Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Indeed, many teams plan for a “live” support team equivalent to 50 percent
of the total game development team just to monitor their in-game economy.
So consider carefully your in-game economy, both the soft levers you can
pull to create tight compulsion loops and the hard currency items you will
use to make your money. Then plan to commit bright, dedicated people to
the cause, each of whom (ideally) will have the mind of a dungeon master
crossed with that of Alan Greenspan. If you build a great game economy
and a great hard currency model that feels natural to users, you'll potentially
have that mystical brass ring: a game that is both awesome and awesomely
10.5 Addressing the Matter of “Honest” Gameplay
As discussed in Chapter 9, some feel that if free players are persistent enough,
they should have access to everything that a paying player does. Indeed, many
games such as Pocket Legends have the entire game and item system designed
around this concept, primarily selling “accelerators” rather than items only
available to the paying customer. The notion here is that this strategy makes
the game feel “honest”; players won't feel cheated if they don't spend any-
thing but their time to gain parity with paying players. As you may have
picked up from the stripper metaphor earlier, many game designers tend to be
puritanical when it comes to monetization, and they equate charging money
with something shady, if not downright prostitution of the game design. This
core division—between game purists, who don't believe that spending money
should give players an advantage over other players or let them see anything
a free player cannot, and those who are comfortable selling unique content or
selling an advantage—surrounds one of the most hotly debated topics in game
design. Indeed, this schism even reaches down and divides the two authors of
this topic.
It is thus important to remember that there is no single right way to address
this problem. The gaming world is changing; mostly, it is expanding. Different
types of players are playing different types of games in very different social set-
tings and delivery formats. Currently, many social games use hard currency for
special items unavailable to the player any other way, the thought being that this
creates rarity, desirability, and profitability. Yet many games have thrived with-
out selling anything that tips the balance in favor of one player over another.
What matters is that a dual currency system has the capacity to cater to both
points of view and to both player archetypes: those who value money over time
and those who value time over money. The more you are able to indulge both
types of players simultaneously, selling advantage to those who seek it while
offering alternative avenues of advancement and uses for hard currency for
those who don't, the broader your appeal and the greater your overall success.
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