Game Development Reference
monetization mechanism in the game. Beyond the artificial spending limit cre-
ated by a subscription model, the wealth of high quality, free-to-play options
that now exist in this genre suggests that the game you release should be of
incredibly high quality or somehow markedly unique in order to attract users
with so many other (cheaper) options.
Role playing games tend to be good candidates for PDLC, as well. Because
these kinds of games often feature a focus on exploring the game world, it is a
reasonable leap to offer users access to new areas, filled with new monsters to
kill and new treasures to take. In fact, this was the most common monetization
scheme (after the initial retail release) for most MMORPGs for the last ten years.
New game spaces tend to take large amounts of data to represent, so large “expan-
sion packs” are commonly sold as PDLC. As streaming technologies improve, and
as bandwidth increases, it seems likely that more games will begin to “background
download” new content as it is released, then conduct the transaction required to
access it entirely in the game world using in-game currency. (Indeed, some games
already do this.) This alteration to the way the content is installed and sold can
drastically improve user conversion rates by reducing friction.
Turn-Based Building Games
Building games are among the most popular types of games on the current
social networks. These games tend to focus on letting the user build up
farms, cities, military bases, and the like. Almost without exception, these
games focus on lightweight design elements and the sharing of materials
required to build new structures or units. Games like FarmVille , CityVille ,
Empires and Allies , Ravenwood Fair , FrontierVille , and others all fall into
this category. Originally, this type of game was pioneered by Sim City , Little
Computer People , and the Sims franchise. Although these games have found
some success in traditional retail models, as well as by selling expansion
packs, they are now most commonly known for selling extra energy to users.
This is a specific subset of microtransactions in which users can pay to keep
playing, rather than being forced to wait for their energy to return, or pay to
bypass a time-consuming task. We'll discuss this model in far greater detail
and address the specific nuances of the design of this kind of microtransac-
tion in Chapter 9, but suffice it to say that if you're inclined to build a game
of this sort, you've got some excellent models to study and some tough com-
petition to beat.
Simulations are usually best suited to single-purchase models or the selling of
expansion packs that offer the user new content inside the game world. For
example, Pinball FX on the Xbox Live Arcade platform sells users new pinball