游戏邦在:
杂志专栏:
gamerboom.com订阅到鲜果订阅到抓虾google reader订阅到有道订阅到QQ邮箱订阅到帮看

长文解析:探究F2P手游中的游戏货币类型设计和运用

发布时间:2021-02-23 09:12:32 Tags:,

长文解析:探究F2P手游中的游戏货币类型设计和运用

原作者:Javier Barnes 译者:Willow Wu

货币是现代世界经济的支柱,完成交易需要货币充当媒介。人们希望货币能成为一种尽可能广泛使用、便捷的工具,促使交易活动更容易地展开。

而F2P手游所使用的货币是经过特殊定制的,有严格的使用规则和限制。每种游戏货币都是有特定目的的:或者是吸引玩家去参加某个活动,提升游戏的趣味性,或者是表现出稀缺性,成为游戏的盈利点,或者是提供了一个让玩家不断回到游戏中的理由,等等。

本文会整理列出游戏中的主要货币类型,说明它们的用途、常见特征。我们的目的是帮助你更好地做决策,看看哪种货币适合应用到你的游戏中,你还需要添加哪些规则——你甚至可以设计混合变种类型的货币。

本文是“IAP Packs in Mobile F2P: Analysis and Design”的后续拓展,前一篇讲到了游戏内货币与真实世界货币之间的联系。所以,如果你没看过这篇文章的话,不妨点下链接。

货币类型以及它们的作用

首先我们要讨论的是,什么是货币?

在我的定义下,“货币”是一个元素,它本身是没有使用价值的,但它的主要作用和价值源于它能够被用来交换到其它真正有价值的东西。

所以,基于这一点,我不会把货币视为:

· 得分指标,就比如《皇室战争》的奖杯。尽管奖杯数量达特定里程碑,或赛季结束时会给予玩家奖励,但我们可以认为奖杯的主要作用并不是交换,而是代表玩家的竞争实力和进度。
· 进阶指标,比如经验点数或账户级别,同样也是代表(或是成为一种门槛)玩家在游戏中的进度,而不是作为一种交换媒介。

但我会把任何囤积后可用于升级的资源或道具视为货币,如《皇室战争》中的卡牌,每种类型的第一张卡牌都是用于解锁单位的,但在此之后它们便成为了货币。

此外,请注意,这些类型不是相互排斥的,有些甚至可能是从属关系。就比如说,有些活动货币可能是硬货币。

基于这些观点,我把货币分成了11个类型(但是这份表列肯定不是完整的,后续可能会增加),包括:

Candy Crush Saga(from pocketgamer.biz)

Candy Crush Saga(from pocketgamer.biz)

1.硬货币(hard currency)

硬货币是高价值的货币,主要是通过内购获得,跟游戏的盈利密切相关。通常,玩家可以用硬货币交换到专属的付费内容。就比如《荒野乱斗》的宝石,《糖果传奇》里的金条。

硬货币是最接近“通用交换媒介”的东西,因为玩家不仅可以用它来购买内容,而且还可以兑换其它大多数货币——并间接地让玩家获得他们想要的东西。

《荒野乱斗》玩家可以利用宝石直接购买内容,或用它来兑换金币。虽然奖杯是不可购买的,但是玩家可以购买宝箱,快速增加手头的英雄数量并升级,最终让他们获得更多奖杯。

因此,要是硬货币囤积过多的话,游戏就很难表现出稀缺性,无法刺激玩家花真钱。

所以,硬货币的获取途径应该是非常少的,需要严格控制——这种资源通常不会在进阶过程中出现供过于求的状况。

检查游戏经济健康状况的好办法之一就是查看硬货币的获取来源,还有付费&非付费玩家的囤积情况。囤积数量上升可能表示游戏奖励不平衡,或者缺乏有价值的内容,或者没有足够多的动机(比如其它游戏模式)让玩家去消耗硬货币。

然而,如果你懂得合理使用,硬货币会成为一种非常诱人的奖励,因为无论是新玩家还是老玩家,无论是付费玩家还是非付费玩家,在大家眼中这都是一种高价值物品。其它奖励或许就不是这样了(比如英雄,或许玩家已经拿到了这个角色,或许它在比赛中起不了多大作用,或许级别太低)。

2.软货币(soft currency)

