Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Although these kinds of marketplace decisions similarly inform every other
type of consumer product, the ability to instantly evaluate data about what
your users have bought rather than having to wait months for that informa-
tion to come back from individual retailers changes the speed at which online
service providers can react. Because every social game is fundamentally pro-
viding an online service, they should all be taking advantage of this ability. To
best employ this great power, you must harvest, understand, and adjust your
game based on the available metrics. Your adjustments can't just be haphaz-
ard, either; they must be founded upon careful study of the data from which
you formulate theories on why the users are behaving as they are, then rap-
idly test those theories with changes to the live product, followed by addi-
tional careful study of the new metrics which result. This work requires a
new type of design skill that relies more heavily on volume data analysis and
rapid software iteration, far beyond that of most traditional game development
4.2 Social Games Make the Developer
All of the responsibility of pleasing your customers is yours. We talked about the
phenomenal cosmic power afforded a social game development studio. Now
let's emphasize the responsibilities.
You're on your own
The low initial investment required of players who try your game means that
they don't have any real financial incentive (sunk cost) to stick around. If your
customers don't like your game, they move on, and you're paid very little, if
anything. If this happens often enough, you go out of business. There is no
crack team of marketers poised to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.
You can never rest
Your worries don't disappear if your game turns out to be great. If your com-
petitors like what you're doing, they'll copy you mercilessly, and within a
month or three they'll have a reskinned replica of your game, perhaps even
better (because they've had the opportunity to watch your successes and
failures for whatever time you've been active). And if you don't adapt to
these kinds of changing market conditions, your game will sink beneath the
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