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开发者谈F2P游戏产品经理常犯的10个错误

发布时间:2021-02-04 09:31:11 Tags:,

开发者谈F2P游戏产品经理常犯的10个错误

原作者:Will Luton 译者:Willow Wu

成为产品经理(PM)通常就等同于成为“产品的首席执行官”,需要具备多领域的技能,包括设计、商业、分析和领导力。复杂的需求,再加上这个职位是近些年才出现的,PM和其他产品负责人都难以得到充分的指导,我看到许多PM跟我一样,犯下了这些错误。但是,我跟你保证,这些错误是完全可以纠正的。具体如下:

错误1:忽略三角模型
任何产品都能够在时间-成本-质量的三角关系模型中找到自己的位置:有些游戏制作成本低速度快,但质量差(比如Voodoo的产品),而高质量的游戏开发速度慢,成本高(比如暴雪的产品)。无论产品处于三角模型的哪个位置,都是有可能实现成功的,但如果你不知道游戏的定位在哪,那可能会带来灾难性的影响。

PM的主要职责就是指导与产品相关的决策,而三角模型就是你最需要参考的东西之一。忽略它的话,你做的决策会脱离现实。不可避免的是,这种三角定位会被外部压力(预算、最晚日期或利益相关者的需求)所影响,进而导致错误的决策、产品标识不完善、团队感到迷惑。

快速、低成本同时还要质量好,这是不可能的,所以,早早设定好你的三角模型,还要确保所有的利益相关者意见一致。

错误2:不从“为什么”开始入手

三角模型能给你的制作提供明确方向,然而“为什么”针对的是产品本身。为什么要创造这样一个产品?从一个有说服力的理由中你能提炼出一个清晰、可传播的愿景,进而确定“怎么做”,最终确定“是什么”。此外,“为什么”可以让你的团队做出更一致的决策,获得更多自主权,以及在市场上有更清晰的宣传定位。

通常,缺乏经验的PM会沉浸于自己的创作中,(连同整个团队)迷失在zone里。然而,明确知道为什么要做这个项目的团队就会更容易找到方向:他们知道自己想要去哪里,即使不知道该怎么去。

Simon Sinek黄金圈法则就非常值得参考。

另外,“这么做很酷的”并不是一个很有说服力的理由,“这么做能挣很多钱”也不是。重点在于你想给玩家呈现什么样的体验、你想怎么创新、你想满足哪些需求,仔细思考你的产品对玩家来说意味着什么。

关于“为什么”的重要性,你可以移步我的另一篇文章“Build Better Game Products By Asking Why Not What”(https://will-luton.co.uk/2016/08/23/build-better-game-products-by-asking-why-not-what/),其中有更深入的讨论。

虚幻竞技场3(from xooob.com)

虚幻竞技场3(from xooob.com)

错误3:过多非必要的实验

在2010年代初,Zynga处于上升期的时候,他们宣称“一星期要做上千个实验”。

这是游戏开发史上最大的误导,成千上万的人浪费时间去测试按钮颜色以及各种细枝末节的变化。虽说有时确实需要多变量实验,但这些测试需要有可靠的假设和时间来支持,然后才能合理地去实施。所以你一个月最多只能做那么几个实验。

然而,许多PM仍然深陷于AB测试中,期望通过一系列的小调整得到更喜人的结果。这些沮丧而又郁闷的PM,因为每日10个免费宝石不能提高游戏留存率就将一款“完全有救”的产品直接钉上了棺材板。

产品的在营收榜上排名变化一般是由于出现新特色或者大胆的liveops策略。如果你的day 30留存率是2%,你再怎么微调,IAP消费再怎么高,都等于是徒劳。你得去了解自己所面临的真正问题,剖析产品,去解决它们。

因此,各种测试或许能提升你的KPI,但F2P产品80%的成果是源于集中精力干大事。

错误4:放弃已成功的配方

我们都知道,要做出一个热门游戏是很难的。这需要很多对的事情发生在对的时间。当一切条件都成熟时,我们很容易将成功归因于团队或自己的才能。要小心这种思维,因为它是确认偏差的衍生物,会让你产生错误的信心。

放弃热门产品,转向“格局更大更好的东西”,这种错误我见过很多次了。优秀工作室的领导者会通过仔细分析之前的成功和失败来再创辉煌。这种分析可以让大家明白产品团队的优势和劣势,让他们在构建新产品时有更清楚的意识,而不是活在过去的成功中。

