Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
of what he thinks of as the “three eras of gaming.” In the second chapter, you
learned that an asynchronous gameplay strategy based on an energy model that
limits users' turns within a particular time period is not new but dates back
to what visionary William Gibson referred to as “primitive early computer
networks”—Bulletin Board Systems. We discussed the rise of the subscrip-
tion model for gaming, first on early social networks like America Online and
then on Massively Multiplayer Online games, the antediluvian predecessors of
today's megahits like World of Warcraft .
We moved on to define social games, not so much by how they play as by
the uses to which they put social networks. We highlighted the need to encour-
age player-to-player behaviors that drive adoption of the game and lend them-
selves to user retention. We leaned toward an inclusive definition because
we believe it offers critical insight useful for shaping game features and sys-
tems designs and because it seems to be the one thing that truly distinguishes
“social” games from games that just happen to be played on a network. In
chapters 5 and 7, we dwelt on ways to acquire new users through advertising,
and formulas for evaluating the “K factor” of virality; the heart of social game
design is in this definition, and will be long after Mark Zuckerberg is dust: a
social game is one in which the user's interactions with other players help drive
adoption of the game and help retain players, and that uses an external social
network of some type to facilitate these goals.
We also opened the door for mobile games and welcomed them into our
study. It is our belief that mobile and social games are converging, though
the mobile networks have thus far been slow to realize the power of the
social graphs stored on every one of our smartphones. Games like Words with
Friends was quite clearly a social game that benefitted hugely from virality,
despite originally being offered only on mobile devices that made little innate
use of the social graph. It is also our belief, after having made more than a
few games for always-online networked consoles, that the console services
are moving towards a similar point of convergence. Indeed, we expect that
within a year or three both Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network will
begin to feature games that make far more effective use of the social nature of
the platform, as well as some of the business models currently popular with
games on Facebook.
We moved on from throwing wide our arms to a broad and inclusive defi-
nition of mobile and social games, in order to start exploring some of the
business models common to such games. We cast a nostalgic eye over our
shoulders here again and reviewed how each of the major monetization models
rose to popularity over the last few decades. We also began to introduce and
study different types of currencies, from those offered inside a particular game
to those that provide value across an entire network, such as Facebook Credits.
We observed that the price of games for gamers tends to get cheaper as the
number of users increases. (This continues to be an interesting inverse to the
cost for game publishers to acquire new users, which seems to only increase as
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