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Varun Chopra Ruby Dinh Eniola Holloway Darcey Kurashige-Elliot James Perry Mellisa Traft
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY .........................................................................................................................................3 I. INTRODUCTION ....................................................................................................................................................4 II. PROBLEM DEFINITION ...................................................................................................................................5 B. Probable Problems.............................................................................................................................................6 C. Decision Statement ............................................................................................................................................7 D. Research Objectives ..........................................................................................................................................7 E. Research Questions: ..........................................................................................................................................8 III. RESEARCH METHODS ....................................................................................................................................8 C. Standard Exploratory Research ...................................................................................................................9 A. Secondary data ....................................................................................................................................................8 B. Literature research ............................................................................................................................................8
TABLE OF CONTENTS
D. Survey ................................................................................................................................................................... 11 IV. DATA ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION ....................................................................................................... 12 A. Secondary Data ................................................................................................................................................. 12 B. Literature Search ............................................................................................................................................. 12 C. Exploratory Research .................................................................................................................................... 13 V. DISCUSSION ........................................................................................................................................................ 34 VI. RECOMMENDATIONS .................................................................................................................................. 35 VII. LIMITATIONS ................................................................................................................................................. 37 VIII. APPENDIX ....................................................................................................................................................... 40 D. SURVEY................................................................................................................................................................. 14
The constantly evolving gaming industry is now drifting towards a new type of platform: social gaming. These kinds of games are played through social media such as Facebook, MSN Live and Yahoo!; the goal is to create a collaborative, interactive gaming experience for the user. Electronic Arts (EA) is a video game developer that is losing market share; the company has produced a loss in 11 straight quarters, with a 68% drop in stock price. Much of this is because EA jumped into the social gaming industry with little to no background of successful drivers for these games. Our team wanted to conduct research about the gaming habits and preferences of social media game players; our goal was to provide recommendations to EA of trends to consider in the social game development process. Our sample target demographic was the Clark University undergraduate student body. We conducted secondary source and literature research, hosted a focus group, and provided in-class surveys to two undergraduate classes. When we realized that we would not have enough data to create accurate conclusions, we decided to create an online survey with no demographic restrictions. We were able to get 142 responses to our survey; of this, 36.2% (51) respondents said that they played social media games. Our conclusions and recommendations are based off of analysis of this group. We found some interesting trends regarding gamer behavior within our data; for instance, the number of new social media gamers is growing, and social gamers tend to have game sessions of 30 minutes or less. We discovered that there are two different types of gamers: casual (less than once a week) and frequent (once a day or more). We also found that some parts of the gaming experience, particularly playing partners and recommendation preferences, were highly gendered; females preferred to play with friends and used face-to-face recommendation, while males were more likely to play with strangers or find a game recommendation online. Another key development is the rise of smart phones; as smart phone use becomes more prominent, social game developers will have to build appropriate mobile game platforms. The most popular games covered a variety of different genres (strategy, simulation, casual, adventure) and were played by people with a variety of motivations. We feel that these motivations (stress-relief, accomplishment, excitement, competitiveness) are the main driving forces for getting players to become repeat gamers. If a game can create repeat gamers, there is a higher chance that these kinds of gamers will be motivated to use and buy virtual currency, which is the main source of revenue behind social gaming.
• Brief description of the gaming industry and EA
The idea for the first video game was sparked in 1951 when Ralph Baer, then an engineer with Loral, was given the task of developing the best television in the world. Since then, the video gaming industry has grown significantly with steep increase of popularity in recent years due to a number of technology and consumer trends. Some of the factors that have led to the recent gaming industry boom are: Growth of the Internet: With the arrival of high-speed internet available through either DSL or cable modem connection services have increased the accessibility of online gaming. Introduction of Wireless Networks and Smart Phones: Wireless carriers are providing high-speed networks which are supported by highly advanced smart phones having multimedia capabilities. These phones and networks are increasingly supporting various gaming experiences. Increasing Mature Consumer Base: According to the Entertainment Software Association 1 (Essential Facts), the average age of a gamer in 2010 is 34 years old which was 30 in year 2005. This means that the average gamer has more disposable income than he had historically, when gamers were typically children. One of the pioneers in this industry, Electronic Arts (EA), was founded and incorporated on May 28, 1982. It started as a home computing game publisher and later began developing games in-house and supported consoles. By the early 2000s, EA had become one of the world's largest third-party publishers. EA reported a $1.08 billion loss for the financial year ending March 2008, despite reported sales revenues of $4.2 billion in the same period, a 15 percent rise from the previous year’s $3.6 billion. Having lost money for straight 11 quarters, stock price of EA dropped almost 68%. The market share of EA is also shrinking due to the shift of gaming industry from tradition gaming mode to social media based games; where EA is yet to emerge as a major player. Social games are the web-based games, or applications, that are similar in complexity to casual games and integrate the community-based attributes of social networks. However, EA specialized in sports and entertainment games; it offered a negligible number of games in this market section. GP Bullhound estimates that the global social gaming market is to grow from $1 billion in 2009 ($600 million from the US) to just over $3 billion in 2012, representing a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 45% over that time period. 2 Social game developers like Zynga, PopCap Games, and MindJolt Games have the strongest market shares. EA signaled its entrance into the social media gaming market through the acquisition of game developer Playfish; the firm was able to capture over 10% of the market share in a short amount of time as two of its games were among top ten most popular social games. In this research we will be exploring the various prospects of social media based games necessary for success in the contemporary viral social environment. We will then make a number of recommendations for EA that will help the firm mark its presence in the growing world of social gaming. • Core problems or issues of the situation
The problem seems to be in the approach used by EA in which they appear to be targeting mainly noncasual gamers. The majority of EA titles due to be released later this year are the same game titles
Entertainment Software Association : http://www.theesa.com/facts/pdfs/ESA_Essential_Facts_2010.PDF Social Gaming: The Fastest Growing Segment of the Games Market: GP Bullhound, research centric investment bank
available to non-casual gamers. The company is not identifying the needs of casual gamers who contribute towards the majority of revenue generated in the social gaming market. Our research will help to outline the interests and motivations of social media game players; this information can help new EA identify new target markets and aid in new game design.
II. PROBLEM DEFINITION
EA’s market share is shrinking; have lost money for 11 straight quarters while stock has dropped 68% EA’s loss in market share is an extremely important and relevant symptom to our case study. Losing money for 11 straight quarters and having their stock drop 68% shows significant signs of distress. It presents a very clear message: EA is struggling. This struggle confirms EA’s difficulty in keeping up with the constantly evolving video game industry. Gamers are shifting from offline to online gaming. EA’s response: free online titles like Tiger Woods Golf and FIFA Soccer, in-development Star Wars multiplayer online game, possible redesign of the Sims franchise as a social-networking activity. The growing interest of online, interactive game-play within the video game market presents another symptom for our team to analyze. This distinct symptom might be relevant to why EA has lost a fair amount of money and market share. The market share and money loss could be attributed to EA poorly adapting to this increased interested in online game-play. More games are being designed for use within a social atmosphere (e.g. Guitar Hero/Rock Band, online team-based games) Much like the previous symptom, an increased interest in social game-play has altered the video game industry. The major difference between this symptom and the ones previously stated is that this symptom expands upon the social-orientation of recently developed video games. This change in the video game industry also includes the consumers within the video game markets. The amount of casual gamers is increasing quickly, as opposed to hardcore gamers. The market has grown rapidly, including consumers who were previously uninterested in gaming. New market targets: Computer users who had never previously played video games have started to play social network-based games like Farmville and Mafia Wars; current console-based gamers are becoming more involved as well. There are more consumers playing video games than ever before; thus, the gaming market is expanding. More consumers, ranging from all ages, are becoming more interested in gaming. Whether their “gaming” includes simple games, such as those available on websites (browser video games) and Facebook games or games on Xbox360 and PS3, “casual gamers” are growing rapidly as a market. Games are also become more community-oriented; this includes console games, which are becoming more focused on competitive, online communities.