你们看看Supercell是怎么使用Clash系列的设计配方的,还有King的Saga系列。这两家工作室都清楚自己的优势所在,当他们过于冒险时便无法复制成功。

Supercell尝试过好几次了。《荒野乱斗》是最为成功的一个,但是成绩依然不如《部落冲突》《皇室战争》。

错误5:不明白问题所在

拥有一款服务型游戏,PM会被各种数据轰炸:从分析统计报告到玩家反馈到开发团队突然迸发的点子。这个过程就像解开一个复杂的结, 你一点都不会羡慕在那个位置上的人。

从我的经历来看,PM最常犯的一个错误就是没有仔细分析问题就直接进入解决阶段 。我的建议是写一份问题报告,简明描述问题所在,并给团队过目,必要时进行修改,获得大家的认同。要做好问题报告,你可以遵循以下几个步骤:

1) 收集:从尽可能多的来源收集定性和定量数据,包括分析组织、团队成员、利益相关者和玩家。
2) 消化:坐下来,好好思考、理解这些问题,不要急于采取行动。
3) 整合:同样的问题会有不同的表现方式,因此你需要找到真正的病根,整合这些问题。玩家说他们觉得无聊了,团队说角色与角色之间重叠的地方太多了,ARPPU(平均每付费用户收入)低于预期,这些可能都是一个问题:你的游戏gacha过于单调。
4) 优化:一旦你准备好了问题报告,你就可以去跟利益相关者、团队展开深入讨论了。这将有助于明确重点,同时也能提供可靠的依据。
5)确定优先:先挑选三到五个最重要的问题来处理。
6) 分享:以上都完成后,你可以与团队分享具体的报告。如果你完成得很出色,团队会感谢你,开始着手修复问题。

知道根本原因、知道如何行动,这样问题报告能为你和你的团队指出一条更明确的道路。它们是非常有价值的。

错误6:为玩家发声

无论什么时候有PM说他们会“为玩家发声”,我都会不禁捏一把汗。因为从我的经验来看,产品项目负责人很多时候这么做其实只是在为少数有诉求的群体发声。虽然这个问题比较具体,但是世界各地的游戏公司都出现过这种情况。

真正做到为玩家发声的PM是为最广大的群体而服务的,而不仅仅是论坛或者社交媒体上的那群人。他们会从多个来源寻找数据,以便更清楚地理解问题(见上文第5点),并更全面地理解玩家真正想要什么,而不仅仅是他们说自己想要什么。

这并不是说好的PM会忽视他们的社区,事实恰恰相反。只是考虑到信息来源所存在的偏见,他们在解读反馈时运用了正确的制衡策略。就像Henry Ford一样,他们不是一味地制造“更快的马”。

错误7:反向KPI工作

F2P产品开发最常应用的方法之一就是先创造一些内容,然后看看KPI如何。当产品的市场表现数据大大低于预期时,大家就会很迷惑,费很多精力去弄清缘由所在。这种做法是完全反向的。如果你是围绕着KPI目标来做内容,游戏发行后的成绩应该是非常接近这些目标的。就比如我使用的其中一个方法是:

1) 估算eCPI:为了达到我期望的游戏成功规模,eCPI指标应该是多少。当然,丝毫不差地实现这个数字是不可能的,但你可以尽量去接近这个目标。
2) 推导回本:我们可以从eCPI推导挣多少钱才能回本。
3) 建立模型:参考已发行游戏的数据,将玩家消费从高到低划分好,再加上你的预期转化率,建立模型。
4) 计划:参考模型,开始计划游戏内容和相关的玩家消费项目,确保你能回收成本。

这种方法虽然很耗时、复杂,也没办法做到很精确,但至少可以让你知道实现目标所需的内容和特色的量。如果没有这种基准的话,你只能是靠感觉去摸索,最后得到一个亏钱、也不知道该怎么解决的游戏。毕竟“计划毫无用处,但计划是必不可少的”。

错误8:通过减少风险来增加风险

PM的主要任务就是控制风险,我见过很多PM试图通过市场评估来减少项目风险,但这样做实际是在产生反作用。虽说把目光放大到整个市场是聪明的,但快速随大流是非常糟糕的选择。最终,我们制作的娱乐产品能否成功是取决于它的创新程度,所以过度借鉴其它产品的特色会给你带来非常大的风险——比任何创新行为都大。

优秀的PM会关注市场,但也会不断发挥创造力,打造令人惊叹的作品。他们不仅知道在其它产品中什么样的设计行得通,而且也知道为什么行得通,并利用这些信息来创造新的解决方案,推动他们的产品向更好的方向发展。

错误9:小样本量外推

数据本身就是有噪声的,而且趋势变化的速度往往比PM对数据的评估慢得多,所以糟糕的PM会在KPI下降时感到恐慌,在峰值时对自己的功劳沾沾自喜。在小样本基础上外推是危险的,因为你构建了一种或许完全不存在的因果关系,或者更糟的是,你完全忽略了潜在的问题。

还有那些热衷于跟随热门游戏趋势的PM,成功是由市场潜在的需求促成的,还是只是简单的巧合?

