玩家消费。根据玩家的消费可以划分为从0到5的级别，0是从未为游戏花钱的玩家，5则是鲸鱼玩家。一个典型的例子便是，Social Gold的首席执行官Vikas Gupta在伦敦的Virtual Goods Forum（2010年7月24日）将用户消费行为描述为国王，骑士，公爵，平民以及农民。
创建游戏与玩家间的情感联系的关键元素便是理解他们的文化期待，经历以及需求。文化间的差异总是非常巨大。举个例子来说吧，在巴西，比起《World War 2》和《现代战争》，人们更加喜欢内战和黑帮题材的游戏（游戏邦注：如“贫民窟”），所以以中东或欧洲战争为背景的战争游戏很难在这个国家获得盈利。在亚洲，人们更钟情于偷取其他玩家的道具，认为这是一种可接受的社交互动，但是西方文化却不认可这一点。
Game Design: Five steps to making games which make more money using emotion
Of the tens of thousands of free to play and social video games out there, it is a sad fact that many of them make very little money and some developers & publishers have even seen significant financial losses. One of the main reasons for this is that many games fail to build an emotional connection with their players, with the game design process failing to include a strong focus on emotion. This can drastically reduce player engagement and significantly reduce the number of players willing to spend money on the game, as well as the amounts those willing to pay ultimately spend.
It is no accident that top performing free-to-play games, such as World of Tanks and CSR Racing, are reported to generate $11M – $20M per month and $9M per month respectively – they happen to do an amazing job of forming emotional connections with their players!
In this article I am going to set out five steps developers can take in order to build emotion into their free-to-play games, which, if followed correctly, could increase player conversion from 1-3% to the 10%-30% range.
Step 1. Identify the profile of your players (current and/or your target audience)
Determine characteristics of different player types
Richard Bartle identified four different player types as part of research into player behaviour in multiplayer dungeons (MUDs). These player types are widely recognised as an effective way of identifying and addressing player needs, including emotional motivation, when designing games. These player types include Achiever, Killer, Socialite and Explorer.
As a first step read up on these player types and what the emotional drivers are for each type.
Learn about your players and build player profiles
If your game has already been built and you already have some players, you should find out as much information about them as you can. This can help you to build a design profile for your game in relation to the player types. If you find that a majority of your players are Killers, for example, it may be that your current game design is heavily oriented towards that player type and their emotional needs, which could mean that the other player types are being neglected. While this is not necessarily an issue – Killers might just be those players who spend the most – it could well be and it is something worth looking more closely at.
An effective way to build player profiles is to create a survey which can be targeted at your entire player base or as large a subsection of your players as you can manage. To build the survey, prepare questions which focus on identifying players emotional motivators and needs, based on Bartle’s four player types. The aim of the survey will be to determine what player types are present in your player/userbase and what the current mix is. A good website with some example questions can be found here.
If your game is still at the design stage and/or you have not acquired players yet, you have two options. If you already have a community of players in mind (whom you plan to acquire), for example who already play one or more of your other games, should you have them, you could focus a survey on that group. Alternatively you could consider looking at games from the same genre/type that you are creating and try to find out how those games cater for the four different player types.
Determine who your most valuable players are
Once you have the results from your player survey you should build a profile for each player which should include their player type based on their responses to the survey.
An important next step is to determine player life time value (LTV). This should be done for each player and then overall for each player type.
One way to create an LTV value for each player is to:
1. Define some factors which are important to you and represent value for your company. This can vary but factors to consider are:
- Monetization. This could be scored from 0 to 5 based on player spending, where 0 is never spend and 5 would be whales. A good example to illustrate this is the concept (slide 17) of Kings, Knights, Lords, Commoners and Peasants, as described by Vikas Gupta, CEO of Social Gold, when he presented customer spending behavior insights at the Virtual Goods Forum in London, on July 24, 2010.
