Game Development Reference
l Remind players early and often that although they can always play for free,
they can also purchase items to make their game experience even better,
and that it'll be a bargain! So remind your users regularly that they can buy
something that will make them squeal, and it'll be a screamin' deal.
CityVille offers users the chance to purchase a special “deal” whenever they return to
the game. Remind your users often that they can spend only a little money to vastly
improve their game experience.
Make it easy to return to the game
This point serves as a corollary to the advice about making it easy to stop
playing. When users come back, make sure that you automatically load their
progress to the last saved spot. This design runs counter to many frontend
approaches over the last few decades, so watch for designs that violate this
principle by first asking users which of their “saved games” they want to load,
or similar. Moreover, make sure that the players know exactly what they should
do next. Remember the Puzzle Quest example, in which the user may always
default to matching three gems. This kind of simple mechanic makes it easy
for users to resume playing your game after hours, months, or even years. If
your game mechanics are a bit more complex, consider using tooltips that will
remind users of what they should click on next, or a graduated form of reentry
into the game, so players can comfortably get their “game legs” back.
Always keep these straightforward design concepts in mind when designing
or evaluating the flow of your social games. Make sure that you run usability
tests and pay close attention to the early live metric data you get back from the
game's launch. Then go back through each of these points and streamline your
product, wherever possible.