Game Development Reference
So why should we care about this dusty consumer-marketing theory?
Because with the freemium model of games, in which you monetize users only
when they feel inclined to pay you, your revenue is based on a small percent-
age of your total customers. Most Facebook games monetize between 3 and 5
percent of their users. Therefore, if you want to make piles of money, it is criti-
cal that your game have a large number of customers. You must always work to
increase the number of potential customers who enter the funnel, and the con-
version rate of those who make it through to actuation (and actual spending).
In the social and digital games space, there is relatively little friction between
a customer's first awareness of a product and his or her ability to purchase it.
Gone are the days in which snowed-in farmers from a My Antonia -style vil-
lage would read about a new product in a Sears and Roebuck catalog, hitch up
horses to the wagon to drive into town, place an order, and wait for the general
store to receive the goods from afar. Instead, your banner ad generates instant
awareness; the catchiness of your consumer promise motivates immediate
interest (or it fails to do so); the interested customers click through to express
their desire; and within seconds, you're accepting their virtual currency—or
wondering why you lost them. Ideally, your game is compelling enough that
your viewers immediately “desire” the next part of the funnel, and a tight loop
is built. They view, they desire, and they're monetized … and when they're not
playing, they're telling their friends.
More specifically, in the social space, there are three key problems upon
which you should constantly focus:
1. How do I acquire new players (i.e., drive awareness, generate interest, cre-
2. How do I monetize the players I have (i.e., turn desire into action, get
them to spend)?
3. How do I retain my players (i.e., keep them in the system to be monetized
Social games, by their nature, add another layer of complexity to the funnel
metaphor; fulfilling your user's desire once simply isn't enough. You need
your users to come back for more, as often as possible, and preferably with
friends. You need them to spread the message and to spread it enthusiasti-
cally. Although this concept isn't unique to social media—our farmer from a
hundred years ago might have told his neighbors about the great new product
he just received—the speed and scale at which certain connected influencers
can spread your message makes your product's social stickiness as impor-
tant as its underlying quality. The impact of your users' opinions affect the
virality of your game, and in this medium, your virality is almost always the
foundation of your marketing. Social media makes it ever more possible for
Malcom Gladwell's mavens and connectors to reach truly terrific numbers of
other potential customers, and that's what distinguishes an Angry Birds from
the legion of great games out there … that you've never heard of.