Game Development Reference
market for a particular purpose has great value in growing a team, and because
product placement in a game can help offset development costs, it may be help-
ful to consider the possibility for advertisements in your game, even if the game
is not completely an advertainment piece.
As we've hinted at previously, there are other ways to derive indirect value
from your users, even if they don't pay you a penny or click on a single ad.
When users invite their friends, they increase their lifetime total network
value (LTNV). Even if that particular player never gives you a dime, there's
always the chance that their friends will spend money in your game, or view
ads. Thus, you should always seek to build game mechanics that reward
(or mandate) users who invite friends into your game. Games like Empires
and Allies ask users to “appoint” friends to key positions in their “manage-
ment staff”; in Desktop Defender , users are rewarded for inviting friends (and
rewarded additionally when their friends actually start playing). Allow your
users to send out “help” requests when users must defeat difficult enemies, or
encourage users to give “gifts” to their friends that those friends can use once
they're in that game. Ultimately, motivating players to invite their friends
through your game mechanic increases the viral nature of the game, which
in turn leads to user acquisition, which is the quickest way to more revenue.
Behaviors that maximize this motivation lead to a higher LTNV and thus a
more profitable game. In general, social games should do everything they can
to build in mechanics that incentivize users to invite their friends to play in
order to increase LTNV.
8.5 Play the Numbers
The examples thus far are not an exhaustive list of the varied ways you can
make money from nonpaying users. Certainly, innovative developers are com-
ing up with fresh ideas every day. However, the right monetization strategy may
not require payment in the beginning to yield you financial success in the end.
At the same time, we've reviewed a number of models that require a staggering
number of users before any financially satisfying results are produced. Never
forget that although individual metrics differ from game to game, the sad fact is
that only 3 to 5 percent of users ever pay at all in most microtransaction games
and the individual per-user impression value for ads is tiny.
But there is yet another way you can play the numbers, and that is to pay
close attention to your individual users. Not all users are created equal; in fact,
they are as varied in profitability as they are in their age, ethnicity, or gen-
der. One phenomenon that companies like Giant Interactive and Zynga have
capitalized on is the knowledge that only a small percentage of their total