Game Development Reference
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l The most valuable items should always require hard currency to purchase in
order to motivate monetization.
l If users want to buy gifts for friends, they should use hard currency. Gifting is
such a popular way of monetizing users that it's usually a good revenue source.
l Allowing users to exchange hard currency for accelerators that allow them
to gain soft currency faster tends to be popular with western users. Whereas
buying a sword that could beat anyone in the game might feel like cheating,
buying “power points” that allow you to buy a cloak that increases XP by
5 percent creates a distance between the cash expenditure and the in-game
reward. The players feel more like they've purchased an accessory to their
game play and less like they bought themselves a victory.
l As a corollary to the previous point, allowing users to buy accelerators that
allow them to progress more quickly through the content offers users with
varying levels of spare time to enjoy the content and, more important, to
reach a level of parity with their friends. The easier it is for various players to
invite in their disparate types of friends, the greater your user base, and the
likelier your game is to become “sticky.”
l If your game sells features like the ability to rename a character, carry more
items, keep a bigger stable of horses, and so on, allow players to spend
hard currency.
l Typically, third-party offer walls or similar features reward users with hard
currency. (Otherwise, they have little value to the game designer.)
Additional Tips for Running a Dual Currency Game
The superb website InsideSocialGames.com ran an article several years ago that
still offers excellent advice on implementing and balancing a dual currency sys-
tem. 1 Authors Matt McAllister and Jaini Shah generously offer us their insight.
Here are a few of their suggestions with color commentary to supplement:
1. Engage users first, monetize second. This is a concise and salient point that
designers should never forget. There's a certain type of seediness to a game
that begins trying to pick your pocket before you've even seen what makes
it great. We recommend instead getting users engaged and letting them
experience (and get hooked on) the core toy of the game before they are
gently introduced to the idea of spending money. There's a popular meta-
phor in the game designer community about not wanting to marry a strip-
per, because you can't have a conversation without them asking you for a
dollar. Although a bit crass, this may be a good mental image to keep in
mind. Give your users a taste of what is exciting and awesome and different
1 http://www.insidesocialgames.com/2009/10/16/using-dual-currency-systems-for-better-
revenues-and-engagement/
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