《Candy Crush Saga》拥有与《愤怒的小鸟》的阶段相同的功能，并且是基于更有趣的方式进行设计。
本文作者是Matthew Tubergen。Matt是手机内容领域的专家，和迪斯尼、NFL和LucasArts有长达10年的合作经验。此外，Matt还主管W3i旗下的发行工作室和投资基金Recharge Studios。
以Halfbrick为例，该工作室最近决定促进包括《Jetpack Joyride》和《Fruit Ninja》在内的多款热门应用的玩家沉浸感和收益情况。
合理推送通知和用户具有高度关联性，着眼于满足需求。记住，是用户的需求，而不是应用开发者的需求。只有开发者，而不是用户才会关心应用的启动频率。Urban Airship首席营销官Brent Hieggelke表示，“很多时候，我们看到的是，推送通知只迎合应用或品牌目标，而非着眼于有意义的内容，这会很快流失用户。不要让推送通知打断他们的生活，因此你需要确保内容有价值。”
同样这种情况在Mafia Wars也有发生。尽管Zynga游戏开发公司一再承诺即将提供更稳定的游戏环境。但在这之后，Mafia Wars发布了一项特别任务San Juan，之后被公司收回然后又重新发布了一次。而在这之后的几星期又发生了类似的Beat the Feds时间。然后不久，FrontierVille也有一次类似的大规模重复载入。
我注意到最近很多游戏都引入了任意弹出窗口来通知玩家各种游戏虚拟货币促销活动。这像极了夜间时段那些愚蠢的电视直销节目。我既不需要Slap Chop也不需要Perfect Fit按键，我更不想买FrontierVille的马蹄铁。除非游戏推出一个2.5折清仓大甩卖我才可能在游戏中花点现实货币。除此之外，我不考虑购买任何游戏道具。现在Zynga旗下的多款游戏都很盛行这种广告方式，但这对我无效。
Zynga公司的Treasure Isle可谓是其中最糟糕的一款。在这个游戏中，我曾经同时进行4项任务。然而为了这款游戏，我并不是在挖宝，而要花费所有的时间在Facebook墙上发帖，请求朋友送我染料、绳子或其他任务道具。另外，RockYou公司的Zoo World也是一样。
赠送和接受礼物是社交游戏的主要组成部分。我喜欢收到礼物，Pet Society, Cafe World和PetVille等几款游戏的确发布了很棒的送礼进程。但是在我最经常玩的三款游戏（FarmVille, FrontierVille和Mafia Wars）中接受礼物却很耗时。
篇目1，6 Tips For Effective Push Notifications
by Evan Fradley-Pereira
There’s a fine line between a helpful reminder and an annoyance, and your game’s push notifications have the potential to register as either. That said, there are plenty of players who look forward to hearing from their favorite games because their publishers have taken to the time to learn what their players want and when they want it. Here are a few tips to help make sure your players look forward to hearing from you.
1. Know How and When to Ask Permission
All games need permission from the player before they’re allowed to send push notifications. When the user agrees to the request, a token is supplied which allows the game to contact the player in future. Few games time their push token request properly. Most drop it in at the start of the very first session, when the player’s knowledge of the game is limited to its name, icon, and whatever they may have read in the store description. Active players get bombarded with these requests and the majority of the time, it’s not a great experience. Many publishers take a shotgun-approach to notification delivery that not only hurts performance in their game, but in all games that rely on push notifications to communicate with their players.
To stand out, wait until your players have had a chance to play the game before you ask, and contextualize the request so that players know what they’re signing up for.
Crossy Road does this perfectly. Instead of requesting permission on start up, they wait until the player has had a chance to associate the fun of unboxing new characters with receiving free gifts. As soon as they’ve opened their second character, the game asks if they’d like to be reminded when the next gift is available. Agreeing prompts the token request and players can make the decision with the understanding that they’ll be contacted when the next bit of fun is available.
