How about you introduce yourself? David: Hi. You draw probably 19% of the people who want to pay versus 40% for these mobile sales. In other words.
the small indie games and some of the virtual worlds we power. Interviewer: Can you talk about that simplicity of your payment process? Exactly what does a player do? David: The first time ever a user pays with Zong. Are there any other interesting stats? For example. obviously. get back on the web and in 10 seconds you’re finished. but generally the players try lower price points at first. is it just an initial rush of players that use this service and then after awhile the revenue goes down or how does that work? David: There’s definitely an initial rush. So.can get about 60% of the people want to pay versus 10% with other credit card based payment systems. so the conversion works. but everybody now knows their mobile number by heart and they always have their phone next to them. David: No. and then after that they’ve got 20% additional revenue. It’s three people. they get about 40 to 50% more absolute revenues. they type in their cell number. Most of the games that we power are showing a growth of more than 20% a month in absolute revenue from Zong. We cut a check the other day of more than a half a million dollars for a virtual small world. So the initial rush is actually supplanted by less transactions but at a higher price point. but then that grows more than 20 to 25% in an aggregated base every month. there is no registration whatsoever. but it works. Interviewer: Can you talk about then the revenue range that some of these developers are actually making off of these social games and Zong service? David: The range is pretty large. When they plug in the service. so ultimately more and more revenues. It’s not the biggest check we wrote. get a pin code. and that’s a small team. 148 . and then the repeat usage becomes pretty high and they go to a higher price point. Interviewer: So. You need to know your mobile phone number. It’s a small app. they put in your service. Interviewer: Great.
If you build the payments the right way — in other words. the competitiveness. too fast for the user. For girls. really well. but it’s always something that needs to improve the rank or status of the player in that game. 149 . Our integration is an I-Frame. So. So. Virtual weaponry that improves game play works really. I am going to defeat you. it’s like collections. He needs to get more engagement with the game and in the game before he is ready to purchase something. and what do you mean by well-integrated versus just passively integrated? David: Well. a small I-Frame. Limiting the number of steps that one needs to take to complete a transaction and also enticing the user to make that transaction. so if you can display the I-Frame within the game experience — don't navigate away from the game or don’t leave the user environment from the game because otherwise you just lose a lot of people as well. Interviewer: So. and it’s all about how you present the payments. it’s always games that involve some kind of weaponry. it can’t just be for expression. it’s always the streak that is the ultimate motivation. Interviewer: Can you talk about this integration. If it’s really well integrated. if you consider payments as an integral part of your game rather than a commodity and just leave it on the side. Interviewer: Can you talk about more specific virtual goods or virtual items that developers should offer to raise revenue or to increase revenue that they can get? David: It depends on what type of games. you are presented with the opportunity to buy something. that’s for men. If it’s games targeted to men. It has to actually improve the game play stats or something. It’s all about timing. It’s. it’s all about user experience. It’s like you’ve got this virtual pet and you want to buy a lot of virtual goodies for that virtual pet. maybe. then you can generate a lot of revenues from that. That works extremely well. right? So. It can’t just be so much flare. if it’s like early on in the game.
It’s actually as you said. Interviewer: There are other mobile payment platforms. That’s one. more convenient and less painful to pay with a mobile phone than a credit card. or if they do. and you are done. They go through aggregators that add more costs and instability to the whole transaction.. You just type in your number. actually. we’ve got 84 carrier relationships and of these 84 carrier relationships. you guys then are focused mainly on. Our flow is really the best in the marketplace. versus Eastern or Asian countries? David: It converts well everywhere. It works well everywhere. Interviewer: Sure.. and the brand shows that we understand the space more than traditional payments. but then again it needs to improve the perception of others of that user if it’s a MMOG or an RPG or the score of that player in that given game. apps on Facebook and MySpace then. or are you also focused on MMOGs outside. because I know that your service has been used by other applications or games on Facebook. It’s three clicks. it’s just faster. We’re in 15 countries. We understand the gaming space and social space real well. Players are actually playing with mobile because either they don't have a credit card or bank account. and we’re adding 25 countries within the next 10 months. and we optimize the flow for our clients just to make sure they make more money.S. Mobile transactions can be expensive. Now. 150 . where you had previous bad experiences or received a bad invoice at the end of the month. So you need to have super-high conversion rates. And then the last thing is we understand the space. You don’t have to select your country. Interviewer: Can you talk about adoption rates in terms of . say. So what’s the benefit of using Zong versus other ones? David: It’s very simple. is this more effective if you have players in the United States versus players outside the U. You don’t have to select a carrier.David: It could be expression. you pay in 10 seconds. None of the other payment platforms have a single direct carrier relationship. Two. 80% of these are direct relationships.