Firms like Zynga and PopCap are dominating the social gaming industry; these companies only specialize in these types of products. As social gaming becomes a larger market to appeal to, so does the browser-based video game market. Facebook and other social networking website games have captured increasing numbers of the average gaming consumer’s interest, therein capturing more of a growing, larger, market. EA might have potentially missed this market during the early stages of its development, but is beginning to realize the importance of participating in social-networking gaming.
B. PROBABLE PROBLEMS
EA is aware of the growing social gaming market but so far has been unsuccessful in penetrating that market. EA has failed to recognize the importance of entering the social-networking gaming market early. Due to their late arrival into the social gaming market, the company has fallen behind many of their competitors in the overall online gaming market. As a result, they are failing to meet the needs of the consumer. EA has been unable to accurately identify their target customers’ demographics. Not only has EA been failing to meet their consumer’s needs, they have also failed to specify the demographics of their target customers. EA must successfully target a specific market if they intend to compete in the social-networking gaming market. This may be partly due to their hurry to compete within the social-network gaming market. The company had to rush to enter the market in order to capture any available initial market share. This gave them less time to research what target consumers they should be directing their products towards. EA has decided to penetrate this market through their already-existing titles. Due to EA’s lack of knowledge on these consumer’s demographics, the company has failed to understand the interests of their consumer. For example, EA is creating carbon copies of their games on other consoles for social-network games. This, even to very weathered gamers, is a very unappealing market strategy. Copying games from one medium to another (especially from console games to browser games) has never been very successful in the gaming industry. People are not interested in video games that they have already played. They are looking for new and improved games that can hold their interest and attention for a longer period of time. EA is unable to identify consumer-preferred genres for social media games; therefore, they haven’t made games that are market leaders within the social media market. As just stated in the previous probable problem, EA’s strategy for game development in the online gaming and social-network gaming market fails to meet consumer’s expectations. Creating duplicate games does not seem appropriate to market to a newly fostered gaming market. This new market is comprised of people who are fairly new to gaming. These new gamers will most likely not be interested in the same games as those gamers who have been gaming for years. EA is unable to capture their desired market share as the gaming industry shifts towards social network-based gaming platforms.
As a result, the lack of knowledge about the target consumer for social games, coupled with a late entrance into the industry, has hindered EA’s ability to effectively penetrate the social media gaming market.
C. DECISION STATEMENT
How can Electronic Arts effectively penetrate the social media gaming market? We chose this decision statement because it encompasses the most important challenge faced by EA in the social gaming market. In order to effectively penetrate the social media gaming market, it is very important to understand the needs of casual gamers who make the majority of gamers playing social games. According to the Information Services Group, the majority of all social gamers are female (55%) and 38% of females are more likely to play social games multiple times a day. Hence it is also important to understand the demographic of these gamers and the genre of games that they would prefer.
D. RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
Explore the consumer’s perception of social media games The social media gaming market jumped from $76 million in revenue in 2008 to $639 million in 2009 – an increase of about 840% - and is expected to become a billion dollar market by 2011 3. There is a certain appeal to social media games that is drawing in users who are not regular console-based game consumers. Our team aims to gather information about EA’s new market target and we also plan to investigate how firms operate and promote their games outside of defined social networks such as Facebook. We will also attempt to understand the image of the social gaming market through the consumer so that we can gain an accurate view of the market as a whole. Understand the consumer’s current perception of social media titles promoted by EA In order to develop a plan of action for EA’s potential market penetration, we must understand the position of the firm from the casual gamers’ perspective. Recognizing the perceived image of the brand’s current social media titles through the user will help to define our recommendations; if brand equity is strong EA might have an easier time gaining momentum for their venture into social gaming, but if there are negative connotations, the firm will encounter more obstacles. Define the drivers behind new (and successful) social network gaming market entrants Companies such as Zynga and PopCap have become incredibly profitable through the social gaming market. We want to find the factors within those games that have caused them to be popular with game users. We also want to discover the ways that these firms earn revenue (pay games, contracts with social networks) and connect it to the consumer’s relative price sensitivity. Our team expects to find the genres within social gaming that appeal most to the consumer so that EA might focus on creating a more successful social gaming platform. These questions will give us a good sense of the business models of these firms; this information about EA’s market competitors will help the firm develop its niche within the social gaming market.
3 Screen Digest, “Social Network Games: Casual Games’ New Growth Engine” via emarketer.com, “Social Gaming Market Begins to Mature,” July 28 2010; http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?R=1007835.
E. RESEARCH QUESTIONS:
1. Explore the consumer’s perception of social media games How many people play social media games? How are consumers exposed to social media games? Where do consumers play these games? What is the consumer’s game-playing habit? 2. Understand the consumer’s current perception of social media titles promoted by EA How are consumers exposed to social media games produced by EA? What kinds of experiences have consumers had with these games? How often are EA social media titles played by consumers? How does the consumer perceive EA social media titles as compared with its competitors? 3. Define the drivers behind new (and successful) social network gaming market entrants What factors influence the consumer’s decision to play a particular social media game? What genres appeal most to the consumer? What are the incentives for a consumer to spend money on a social media game? What are the driving forces that motivate consumers to become repeat players?
A. SECONDARY DATA
III. RESEARCH METHODS
The secondary data research which we referred to was more promising in terms of providing us with previous surveys and studies pertaining to the profile of the social game players, social game play behavior and the related social networking site activities. These findings helped us design our surveys to capture the essence of social game player perception and behaviors. We utilized the Clark University and the Worcester Consortium’s database for this research phase. Our prime source of reference for secondary data was: • “2010 PopCap Social Gaming Research”, Information Solutions group, 2010. http://www.infosolutionsgroup.com/2010_PopCap_Social_Gaming_Research_Results.pdf. This is a research report commissioned by PopCap Games investigating the percentage of UK and US internet users that engage in social game play, in order to understand their user habits/preferences and create the typical social gamer profile.
B. LITERATURE RESEARCH
The Internet was primarily used for the literature search, which consisted of articles collected from a variety of online resources ranging from news reports (The Washington Post) to gaming, digital technology and entertainment websites/blogs, (GoRumors.com, Gamasutra.com, etc.). Furthermore, we also conducted extensive research on topics salient to our research project, which is primarily to understand consumer perception and use of social games, by investigating historical and forecasted trends in this area. Some of these topics include: profile of social game players and their gaming habits, social games played, choice influences and developer’s brand (including EA), media used to access these social
games and social gaming profitability, (revenue sources). Overall, the combined hours for literature research of the team totaled approximately 12 hours. The following includes a summary of the articles found, their literature types, articles contents and publication dates: “US Mobile Gaming Revenue Forecast”. GoRumors, August 18, 2010, http://gorumors.com/crunchies/us-mobile-gaming-revenues-forecast/ This article discusses gaming industry trends showing a rise of gaming on smart phone devices, sources of these revenues and provides revenue forecast for the next five years “Social Gaming Revenue estimate and Forecast”. GoRumors , July 29th, 2010, http://gorumors.com/crunchies/social-gaming-revenue-growth/ This article discusses gaming industry trends showing a rise of social gaming on networking sites, sources of these revenues and provides revenue forecast for the next five years “Largest Social Game Developers on Facebook”. GoRumors, April 8, 2010, http://gorumors.com/crunchies/top-gaming-countries-by-average-revenue-per-gamer/ This article discusses games identified as most popular social media games and the developers that create them, with ranking of the top 10 developers. “Top Gaming Countries by Average Revenue per Gamer”. GoRumors, May 12, 2010, http://gorumors.com/crunchies/top-gaming-countries-by-average-revenue-per-gamer/ This article discusses countries identified to be the highest spenders on online games and social media, ranking of top 20 countries are provided. “Gamasutra’s Best of 2010: Top 5 Major Industry Trends”. Gamasutra, December 9, 2010, http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/31871/Gamasutras_Best_Of_2010_Top_5_Major_Industr y_Trends.php This article discusses the top five industry trends in gaming in 2010, one of which indentifies industry trends for increased social gaming as developers make higher performing games such as ones that are more interconnected with their console partners (e.g. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood). “Analysis: EA Expands Pogo.com, Looking for a Chance to Digitally Shine”, Gamasutra, December 9, 2010, http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/31945/Analysis_EA_Expands_Pogocom_Looking_For_A _Chance_To_Digitally_Shine.php This article discusses EA’s goals for growth opportunity from online gaming, by developing their casual gamer market base through developments of social gaming websites like Pogo.com. Michael S. Rosenwald, “Farmville, other online social games mean big business and bonding”, The Washington Post, August 3, 2010, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2010/08/02/AR2010080203336.html This articles discusses how casual social gaming amongst young adults has increased, mainly through smart devices such as iPhones, it argues that this has become a medium of social bonding between people. Pauline Askin, “Gamers aren't geeks: Most people who play video games for hours on end aren't lonely nerds without social skills, says an Australian study.” The Globe and Mail (Canada), June 13, 2008.
