Game Development Reference
gross $50,000-100,000 a month for the developer. If you're earning that ARPU rate, says Smith, “you're in
good company and you're doing something right.”
Facebook Design Elements That Monetize Well:
Appointment and Crew Mechanics
The caretaking feature monetizes well, Smith explained, because it involves an appointment mechanic, nudging
players to return to the game on a consistent basis. (And active players are much more likely to become paying
players.) Related to that, Smith pointed out a similar feature—a crew mechanic, in which certain game tasks can
be accomplished only with the help of other players. Again, having this feature increases more game activity,
which increases the likelihood of turning players into paying users.
In addition to the caretaking and crew mechanics, Smith recommends creating an easy on-ramp for novice
players to move to paying players.
This lowers monetization's barrier to entry, and makes it likely that players will go on to buy more items (as
opposed to asking players to spend several dollars or more of real currency on their first purchase).
The first game items a player encounters that are buyable with virtual currency should be extremely cheap, or given out for free, with
All those numbers and strategies aside, the basic appeal of a game's design and execution remains funda-
mental. “Any game that's fun,” as Smith puts it, “has the potential to monetize well.”
For Early Growth, Create an Acquisition Campaign
Although a Facebook game can earn a lot of organic growth from having a good internal design, Smith recom-
mends integrating a good design with a paid marketing strategy that leverages Facebook's capability to target
potential players by age, gender, and so on. By doing so, your games can reach their optimal intended audience.
(Check Smith's InsideSocialGames.com for a selection of vendors that provide such services.)
Future Trends and Opportunities: More Mobile, More
Facebook Gaming outside of Facebook
Smith sees a couple of important changes to Facebook that designers should be aware of:
More Facebook-related game activity outside of Facebook. Smith notes that Facebook is adding more
features to the open graph, the company's API that connects social network users' interests to activ-
ity happening outside Facebook. He believes this may lead to more opportunities to connect web game
stats and updates to Facebook, a feature developers can use to drive traffic and retention. (From my
perspective, this drive will likely depend on how successful Zynga is in turning their off-Facebook site
Zynga.com, which uses Facebook Connect, into a popular destination site.)
More Facebook-oriented mobile gaming . Facebook recently rolled out its mobile platform and is en-
couraging more development on it, including (especially?) games. It's likely that Facebook will also of-
fer monetization options on its mobile platform (placing it in competition with Apple), both features that
developers should consider for their upcoming games.