Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Interview with Everett Lee of OMGPOP:
The Science of Social Game Design—cont'd
I log into Facebook and pop into a social game, I am often looking for
a quick five- to fifteen-minute bite-sized chunk of entertainment. Also,
because the social gamer demographic is so broad, we end up creating
less twitch-based games and instead focus on slower or non-timer-based
gameplay, driven by single mouse clicks, to make the game accessible to
that larger audience.
Because of the different business model, freemium games need to
be designed with monetization in mind from the get-go. We ask ques-
tions like: “What will you sell the players?” “What will drive the play-
ers to purchase these things?” “When will you present players with the
option to purchase these things?” “How much will you charge them for
these things?” “What game mechanics will drive socialization so that you
acquire more users without spending advertising dollars?”
This isn't to say that the core game mechanics aren't important. They
still are, but they need to complement the monetization in order to drive
revenue. At the end of the day, though, players are still looking to be
entertained when playing a game, even if there are differences in presen-
tation, and developers still need to try and make money.
Designers new to the space should obviously play the successful free-
mium games and really study them to understand why they are success-
ful. A comparison/contrast with unsuccessful games in the same space
and genre is often useful as well. Look at daily average user data (How
many people are coming back to your game every day?). Look at monthly
average user data (How big is your active user base for a given month?)
and daily average user divided by monthly average user data (What
percentage of your active user base comes back every day? Basically,
how sticky is your game?). These kinds of stats are widely available on Understanding what metrics are important and how to
craft an entertaining gameplay experience that boosts those metrics can
be thought of as crafting an entertaining gameplay experience that scores
well in usability testing and reviews, and then beyond that, knowing what
knobs to turn to dial in better scores.
Q: Many of OMGPOP's games are web based. Are there ways to increase
the virality of games on the Web?
A: In the past, social game developers were able to post to a user's
Facebook news feed quite easily. Toward the end of last year, Facebook
changed their policy to reduce what was effectively free advertising, so
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