Game Development Reference
the same level as or only slightly higher and more powerful than in-game items.” This is to give paying custom-
ers an edge, but not one that totally overwhelms non-paying players.
“For example, in Tyrant, we offer a couple of full free sets of cards with a range of skills. We also have some
premium exclusive sets that offer new skills but at roughly the same power level—a player with only free cards
is still competitive with players who have purchased premium expansions.” Many designers highlight an item's
exclusivity by tying it to the player's social profile, with a visible achievement award or other highlights that
make the paying player stand out among others. (Tyrant has an “Elite Membership” promotion with an exclus-
ive card and a premium currency bonus.)
When visually appealing items are offered in a set, they tend to activate the acquisitiveness urge that seems to exist somewhere deep in the
A good monetization option related to exclusivity is the sale of collectible items (see Figure 8-7 ) . For that
reason, says Reeve, “The collectible card game mechanic is an incredible monetization method because collec-
tion is such a powerful motivator.” To help fuel that hunger, Tyrant displays the full set of cards early in the
game. “[Then we] fade out all the cards you don't have. This makes it obvious to new players right away just
how many cards you can collect.
Figure 8-7: Tyrant's collectible card game set display
Price High, Adjust Rates as Needed, but Don't Cap
As discussed in Chapter 4, “Facebook Game Design: Basic Principles for Growth and Revenue,” it's better to
start by pricing virtual goods on the high side (say, $2-7 on average), and adjust with discounts or price cut
announcements as needed. Finding the maximum number of players who will monetize in relation to the total
amount they will spend on virtual goods usually takes some trial and error. “It's a delicate balance to figure out,”
Reeve says, “but constantly optimizing these features will greatly improve results over time.”
Setting a maximum amount of goods a player can buy at any one time.