C. STANDARD EXPLORATORY RESEARCH: FOCUS GROUP
We decided to conduct a focus group because social network games are mostly found on social networking websites that are based primarily on online social interaction, resulting in gaming experiences that can be communicated or shared within these social groups. Recruitment was rather difficult because
we wanted a diverse sample consisting of both casual and serious gamers. Friends of group members who were known for playing social media games were approached in a casual manner and asked to participate in the focus group. They were informed of the purpose of the focus group however participants were unaware of the particular company we were researching. Time restriction was always an issue when attempting to convince people to participate. Once a convenient time for participants and group members was scheduled, a total of three students participated. When we considered the kind of exploratory research to conduct, we took into consideration about the content of our research about social media games, where there is a strong sense of connection and community through game playing. This is the reason why we picked focus group, where the level of interaction and ability to exchange ideas is highlighted. We recruited the participants by direct communication with our friends. We did not expect this process was that difficult, it turned out that the percentage of people who actively played social media games was low. Since we expected focus group session to take place for about 1 hour, it was also difficult to schedule a mutual time that would work for everyone. After going through 2 times of cancelling the focus group, we finally conducted one with 3 participants. We realized that one way to make this recruitment process easier is to agree on 3 time slots that would work for at least 3 teammates (people who would conduct the interview) and when recruiting the participants, inform them about that time. One reason that kept prolonging our focus group study was our efforts trying to match participants’ available time. We also took into consideration of conducting the focus group online, but the idea was scratched due to the lack of supporting compatible technology platform. We had 2 male participants from Master of Finance program at Clark University Graduate School of Management, one is 24 and one is 22, and 1 male participant from Clark’s Physics Ph.D. program who is 24. One female participant from undergraduate was expected to join as well, but she could not make it in the last minute. The focus group took place in one of the study rooms in the Goddard Library, and 3 people from our group were present. We took an audio recording of the session. We started off with a fun YouTube video introducing social media games (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1p7kSSntC_E) to “break the ice” and provide a brief introduction. We gradually steered the conversation into a discussion from a Q&A format, where participants could freely speak out their opinions about the questions we provided. Followings were the questions we asked (chronological order): 1. How do you find time to play social media games despite intensive program you are in? 2. When do you usually play social media games? 3. If the game (like FarmVille) is structured so that you can play it multiple times per day, will you spend more time playing it? 4. How were you introduced to social media games? 5. Why do you play games in general? 6. Did/do you play regular games before playing social media games? 7. What game genres appeal most to you? 8. Which kind of games do you like to play online? 9. Do you pay attention to game brands? Do game brands affect your choice? 10. What is your opinion on virtual currencies? 11. Do you any other thoughts or opinions about social media games?
Questionnaire Development After determining an appropriate decision statement, the questionnaire was developed in order to help answer our research objectives. The survey was comprised of three sections. The first section asked participants about their overall awareness of social media games, the second section asked participants about their social media gaming experience, and finally the third section asked participants for their demographic information. If a participant did not play social media games, which was determined by the first question, they were asked to skip to the third section. Target Population and Sample Frame The target population for this survey can be divided into two segments. The first segment was undergraduate students who are currently enrolled at Clark University. The sampling frame was determined by Professor Choi. With permission from undergraduate professors, we were able to administer our survey during class time. Our group was assigned a total of two undergraduate classes. The second segment was much larger and diverse. After administering our survey to the two undergraduate classes, we realized that we did not have a significant number of respondents who played social media games. For this reason we decided to increase our target population to people outside the Clark University community. By making the survey available online, we were able to target many more social media gamers. Sampling Methods For our survey administration, we used non-probability sampling techniques. The Clark University undergraduate students are considered a convenience sample because they are easily accessible and not representative of the entire population. In regards to the online survey, we used judgment sampling in order to obtain respondents that are active social media gamers. This was essential in order for us to gain relevant data. Sampling Procedures The survey was administered in two ways. Undergraduate students completed the survey by hand in a classroom setting. We were granted permission from both Profesor Choi and Professor Seol to administer our survey during their scheduled class time. The process began with a brief introduction of the team members, the project, and the class. Next surveys were handed out and completed individually by each student. Finally candy was distributed in order to provide greater incentive. The entire process took more than fifteen minutes to complete. A total of 57 surveys were completed by both classes. The online survey was distributed through various outlets. Team members e-mailed the survey to friends and family along with a request for them to forward it on to more people. Other team members posted the link in their social media profiles hoping to reach more social media gamers. A total of 85 surveys were completed online. Demographic Information In order to conduct this research, we collected a total of 142 questionnaires. 57 of these were attributed to in-class survey distribution, and the remaining 85 were conducted online. 56.5% of respondents were female and 43.5% were male. Further discussion of the disparities between the answers of all respondents, and the answers of social media game players, is located under our analysis of results.
A. SECONDARY DATA
IV. DATA ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION
The results from “2010 PopCap Social Gaming Research” were analyzed in terms of helping us shape and predict the typical social media game player profile. Specifically, we were interested in game behavior, game habits and factors that influence a successful social media game. According to their results, the average social media gamer is 43 years of age, with females being slightly more likely to play social media games than males. We found this very surprising considering most of us associate social media games and social media websites with young adults. This in turn made us even more interested in examining the Clark University undergraduate community. We were not surprised to see that Facebook is the most popular medium for social media games with 95% of respondents logging into their account multiple times a week. Yet we were interested to see what kinds of electronic devices gamers use when playing social media games, something that the PopCap research did not include in their study. When learning about a new game, they found that word of mouth was the most utilized method. We believed advertisements on social media websites to be more of influence than word of mouth, especially when considering the amount of time that users spend on social media websites today.
The “2010 PopCap Social Gaming Research” gave us an overall idea of what to expect when conducting our survey. At the same time it gave us the incentive to look deeper into the social media game world and examine certain behaviors and trends that they did not include in their survey, such as the types of electronic devices gamers use today.