错误10:避免犯错

失败不是坏事!这意味着你在扩充你的知识,如果你经常这样做,那么你也可以写一篇关于它的清单体文章(listicle)。

优秀的PM是很“擅长失败”的,因为他们能持续地从错误中学习。你可以问问自己:我从这次失败中学到了什么?可以找出造成这种局面的原因吗?我学到的这些东西在任何地方都适用吗?这些理论在未来也依然成立?这些知识还有其它应用方式吗?

小心那些声称自己很懂得“怎么做”的PM。就如同其它虚拟产品市场一样,F2P市场的发展是非常迅速的,即使是最优秀的公司也不能保证会获得成功。所以你要保持好奇心,不断推动自己走向达克效应的最后一个阶段——即拥有丰富的知识和经验,且对自己的能力有一定自信。

本文由游戏邦编译,转载请注明来源,或咨询微信zhengjintiao

Being a PM is often equated to being the “CEO of a product” and requires a multi-disciplined skill set including design, business, analytics and leadership all in one person. The complexity and relative youth of this discipline means that PM and other product leaders rarely get the mentorship they need and I see many PMs making the same mistakes that I made. Yet these common mistake are 100% correctable. Here’s how.

1. Ignoring the Triangle

The development of any product falls within a time-cost-quality triangle: Some games are cheap and quick to make but lack quality (think Voodoo’s output), whereas high quality titles are slow and expensive (think Blizzard’s output). A game can be successful no matter where they are within the triangle, but not knowing your game’s place risks catastrophe.

A PM’s primary job is to steer the decisions of a product and the triangle is the first part of context you will need. By ignoring the triangle you’re making your decisions outside the realities of production. Inevitably the triangle will be defined for you by external pressures (budget, deadlines or a stakeholder quality call) causing misaligned decisions, broken product identity and team confusion.

Fast, cheap and good is impossible, so set out your triangle early and make sure all your key stakeholders are aligned.

2. Not Starting with Why

While the triangle gives strong identity to your production, a why gives identity to the product itself. From a good solid reason of why to build your product comes a clear, communicable vision which begins to define the how and eventually a what. Additionally a why leads to more aligned decision making and autonomy in your team as well as a clearer proposition in the market.

Commonly inexperienced PMs get caught up in what they’re making and find themselves (and their teams) lost in the wilderness. Yet teams led with a defined statement on the reason they’re working find their paths much easier: They know where they want to go, even if they don’t know how.

And “it will be cool” is not a convincing why. Nor is “it will make money”. Instead focus on the experience you want to give, the innovation you want to bring, the need you are filling and what your product will mean to people.

You can read more about the power of why in this post.

3. Death by 1,000 Experiments

Back in the early 2010s when Zynga were riding high, the company claimed they were running “thousands of experiments a week”.

This is the biggest misdirection in the history of game dev, sending thousands off to waste their time testing button colours and a thousand tiny variations of marketing asset. While there’s definitely a place for multivariate testing, the tests need to be backed up by a solid hypothesis and the time to build and run them properly. So a handful a month at most.

Yet many PMs still get bogged down with AB testing, expecting big results from a series of small tweaks. These PMs, dejected and depressed, write off a perfectly salvageable product as beyond redemption because their 10 daily free gems didn’t increase their retention.

Movement in the top grossing charts are normally attributed to new features or some kind of bold liveops strategy. If you day 30 retention is 2% then no small balance change or IAP sale is going to save you. Instead you need to understanding the real problems you face and start ripping your product apart to fix them.

So while smart tests might increase your KPIs, 80% of real gains in F2P products come from hard work doing the big things.

4. Quitting the Hit

We all know that making a hit game is hard. It requires a lot of things to go right at the right time. But when things come together it’s easy to chalk up the success to the quality of the team or your own talents. Beware this belief as it is born in confirmation bias and creates false confidence.

Quitting a hit to move on to “bigger and better things” is a mistake I’ve seen frequently in studios. Meanwhile leaders of consistent studios build from their success by as thoroughly dissecting the wins as they do their failures. This analysis of success allows for insight in to strengths and weaknesses that can inform product teams as they build new products on shoulders, rather than in the shadow of, their previous success.

Look at how Supercell have leveraged the Clash brand or how King have applied the Saga formula. Both these studios know their strength and when they’ve ventured too far from it have failed to replicate success.

Supercell have tried to quit the hit a few times. Brawl Stars has been the best performing, but falls behind the Clash titles.