- Use of Viral Channels. Could be scored from 0 to 4, e.g. Very Infrequent, Occasional, Frequent, Very Frequent, Maximum.
- Community Interaction. Could be scored from 0 to 4, e.g. Never Posts or posts negatively, Post very rarely but positively, Posts occasionaly and positively, Posts frequently and positively, Posts very frequently and positively.
- Loyalty. Categories could be scored 1 to 5 and include: Plays at least once per month (but no other signs of loyalty), plays at least once per month plus also subscribes to newsletter or other games of yours, plays at least once per week plus subcribes to newsletter or other games of yours, plays daily, plays daily plus subscribes to newsletter and plays other games.
2. For each factor, assign a score to each player and calculate their overall LTV score.
3. As well as an overall score, calculate the amount spent by each player since they first started playing your game
4. Now that you have LTV for each player, calculate this for each player type. This will enable you to see which player types represent the highest value and will provide some insights into changes you may need to make to your game to make it more appealing to the player types you want more of
5. As well as understanding player LTV, based on the survey results and any other research you have done into the types of player you want your game to appeal to, you should have some good insights into the emotional needs of the players. These should be documented and used later.
Step 2. Evaluate the cultural fit of your game
A critical part of building emotional connections with players is to have a very clear understanding of their cultural expectations, experiences and needs. There can be a huge difference from one culture to the next. For example, in Brazil, there is far less interest in World War 2 and Modern Warfare and much more focus on civil war and gang warfare (Favellas, for example), so wargames launched in that country might not monetize well if there is over-reliance on a middle-eastern or european war setting. In asia, the concept of stealing items from other players can be seen as great fun and socially acceptable in certain games, but can be perceived very negatively in western cultures.
Here are 5 important dimensions to consider when determining cultural needs:
1. History and attitudes (what has happened in the past which influence people’s attitude today? This could be recent history or much further back)
2. Current hot topics, news and events (and degree to which these are discussed openly, sensitivity, etc). Some topics can be considered sensitive, such as Favellas and gang warfare in Brazil, but is a highly engaging subject for players who enjoy war games, whereas in Mexico this is not a topic that is discussed or seen as “fair game” for representation in games.
3. Pop culture and local brands. For example, city building games which feature local shops and stores, cooking games which feature local chefs and name of food ingredients, racing games which feature car brands that are specific to the player’s country and trends.
4. Lifestyle quality (climate, degree of affluence, spread of wealth, attitudes towards money).
5. Lifestyle choices, hobbies and interests. For example, train spotting and interests in trains as a hobby is very niche in the UK and seen as very untrendy by many, but is very popular in Japan. DIY and home improvement is not as broadly available or affordable in many Latin American countries, which differs hugely from Europe, so this could impact the perception of games focused on this topic. Religious beliefs differ massively and there can be very important considerations, for example avoiding representation of certain types of Animals.
Based on the above, try to identify how well your game design fits according to each aspect, identifying design principles and characteristics which work well and less well culturally. If there are gaps to fill to make your game fit better culturally, brainstorm new game elements or changes.
Step 3. Understand your players emotional needs
There are 3 types of emotion that are important to consider when looking at the emotional needs of players:
1. Positive emotions. This can include feelings of bliss, joy, surprise, curiosity, etc.
2. Negative emotions. Feelings of guilt, shame, anger, fear.
3. Combined emotions. A good example of a combined emotion is Schadenfruede, which combines feelings of guilt with pleasure
I’m not aware of a magic formula for getting the right balance between positive, negative and combined emotions, this will vary depending on the game, but it probably makes sense to avoid purely negative emotions!
How can emotions be applied to your game design?
There are a number of different aspects of game design where emotional design effort should be focused, in order to identify emotional hooks. These are described below. By considering each of these in turn, design principles, guidelines and high-level design elements should be created and/or updated to reflect the desired emotions in the game design.