B. LITERATURE SEARCH
Over the course of our literature research, we were able to identify a number of salient trends and factors within the gaming industry that should be able to assist EA’s corporate goals of regaining and expanding upon their lost market share within this industry. The first dominant trend identified within the gaming market is the rise of online social gaming, ranging from casual, low performance games to advanced, higher performance gaming material. Revenues earned by social gaming developers in 2010 have increased by more than 10 times since 2009, with an estimated difference of more than $750 million, furthermore, revenues are expected to reach $1.5 billion by 2014. 4 This trend is facilitated by the increased development and consumer use of smart devices technology, such as smart phones, androids and tablets, which have inbuilt social gaming application software to support these games. For instance, as cited in one of the articles analyzed, it states that, “…the number of people who access gaming applications on their mobile phone is definitely on the rise.” Furthermore, within the same article, it is estimated that revenues earned from mobile gaming will reach $1.5 billion by 2014, which is a 40% increase from 2009. Currently these revenues are earned through gaming credits or requiring a paid download, some game developers also sustain on volumes and make money off advertising. 5
“Social Gaming Revenue estimate and Forecast”. GoRumors , July 29th, 2010, http://gorumors.com/crunchies/social-gamingrevenue-growth/ 5 “US Mobile Gaming Revenue Forecast”. GoRumors, August 18, 2010, http://gorumors.com/crunchies/us-mobile-gamingrevenues-forecast/
Literature analysis also revealed that another important factor contributing to the rise of social gaming is the increasing use of social gaming by consumers as an alternative form of interaction or bonding amongst friends, (both online and real). For instance as cited in one of our analyzed articles, it was argued that social gaming these days has surpassed the use of email as a popular activity or communication between friends and social network, this activity is also second to communication on social networks 6. Furthermore, this article argues that social games are increasingly catering to young/older adults as compared to teenagers and younger children. This argument is further supported by the findings from PopCap Games’ 2010 research report, where it creates a profile of the typical social gamer that was identified to most likely be a female player above the age of 30. 7 From the research, we were able to identify trends regarding the popularity of certain social media games and their respective developers, within the market. According to the PopCap 2010 report, the top three social media games played are Bejeweled Blitz, developed by PopCap, Farm Ville, developed by Zynga and Mafia Wars, which is also developed by Zynga4. So based on this information, the team believes that analyzing the gaming habits and motivations of these players, we would be better able to advise as to how EA could become a more competitive social gaming developer.
C. EXPLORATORY RESEARCH
The focus group study was conducted during the time we distributed our survey, and the general theme we generated from the study helped us with the survey data analysis. We realized that people often played social media games during transition time, for instance, between studying time and bedtime. They mainly played social media games to relieve stress, connect and compete with friends. Although game brands do not play an important part in their purchasing decision-making, established game brands do influence people’s choice. They all considered social media games to be casual games, and this is the reason why they did not spend real currency on such games. We notice that gamers usually played social media games during transition time, meaning that the current structure of social media game with each gaming session less than 30 minutes is suitable to this habit. One participant said “”I usually play games on my iPod Touch before I go to sleep or when I am waiting for my train or bus”. Therefore, a good hypothesis for our survey data analysis would be if keeping 30 minute the optimized duration for each gaming session. When we suggested that the game could be structured so that gamers would spend more time per session, all three expressed the same opinion that they would not spend more time than they already have. These answers supported our hypothesis. A majority of social media games allowed players to increase their resources (virtual currency or strength, etc.) if the player successfully invited their friends to play the game. Games on Facebook have an automated invitation function, when you join a game, it will direct you to select your friends and invite them to play the same game. However, this systematic recommendation did not seem to be an effective method of spreading the popularity of social media games. Two of our participants selected new games via the direct recommendation of a friend, through phone conversation or instant messaging. It showed that direct recommendation might be effective to market social media games. Another participant was a bit different from the other two; he proactively searched for different games to play through search engines and event created multiple accounts to increase his game resources. Therefore, we think that
Michael S. Rosenwald, “Farmville, other online social games mean big business and bonding”, The Washington Post, August 3, 2010, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/02/AR2010080203336.html 7 “2010 PopCap Social Gaming Research”, Information Solutions group, 2010. http://www.infosolutionsgroup.com/2010_PopCap_Social_Gaming_Research_Results.pdf
game developers should continue to provide the same incentive to increase gamers’ resources by inviting more friends, but also should consider how to increase direct recommendations from players. Our three participants played games to kill time, relieve stress, compete with friends, and connect with friends from far distance. One participant added “exploring the game’s infrastructure”. Except for this one, these attributes would be important perceived game values to look at when we process the cross tab analysis of the reason why gamers played each particular games. Our three participants share the same commonality: they are all regular gamers. They all agreed that social media games are casual games that people play to connect with friends. P.C and console games brought them much more excitement as these games have better graphics and content. They said that strategy, action, adventure and simulation games were the genres that most appealed to them, but they did not think that Facebook could support them due to capacity limitations. Overall, social media game developers should focus on the fun and competitiveness of the games. When asked about game brand, the responses coincided with our assumption: brands do not influence their choice of games much. Gamers pay attention to the popularity of a particular game rather than which company produces that game. However, they still thought that big established brands’ games would guarantee better graphics and contents. Gamers also look at the reviews on the Internet before making a purchase. The responses revealed to us that the brand equity must be built based on good games. However, the social gaming segment is only 3 years old, and brand recognition and value has not been fully realized by gamers. Therefore, EA should start to look into raising the brand awareness by introducing multiple better games, so that when EA releases a game, consumers will play the game based on the EA brand recognition. Lastly, we noticed the reason why gamers did not spend real currency buying virtual currency: they perceived social media games as casual games to connect people than to bring the real excitement that console or P.C games would. Therefore, we thought that if the fun, excitement and competitiveness were collaborated more on social media games, players might have more incentive to spend real currency on them.
Data Analysis Techniques The responses that were collected were compiled using SPSS software, in which each response was given a unique label. (N=142) In order to gain as much information as possible from each respondent, we used a variety of multiple response questions in which the respondent was to “choose all that apply”. This made our analysis a little bit more complicated because each of these questions had a wide variety of related variables. We used SPSS software to create descriptive frequencies and multi-response cross-tabulations. We also utilized an independent sample T-test, and binary logistic regression, to further confirm our conclusions regarding our cross-tabulation analysis. Demographics Although we were able to get 142 responses to our survey, only 51 actually said that they play social media games. We felt that it was best to break up our demographics between all respondents and those who play social games. Further analysis of those who do not play is included below.
Gender (all respondents)
Gender (social game players)
43.5% 56.5% 62.7%
note: 4 surveys were started by respondents but left incomplete; this is reflected in the disparity between the 142 survey responses and the 138 respondents noted in the graph above. Gender: The chart of our survey respondents shows a 56.5% female response and a 43.5% male response. The chart depicting gender of social game players clearly outlines a significant majority of females within our sample. 62.7% of respondents who play social media games are female, compared to 37.3% for males. This data suggests that social games appeal more to females than to males.
Year of Birth (all respondents)
1975 1985 1976 1986 1978 1987 1979 1988 1980 1989 1981 1990 1982 1991 20 12 1 1 1 1 5 5 1 2 4 1 13 11 4 1 1983 1992 24 28 1984
Year of Birth (social game players)
1976 1986 1979 1987 1980 1988 1981 1989 1983 1990 1984 1991 10 8 6 3 1 1 1 1 2 3 4 5 1 1 1 1985 1992
Year of Birth: We expected an excess of respondents with birthdays in the 1988-1990 range for out inclass surveys; these surveys (MKT 230, Choi and MKT 203, Seol) were presented in higher level undergraduate classes, which suggests an enrollment of juniors and seniors. On the chart representing all respondents, this is clear: 41.1% of all respondents were born between 1988 and 1990. In comparison, only 39.2% of those who play social media games were born between the same years. Instead, we see a trend towards older birth years. 64.7% of those surveyed were born between 1986 and 1990; this takes into account our online survey, in which respondents were not pre-screened, and possibly includes graduate students who took the online survey at the request of our team members.
Race (all respondents)
Asian Black/African-American Native Hawaiian/ Other Pacific Islander White Other
Race (social game players)
Asian Black/African-American Native Hawaiian/ Other Pacific Islander White Other
Race: We can see an easily discernible difference between all respondents and those who play social media games when we look at Asian and White, our two highest race categories. Of all respondents, 46.1% were Asian and 44.7% responded as White. Among those who play social games, however, 62.7% were Asian compared to 25.5% White; 49.2% of Asians surveyed answered that they played social media games, and only 20.6% of White respondents reported the same. We can infer from this that Asians are more active social media game players as compared to others included within our sample. Here is a graph showing the various responses of those who do not play social media games:
Reasons for Not Playing Social Media Games
Time 37% 31% Not Interested Other
Out of the total respondents (N=141), a total of 90 people said that they currently do not play any social media games. While this was an open-ended question, we decided to loosely the answers according to opinion. When asked to fill in a reason why, “time” was one of the top explanations (31%). Some respondents elaborated on their reason saying they find them “time consuming” and their lives are too
“busy” to play social media games. The other most popular answer was that they are “not interested” (32%) in playing social media games or find them “boring” or “useless”. OBJECTIVE 1: Explore the consumer’s perception of social media games • How many people play social media games?
