Game Development Reference
Interview with Everett Lee of OMGPOP:
The Science of Social Game Design—cont'd
learned from past experience, trial and error, or A/B experiments run on
existing products. If it sounds more like a science than art, that's because
it is, at least to some degree. Social game companies have teams of people
integrating analytics, poring over the data the analytics generate, and run-
ning tests to fine tune the monetization engine.
Q: User acquisition for social games can be expensive. What are some
ways to tackle this problem? Are there plans to leverage existing OMGPOP
games to help with attracting new users to your games?
A: Companies new to the social space usually end up advertising in the
social network on which the game is hosted, on Facebook for the most
part in the United States, because the company knows that users already
have access to that platform. The cost of acquiring one customer has
actually gone up almost tenfold in the last three to four years, to the point
that some companies could end up spending more on user acquisition
than the ARPU it will generate, resulting in a net loss.
Companies with a suite of social games will often advertise the new
game to users of the previously released games. This practice is called
cross-promoting. Most companies will introduce a popup in the estab-
lished games to alert their users of the newly released game. More effec-
tively, some companies will create cross-promotional quests in their
established games, directing users to install the new game in return for
some reward in the established game. Either way, the company tries to
drive users from their existing games into their new game in a relatively
free manner. At OMGPOP, we not only cross-promote from within our
Facebook games, but also from OMGPOP.com, where we have a user base
of about three million monthly average users.
Q: What sorts of preconceptions do designers of traditional retail games
need to let go of when entering the world of freemium games?
A: I would start by looking at the two biggest differences between the
two spaces, demographics and the business model. Gamers playing retail
boxed games are generally looking for longer, more engaging game expe-
riences than gamers playing social games. This is not to say that the
two groups are mutually exclusive, because the same gamer is typically
looking for a different experience when playing games in each of those
spaces. When I boot up my Xbox and pop a game in, I am generally look-
ing to sit down on the couch for at least an hour of entertainment. When