Content includes all the virtual objects that forms part of the core game mechanic, often collectible, which the player will engage and interact heavily with. Some examples:
- in CSR Racing from Natual Motion, this would include the cars the player drives (which, one could argue, is the strongest emotional element of the game). In this game these items are richly detailed with very strong attention to detail.
- In World of Tanks this includes the Tanks the player uses in battle. The tanks are designed very authentically with very strong attention to detail with subject matter which appeals to a very specific niche. There is also a very wide range of tanks to collect, and each tank has very distinctive behaviour, advantages and disadvantages.
- In Animal crossing this includes the furniture and all other collectible items used to decorate your house, as well as the animals that you interact with. The items that can be collected leverage Nintendo’s back catalogue of IP and the existing emotional attachments players have with this content. Items are very intricately detailed, and behave uniquely. For example, stereo music players can have music tapes inserted and the sound quality varies depending on the type of stereo. Animals have their own personalities which help players form bonds with them, as they seem uncannily lifelike and each character seems unique and individual.
- In Cityville it is the vast range of buildings and infrastructure which can be used by players to create unique cities. In Little Big Planet it is the large collection of materials and objects used to build new levels (as well as to play them) with real-world physics properties. The objects in the game look very appealing to the eye and interaction takes place in a realistic way.
- In Final Fantasy 7 it is the various playable characters, their spells, equipment, attributes, skills and personalities. Players become very invested emotionally in the characters due to the amount of time spent developing them and unlocking new skills and abilities, there is constant novelty and surprise as they progress, with new features gradually made available to support character development.
- In Singstar it is the wide range of songs/videos which the player downloads and sings to. The content leverages players existing emotional connections with the music.
Games which have very high player engagement and have high proportion of spenders to non-spenders, tend to have content which is richly detailed, interactive, has great attention to detail and is designed to make the player form personal attachments. This content generates a wide range of positive emotions and one or two negative ones, for example the sense of loss if the item becomes unavailable or is unattainable.
Context is the specific game setting and circumstances, for example a particular time or place. Some examples:
- In CSR racing it is the streets of new york with a gang-based street racing backdrop
- In World of Tanks it is set during the second world war in Germay, Russia and other parts of Europe
- In Final Fantasy 7 it is the steam-punk, depressed, poverty-ridden city of Migdar
- In Pokemon it is the collection or regions including Kanto and Johto, in a modern fantasy world
The context needs to be carefully chosen or adapted to fit the culture, demographics, gender and age of the player.
3. Theme and Story
This refers to the specific genre and the story that ties the game tasks, objectives and goals together. For example in CSR racing the theme is based on racing high performance cars, competing against street-racing gangs from each neighbourhood in order to become the best and richest racer (with the sexiest and fastest cars!)
The theme and story needs to be carefully designed to:
- fit the needs of the player type you want to bring to your game. For example, killers and achievers may be less interested in story, focusing more on beating other players or being the best they can be at the game. Explorers and socializers are more likely to need to compelling story to drive them forward, give them a sense of purpose and provide plenty of hooks for social experiences.
- be culturally relevant
The way that the player interacts with the game can itself have a highly relevant emotional impact. The easier it is for players to express them selves, the more likely it will be that they become emotionally involved. For example, the best-selling videogame of all time, Wii Sports, simplifies interaction such that the player simply mimics the actions as if he/she were playing tennis in the real world. This arguably increased the sense of satisfaction for the player, encouraged them to “play the part”, with wild gesticulation helping create a sense of joy and excitement.
Conversely, by limiting ways in which they player can interact or express themselves in the game world, this can work against the emotional responses that have been designed in to the game. For example in the game Heavy Rain, on one occasion there is a need to move the controller violently left and right in order to brush the protagonists teeth. This is a positive way of overcoming limitations of ordinary controllers, which can struggle to mimic real-world actions, but I felt that the movement required felt excessive and undermined my immersion in the game and subsequently weakened my emotional response to the game (a strong aspect being sadness and remorse).
