如何设计好的游戏gaming best practice
We asked some of the top social gaming experts about their thoughts on what makes a good social game. Fresh content, familiarity, and valuable incentives were just some of the characteristics mentioned. Here’s a look at what makes a social game a bona fide success.
Progression and Freshness
Nobody wants to play a game that seems out-dated or repetitive. Giordano Contestabile, senior franchise director for Bejeweled at Seattle-based game developer PopCap, says that a good social game needs to engage players over time. “The best examples in the genre have a lifecycle measured in years,” he says. “This is obtained either through compelling core gameplay that’s endlessly repeatable — a feat achieved by a small minority of games and possible only in certain genres — or by constantly adding content to the game, which requires a very disciplined release schedule, and requires the developer to be able to produce content as fast, or faster, than the most active players are consuming it.
Adam Palmer, founder and CEO of social gaming network Gramble says that a game must be “sticky” enough for users to want to come back often. From a design perspective, he says developers must ask themselves: “Does the game have a good build-up, and do users progress through the game quick enough so they won’t get bored?”
Users need to have a mix of exciting long-term and short-term goals. Make those goals exciting and rewards them when done well.
Value and Fun
PopCap’s Contestabile says that while it sounds like a truism, a good social game must be fun and provide intrinsic value. Marketers, though, can sometimes miss this boat. “In the last few years, many social games have been focused on the mechanical aspects of getting players to invite more friends and spend money in the game, rather than being focused on making the core game experience intrinsically fun,” he says.”
This strategy may work in the short-term, pushing a game to be a temporary hit, but it’s not an effective long-term plan, Contestabile says, as ”fun” is not only the most important component of a game, but also the most effective player retention strategy.
“Fun,” he says, is also the best monetization strategy. “The way to retain players and achieve a sustainable social game in the long term is to present players that are already having fun with payment options that will lead to an even more fun game experience, and avoid to try to force them to pay to enjoy the game in its entirety.”
Likewise, players are more likely to continue playing a game when they feel they are gaining some sort of value from it — in many cases, social value. Games must motivate users to share content and invite friends, not because the game’s mechanics require it, but because it’s fun, says Contestabile. “For example, in a game like Bejeweled Blitz, players tend to have a more enjoyable experience if more of their friends are playing, due to the competitive nature of the game, which hinges on a weekly leaderboard and on one-to-one challenges.”
Fair Mechanics and Monetization
When it comes to money, game developers obviously need to pay the bills, but gamers don’t want to feel deceived. “If the game mechanics don’t feel fair to the user, they might get frustrated and leave, to never come back again,” says Gramble’s Palmer.
“A good social game needs to incorporate a free-to-play economy built to engage players and incentivize them to spend in game because they’re having fun, as opposed to because they feel forced to or because not paying would lead to adverse effects,” says Contestabile. ”Forcing players to pay to proceed or to succeed in the game usually leads to good short-term monetization, but also to abysmal longer-term retention rates, as players feel burned out or tricked, and eventually leave the game.”
“Why are all those farming games and beauty salon games winning, and why would an alien spaceship management game most likely fail?” asks Palmer. “Because users want something they can associate with,” he explains. “The content should be accessible.”
Palmer says that the basics of the way the game is played should also be easily understood by gamers. “When people see a hidden object game, they already know what the base game mechanics will be, and they won’t have to invest in learning the game basics,” he says. “The fact that you don’t have to force a huge tutorial upon the player the moment they enter the game, will lower the instant drop-off rate.”
Social mobile game Pota-Toss has taken familiarity to a new level, incorporating a user’s location to determine the backdrop of the game. Using GPS, the app determine’s the user’s location and places him in that city within the game. He can then play with friends from all over the world, tossing potatoes, for example, from New York to Paris. The game currently features more than 125 cities.
José Cayasso, founder and CEO of Saborstudio, creators of Pota-Toss, says that location has become a selling point for the game, especially in countries that are not accustomed to being featured in games. “Users play a turn on their location followed by a turn on their opponents, which creates an added value of getting to know the rest of the ‘world’, as well as being able to dominate and become experts when playing in their own city,” he says.
“In countries outside the United States, the location based feature also helped both engagement and marketing, since users in these countries are not used to seeing their cities featured on interactive media,” Cavasso says. “Being able to see our stylish interpretation of their environment was definitely a great sell to acquire and retain those users.”
The best game developers make decisions based on firm analytics, says Kenneth Chiu, SVP of social games at mobile social gaming network GREE.
“Being able to evaluate the analytics and assess and build on what is working and what isn’t working and the ability and flexibility to make changes in the game accordingly are necessities in keeping games successful long-term,” he says.
Analytical thinking enables developers to continually improve their games to stay on top of trends. “Being successful means the ability to constantly develop and implement new content and features so we can keep the game fresh for users. We want them to feel that we are as committed to them and their enjoyment of the game as they are to our game,” Chiu says.
Gaming for Good
Games that incorporate social good may help alleviate the guilt that gamers sometimes run into when they’ve spent a load of hours chucking spuds or disgruntled birds, says Rachel Cook, founder and CEO of Seeds, a social game and API for mobile-to-mobile microlending.
“The positive, real-world impact of a Seeds microloan can make people feel less guilty about playing a game for ‘too long’ instead of doing other things, and can transform peoples’ relationship to games and their thoughts about the definition of gaming,” she says. “On the flip side, the gaming element can also help alleviate the donor fatigue often encountered by non-profits fundraising in more traditional ways.”
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