Out of 141 total respondents, 36.2% responded that they play social media games.
Do you play social media games?
51 No Yes 90
This shows us the sample of population that we are considering for the analysis of social media gaming activities. • How are consumers exposed to social media games?
How were you first introduced to social media games?
Other Ads Online Search Recommendation Online… Recommendation Friend Social Advertising 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 Male Female
Overall, most of the game players select their games based on recommendations by friends. When we break these answers down by gender, we can clearly see that the females are more likely to recommend games to their friends in comparison to males. Males are more likely to be most influenced by social media advertising. 18
Other Relatives On-line strangers On-line friends Personal Friends 0 10 20 30 40 50 Male Female
Social media gamers tend to want to play with people that they already know, whether these are personal or online friends. A gamer will be more willing to listen to a recommendation from someone they know than someone they don’t. Males are more likely to play with on-line strangers. Yet most social media gamers, in contrast to online console gamers, prefer a more comfortable, friendly, interactive game experience. • Where do consumers play these games?
What devices do you use to play social media games?
Android-based phone iPad/ Tablet iPhone Computer/Laptop 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 Male Female
Device Androidbased iPad/ Tablet phone 5 9 14 1 2 3 3 2 5
Computer/L aptop Gender Total Male Female Count Count Count 17 31 48
Total 17 32 49
As a multiple response question, we wanted to see the variety of devices social gamer uses to play games. 97.96% of respondents who play social media games use a computer; 100% of males surveyed said they used a computer, compared to 96.88% of females. We can easily conclude that the most popular device to play social media games on is a computer or laptop. Furthermore, 28.57% use an iPhone to play social games; this includes 29.41% of males and 28.13% of females. As iPhones and smart devices are still gaining in popularity, EA should also keep in mind a platform for social media app development.
What media do you use to play social games?
Other Mobile phone application EA On-line Yahoo! MSN Live Facebook 0 10 20 30 40 50 Male Female
Media Mobile phone applicatio n 3 2 5 2 7 9
Facebook Gender Total Male Female Count Count Count 17 28 45
MSN Live 1 0 1
Yahoo! 4 2 6
Other 2 1 3
Total 17 31 48
This results in another overwhelming majority: 93.75% of gamers use Facebook to play social media games, with 100% of males playing there and 90.32% of females doing so. In reference to the trending smart phone app market, 22.58% of females use apps to 11.76% of males. News is not so good for EA’s online media center EA Online: only 10.42% of respondents used the site for gaming purposes. • What is the consumer’s game-playing habit?
How often do you play social media games?
Less than once a week Once a week 2-3 times a week More than once a day Once a day 0 5 10 15 20 25
We can clearly see two trends here: gamers who play less than once a week, and gamers who play once a day (or more). Each of these groups will look for different characteristics within a particular game. EA will have to target both the “casual” and the “frequent” types of players in order to be successful within the social gaming industry.
How long have you been playing social media games?
More than 1 year 6 months to 1 year 3 to 6 months Less than 3 months 0 5 10 15 20 25 30
Most respondents who play social media games have played for more than one year. While there is no way to tell how long they have been playing before that, we can assume that these players are familiar with the concept of social gaming. We can also see that there has been a slow increase in users over the past year; this confirms our hypothesis that the social media game market is growing.
Average Game Session
More than 3 hours 1 hour to 3 hours 30 minutes to 1 hour 10 minutes to 30 minutes Less than 10 minutes 0 5 10 15 20 25 30
“10 – 30 minutes per session” is the most chosen option by social media gamers followed by “Less than 10 minutes per session”. As average time of session gets longer and longer, we see a drop-off of responses. We can infer that the average social media gamer has about 30 minutes, at the most, to play a game. This will play a significant factor in game design; a proposed game must be simple to understand and not overly committing in terms of time. OBJECTIVE 2: Understand the consumer’s current perception of social media titles promoted by EA • How are consumers exposed to social media games produced by EA?
How are you first introduced to a new social media game?
Advertising on sites other then networking websites Recommendation from Online Friends Direct recommendation from friends or relatives Advertisement on social media website 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 Restaurant City Pet Society Madden NFL Superstars
We can see here that consumers are equally exposed to EA game titles by both direct recommendations from friends or relatives and advertisements on social media websites. Advertisements on other nonsocial media websites do not play a major factor in EA game exposure. • What kinds of experiences have consumers had with these games?
Madden NFL Superstars
Excitement Stress-reliever Competitive Mental work Connection Accomplishment Coordination Personality Other 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35
We can see that EA consumers experience many different kinds of emotions when playing EA game titles. Excitement, accomplishment, stress-relief, and competitiveness are the three main types of experiences, while expressing personality and improving hand-eye coordination are the least. • How often are EA social media titles played by consumers?
Less than once a week Once a week 2-3 times a week More than once a day Once a day 0 2 4 6 8 10 Restaurant City Pet Society Madden NFL Superstars
EA games are mostly played either once a day or more than once a day, especially when it comes to Restaurant City. Pet Society and Madden NFL Superstars are more likely to be played less than once a week. This shows that Restaurant City has succeeded in being a frequent game played by EA consumers while Pet Society and Madden NFL Superstars are currently played by more casual gamers.
How does the consumer perceive EA social media titles as compared with its competitors?
Never Tried Madden NFL Superstars Pet Society Restaurant City Collapse PetVille YoVille Happy Aquarium FishVille Cafe World Farm Town Texas Hold'Em Poker Mafia Wars FarmVille Bejeweled Blitz 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 Excitement Stress-reliever Competitive Mental work Connection Accomplishment Coordination Personality Other
This graph illustrates how consumers perceive social media games in terms of reasons for playing the game. The four major reasons for playing games, despite game title or brand, are excitement, stressreliever, accomplishment, and competitiveness. EA’s Restaurant City and Pet Society trend towards these four factors; this is a good sign for EA, because it can now use this model of motivation to create new social media games. RESEARCH OBJECTIVE 3: Discovering drivers behind new social media games • What factors influence the consumer’s decision to play a particular social media game?
Other Blog Influence Advertisement Other… Social Advertisement Brand On-line friends Face-to-Face 0 10 20 30 40 Personal Friends On-line friends On-line strangers Relatives Other
If EA Games intends to capture any market share within the social media games market, it must understand how to influence its consumers and how to organize its social media games in order to accommodate consumer’s preferences of who they enjoy playing with. After analyzing the data, it is overwhelmingly apparent that those individuals who were introduced to social media games through faceto-face communication and through their online friends play predominantly with their personal friends and online friends. It is important that EA recognize this and factor this into new game development.
Other Personality Reason For Playing Coordination Accomplishment Connection Mental Work Competitive Stress Reliever Excitement 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 Face-to-Face On-line friends Brand Social Advertisement Advertisement Other Website Blog Other
Cross-tabulating this information with all the reasons why people play social media games, we find that a large majority of the individuals were introduced through face to face communication, particularly within our four main motivation categories of excitement, stress-relief, competitiveness and accomplishment. Therefore, it is important for EA to create hype about their games before they release them, therein creating a significant degree of personal communication between individuals interested in social media gaming.
20 15 10 5 0 20 15 10 5 0
A large percentage of those who cite “stress relief” as motivation were influence by face to face communication and online friends. Therefore, when targeting individuals who play to relieve stress, it important for EA to not rely on advertisements and brand awareness, but through hype and expectation. The more people talk about EA’s social media games, the more “stress relief” social media gamers will be interested in its games. These statements also apply to those individuals who enjoy playing social media games for accomplishment, as seen in the graph shown above.
