Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Don't Hide Your Best Viral and Monetization Features
Finally, one more bit of advice from social game veteran Hyatt on what not to do. “A common mistake that
people make when they're trying to invent new virality and revenue is to bury that feature,” he says. “If you
have a great feature, the most important question is to measure what percentage of players engage with it. Don't
lock it up—instead, perhaps show it off before they even play the game, such as in the marketing and load
screen art.”
Sometimes these key game features emerge from user behavior. While recently preparing a report on
gambling-themed Facebook games, I was struck by how many of the players spent more time idly chatting with
each other than they did playing the actual game, talking about their families, the weather, and so on. So I was
surprised that none of these games highlighted this “social hangout” feature in their advertising or first-time
player orientation. Play up the most unique and innovative features of your game, and play up the features that
your players love most!
Chatting with Justin Smith of Inside
Virtual Goods and AppData about Game
Revenue
AppData.com is without a doubt the leading site for tracking Facebook game user activity. (And I'm confident
that's the case, even though I have to disclose having recently written for it and the parent site, Inside Social
Games.) Co-founded in 2008 by Justin Smith, who also co-authors a quarterly Inside Virtual Goods report, Ap-
pData was conceived at a time when many Facebook games were beginning to gain rapid growth, although it
still wasn't clear which apps were truly popular. Drawing on publicly accessible data, AppData's aim is to be a
tool for analyzing the Facebook gaming ecosystem.
With that background, it's no surprise that Smith has a lot of secrets to share with developers—on the kind of
money they can expect to make from well-made Facebook games, the design elements that help boost revenue,
and future changes to the social network that developers should be aware of.
Typical Facebook Game Monetization Rates
Most Facebook games attract a very small number of paying customers—1-3 percent is typical, with rates
approaching 5-9 percent considered extremely good. Among these paying players, 10 percent are generally
defined as whales, as described earlier. For most Facebook games, it's these players who'll contribute the bulk
of a developer's revenue. (As you'll see with web and iOS games, this is typical of most free-to-play games,
regardless of platform.)
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