Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Often, particular social networks end up becoming associated with a par-
ticular country, the way Friendster is currently associated with the Philippines,
for example. (Over 90 percent of Friendster's traffic comes from Asia, with the
bulk of users originating in the Philippines.) Orkut, alternatively, has captured
a large percentage of the Brazilian market, which has grown considerably in
affluence and purchasing power in the last few years as a result of strong eco-
nomic policies and high oil prices.
As a result of this global market, localization is a critical part of creating a suc-
cessful social game. The simplest aspect of localizing a game is translating the
various text strings into assorted languages and ensuring that the user is given a
chance to select the language they prefer. More advanced localization can involve
creating customized versions of the software that pay attention to local cultural
symbols and preferences, in order to increase user satisfaction. This process can
become quite involved, with some big-budget retail products going so far as to
alter characters or plotlines to be more appealing to certain cultural sensibilities.
Because players in different countries use different currencies and may have
very different economic backgrounds, games should take care to consider how
currency localization will affect their particular game. With many social net-
works starting to provide their own forms of currency, the logistical matter of
payment systems and currency exchange rates may end up being abstracted,
but pricing, gifting, and the like still bear country-specific consideration. The
most popular user platforms are being flooded with various gaming choices;
the more you can do to tailor your game to the preferences of a particular
audience, the stickier your concept, and the more profitable your game.
As a general rule of thumb, English-speaking countries (the United States,
Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Australia) tend to monetize at greater
per-user lifetime rates. However, it is more expensive to acquire users in these terri-
tories because they are saturated with games and advertising. English is a common
enough language in some other countries that games can be monetized without
special efforts made toward localization (i.e., the Philippines, Romania), but these
countries tend to monetize at a lower rate. However, this issue is offset by a lower
typical cost to acquire users. Generally, localized games monetize better than those
that are presented in a foreign language (like English), for fairly obvious reasons.
6.5 It's All About Scale
If there's anything this chapter should have convinced you of by this point, it's
the sheer scale of these social networks. Taken in aggregate, there are hundreds
of millions of users, well over 10 percent of the total population of planet Earth,
who interact with social networks on a daily basis. This shift in consumer
behavior rivals the industrial revolution and most of the great migrations in
human history for its raw number of participants. By way of comparison, fewer
people ever lived and died as part of the Holy Roman Empire than will log into
a social network this year.
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