Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
here is that gamers are no longer the relatively narrow band of adolescent
(and postadolescent) males that dominated the realm. The entire world now
games—at least in places that are not concerned with the daily mechanics
of survival. As you think about this section of the topic, keep an eye toward
the future; remember Mark Pincus's comment regarding thinking of social
games like a cocktail party, which you want everyone to enjoy attending. At
the same time, also keep Ryan Cleven's comment in mind. Whatever narrow
subgenre you are into, social games will probably allow you to connect with
hundreds of thousands of people who are into it, too. The world is full, but
our connections make it tiny. As I write this, I'm sitting a few stories up in a
hotel in Seattle, watching a throng of Penny Arcade attendees swarm about
for what I'm told is now the city's largest annual convention. These conven-
tioneers span all ages, and come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and genders. And
they are gamers, every one.
Once we really understood who our target users were, we dived into a dis-
cussion of how to acquire and retain them. We dusted off an old marketing and
sales metaphor called the Purchase Funnel and examined how virality alters
that model. Because marketing and the acquisition of new users are inexorably
linked in the world of social games, it's important that anyone with a stake in
social game development understand the various tactics currently employed to
attract new users. Although on the surface this discussion might have appeared
focused on the concerns of the moment, there are certain lessons that can be
extracted for extrapolation onto future platforms, in future decades:
l Persuading disinterested users to evaluate your product for some external
gain isn't likely to lead to new and loyal customers.
l In a world of ever-increasing noise-to-signal ratio, simply flashing ads on a
website and hoping that one might catch a prospective user's eye is at best
an inefficient way to win converts. Modern audiences are cynical and often
immune to advertising, such that the value of a random impression is low
and gets lower every year.
l The more targeted an enticement is, the greater chance of the user becom-
ing someone with a significant LTNV. There's just no substitute for directing
advertising to the type of person who already wants to play your game.
l Networks will continue to improve their abilities to profile users. The sorts
of technologies that Google has so dramatically improved in the last decade
with AdWords and other types of targeting have helped to reduce the num-
ber of misdirected offers and general advertisement “spamming.” Facebook
and other social networks have already made use of these advances, but
they will continue to improve as the user base increases. Though these tech-
niques are still in their infancy, they already allow advertisers to target users
with an impressive level of specificity. We should expect ever-improving
ways of reaching those users most likely to care about our particular product.
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