2. Get Specific
From the outset, think about why you’re contacting your players and decide exactly what you want them to do when they receive the notification. Do you want them to complete a purchase? Is there a specific mechanic you want them to engage with? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you measure the effectiveness of your promotions and write effective copy.
3. Know Your Audience
Having a thoroughly segmented player base is half the battle when it comes to running effective push campaigns. The more certain you can be that you’re talking to the right players about the right offers, the more successful your campaigns will be.
Don’t message non-converted players with offers for $50 IAPs. It’s extremely unlikely that any player’s first IAP would be so high-priced, and you’re demonstrating a lack of understanding for their play style. Likewise, don’t reach out to your whales with discounts on small IAPs that wouldn’t be of any use to them. Over time, these kinds of nuisances can cause what would have otherwise been an engaged, attentive player to deactivate your game’s notifications.
4. Get the Timing Right
In order to capture as much attention as possible, time your push notifications to coincide with hourly spikes in session counts. Sessions are typically highest in the mid-afternoon on weekdays and in the evenings on weekends, but always check your analytics to see what time is most popular for your players. Games geared towards younger audiences are often most active around 3PM to 5PM, during the after-school commute. This ensures that a good chunk of your players will receive the notification around the time that they would typically engage with your game anyway.
5. Omit Needless Words
Notifications get truncated around 110 characters, or roughly 4 lines of text, so make sure you get the important details included up front. The shorter you can make your notifications, the easier it is for players to scan during moments when their attention is elsewhere. Longer notifications risk not getting the message across and can result in fewer engagements.
6. Provide Details
As mentioned in one of our recent posts on Gamasutra, the players who complete an IAP will only ever be a subset of those who are made aware of the option. In between awareness and completion, players need to evaluate whether the offer is of value to them. Your notification copy can help.
“Come on back! We’ve got a great offer for you!”
Notifications like these don’t provide the player with the information necessary to immediately evaluate the offer. It baits them into returning to the game before they can get the details, which can end up feeling like a waste of their time if it turns out it’s not for them.
Instead of giving your player more work to do, include all the details of the offer directly within the notification. Shoot for notifications like:
“Big Bags of Coins are 50% off this weekend only! Buy Now!”
They give your players everything they need to decide whether or not they want what you’re offering the moment they read it. They might feel pushy, but if you’re segmenting effectively and only delivering relevant offers to the appropriate players, you’ll be doing them a favor.
Targeted push notifications are just one of the tools we provide at Fuse as part of our complete Player-Centric Platform. Our goal is to help our partners maximize revenue by giving every player an optimal experience. I’m always curious to hear what sorts of push notifications have worked best for others, so as always, feel free to get in touch with me on Twitter.
篇目2，Show and Tell – Feedback and Notifications for Mobile Games
by Thais Weiller
I sometimes have dreams in which I do every day stuff such as frying an egg. However, sometimes in these dreams I do these things exactly like real life and they turn out a complete failure out of nowhere so I have absolutely no idea what went wrong. Does that happens to you too? Pretty sure it happened at least once. So there is me, frying the above cited egg and then all of suddenly the egg is actually a tiny colorful bird and I’m a sadistic psycho torturing the poor animal and get arrested for this.
But how could I know? That egg was just like any other real life egg! Turns out that our subconscious is a really bad game designer which doesn’t give you the right info before you make decisions. This makes you feel that you were cheated by your own mind. That’s ok on a subconscious since people cannot purchase new ones, but you don’t want to recreate this effect on a game, otherwise player will feel cheated and will surely switch to another game.
Feedback is the most effective way player will receive information about the game and that’s why it is so important on a game. There are two main kinds of feedback, immediate and long-term feedback. Immediate is mostly gameplay oriented and helps player to understand what actions to perform [attacking, jumping], which not to [falling into a cliff, running into an enemy], and what his general status in the game.
