Game Development Reference
tables in order to keep the experience fresh. Sports games have generally
focused on a straight retail model, though those with RPG characteristics (like
Electronic Arts' College Football ) have dabbled with feature sales (allowing
users to quickly “train” their athletes for a small fee).
However, like the rest of the games business, many games of this type are
starting to explore freemium microtransaction models. A number of Facebook
sports simulation games (like Top Eleven Football Manager by Nordeus) use
a traditional in-game microtransaction model. However, because many simu-
lation games focus on action (car racing, real-time sports, etc.) the traditional
social-game microtransaction model doesn't tend to work as well without some
design tweaks. In particular, because it can be disruptive to ask users to stop
racing or running after the ball long enough to decide that they want to buy
something. Unless there is a compelling mechanic that allows users to improve
performance between games or before the next match (like a season or training
mechanic), it's hard to get users interested in anything other than moving on
to the next event. Thus, most simulation games that rely on microtransactions
adopt an RPG-like focus on character stat advancement.
Several racing or driving simulation games, like Need for Speed: World by
Electronic Arts, feature freemium models. This online version of the street-
racing franchise allows users to use microtransactions to unlock new cars to
race using their in-game currency, SpeedBoost.
Virtual worlds typically focus on user creation and socialization as their pri-
mary activities. This focus makes them well suited to free-to-play models in
which users are sold virtual objects they can use to outfit their personal spaces
or to create new, personalized creations. Selling users the ability to send one
another gifts has proven popular in some virtual world games. Because many
virtual world games also feature user avatar characters, these games are good
candidates for selling cosmetic items that let users augment those characters.
However, as these sorts of games rarely focus on character improvement or
“leveling up,” much of the performance-enhancing gear popular in RPGs tends
to be less so in these sorts of games. Games like Habbo Hotel , Second Life , and
Small World all fall into this category.
Nonpersistent Action and Real-Time Strategy Games
This catch-all category started out by offering that most familiar and basic of
micro-transactions, the pay-for-play model, in which users inserted a quarter
each time they wanted to continue playing, and the game gave them a few
extra turns or lives. Arcades set the standard, but it's rare to see their model