It’s really any type of environment that has virtual currency. In other words. do you see then applications actually converting? Are developers converting then to this virtual economy? Is that something that you guys help with. Interviewer: Any other last words then for indie game developers who are trying to make money off their games? 151 . a virtual economy in your game and you don’t have the right billing mechanisms. you know. virtual subscriptions. or now — we’re going to be announcing shortly — subscriptions as well. subscriptions can be for all kinds of stuff. Since virtual currency and virtual goods are a huge profit driver. Interviewer: Sure. then it just doesn’t work. virtual goods. So. if you convert to enabling a virtual goods transaction. So. or virtual goods that can be purchased. it’s kind of a virtuous circle between payments that are mobile and an integration of virtual currency and virtual goods. it should be out. or is it mainly once converted you guys offer a service for monetizing it? David: Well. where can they go? David: Zong. generally it goes hand-in-hand because mobile payments make it work. both. but the same demographic is actually playing the MMOGs. You know. So almost by the time your audience listens to that.com. we’re involved everywhere where there is a need to purchase virtual currency. Interviewer: When is this virtual subscription service or option going to come out? David: It’s a few weeks out. We’ve got a lot of the Facebook developers and MySpace developers using us because it works well in the environment and demographic.David: Well. Interviewer: If a developer wants to find out more about how to use this.
absolutely. Gaming is really. Zong is a no-brainer. Interviewer: So. We work with social media game companies. or is it any type of game or what? Ali: We have a wider spectrum of partners than some of the other players in the space. Interviewer: What’s Peanut Labs about? Ali: Peanut Labs is a monetization company that we focus on research primarily.David: Well. We work with blogging sites like LiveJournal. It just works. it’s a slightly broader demographic. my name is Ali Moiz and I am one of the founders of Peanut Labs. really. you’re saying that people could use your service even if they don’t have a game.peanutlabsmedia. like one of the sweet spots for the industry. We work with casual game companies. How about you introduce yourself? Ali: Hi. We work with dating sites like OkCupid. We work with MMOs. Interview with Peanut Labs http://www. I feel. any situation where they have virtual currency or virtual economy. Interviewer: Is it pretty much then for MMOs. 152 .com Interviewer: I’m here at Casual Connect and with me today is a special guest. Xanga. And I am being very objective here. and we tie research to end game virtual currencies and virtual economies. Interviewer: Thank you very much. So. It can be just anything with virtual currency. Six Apart. so micro-transactions.
They are actually getting value out of your anonymous opinion and putting that together to size markets and new market data. Microsoft. And you can either pay for them or get them for free by doing online surveys and research or ads with us. Universal Studios might come to us and say. Interviewer: Can you talk about the specific types of surveys? Is it kind of like the other traditional offers that you see on some of the other competitors in your space. those guys. pure anonymous research from Fortune 500 brands and research agencies.000 people.Ali: Absolutely. We also do the lead generation. Peanut Labs. we focus on the research market. then the players don’t necessarily have to get spammed or anything else when they fill out these surveys because it’s purely research or something else like that. more stories. “Here are five different trailers for the movie. So. Research surveys are 5 to 10 minute online surveys. so Xanga. 153 . more photos. For the last three years I’ve spent three years and five million dollars turning out a roster of clients on the research side that exclusively do a lot of their research with us. Ali: That’s exactly the value proposition. more skins. or are these different types? Ali: So what really sets Peanut Labs apart from the other players in the space is I feel like fundamentally there are two kinds of inventory that make up most of the market. they are one of the oldest blogging sites on the Internet. Unilever. two examples. add new features. Interviewer: So. So. Nielsen. they give out Xanga credits to users to upgrade their profiles. AT&T. So. They are a good example. no marketing. and then there are online ads. There are research surveys. Help us figure out what the best trailer should be that will increase our sales the most” because they’re talking millions of dollars for opening day weekend. no lead generation. go and interview 100. CPA. So. people like P&G. they spend a lot of money doing research. And a good or bad trailer can be like a 10 million dollar difference on a Friday night. comScore. The other market is lead generation. That’s one market. One is survey when a new movie comes out.
