Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
than 600 million users by the beginning of 2011. Once “apps” became games,
devices like the iPhone began taking huge chunks of market share from tra-
ditional handheld gaming devices like the PlayStation Portable (PSP) and the
Nintendo DS (NDS). Handheld devices manufacturers have countered this trend
by introducing technological gimmicks like stereoscopic 3D (in the case of the
Nintendo 3DS), or ever more full-featured interfaces and software suites (as
with the PlayStation Vita), but it's unclear whether these efforts will save the
market for dedicated handheld gaming devices. Social gaming via full-featured
smartphones has proven its power and increasingly appears to be the dominant
mobile platform going forward.
By the beginning of 2012, the clearly defined battle lines in the console wars
and the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) dominance
of PC gaming looks to have become a fractured free-for-all in which upstart
companies like Zynga can go from unknown shops to media powerhouses hav-
ing more than 250 million monthly users (in Zynga's case, a journey that took
them fewer than 1,000 days). Most game designers are no longer able to focus
on designing their game for just one system. Even console products are now
expected to have social tie-ins, both on Facebook and on mobile platforms, in
an effort to drive customer awareness and customer engagement.
This topic explains how the gaming industry arrived where it is today
by giving an overview of the major phases of its evolution. We'll dis-
cuss the way in which early games were marketed and monetized. We'll
talk about how early BBS games and MUDs evolved into the sophisticated
subscription-model-based products that World of Warcraft and its competitors
have become. We'll study the rise of free-to-play models in South Korea and
China brought about by an effort to circumvent rampant piracy. You'll learn
how those games managed to retain their customer base by adopting west-
ern designs, but simultaneously fitting into the Internet café culture of rented
PCs, where users pay a few renminbi (RMB) per hour to smoke cigarettes
and while away the hours on first-person shooters and MMOs. We'll look
at how these games ended up paving the way for much of what the West
currently understands about microtransaction models (in which users get
the client software for free, or at very low cost, and are asked to pay small
fees for in-game items, perks, or services). We'll study the different genera-
tions of Facebook games in greater depth and devote a little time to looking
at some of the other social media networks, both the all-but-forgotten and the
up-and-comers. We'll study popular mechanisms for acquiring users, popular
dual-currency models, and methods of monetizing users once you get them.
We'll look at how to put the right kinds of hooks in your games, gather the
right kinds of metrics, and evaluate that information to increase the game's
overall stickiness and revenue per user. We'll look at games like Magic the
Gathering and how it influenced a generation of online collectible card games,
and at other games on platforms ranging from the iPhone to Facebook, to
help further illustrate some of our key lessons.
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