Game Development Reference
l Reward users for community engagement, participating in forums, helping
new users get their bearings, and the like. The greater the sense of commu-
nity, the more likely your players are to stay and play, which hopefully devel-
ops into stay and pay.
l Offer soft currency as a reward to encourage daily logins. Even a brief login
establishes your game as a part of your player's daily routine. And the more
often they enter the game, the greater your chances of “hooking” them to
stick around and perhaps to spend money.
l Use soft currencies or their equivalent trinket items as part of an email lure
campaign to regain lapsed users. New trinkets, especially clever or “cool”
variations on what lapsed players once enjoyed, can be a positive draw to
return to the game.
l Any game with user-generated content should find ways to allow users to
earn soft currency from the sale of those items. All user-to-user transactions
(auction house, etc.) should use the soft currency. Allowing user-to-user
cash equivalent transactions will multiply your headaches exponentially.
l Any sort of in-game wagering should be done using soft currency to avoid
the risks associated with violating gambling laws.
l As a rule, the user should never be able to turn soft currency into hard cur-
rency. For all the reasons discussed in earlier chapters, you don't want users
pulling money out of the system, and there is no reason to undercut your
monetization model by letting users gain (very much) hard currency without
paying for it.
l Designers need to adjust the conversion rate between soft and hard curren-
cies to keep the game economy balanced and healthy; this sort of economic
manipulation requires as much care in virtual worlds as does monetary pol-
icy in the real world.
Hard currencies can be used in slightly different ways:
l Users can buy hard currencies with their real-world dollars. (This is the defi-
nition of a hard currency.)
l Hard currencies can often be used by a number of different games, either on
the same platform, or within the same publisher's family. Facebook Credits
serve this function on Facebook, serving a unifying function across games;
this increases the value of a currency by giving it alternate uses.
l Hard currency should be used to buy in-game soft currency, but be care-
ful about establishing a fixed exchange rate. Phrase currency exchanges as
“limited-time offers” in order to always retain the right to alter the relative
value of the two currencies. Depending on what your metrics teach you
about your regular users, you'll want to retain a great deal of flexibility in
your exchange rate.