For instance, when Mario get a coin we hear that well known pleasant sound and a small number starts to rise, when he touches that brown mushroom-like thing (a.k.a. Goomba) a not so pleasant sound rings and he shrinks. It’s pretty clear what player should try to achieve and what must be avoided.
Angry Birds has numbered stages and different worlds, which provide player feedback of her progress and gives a sense of accomplishment.
As important as immediate feedback, long-term feedback is that pat in the player’s back that says “Hey, look how far you got! Congrats, man”. Classic games generally used to “pat” by using environmental changes [such as Egypt and Lava stages which basically said “these stages are different and BADASS, great progress”] and by introducing new mechanics and enemies. Though this is still used nowadays, there are other more effective ways to make player’s progress more overt.
Candy Crush Saga map has the same function of Angry Birds’ stages but also is designed in a more playful way.
But sometimes, your player just won’t be in the game so that we can get feedback long-term. This is especially common on mobile since player can, at any given time, receive an email notification or something of the sort and deviate from the game, never to remember to get back. On mobile, we can use notifications for the “Oh right, I need to get back to this awesome game” effect and that’s why they are indispensable. But you can’t just add notifications and hope for the best without taking in consideration the notifications style best matches the kind of game you are doing.
For instance, games that are based on real world time, as Tiny Tower or D.O.T, generally notify player the exact moment we has something new in the game, but don’t notify anything else after. Tiny Tower always notifies the first floor that need to be restocked after player leaves, but not the subsequent ones, while D.O.T notifies when player’s energy is replenished. This “first event to happen and only” is important because if notification is used too frequently, player may get annoyed and uninstall the game.
Tiny Tower uses notifications elegantly
Not real time based games have a more difficult time in choosing the right cue to notify. Notifing too much for the wrong things will make the app look like a spam factory and notify too little may make it dive into the oblivium. One cool thing to do in this situation is to create an event agenda that periodically changes gameplay or items. For instance, each week your infinite runner has a set of different items that are randomly spawned in the level design and player can collect them, it’s cool to notify player every time a new collection is available.
Of course, notifications won’t drive your player back to the game if you don’t have such a good game to start with, they are important but not magical. Used with good sense and in the context of the game, notifications can help your game shine.
篇目3，Mastering Freemium Game Mechanics: When and why to use alerts
by SmartApp Marketing
It’s the scenario every app gamer dreads, at least those of use that reach for our phone first chance we have a free moment. You’ve been in meetings all day, you’ve felt your phone buzzing, unable to be checked. How many emails and texts and calls have you missed? You finally get a chance to peak at your phone. You pause in disgust briefly before throwing your phone across the room after tapping with 4 dozen push notifications for everything from rotting crops to the tenth “deal of the day”.
Alerts and push notification are powerful mechanisms for engaging users and driving freemium game success, but wielded incorrectly they can destroy your chances. In this week’s Mastering Freemium Game Mechanics we’ll examine different kinds of push notifications and appropriate use, in coming weeks we’ll dig deeper into wielding some of these tools.
Freemium Game Development: How Many Times Can I “PUSH”?
The third time is the charm. Generally speaking more than three push notifications a day is pushing, no pun intended, the limit. So use them wisely. What kind of push notification and why/when you use it are key to successful gaming mechanics. So what events are susccessful as a push notification?
* Decay Thresholds
* Time Thresholds
* Maximum Thresholds
* New Content/Features
All of the above offer key opportunities to either drive users back into your app or encourage game progression. Decay , time and maximum thresholds all should be familiar from the post on reward schedules. These thresholds are tied to events or actions within the game think: farming, cooking, and building be it time to harvest or completion of an action (building). Visitor alerts tie to social elements of freemium games while new content and discounting drive action and game progression. Next week we’ll explore the thresholds deeper.
Do you have other key opportunities to utilize alerts that you’ve identified in your games? Sound off below.
