Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
users automatically tell their friends about their exploits can be quite powerful,
but without careful tuning this practice can end up being seen as “spammy”
and can draw fire from customers. (And their friends!)
Another title that pioneered a different approach that would soon become
standard was Peter Moleneaux's Fable 2 . An open-world, epic fantasy adven-
ture RPG set in the land of Albion, Fable 2 broke new ground by offering Fable
Pub Games, a downloadable title for Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade. These Pub
Games allowed players to earn gold by competing in three gambling-themed
minigames. What was innovative (in 2008) about this move was that the gold
earned in the Pub Games transferred over into the retail product, Fable 2 . This
technique, using a small and inexpensive or free product to tease users and
stimulate excitement in advance of a full retail release and additionally give
users orthogonal tie-ins to their favorite games, would soon become a stan-
dard technique. Such games are now commonly exploited for major console
and PC products. One of the key notions that Fable Pub Games proved is that
the social or secondary tie-in product need not feature gameplay similar to
the core product that is being promoted. The brand association and the ability
to transfer data between the two mediums are sufficient to stimulate interest
among users and to keep users invested in the game world.
Within a few years, Blizzard proved a similar example of orthogonal game-
play, creating another situation in which a tie-in product extended the sticki-
ness of a core game. In 2010, the MMORPG giant released World of Warcraft
Armory, which provides Auction House access for players, directly from
their mobile phones. World of Warcraft already boasted more than 10 million
users, each paying more than $15 per month to adventure in the incredibly
realized world of Azeroth. This add-on application allows users to communi-
cate with their in-game friends, tapping into the power of World of Warcraft 's
highly evolved and custom-designed social network. The Armory allows users
to retain some element of access to the game world while they live their real
lives outside of Azeroth. Blizzard proved again that players want to continue
to connect with their favorite games even when they aren't actually “play-
ing,” in the sense imagined by the game designers. Further, the Auction House
application shows that users are willing to pay an additional subscription
($3 per month at the time of this writing) for these sorts of external tie-in
applications. Thus, developers should remember that mobile applications can
be used to further monetize what might already be a successful product.
Not to be outdone, developer Bioware and publisher Electronic Arts took
these concepts to the next level, creating a site called the Bioware Social
Network to accompany their massive AAA role-playing game Dragon Age:
Origins , which was released in 2009. This is a site designed to engage fans
of all Bioware products, giving them a place to discuss the games and share
user-generated content. The content includes huge numbers of screenshot
albums for Dragon Age , a collection of unmoderated blogs (which seem to
have devolved mostly into spambots trying to sell one another Viagra or Coach
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