Game Development Reference
Interview with Jason Decker: Love Letters from
really popular, because some apps will give you free stuff if you download
a different app—which means one app will get popular because it'll
reward you in some other program.
Q: This is stuff like TapJoy?
A: Exactly. Stuff like TapJoy. There are cheap ways to do it, like iVam-
pire. And it's cool the way that all works, but it clouds the market. If you
download this expansion, you'll get free hearts in this other game. It's
very noisy with all these offers.
Q: Once people are playing your game, what things do you offer them in
exchange for money?
A: We decided after launch to go free-to-play for all of our content. And
we're design purists, in that we don't want people to be able to play to
just be “better” at the game. We don't want you to spend $5 on this Sword
of Dragon Breath that lets you kill everybody. That feels like cheating, if
the rich man can come in and just dominate everyone else. So instead we
monetize in ways that let you speed up your progress in the game. For
example, maybe it takes someone who doesn't want to spend any money
five hours to reach level 20 in the game. But if you don't have that much
time, you can buy some elixirs that will give you double the experience
for combat or give you more strength. Because you're fighting zombies or
monsters, not other players, it doesn't feel like you're cheating to people.
You advance faster if you enjoy the game and have the money, but not the
time. We called it “value-added playing.” If someone is in middle-school,
they might have all day to play; someone else might only have enough
time to play for an hour a day, but still want to see more of the game.
Q: What do you know about your average customer?
A: We've made an MMO, but it's an MMO lite. For some of them, they've
come from Wo W , but for many of them, it's their first MMO. Our game
is pretty deep, so we've been able to win over some hardcore players,
but it's accessible, so we've also won a bunch of casual gamers, once
they check it out. I think the most appealing thing is that it's always with
them. We've gotten many letters from people who tell us that they love
that when they're out of town they can still play with their friends.