Matthew Tubergen, Product Manager, Recharge Studios, W3i, LLC
Matt is a mobile content expert with a decade of experience working with brands that include Disney, NFL and LucasArts. Matt heads up W3i’s wholly owned publishing arm and investment fund, Recharge Studios
篇目4，Mastering Freemium Game Mechanics Series: Discounting Alerts
Published in syndication with Mobile Orchard.
What are discounting alerts?
Discounting alerts are an outstanding way to drive users back into a game, or entice them while already there. There are a variety of things that can be discounted and potentially trigger an alert, for example:
Virtual Currency Discounts ( ex. “Receive half off all bundles of dolphin bucks today only)
Virtual Good Discounts ( ex. “Today only build stockpiles for half off”)
Time Discounts (ex. “Today only harvest in half the time”)
When and how often to use alerts.
In our post on when to use alerts we discussed how far a developer can push, the use of push notifications. Our experience has been that three notifications a day is a maximum threshold. With that understanding daily discounts would eat up one of your three potential alerts. A schedule of alerts would be beneficial to ensure you don’t inundate your users with notifications about: free this, rotting that and visits from so-and-so.
Under that premise, the question of when or where can result in a couple different scenarios.
Regarding when, it depends on the timeliness of your promotion. The reasoning here is the longer a consumer has to consider the offer the bigger window of time to make a decision. Additionally, a sense of urgency helps speed that decision process. Messages such as “Today Only” and “For a Limited Time” are musts in your alerts.
Regarding where, you’re faced with two options: a notification upon opening an app or within the app (local), and a notification that pre-empts the opening of an app (push). Depending on the offer, it may be large enough of a carrot to push a notification and drive a user back into the app.
Alerts are a must.
Whatever you decide that works best in your schedule, make sure you have one. Alerts are an absolute must in driving the success of your freemium games. Next week we’ll examine threshold alerts. Do you have a question about freemium gaming or a topic you’d like us to explore? Let us know in the comments or catch us on twitter @rechargestudios or @w3i.
Matthew Tubergen, Product Manager, Recharge Studios, W3i, LLC
Matt is a mobile content expert with a decade of experience working with brands that include Disney, NFL and LucasArts. Matt heads up W3i’s wholly owned publishing arm and investment fund, Recharge Studios
篇目5，How proper push messaging can keep your players engaged
by Brendan O’Kane
Brendan O’Kane is the CEO of messaging analytics vendor OtherLevels, and has over 20 years of experience in the mobile ecosystem.
He managed global accounts such as the Cable and Wireless group for Oracle Corporation, before growing Oracle’s Asia/Pacific services offering to a $150m business.
He subsequently led a US mobile messaging business in Asia/Pacific prior to its acquisition in 2001. In the past decade he has been an active investor and director in mobile and on-line properties.
Recently I’ve read some great PocketGamer.biz pieces on the importance of mobile app analytics.
While these articles focused on important app store performance measurement, as well as analysis of both pre- and post-install numbers, I wanted to introduce another critical component for devising a common-sense app-based mobile campaign – the measurement of mobile messaging.
‘To-device’ push notifications and ‘on-device’ messaging such as in-app pushes, alerts and promotions, have grown to be among the best ways game app developers and publishers can speak to customers.
Used correctly, these messaging formats can help engage and retain those customers as well as drive conversions.
The proliferation of mobile has, in turn, led to a proliferation of mobile marketing campaigns. However, as spending on those campaigns grows, publishers need a better way of measuring campaign performance in order to justify their growing budgets. They’re expected to reach a yearly $37 billion by 2016.
If you’re sending, say, in-app alerts to promote a new title, or any other kind of mobile marketing messages, measurement is the key to get the most out of what you’ve spent on them.
Forrester has predicted that, by 2016, mobile commerce – including the mobile gaming industry – will have grown by a compound annual growth rate of 39 percent to become a $31 billion business. And that’s without counting the marketing/ad spend figures I mentioned above.