20 15 10 5 0 20 15 10 5 0
The data gathered pertaining to those who play social media games for excitement and competition display very different results from stress relief and accomplishment gamers. Though face to face communication is still the most common influence for the individuals surveyed, other influences, such as brand and social advertisement, are much more important in excitement and competition gamers than stress relief and accomplishment gamers. It is crucial that EA, when targeting gamers who enjoy excitement and competition in social media games, advertises through social networks and other connected website in order to accurately market its social media games. • What genres appeal most to the consumer?
40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 Role-Playing Adventure Simulation Strategy Action Sports Casual
This graph outlines the genres that appeal most to the social media game player. We can see that gamers prefer strategy games by a large margin; strategy, followed by simulation and casual games, were the only genres chosen by more than 20% of the population.
30 25 20 15 10 5 0 Adventure Action Role-Playing Strategy Genre Simulation Sports Casual Male Female
We can further break down this information by gender in order to find conclusions. Here, we can see a significant disparity between male and female users in multiple categories, including strategy, casual, and action. We wanted to further confirm this hypothesis by running an “Independent Sample T-Test.” The analysis provides us with following table:
In d e p e n d e n t Sa m p le s Te s t Test for t-test for Equality of Means Confidence F Adventure Equal variances assumed Equal variances not assumed Action Equal variances assumed Equal variances not assumed RoleEqual variances Playing assumed Equal variances not assumed Strategy Equal variances assumed Equal variances not assumed Simulation Equal variances assumed Equal variances not assumed Sports Equal variances assumed Equal variances not assumed Casual Equal variances assumed Equal variances not assumed Sig. t df 47 Sig. (2-tailed) Mean Difference Std. Error Difference Low er Upper .122 .145 .000 .000 .193 .213 .122 .145 .008 .009 .251 .276 .117 .111 .221 .221 .550 .550 .189 .189 -.221 -.221 .393 .393 .162 .162 -.237 -.237 .140 .147 .122 .131 .143 .149 .140 .147 .141 .141 .139 .146 .148 .145 -.061 -.080 .304 .280 -.099 -.114 -.502 -.521 .109 .106 -.118 -.136 -.536 -.531 .502 .521 .795 .819 .477 .493 .061 .080 .677 .680 .442 .459 .061 .057
5.235 .027 1.575
1.500 28.616 4.623 .037 4.510 47
4.187 26.725 3.678 .061 1.322 47
1.274 29.534 5.235 .027 -1.575 47
-1.500 28.616 .070 .793 2.786 47
2.788 32.823 3.838 .056 1.162 47
1.111 28.954 5.685 .021 -1.597 47
According to this analysis, we can easily accept the hypothesis that the game genre are significant for game development and EA should concentrate on these major genre`s and games across the spectrum of these games so as to penetrate the market with highest success rate. In addition to this, we also ran a cross-tabulation in between genre and gender and came with following results: Gender and Genre Cross-tabulation Genre Adventure 8 8 16 Action 12 5 17 RolePlaying 8 9 17 Strategy Simulation 9 12 24 10 33 22 Sports 7 8 15 Casual 5 17 22 Total 16 32 48
Male Count Female Count Count
This table cross-verifies the hypothesis that we had and gives similar results as we had with the T-Test. EA should concentrate on games for the genre`s which have higher acceptability so as to get as many players as possible as per the gender of the players. •
What are the incentives for a consumer to spend money on a social media game?
Currency in Social Media Games
25 20 15 10 5 0 Not Selected I play games that involve I play games that involve I do not play games that virtual currency and I use virtual currency, but I do involve virtual currency not use it virtual currency in my game play
We felt that it was important to separate the social game players who use the virtual currency within a game and those who do not, because these two types of players will have different gaming habits. The players who use the currency within those games will be more involved in game play and is more likely to be a frequent user. This chart shows that the majority of those surveyed are already exposed to games that use virtual currency. About 2/3 of those gamers make use of virtual currency within their gaming experience. This is encouraging for EA; if the company wants to make money off of virtual currency purchases, it already has a large audience to promote this type of game to.
How Do You Use Currency?
25 20 15 10 5 0 I don't use virtual I spend it on what I I save it all for an I plan my spending item I really want over a period of currency can afford time to buy currently
The above graph lays out the virtual currency buying patterns of those surveyed who use virtual currency. There were two major outcomes: “I spend it on what I can afford currently” and “I save it all for an item I really want to buy”. This suggests that players are very short-term about their spending habits. It is likely that the gamers who spend their currency on what they can currently afford are casual users; they want immediate benefit. Those who save for an item they really want are more frequent users; they choose to save their currency because 1) they know they will have multiple sessions and 2) their sessions are closer together, so there is more urgency to benefit in the long run. If EA decides to produce a game that utilizes virtual currency, the developer should make purchases accessible to both casual and frequent gamers in order to maximize the popularity, and revenue, of the game.
30 25 20 15 10 5 0 Not Selected No Yes
This is a representation of the amount of people who have bought virtual currency using their own money. This is how many game developers such as Zynga and PopCap drive their revenue. Our sample shows that only a small minority of social gamers has purchased virtual currency with their own money. However, this is not necessarily bad news for EA; our secondary search analysis has revealed that about 28% of game players have purchased virtual currency. There are many more social gamers who don’t pay for currency, but there is an opportunity for EA to benefit from those that do. • What are the driving forces that motivate consumers to become repeat players?
For our own analysis purposes, we have decided to focus on gamers that play at least once a day. We have already categorized these people as frequent gamers; EA needs to understand the habits of these gamers in order to create conclusions about attracting repeat social game players.
How Often Do You Play?
Adventure More than once a day EnjoyPlay_Action Role-Playing Strategy Once a day Simulation Sports 0 10 20 30 40 50 Casual
According to the graph above, Strategy, Casual and Simulation based games are the games played most often by frequent users. Casual games are the most popular for players who play more than once a day, and Strategy games are the most popular for gamers who play more than once a day.
Less than once a week Once a week 2-3 times a week More than once a day Once a day 0 5 10 15 20 25 No Yes
This graph shows, out of all the people that selected the frequency of their game play, how many in each section chose strategy as one of the games they play. If we focus on more than once a day, we can see that half of the people who selected more than once a day also selected Strategy as a genre that they play. Let’s now try to prove our cross-tabular data with regression analysis so as to confirm our finding. For this purpose, we conducted a “Binary Logistic Regression” as our responses are of the type multiresponse where the results are in binary responses. Here our hypothesis is that the strategy genre of the games affects that how often players play the game. In other words, we propose that players are more likely to play more than once a day for strategy games.
For this, we run a Binary Logistic Regression in between “How often do you play social media games” and selection of the Strategy genre within the question “What kinds of games do you enjoy playing?” After running the regression, the classification table gives us the percent correctness of our predicted result which comes as 64.7%. It means that we are 64.7% accurate in predicting the trend of relation in between gaming time and game genre. Classification Tablea,b Predicted Strategy Observed Step 0 Strategy No Yes Overall Percentage a. Constant is included in the model. b. The cut value is .500 The regression result presents us the following results, with 95% confidence: Variables in the Equation 95% C.I.for EXP(B) B Once a day More than once a day 2-3 times a week 2-3 times a week Once a week Constant - Less than once a week 2.485 .000 1.099 .000 .000 1.133 .931 .931 1.095 .447 S.E. Wald 5.944 4.812 .000 1.393 .000 .000 df 4 1 1 1 1 1 Sig. .203 .028 1.000 .238 1.000 1.000 12.000 1.000 3.000 1.000 1.000 1.303 110.525 .161 .484 .117 6.200 18.601 8.559 Exp(B) Lower Upper No 0 0 Yes 18 33 Percentage Correct .0 100.0 64.7
a. Variable(s) entered on step 1: A_3. As per the analysis above, we can accept our hypothesis that people who play strategy games are more likely to play for more than once a day. The significance is below 0.05 hence we accept this hypothesis.
How Often Do You Play?
