Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Once you've got users, you need to retain them; we discussed various strat-
egies for increasing stickiness in the game. Almost all of these design tech-
niques are platform-agnostic, and the ability to wield them effectively is one
hallmark of a great game designer. A trend we've seen used to great effect in
the last five years is the adoption of RPG-style metagame loops to increase user
engagement. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare gave us all a stellar example of this
in the first-person shooter space; their use of a classic XP-based RPG advance-
ment layer atop their already compelling multiplayer pointed the way for hun-
dreds of other games. Most social games now use a similar leveling system,
which was once the bulwark of the Wizardry and Might & Magics of the world.
Expect trends like this to continue such that successful compulsion mechanics
from diverse genres will continue to be brought into more casual games in an
effort to increase stickiness. Other common techniques such as leaderboards
and messages to remind users to return are only likely to improve in value as
designers learn to use them more effectively and to target them more directly.
In the next chapter, we dove a bit deeper into the different ways to monetize
social games. We focused on digital download models and the various ways
to get money out of users who play the basic game for free. Almost the entire
publishing, gaming, and financial world believes that digital distribution will
continue to erode retail sales. (However, it's unlikely that the imminent death of
retail is at hand; people enjoy physically shopping and malls and will probably
still do so in 2050.) The specifics of much of this section, dealing with Steam,
Origin, Direct2Drive, Impulse, and the like will likely be valuable for the next
three to five years, before the particular players change, but the basic practice
of selling games via direct download off the Internet will likely continue far into
the future (barring a zombie apocalypse). The specific methods of monetizing
freemium games, from ad sales to selling play time and offering rare virtual
goods, are all likely to remain viable strategies.
We evaluated the best monetization approaches for classic game genres and
some hybrid models that have been successful or more modern game designs.
Eventually, we concluded that most models might work for almost any genre,
but also that by considering carefully the specifics of what motivates your users
to play your game in particular, you'll be best able to design a monetization
system that can maximize your profits while minimizing your user alienation.
And because people do like shopping, virtual goods are and will continue
to be popular in games. In fact, as virtual worlds and online gaming continue
to grow in popularity, we should expect the sale of virtual goods to continue to
grow in importance. If we are to believe Richard Garriott's comments about the
likelihood of more immersive “virtual realities” or take our cues from the cyber-
punk fiction of the 1990s like Neil Stephenson's Snow Crash or Tad Williams's
Otherworld , we should expect users to become increasingly invested in their
avatars. One need only watch a loved one fall prey to the addiction of World of
Warcraft on a tiny screen with a primitive input device to recognize the power
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