Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
mouth or the power of social networks to help spread your message, but
initially you must spend something to get the message out. Thus, the first
question to ask yourself is: what's the best way for the world to learn about
my game?
On Xbox Live!, publishers can purchase showcase slots that drive custom-
ers to the marketplace, where customers can then explore—and hopefully
purchase—their game. Web games can use Google AdWords for targeted ads
that appear alongside users' Google searches. Retail products can purchase
advertising in magazines or on television. Any type of product can send out
a press release through Business Wire in the hopes that media outlets pick
up the message and spread the word for them. The world is full of fan con-
ferences where you can host PR stunts. (As I'm writing this, I'm watching a
score of zombies shamble down the streets of San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter,
part of a promotion for a game debuting at San Diego's annual Comic-Con
festival.) But ultimately, even the most innovative of publicity stunts, press
releases, or ad campaigns amount to buying awareness, and this costs money.
For games on the Facebook platform, the amount of money required to
attract users continues to rise. Despite the innate virality of the platform, both
the platform and the users are changing in ways that have reduced the effective
infection rates one used to expect from games designed for that platform. In
the early days of the network (just a few years ago), one user might install and
play a game, and almost assuredly several of her friends would join and also
try the game out for themselves. How could they not, with the constant bar-
rage of game advertising that would appear on their Facebook news feed? But
Facebook's designers have shut down many of the “spammy” viral channels
that promoted this kind of effect (and annoyed so many non-gamer users in
the process). And the sheer number of applications available on Facebook also
makes it much harder to break through the noise, in those few occasions where
a breakthrough is still possible. Instead, mid-2011 rates of user attraction are
reported to be around 0.5 per user (and dropping). 1 This means that for every
two new users your game acquires, you can expect one additional user to join
up. Thus, you can no longer grow a user base (on Facebook at least) through
purely viral means.
Most successful applications on Facebook (which we'll count as those
that have passed and stayed past the 100,000 daily active users mark)
have been forced to spend heavily on advertising to attract new users. And
because of those 100,000 or so average daily users, only 3 to 5 percent of
them can be counted on to pay, and some drop by the wayside each day, we
can easily see why there is a need for nearly continual advertising spend to
“feed the funnel.” The 2010 Social Gaming Summit estimated that roughly
$3 million in advertising spending would be required to take a game to
1 million DAU.
1 http://www.adparlor.com/FBinstallWhitepaper.htm
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