In CSR Racing, a number of techniques are employed to create a strong sense of control by the player, even though they cannot steer the cars. This is achieved through the player needing to time carefully their screen touches (for example, to rev the engine at the right time to achieve a fast start to the race).
In Smooty Tales, from Kobojo, being able to “wash” the player’s animal character through backwards and forwards motions with the mouse, helps create a strong connection between the player and their animal. The emotional response may not have been as strong if the player simple had to click an icon to do this.
In CtiyVille 2, the use of timers when collecting rent from houses creates a deeper sense of interaction for the player, rather than just clicking the house to receive the rent.
5. Player reward
Rewarding players can take many forms and varies heavily from game to game, but the importance of providing sufficient reward to the player cannot be overstated. Getting the type and amount of reward right, can provide a player with a sense of payback, e.g. that the time and money they have spent in your game was worth it. By getting this wrong, players can become bored easily and disillusioned about your game and a lot of the emotional design elements can be undermined.
The top 5 types of reward that should be considered (in no particular order) are:
1. New content they can interact with (ideally part of the core game mechanic, but can also be supporting content, such as new clothes for game characters, mini games, etc)
2. Achievements, trophies or other means to get recognition for their progress in the game
3. Collections, such as a items that are hard to find and/or take time to acquire
4. Charity-based, e.g. psychological positive feeling from gifting, including contribution to real-world charities (for example, as provided by Playmob)
5. Competition, either against other players or against the game. This can be as simple as positive messages and sounds for levelling up, as well as the strong emotional reward a player gets when they beat someone else. One of the strongest elements of World of Tanks appears to be that there is a strong focus on competiton, but a careful balance is struck between winning and losing so that players rarely feel like they are being humiliated, while they are able to win often enough to feel like they are making progress and that there efforts are rewarded.
Rewards should be designed and balanced to match the needs of the player types. For example, collections are more suited to achievers, and competion more to killer player style.
Step 4. Design and Build New Content with Emotional Hooks
Prioritise effort based on player profile and LTV
If you were able to collect useful information about your players and/or target audience, including player profiles and LTV, this should be used to help guide the design efforts and priorities for designing and building new game content. For example, if Socializer-type players represent the highest value to you, design of emotional hooks into design principles, guidelines and high-level design elements should take priority.
Having identified/updated the game design principles, guidelines and design elements to reflect the emotional hooks identified earlier, the next step is to revise/refine/create the concept design, reflecting the design principles, guidelines and high-level design elements created and/or updated previously. This could be done through brainstorming-led design workshops or other preferred methods.
Detailed design, Build and QA
Once the concept design work has been completed, detailed design work can begin, with game design documents created/updated to reflect the new emotion requirements, and game assets then created and coded according to the design, following standard QA and beta testing practices.
If your game is already built and live, designing and building of new content could be done as part of a 3 or 6 Month content plan, such that changes to your game are introduced gradually in a manageable way.
Step 5. Review and Refine Game Content
Post-release new game content can be designed, built and released into your game as per usual, but consideration should be given to repeating steps 1-4, or at least revalidating what was previously done to ensure your game remains emotionally aligned with the needs of the currrent and active userbase for the game.
I can appreciate that building emotion into games can be a complex and time consuming undertaking, and it can be tempting to avoid focusing on this especially for those games designed to appeal to a casual “non-gaming” audience, where it may not feel appropriate to spend so much time and effort on the emotional aspects.
However, there is compelling evidence that making games which form strong emotional connections with players does lead to more engaging games which have higher player to spender conversion and revenues than games which do not achieve this. As mentioned previously, to of the highest performing free-to-play games, World of Tanks and CSR Racing, are generating millions of dollar per month, with up to 30% of their userbases (at least for World of Tanks) actively spending money on a free to play game!(source:perfectaffinitygames)