5. Don’t Understand Your Problems

A PM with a game going live is a PM bombarded with data: From the hard statistic of analytics to player feedback and your whims of opinion from the dev team. Navigating through this is like unpicking a knot and don’t envy anyone in that position.

However, the biggest mistake I see PMs committing is jumping to solutions way before they’ve processed the problems. I advocate the use of a problem statements, a concise description of a problem which is refined and agreed upon by the team. In order to build your problem statements, follow the below steps:

1) Gather: Gather qualitative and quantitative data from as many sources as possible, including analytics, team members, stakeholders and your players.
2) Process: Sit, think and understand all of these problems before you do anything else.
3) Consolidate: The same problems will be expressed in various different ways, so you need to consolidate these by getting to the root cause. Players saying they’re bored, the team saying the characters are too samey and the ARPPU being lower than expected may all be a single problem: Not enough variety in your gacha.
4) Refine: Once you have a something of a problem statement, begin to talk it through with stakeholders and the team. This will help to focus the statement but also build buy-in.
5) Prioritise: Pick out three to five of the most important problem statements to tackle first.
6) Share: Once you’re happy then share the statement with the team. If you’ve done a good job they’ll be thankful of the clarity and start thinking and working on fixes.

Well defined and actionable problem statements will give more focus and clarity to your team and yourself. In my experience implementing them they’ve been invaluable.

6. Being the Voice of the Players

Whenever a PM says they’re “the voice of the players” I get nervous. Because from my experience product leaders that believe they’re advocating for players are only doing so for a vocal minority. While this one might be very specific, I’ve seen it multiple times in different studios across the world.

The real player advocate PMs (which is all the good ones) are serving the biggest majority of their player base and not just those on the forums or social media. They seek out data from multiple sources to understand their problems (see point 5, above) and build out a more holistic understanding of what players truly want and not just what they say they want.

This isn’t to say that good PMs ignore their community, in fact the opposite is very true. It’s just that they apply the correct checks and balances in interpreting feedback, considering the bias in the source. Like Henry Ford, they don’t build faster horses.

7. Working KPIs Backwards

A common approach in F2P development is to build something and then see what KPIs come from it. Then when when the numbers are less than make sense in the market everyone scratches their head and tries to work out why. This approach is totally backwards. If you build from a KPI goal, instead, you’ll end up more likely to hit them. For example, one approach I’ve utilised is:

1) Estimate eCPI: What eCPI is needed for the scale I’d like in the genre I’m in. Being accurate is impossible, of course, but you can get close.
2) Derive Recoup: From eCPI we can calculate the required recoup. For example, 120% eCPI by day 365.
3) Model: Model out your expected conversion as well as the breakdown of player spend from very top to very bottom using the data of previous games as a basis.
4) Plan: Using your model, plan out your content and the related player spend to backout to your target recoup.

This approach, while time consuming, complicated and inaccurate, will give you benchmark in the amount of content and features required to hit your goals. Without it, you’re guessing and end up with a game that under monetises and no direction to fix it. After all, plans are useless but a plan is invaluable.

8. Adding Risk By Reducing Risk

Much of a PMs job is managing risk and I’ve seen lots of PMs pour risk on to their product in an attempt to remove it using market evaluation. While looking outside of your game to other products is smart, fast following them is nearly always a step towards disaster. Ultimately we are building entertainment products that live or die by their novelty, so over-borrowing becomes a risk much larger than any innovation.

Great PMs have one eye on the market but exercise constant creativity to build amazing products. They understand not only what worked elsewhere, but why it worked and use that to create new solutions that push their product forward.

9. Small Sample Extrapolation

Data is inherent noisy and trends tend to move much slower than a PM’s evaluation of them, leading bad PMs to panic on KPI drops and claim credit on spikes. This small sample extrapolation is dangerous because it attributes causality where none might exist or, worse yet, completely miss underlying problems.

This also extends to those PMs who chase the trends of the top grossing chart. Is success instigated by some underlying, latent demand in the market or is it simple coincidental?

10. Avoiding Making Mistakes

Failure is good! It means that you’re pushing your knowledge and if you do it often enough then you too can write a listicle about it.

Great PMs are better at failing than anything else, because they are constantly learning from their mistakes. Ask yourself: What did I learn from this failure? Can I correlate the input and the output? Is this thing I learned always true? Will it be true in the future? How else can I apply this knowledge?

Beware the PM who knows how it is. The F2P market, like any digital market, is moving fast and success has proven to be elusive even for the best. So stay curious and keep pushing yourself to furthest end of Dunning-Kruger graph with strong opinions weakly held.

(source:departmentofplay)


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