Other Personality Coordination Accomplishment Connection Mental work Competitive Stress-reliever Excitement 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 Once a day More than once a day 2-3 times a week Once a week Less than once a week
This graph demonstrates how reasons for playing are associated with how often a social gamer plays a game. When we take into account our “once a day” and “more than once a day” choices, we see relatively high marks for Accomplishment, Competitiveness, Stress-Relief, and Excitement; these are the highest rated reasons for playing as well.
How Often Do You Play?
Android-based phone iPad/ Tablet iPhone Computer/Laptop 0 20 40 60 Once a day More than once a day 2-3 times a week Once a week Less than once a week
This takes our data for how often a gamer plays and compares it against the types of media used. We can see that the largest amount of gamers who play once a day play on a computer, although there is a significant minority pertaining to iPhone use. In terms of players who play more than once a day, the only significant data we can find is under the Computer/Laptop category. Frequent users are playing social media games on computers or iPhones.
How Often Do You Play?
Other Mobile phone application EA On-line Yahoo! MSN Live Facebook 0 10 20 30 40 50 Once a day More than once a day 2-3 times a week Once a week Less than once a week
This final graph outlines the comparison between how often a player plays a game and what social application they use to play those games. Facebook was used by the overwhelming majority of game players, so it is no surprise that regular game users seem to have a stronger platform with Facebook. However, we can note that social outlets such as Yahoo! and EA Online have some hold on players who play more than once a day. It could be that these “most frequent” users have more experience seeking out different places to play games.
Research Objective 1: Based on the analysis of survey responses in conjunction to focus group, we conclude that the consumer base of social media games are increasing slowly even though it faces some challenges with technology and acceptability. Of the total respondents, 36.2% play social media games which are quite high penetration in respect to the time such games have been in market. This also shows that the market is growing and holds quite promising future prospects. Of all the respondents, we further ran further analysis on those who play social media games to better understand the forces and factors affecting them. In these analyses we were able to receive conclusive evidences showing the introduction and playing habits of social media gamers. As explained earlier, gender plays a role in the way of recommendation of games showing that females recommend games more often face-to-face in comparison to males. In addition, females are more likely to play these games with the friends they know personally while males are more open to play games with strangers. This highlights the fact that games targeting females must be designed while keeping in mind that personal friends are going to affect their game play more often in comparison to strangers. One more interesting fact to consider here is that most of the respondents have been playing social media games for more than a year with second highest number of less than three months. This shows that the new adopters of the social media games are on rise. In addition, most of the players spend 10 minutes to 30 minutes and less than 10 minutes per session. This provides us further inputs towards the design of the
game where designers have to focus on this aspect that the game do not demand users to be online more than this time per session else the game is bound to lose gamers. Research Objective 2: Overall, EA Games is succeeding with Restaurant City and should attempt to align its other social media games with its success. Being the most popular EA Game, Restaurant City overwhelming dominates other EA Games in frequency played. This means that consumers are repeatedly using Restaurant City as a social media game. Unfortunately, the data on the reasons consumers play Restaurant City is inconclusive. Stress Reliever seems to be the most common reasons for why people play Restaurant City, but a sense of accomplishment and excitement are close in frequency, meaning the reasons why people play Restaurant City and divided between 3 major reasons: Stress reliever, excitement, and a sense of accomplishment. In comparison to many of the other games within our survey, Restaurant City’s consumer perception is average. Research Objective 3: A major factor that influences the consumer’s decision to play a social game is who they play with. Our data shows that individuals who predominantly play with personal and online friends have a tendency to be introduced to social media games through face-to-face communication and online friends. Two of our four main reasons for playing (stress relief and accomplishment) were influenced most heavily by face-toface recommendation; the others (competitiveness, excitement) were mainly influenced by this, but also had a significant minority pertaining to brand and social advertisement. EA needs to create a comprehensive marketing plan that uses hype and expectation, as well as social advertisement, if it wants to gain popularity in the social gaming market. Strategy, simulation, and casual games were the most popular genres selected in our sample. However, further analysis shows significant difference in preference according to gender; action, strategy, simulation, and casual game genres varied significantly. We can distinguish between casual gamers and frequent gamers using our virtual currency data. Of those who use virtual currency, roughly the same amount of people spend it on what they can currently afford (casual users) or save it for a valuable item (frequent users). Virtual currency is a method for EA to use to draw in both casual and frequent users; however, it must market purchases separately to these groups, as casual users will buy cheaper items and frequent users may buy something more valuable. By singling out those gamers who play at least once a day, we can further define EA’s target market for frequent users. Strategy, Casual and Simulation games are the genres most preferred by these players. For instance, if we take our most popular genre, Strategy, we can conclude that players who play these games are more likely to play more than once a day. Frequent players are also most likely to play games on a computer or iPhone and on Facebook; however, we can see a trend for frequent gamers using other social sites like Yahoo! and EA Online. EA can attract these reliable types of players by focusing on the above recommendations.
Based on the analysis performed earlier and the conclusions gained, we have five following factors on which we want to recommend few pointers to EA.
Gender & Genre
• • • As concluded earlier, gender and genre have a cross-relation with each other and hence games should be created by keeping these genres in mind in relation to the genre that it appeals to. EA should include at least 3 or more genres in each game that they design with primary three chosen from the ones appealing the most to males or females such that they create games which appeal to both the genders. All the games should focus on one core component of engagement and strategy so as to keep gamers in active participation.
Who to play with
• • Females play games with the friends they personally know; however, males are open to play with strangers too. EA should keep these facts in mind and create communication channels so that gamers can choose who they want to play with. Gamers should be given option to have conversation with the people they play with to increase the social interaction and create bonding in between the gamers.
Develop existing games and future games into smart phone applications
• • • According to Pyramid Research, smart phones will capture 37 percent of the worldwide cell phone market by 2014. Smartphone platform not only allows social media games to be capable of more features, but also brings a more sophisticated experience to gamers. Smartphone applications can be a lucrative source of revenue for EA. If EA offers games that are available on both web-based and smart-phones, they will double the opportunity to increase users’ awareness and build their brand opportunities.
Time of engagement
• • • Through our analysis we have concluded that most social media game players’ average game sessions are 30 minutes or less. Hence games should be designed while keeping this factor in mind. Gamers who play for a session of more than 30 minutes should also be provided with added conquests in order to keep them engaged. However it should also factor in the less active users so as to keep them both on a somewhat similar level. These factors will benefit both casual gamers who play only once to twice a week and frequent gamers who play once or more a day enabling EA to gain maximum traffic which will help them increase their market share.
According to our research, this is our proposed overall design of the thought process regarding motivations of social game players:
Done Irregular Users (<1x/week) Excitemen Regular Users (1x/day or more) Accomplis
• • • • • •
Social game users start playing social games out of stress relief or boredom; the interaction with the game leads to excitement. After this stage, casual (1x/week or less) gamers are finished with the gaming process and will return to playing social media games when they need another release. Regular users, through constant interaction with a game, will eventually achieve something and feel a sense of accomplishment. Desire for more accomplishment will cause the gamer to become competitive, which in turn leads to more excitement about the social game. While it is the gamer’s job to continue to regularly play the game, the actual social media game itself assists the gamer though this cycle. Often, this assistance comes in the form of free virtual currency. A game user who has just received currency will feel a sense of accomplishment and may want to reward themselves through exchanging their currency immediately. Gamers who have become more competitive will have a desire for more, larger accomplishments; this will create a desire to purchase currency in order to achieve those accomplishments more quickly.
As with any research, there were a number of limitations in regards to our study.
The first and most significant limitation to our study is the fact that we administered our survey to two very different target populations. The first was undergraduate students at Clark University. With the permission of undergraduate professors, this population completed the survey by hand during their scheduled class time. We soon realized that after administering the survey to the two undergraduate classes, we did not have a significant number of respondents who are current social media game players.
