Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
a prodigious rate and risk getting bored and dropping out of the game. This last element is the most important,
as new content will have to be developed, tested, and released on a constant basis, which will often require a
team as large as (or larger than) the one that developed the game. A good social game needs to be fully balanced
in design and economy, and it's crucial for design and monetization teams to be deeply integrated and cooperate
from the start,” says Contestabile.
NOTE “[Do not] treat design and monetization as two separate entities, and try to tack one on top of the
other in the final stage of development.”
—Giordano Contestabile, EA PopCap
“If you create an original, fun social game and achieve some degree of success, be it wide mainstream adop-
tion or a small, dedicated user base, publishers will come knocking on your door, as the social gaming market
is extremely competitive and talent is very much in demand.”
Wooga
The Berlin-based company produces all its games in-house, but Wooga's Head of Communications & Partner-
ships, Sina Kamala Kaufmann, offered several tips to designers just starting out in Facebook, such as those in
smaller indie studios:
Find a niche genre and target group: Noting that Wooga's mass audience games have a 3 percent mon-
etization rate and increased competition from major developers, Kaufmann argued that it has probably
become quite difficult for a small/indie game to acquire millions of players. Instead, she suggested, “Fo-
cus on a niche; focus on something special and unique...and still think out of the box and see the function-
ality of the Facebook platform. Don't think in the framework of, 'That's a game and that's not a game.'”
As an example of the former, she noted that the strategy games produced by Kabam attract smaller user
numbers, but because they cater to a very passionate audience of core gamers, they probably have high
rates of engagement and paying users. As an example of the latter, she suggested brain-training games,
games to organize your life in a fun way, match-making apps, and other entertainment apps that do not
necessarily offer a full game experience, but are still engaging.
Design wall messages that drive growth: “Be aware that [on Facebook],” Kaufmann told me, “people
play with their friends, not with random people.” A specific application of this advice is the wall up-
date—those messages that most Facebook games enable players to automatically send to their Facebook
wall, where friends can see them. If designers make these fun and challenging (as opposed to spammy),
they'll help drive user growth. (By Kaufmann's estimate, 10-15 percent of a game's new users will come
to the app from newsfeed posts.)
Balance A/B testing with love: Wooga emphasizes the use of A/B testing new game features on select
groups of players to see how they improve engagement, growth, and monetization rates. At the same
time, Kaufmann added, “The other part is that you combine your game design background with what you
love.”
Ultimately, Wooga attributes the success of its games to the creation of game characters that both designers and players love.
For further inspiration, Kaufmann recommended designers check out two Wooga games—Monster World,
for its deep user engagement and the way it evolved over time (see the game's Facebook page to track new up-
dates and announcements the company posted to the wall), and Diamond Dash, for its high polish.
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