Game Development Reference
Using Facebook's advertising platform, developers can select the cohort of users they want to market their
game to, based on age, gender, geographic region, and so on. Just as important as these demographic factors are
the interests that users add to their Facebook profiles.
Consider what 5th Planet did to find an audience for Legacy of a Thousand Suns and Dawn of the Dragons
(DoD), text-heavy adventure RPGs that are a far cry from the usual Facebook games. The company marketed
the game to Facebook users who played Castle Age and World of Warcraft—as identified by users who added
those games to their profile's Likes section. “If you know who wants to play your game,” as 5th Planet's Robert
Winkler puts it, “Facebook gives you so many tools to find them.” In other words, decide who your likely target
market is, then go after them via Facebook ads.
5th Planet made their aim even more precise than that: With DoD, the company targeted their ads at males
18-35 who had played Castle Age and who also had friends who played DoD during office hours. The last two
variables are important: Since DoD has a strong social component, 5th Planet wanted to market the game to
people who were likely to play it with friends (for example, fellow office workers.) This impact worked really
well—so well, in fact, that the company was able to decrease the cost per install while increasing their return
on investment. In the end, cost per installation for DoD and Legacy was remarkably inexpensive—just 10 to 15
cents per player.
The amount of advertising spent to get a user to try the game.
However, targeted Facebook ads are only the beginning. You will also need to experiment with lots of vari-
ations of the ad (different artwork and copy), try out hundreds of keywords, and tweak the age and gender seg-
ments you're trying to reach to achieve an optimal install rate.
Design for Long-Term Aspiration
Hyatt has a simple rule for what the design of a Facebook game should immediately convey to players: a long-
term aspiration they can achieve in the game by playing over a long period of time. If a developer can success-
fully communicate this, a player is more likely to transition from being a non-committal player to becoming a
dedicated, regular one.
Consider FarmVille, which many traditional game developers see as being boring and mechanical; however,
when they make this observation, they are focusing only on the moment-to-moment process of playing
FarmVille. What keeps players engaged in FarmVille is not the moment-to-moment process, but the aspiration
of what their farm can ultimately be (see Figure 4-2 ) —as Hyatt puts it, “wanting this beautiful, big, well-work-