154 . Interviewer: Let’s say a game developer wants to get started and use surveys as part of their offering to generate revenue. Survey companies don’t pay out that much. and then Acclaim gives the user the sword. they are playing Nine Moons and they want a fancy new sword and they don’t want to pay for it. peanutlabsmedia. Our clients pay us. How would a game developer use your service to make money and to keep their players happy. It’s just the case that 95 percent of the users that play the games. Interviewer: You mentioned that gaming is the sweet spot. The larger the company the more likely the more quality-focused they are and the longer their horizon is. trying to figure out how to market their products and how to make them better. or you can go to our site. and just create an account. Interviewer: Can players make as much coin filling out these research surveys compared to actually doing the trial offers or something else like that? Do they just have to fill out a lot more surveys? How does that work? Ali: The surveys pay out slightly less when you compare it to an offer on average. so they take a five minute online survey. too.com. so they don’t alienate them with bad offers or something else like that? Ali: One of the primary reasons that game companies have worked with us is because they feel surveys are more sustainable than offers long-term because offers tend to churn and burn users whereas surveys are more sustainable. players playing one of their games. for example. Marketing credit card companies will pay out sometimes a hundred bucks a lead if somebody fills out a credit card form. You’re not getting marketed or spammed. so the conversion rates are much higher. spends about $200 million a year. but the conversion rates are about three to four times higher for surveys than for offers because you are not entering your information. For companies like Electronic Arts or Acclaim Games that we work with. We pay Acclaim.Procter & Gamble. How would they do that with your company? Ali: It’s really simple. they work with our surveys and tie them into the virtual currency so the use case is. You’re not entering your credit card. You can get in touch with me or any of our people.
Interviewer: Do you have any suggestions on things that game developers can do to make sure that more players actually fill out the surveys? Do you have best practices for ways that developers can monetize their game much more effectively with surveys without alienating their audience? Ali: Sure. offers or they can do all of the above. ethnicity. 50 things out there that they can do. and so we provide all of this information to you so you can better segment your target. sex. and they can use that to better target users. And also level progression. you just mean that a certain area of the game is blocked out until they fill out a survey or how exactly would a game developer design or integrate the survey in conjunction with the progress? Ali: That’s just one example. and they feel that doing this on a regular basis helps boost their revenue. For stuff unique to surveys and offers is surveys and offers could be tied more closely to in-game progress for the characters rather than just generic or virtual currency. gender. location. We provide about 14 different pieces of demographic information to all of the partners we work with. 155 . Game developers could make it a more integrated part of their quest line or story line. so you can be up and running in 20 minutes. Interviewer: When you talk about actually integrating the survey into the character’s progress in the game. rare items. education levels. and a lot of it has already been covered by some of our competitors. We have an API where you can take our inventory and program it and put it in different parts of your game.The process is self-service and automated. income. Typically. 5000 editions of a particular orb or a globe or a spell or a new gun that are not going to be available again next week. They can run it through surveys. so a lot of game developers also uniquely release limited content every week. We collect all this stuff because we do research on these users. There are also ways to segment users and target them based on demographic information. and you’ve done a good job in your book as well covering a lot of these things. 40. The locked content is one area. I think there are probably like 30. things in games that you are already charging for are a good substitute for this. For example. They can either charge for it. age.
Look at customer support complaints. And have you seen any positive results compared to that? Ali: I have seen developers do locked stuff behind micro transactions in general. not just surveys and offers but surveys.Interviewer: Have you ever seen people lock the content behind surveys then? So. Everyone has their marketing pitches. 156 . I have seen them offer all of the options. you actually have to fill out a survey. Interviewer: Any last words for game developers who want to make money off of surveys and make more revenue from their games? Ali: Try it out. So. Interviewer: Thank you very much. look at churn rate. offers and payments so that people get… As a user. Look at how fast you are losing users by running certain kinds of ads and take that into account when picking partners. it’s like: to get this special item. what you don’t want is you don’t want to limit the choice of payment options. but also what I would suggest is looking at the churn rate in addition to eCPM revenues because what you don’t want is you’re making five bucks a user but you’ve lost them forever as opposed to your making 10 dollars from a user but you’re going to keep them for a while. You’re never really going to know until you try different partners out.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.