That means ever-growing numbers of marketing messages reaching consumers on their devices.
However, if those messages are irrelevant, untimely or excessive, they’re more likely to turn customers off, possibly leading them to disable messaging or delete a game altogether.
Mobile’s highly personal nature demands messaging that adds value to customers’ lives. Measuring your audience’s response to your messages is the best way to gauge those messages’ impact.
As gamers play on their devices, they create data that marketers can analyse to get a clear and detailed picture of an individuals’ wants and needs.
This allows those marketers to craft messaging that is both timely – delivered at a time when the customer is active on mobile – and relevant, which increases the likelihood of a conversion.
Understanding that mobile messaging is limited, take the steps to make sure your game’s notifications add value.
Reminders of new levels, new perks for a skill tree, announcements of new expansion packs or of enough XPs required to reach a new level are examples of things that matter to gamers and are likely to increase play session times. Bonus if you do not interrupt their game play!
Through analytics tools, marketers can secure a valuable foothold in gamers’ minds, hearts and wallets – and retain them as customers who will likely try other titles in the library. Here are some actionable techniques to ensure your games’ messages are driving desired outcomes:
First you’d collect action analytics data – e.g., messages sent vs. opened, time since last open, and opens resulting in goals such as registrations, purchases or social shares – that links specific message copy to particular user behaviors and outcomes.
Next, you would A/B split test. You’d use the data you gathered through action analytics to create multiple versions of one marketing message, which you would send out to significant samples of the audience segment you’re targeting.
Once the results come in and you can see which wording, length, tone and visual elements drove higher conversions, you send them out to your whole target audience.
Finally, after the split tests, you would retarget – which boils down to well-informed persistence. Using what you’ve learned about your gamers during the previous two steps, you send follow-up messages to those who didn’t open your first message at all or who opened it but didn’t convert.
This way, you can make sure you haven’t missed any opportunity to get the kind of conversion you want.
Halfbrick Studios, for example, recently decided it wanted to boost engagement and monetisation opportunities within its many popular apps, which include Jetpack Joyride and Fruit Ninja.
OtherLevels is currently A/B split testing the push notifications Halfbrick sends to its massive global customer base, which is spread across 24 time zones and speaks 13 languages.
It’s also testing for tonality, word choice and many other variables to create a full picture of the mobile audience.
As adoption of mobile devices continues its march toward global saturation, there’s practically no place left where mobile devices won’t be present. Inevitably, mobile means gaming, with consumers playing on the go, on the couch, in bed and even on the toilet.
That means developers and publishers seeking top ROI will need a way to stand out from the pack and hold consumers’ attention.
By implementing action analytics techniques, these marketers can make sure they’re learning more about their customers with each and every interaction – driving engagement and monetisation opportunities for the long haul.
篇目7，App Developers: Stop Abusing Push!
By Sarah Perez
Mobile app developers are abusing push notifications and it has to stop. Although it’s widely understood that it’s not an effective strategy to continually ping users with non-critical updates, app developers can’t seem to help themselves to the free marketing channel that is the opt-in push. Continual notifications keep the app at the forefront of users’ minds, entice them to relaunch the app to see what’s new, remind them of something they may have forgotten, and more – or, at least, so the app developer hopes. But it’s a fine line between being seen as useful and friendly versus a source of never-ending message spam.
Push notifications can give a social app an air of popularity it wouldn’t otherwise have the means to display. The phone continually buzzes to indicate how many people are checking out the new app. But there’s only so much showing off a user can take.
Notification that a friend of yours signed up for the service, or left a comment, or “liked” something, or added you or followed you, etc. is very rarely must-have information. It’s not actual news. It doesn’t improve your life to know you have one more follower. It doesn’t deserve the right to pull your attention away from whatever you were doing out there in the real world, which is almost always far more important. While there may be the rare social app where you want to know these things immediately (Facebook perhaps?), in all likelihood, you don’t want to be interrupted with these sorts of updates for every app you install.
