Game Development Reference
Interview with Janus Anderson: Gaming and the
My buddy, Dallas Snell, likes to talk about this concept of “playing
alone together.” I know there are some papers that have been written on
this topic. The difference between a social game and a nonsocial game
is, if you have any indication that other people are around you and play-
ing along with you, you don't necessarily have to have direct interactions
with them for those interactions that you have with the game to become
a lot more meaningful. Just knowing that other people could see what
you have done changes things. In a lot of MMOs I'm much more of a
solo player than I am a part of a big guild, or a raid kind of player. But it
doesn't matter. Even if I never interact with anyone, it's still social. A fan-
tastic RPG like Oblivion might hold my attention for a week or two, but
I'll play World of Warcraft for a year, even if I'm not talking to anyone! It's
the same behavior as if you're working on a paper and you go to a coffee
shop just to be around other people. That social interaction doesn't have
to involve you talking to people. It makes what you're doing more impor-
tant to the brain.
Q: You're probably learned a ton about how to monetize users—everything
from the subscription model to the retail model to freemium microtransac-
tion stuff. What are your thoughts on how that space has evolved and how
Facebook has changed the world for us?
A: I feel really sorry for the people who are still chasing subscription mod-
els, I'll tell you that. I saw the forefront of this at NCsoft. All the MMOs in
America at the time were obviously subscription-based. But after a bunch
of trips to Korea where I saw the massive success over there with free-to-
play MMOs, where they would just do microtransactions … microtransac-
tions were super-superior in a thousand ways, as far as revenue potential.
And there was a lot of discussion about, “Would that make it to the West?
How long will it take for the West to act like that?” And I thought, “This
is gonna happen tomorrow!” And sure enough, in game terms, Facebook
kind of opened that and has shown, clearly, that it's the way to go.
Number one, you never want to provide a barrier to entry for people
to come in and play the game. Any barrier to entry, any cost up front, any
idea that you're gonna have to take my credit card is a tremendous barrier
to most people. It makes them not want to even check out what you're
doing. And you obviously want to get as many people as you can looking
at your product.