软货币是一种低价值的通用货币,一般可以免费获得,只需要玩游戏或者等待。就比如《使命召唤手游》的金币(完成对战的主要奖励),或者《采矿大亨:掘金之旅》中的金币(随时间生成)。

我们都很熟悉了,因为它是双货币机制的一部分,早在Facebook游戏时代之前,这种机制就已经统治了F2P产品。它的好处在于能够简单地将非付费内容跟付费内容区分开。

Playrix的scapes系列和Matchington Mansion只使用一种货币,只要是能购买的东西几乎都可以用这种货币交换到。所以这些游戏只有软货币。这需要更严格地控制收支,以避免货币贬值,进而影响盈利。

3.中性货币(Medium currency)

如果你想要一种玩家可以通过轻松刷关获得且不会破坏整体经济的货币,但又怕你的软货币太“软”,无法帮你盈利,那该怎么办? 你可以综合一下啊!

中性货币就是通过刷关获得的,但是它的用处和库存是有限制的。这使得它更能抵御软货币因其自身特性而招致的贬值,同时利用限制条件(库存拓展、补充等)创造额外的盈利机会。

有些游戏将这些限制机制与软货币结合在一起,以便更好地控制游戏经济。这是一个降低经济管控难度的好主意,但与标准做法相比,它带来的摩擦更多,玩家可能会觉得不公平或气恼。

Supercell就很喜欢给他们的软货币增加限制:在《部落冲突》中,存储级别决定了玩家可以拥有的最大金币数量。《皇室战争》和《荒野乱斗》对“玩游戏获得软货币”增加了时间限制。

对于中性货币的限制,具体的实际做法可能有:

· 囤积限制

这可能是限制货币的库存量(游戏邦注:如《部落冲突》中的金矿),也可能是玩到一定阶段后货币囤积难度会提升(注:如《万国觉醒》中的仓库保护量机制)。

在《万国觉醒》中,超过仓库保护上限值的资源将会暴露出来,吸引敌人来掠夺。所以升级仓库就成为了最重要的事项之一,花真钱也是值得的。

在大多数情况下,这一上限可以通过连续升级或氪金而增加,这就能产生额外的盈利机会,而且这在玩家眼中是非常有价值的。

· 获取限制

在另一方面,你可以限制玩家在具体某一时段能获得的数量。就比如《皇室战争》《荒野乱斗》这两个游戏。

与能量条的应用不同,玩家在达到上限后仍然可以玩游戏,但不会给他们货币奖励。这就非常适合多人游戏了——即允许玩家一次玩很长时间,这样就算奖品都拿完了,玩家依然能够很开心地跟小伙伴继续玩下去。但这不如能量条的盈利效果好。

其它应用方式可能包括在达到一定数量之后获取率降低(注:比如《荒野乱斗》和《英雄联盟:激斗峡谷》),或者在达到一定数量时停止生产资源(就像大多数游戏中的能量机制一样)。

· 使用限制

另一种做法就是限制可交易的货币数量——这可能是因为玩家必须积攒到特定数量的货币才能使用,或者需要多种资源或满足额外的要求才能交易。还可能因为可以使用货币的地方很少且有门槛。

在《卡通农场》中,某些升级素材没集齐,其它就算有多余也等于没用。这能够很好地刺激玩家为缺少的资源花钱。

在《梦想小镇》中,人口要求就是一种进阶障碍,迫使玩家全面发展小镇,而不是只专注于完成订单&攒金币。

4.能量货币(energy currency)

能量的标志性特征就是它只能用于交换游戏时间。通常情况下,玩家在每次尝试或行动时都需要付出能量(比如Monster Legends),又或者你失败了再闯一次关也需要(如《糖果传奇》和《梦幻家园》)。

不管是Monster Legends中的行动成本,还是《糖果传奇》《梦幻家园》中失败的代价,能量货币的作用就是限制用户的免费玩游戏时间。

5.特色货币(feature currency)

如果你的游戏包含多种奖励相同的活动,玩家自然会倾向于选择那些更容易获得奖励的活动。就比如说,在Monster Legends中,他们不会选择反复刷单人模式,而是去玩Daily Dungeons,因为它能带来更多金币。