That’s just one genre, but social apps are often the worst offender. Beyond social, there are all sorts of push notification types out there. See this list courtesy of Urban Airship:
* New content (items, features)
* Time-sensitive events
* Routine features (word of the day)
* Breaking news
* Local alerts
* Reader sweepstakes
* Service messages
* Free trial conversion prompts
* Single-edition to subscription upselling
* Special section or issue highlights
* Local offers
* New content (full episodes, teasers, bonus content etc.)
* Reminders (show times, special appearances, live events)
* Polling (Questions, reminders, results)
* Drive users to other media (mobile site, television program)
* Ask for Product reviews
* Comments on your reviews and the products you follow
* Product availability/new styles
* Shipping confirmation
* Shipping updates
* Shopping cart expiration
* Personal coupons
* Ask for customer service reviews
* Send branded entertainment/co-op and shopper marketing (video, picture, etc.)
* Push based on location data ie ski gear to people who have been in ski town zip codes ( expand to fit additional sports locations)
* Responses + feedback on posted content
* User interactions
* New content from followed accounts
* Feature updates
* Broadcasts encouraging engagement (new contest, your content has been featured, etc.)
* New articles
* Real-time support
* Real-time customer service
How many of those items above do you actually think are critical messages? I’ll bet you can count them on one hand. And even then, I’ll bet you have a few qualifiers about how often and when you want to see them.
The problem with push notification abuse is not just that it’s annoying when you’re interrupted by something that has no meaning to you, it’s that it creates an environment where users become suspect of the whole push notification mechanism itself. I’d argue we’re already there. If you’ve said “no” to an app upon first launch when it asks your permission to send push notifications, then you basically agree. Users can no longer trust developers to use the system properly, so we’re opting out of notifications entirely.
That’s a shame because when done well, push notifications can and do work. Urban Airship says that apps following “good” push notification practices can actually more than double the retention rate over a six-month period after download. And the benefits of “good” push grows over time. Good push notifications drive 67% of app usage the first month after download, 74% of usage two months after download, and 81% of usage three months after download, they found.
Good push notifications, in case you’re wondering, are those that are highly relevant to the user and focused on meeting their needs. Remember, that’s the user’s needs, not the app developers’ wants. Only developers care about how often an app is launched, not the user. “We’ve seen time and time again, push notifications that solely serve an app’s or brand’s objectives rather than what is really meaningful can turn people off fast,” said Brent Hieggelke, CMO, Urban Airship. “It has to pass the family dinner test. Push interrupts their lives, so you have to make it worth it.”
So what is a an example of a good push notification? Burton Snowboards is a perfect example, he said. They found a way to engage users with relevant information by offering to push fresh snowfall alerts to customers. Another company might have taken a different approach, like sending a ton of promotional sale messages. This would risk alienating the company’s best customers (“Hey, I already bought the snowboard! Give it a break!”) Instead, Burton builds goodwill and stays relevant by telling customers something useful.
Of course, the hard part is figuring out what a user considers “good.” Seemingly, a Burton Snowboards app user probably does care about fresh powder alerts. But every user is different, and ideally, they should be given more of a choice about what and how often you ping them. There should be controls in every app’s settings for this. And if there’s not, then developers should definitely err on the side of caution here. After all, it’s a lot easier to X an app from the homescreen than it is to toggle a switch deep in the phone’s settings somewhere.
篇目7，For the record, I love social games. I love that they’re free to play and accessible to all types of people. I love that their popularity has exploded over the past two years, and that they’ve been turning all of game-dom on its head.
But, after playing FarmVille, Mafia Wars and the rest for just over a year now, there are a few things in these games that have really started to gnaw on my nerves — four in particular. They don’t actually make me want to chop down a door with an axe like Jack Nicholson in The Shining, but they make me go, ya know, something, something.