The second population was much more diverse because it was administered online and distributed through a variety of different outlets. This method was implemented in order to gain a larger sample of social media game players, however because it is such a diverse and large sample, our results cannot be applied to the general Clark University population. Recommendation: Obtain a diverse and large enough sample in order to be representative of the entire social media game population. Having only 141 respondents is not ideal in any research study. Also, administer the survey in a consistent manner. Having some surveys completed by hand in a classroom setting and others completed online may have affected our results. Focus Group Only one focus group was conducted with a total of three participants, all of them being male graduate students. Also, the focus group was conducted after the survey was already developed and administered. Recommendation: Conduct multiple focus groups with diverse members before developing and administering the survey. Information gained from focus groups may help with our decision statement and survey development. Question Wording After conducting our statistical analysis, we realized that many of our answers with the highest response rate are those that are near the beginning of the list of answers for each question. Therefore we are not certain if those responses are truly the most popular or if they were only chosen because they were at the beginning of the list of answers. Also we realized that we placed all the EA game titles at the very bottom of the “Please select all the social network named below that you have tried” question. Although these titles were still selected by a number of respondents, it may be less representative of the number of actual people who play EA games. Recommendation: Do not place the most popular options at the beginning of the list of answers for each question. We were well aware of the popularity of games such as FarmVille and Bejeweled Blitz before administering our survey and therefore we should not have placed those games at the very top. Also, the EA titles should have been mixed in with the rest of the titles, and not all placed at the bottom of the list of the games tried question. Research on Social Media Game Advertising Most of our research was on social media websites as a whole as well as individual social media game player behavior and habits. However we did not conduct any research on social media game advertising. Therefore we are not certain how advertising affects game popularity. Recommendation: Research and analyze the effects of advertising on social media games before developing and administering our survey. Data Analysis: Multiple Response Questions When developing the survey, we decided to make many questions multiple response (“check all that apply”) answers because we did not want to force people to make only one choice. We assumed that there are multiple factors that go into why a person chooses to play a certain social media game and therefore 38
we did not want to limit any of those factors. At the same time this made it very difficult to run regression analysis when analyzing the data. Recommendation: Instead of including an abundance of “check all that apply” questions, formulate some of the questions in rank order form. This way it will be easier to run regression analysis. Overall Purchasing Behavior In the survey we included questions on social media game buying behavior in terms of using virtual currency and real money. Yet we neglected to include questions on the overall buying habits of the respondents. Such information may have provided us more insight on the actual buying behavior of social media game players. Recommendation: Include questions on the survey that ask participants about their everyday purchasing behavior. This will help us determine the relevance of virtual and real currency.
SURVEY ON SOCIAL MEDIA GAMES
Faculty Advisor: Professor Pilsik Choi Graduate School of Management MKT 5401: Marketing Research Student Research Project
This survey is part of a class project that Varun Chopra, Ngoc Dinh, Eniola Holloway, Darcey Kurashige-Elliott, James Perry, and Melissa Traft are working on in the Graduate School of Management MBA program at Clark University. The purpose of the project is to better understand how consumers perceive the EA brand and the social media gaming industry as a whole. The information gained from this survey will help us prepare a marketing strategy and report for the EA company. Your participation in this survey is completely voluntary. You can terminate your participation in this research at any time or refuse to answer any questions to which you don’t want to respond. Your responses will be confidential and only general results from this research will be reported. No one other than the research staff will know individual answers to this questionnaire.
Important Note for Informed Consent
If you agree to participate in this project, please complete questions on the following pages. This should take about 10 minutes. Your completion of the questionnaire will signify your informed consent to participate. If you have any questions or concerns about this questionnaire, please feel free to contact Dr. Pilsik Choi (faculty advisor, Assistant Professor in Graduate School of Management) at firstname.lastname@example.org or (508) 793-7648.
NOTE: A social media game seeks to provide an interactive atmosphere where friends can collaborate within a casual online environment. Example of social media games are FarmVille, Restaurant City, Mafia Wars. These types of games are played through existing social media such as Facebook, Myspace or MSN Live. ________________________________________________________________________ SECTION A: YOUR AWARENESS ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA GAMES Please answer all of the following questions. When appropriate, please check the box that corresponds to your response. ________________________________________________________________________ 1. Do you play social media games? Yes No Please describe the reasons that you do not play social media games. _______________________________________________________ If No, Skip to Q19
2. How long have you been playing social media games? Less than 3 months 6 months to 1 year 3 to 6 months More than 1 year
3. How often do you play social media games? Once a day 2-3 times a week
4. How much time on average do you spend each time you play a social media game? 30 minutes to 1 hour per session More than 3 hours per session Less than 10 minutes per session 1 hour to 3 hours per session 10 minutes to 30 minutes per session
Less than once a week
More than once a day Once a week
5. How were you first introduced to social media games? Advertising on a social networking website Recommendation from online friends Other __________________________ Computer Online search through Google, Yahoo!, etc Direct recommendation from friends or relatives Advertising on other sites rather than a social networking website (such as YouTube) 6. What electronic devices do you use to play social media games? (Check all that apply.) Android-based phone iPhone Windows-based phone iPad / Tablet
Other __________________________ Facebook MSN Live
7. What media do you use to play social media games? (Check all that apply.) Myspace Yahoo! Bebo EA Online
Mobile phone application
8. Please browse the list of social media company brands below and check all that are familiar to you.
________________________________________________________________________ SECTION B: YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA GAMING EXPERIENCE Please answer all of the following questions. When appropriate, please check the box that corresponds to your response. ________________________________________________________________________ 9. List your favorite social media games. _____________________________________________________________ I like the fun and excitement It is a stress-reliever
10. Why do you play the games that you listed above? (Check all that apply.) I enjoy the competitive spirit I like the mental workout
It improves my hand-eye coordination personality
It allows me to connect with others
I like the sense of accomplishment It lets me express my
Others Please specify ___________________________
11. Please select all the social network games named below that you have tried.
Bejeweled Blitz PetVille FishVille
Texas Hold’Em Poker Farm Town Collapse
I have never tried any of these games Please describe why you have not tried any of these games. ____________________________________________________________
Madden NFL Superstars
Happy Aquarium YoVille
12. Which of the following groups do you play social media games with? (Check all that apply.) Online strangers Personal (real) friends Relatives Online friends
13. Where do you hear about “new” social media games? (Check all that apply.) Advertisement or promotion on a social networking site Face-to-face recommendation from a friend or relative Blog post or online news article Other _____________________________ Suggestion or invitation from an online friend Advertisement on other entertainment website (Orisinal, E! Online etc)
14. When you select a new social media game to play, what factors influence your choice? (Check all that apply.)
The brand has produced other games that I enjoy Advertisement on other entertainment website Email promotion Blog post or online news article Other_____________________________
Face-to-face recommendation from a friend Recommendation from online friends
Advertisement or promotion on a social networking site
15. What kinds of games do you enjoy playing? (Check all that apply.) Adventure (Myst, Harry Potter) Action or Fighting (Quake, Mortal Kombat) Simulation (Sim City, World of Warcraft) Sports (FIFA, EA Cricket) Casual (Solitare, Tetris)
Role-Playing Games (Final Fantasy)
Strategy and Puzzle (Bejeweled Blitz, Sudoku)
16. Do you use virtual currency in social media games?
I play games that involve virtual currency and I use virtual currency in my gameplay. I play games that involve virtual currency, but I do not use it. I do not play games that involve virtual currency. ( Skip to Q19)
17. How do you use the virtual currency that you earn through social media games?
I spend it on what I can afford currently. I don’t use virtual currency. Yes
I save it all for an item I really want to buy. I plan my spending over a period of time.
18. Have you ever purchased social media-based virtual money with real money? No
________________________________________________________________________ SECTION C: YOUR DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION Please answer all of the following questions. When appropriate, please check the box that corresponds to your response. ________________________________________________________________________ 19. Gender: Male Female
20. What year were you born? __________________ 21. Please specify your race Native American/Alaskan Black/African-American White Asian African
Native Hawaiian / Other Pacific Islander
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