Bugs, bugs, bugs
My biggest gripe about social gaming is the bugs. I’m talking about all of the little glitches in games that never really seem to go away. Examples of this include items that mysteriously disappear, buttons that don’t work or losing connection to a game. It’s like Whack-A-Mole, once one bug is bopped in the head, another one pops up somewhere else.
For instance, I was tending my FarmVille crops this weekend and got the ever annoying ‘Game out of sync with server’ message, which means you have to reload the game and re-do everything you just did again. So after spending five minutes harvesting and planting crops, then I had to do it again. Then I had to reload the game again. Then harvest the same crops again. Ugh.
This has happened to me several times in Mafia Wars as well. After promising that a more stable game experience was on its way, Mafia Wars rolled out a special event, San Juan, and then had to roll it back again. Then it launched again. This had also happened a few weeks before with the similar Beat the Feds event. FrontierVille, lately, has also been a big reloader.
Some might say that’s the nature of social gaming — everything’s created and pushed out to players without proper testing, but I’m looking forward to the day that this whole form of gaming evolves and it will not be acceptable for games to have so many problems after it’s made public, especially considering how many players might be losing real-life money due to some random in-game hiccup.
Annoying pop-ups advertising virtual currency sales
I’ve also recently noticed that more games have started introducing random pop-ups, informing me that I’ve been especially been chosen to participate in a sale on the game’s virtual currency. It’s all very annoying, kind of like those silly TV infomercials that play on a loop after midnight. No, I don’t want a Slap Chop or a Perfect Fit button, and I don’t want to buy any Horseshoes in FrontierVille either. The only way that I’m might possibly consider spending my real-life cash for virtual cash is if there was a 75% clearance sale. And that’s just to consider it. Zynga games have particularly been aggressive with this form of advertising, and it ain’t working for me.
Pop-ups in general are also annoying. If I have already given blanket consent for a game to post messages to my Wall, why do I still have to click on pop-ups that ask for my permission to post something to my Facebook wall?
Too many extra things to do in a game
One of the great things about playing games on Facebook is that you can get in and out quickly. I can take a break from writing or whatever I’m doing, jump into a game for five minutes, play and then be done. In the beginning, it was easy to run out of things to do in FarmVille and the other big Facebook games. Once you reached the max level, it was pretty much game over. To keep people playing, developers responded by rolling out more and more new features — special fighting events, buildable items, holiday-themed events, etc. While these new add-ons will certainly keep the average virtual farmer busy, they have also started to pull players into too many directions, rather than giving players a more directed experience.
Zynga’s Treasure Isle is one of the worst offenders — I am literally working on four side projects at once, and instead of digging for treasure, I usually spend most of my time posting message on my Facebook Wall, begging for friends to send me dye, ropes and other building materials to get the jobs done. RockYou’s Zoo World is another serious offender. Just slow down on the projects, partner. Not everyone is playing your game 24/7.
Accepting gifts … for hours
Sending and receiving gifts is an integral part of the social game experience. And let me tell you, I like getting gifts, however, accepting them. A few games like Pet Society, Cafe World and PetVille have streamlined the gifting process quite nicely. But, when it comes to accepting gifts in the three games I probably play the most — FarmVille, FrontierVille and Mafia Wars — it’s a time-consuming affair.
The process breaks down like this: I click to accept a gift on Facebook, then I wait while I’m bounced to the game. Then, I click another button confirming that I want to accept the gift. Then I click another button to go back to my Facebook game gift page (if available). Sometimes I’ll accept a gift from someone and instead of directing me back to Facebook, the game loads automatically right afterward. Then I’m frantically scrambling to hit the back button so I don’t get stuck waiting for the game to load. Exhausted yet? I am.
While I’m sure there’s a reason the gifting is set up this way; I really wish there was a better way to get the job done. I don’t want to click anything to receive gifts — just let them flow automatically into some virtual gifting box and let me have those hours I spend accepting gifts every week back to actually spend more time playing the games.