这是一个值得注意的问题,因为不同的活动的玩法、资源需求可能也是不同的,这样会提升游戏的趣味性,刺激玩家消费。所以,无意中让他们避开奖励较少的活动可能会限制你的整体ARPDAU(日活跃用户的平均收益),并导致他们错过能够丰富游戏体验的特色。

为了避免玩家忽视某些游戏活动,你可以创造一种只能在特定游戏模式中才能获得的货币。

它的作用可能是:

· 迫使用户去玩游戏中具体的某个部分,这样他们才能获得某些奖励/实现进阶。
· 将整个系统与其它游戏内经济分隔开,方便游戏团队分析、平衡、管控。
· 限制玩家接触某个特色,过度使用它可能会对游戏经济带来负面影响。

在《战龙》中,繁育龙每次都要消耗代币(考虑到每次你只有一次机会来获得你想要的品种,你可能会在这些威猛的大蜥蜴身上花掉上百万)。因为这种资源是通向游戏核心机制的唯一途径,所以开发者可以将其作为一种奖励,引导玩家参与任何他们感兴趣的活动(任务、活动、特定特色等)。

放置类RPG游戏,比如Idle Heroes,就有很多这样的特色,引入用途单一的新货币,玩家只能参与特定活动才能获得。

就比如说,玩Brave Trial是获取Dragon Scales的唯一途径,在Trial Shop只能使用这种货币,在这里你可以交换到非常酷的专属内容。

在《皇室战争》中,如果不限制部落成员间交易可能会严重影响盈利(比如玩家优化自己的掉落率,鲸鱼玩家或黑客给大家送礼物等等)。解决办法就是推出换卡币,这就成为了交易时的一种额外需求。获得它们的方法非常有限,只有特殊活动、部落战奖励和商店购买三个途径,团队可以确保这个机制不会脱离他们的掌控。

6.社交货币(social currency)

社交货币旨在鼓励病毒式传播、社交互动和游戏内部关系建立等特定游戏行为。需要注意的是,病毒式传播可能有两个目的:

· 借助现有玩家带来新玩家(经典的K因子传播)。这应该是我们大多数人所想的病毒式传播:给认识的人介绍这款游戏。
· 鼓励玩家之间的互动、增强联系,目的是提高他们的参与度和留存率(相邻或网络效应)。这一般是针对现实中的独行侠们。

通常来说,游戏中的社交货币主要是为了第二种目的,因为老玩家带来新玩家这种事件的发生频率跟理想的还是有差距的,并不能带来足够的效益。

在《智龙迷城》中,你的团队会因为其他玩家带来的怪物而得到强化。通过这种方式——还有被其他人选择,可以获得友情点数(社交货币),使用它们去玩gacha。如果你选择的是好友列表内的用户,还能获得更多点数。

这就会促使玩家添加尽量多的好友,时不时清理掉那些不活跃、级别比较低的玩家(因为列表名额是有限的),还会把他们的ID公开出来,希望有别的活跃玩家能够加他们。

《魔灵召唤》的友情点可以用来召唤更多角色。获得途径主要是朋友之间互赠礼物。这就能鼓励用户添加活跃用户为好友(通过“好友推荐”列表),删掉那些占位置的非活跃玩家。

7.公会货币(guild currency)

公会货币与部落/联盟/公会特色是直接关联的。它之所以能从其它特色货币中脱颖而出,是因为它通常具有与群体相关的独特机制。这通常就需要额外的平衡措施(计算所有成员的成本分配,限制某些成员能够提供的福利等等)。

与公会货币关联的独特机制可能是:

· 货币是由公会成员一起努力产生的,大家可以共享,但是只有高级成员才能消费使用,就比如《传奇商店》中的声望,会长可以用它来为大家购买强化道具或技能。
· 货币是完全独立的,但是所有的团队成员都能为支付做贡献,福利也是大家一起共享,就比如《传奇商店》的城市升级。
· 货币是完全独立的,但需要大家的共同努力才能产生,就比如《魔灵召唤》的工会点数。

游戏可以包含多种跟工会有关的货币,提供不同的奖励。在《传奇商店》中,完成工会活动就能用公会币兑换个人奖励,还会增加声望,给你所在的团体增加长期优势。

同样需要特别注意的是,公会货币除了直接的交易作用以外,可能还能在团体中发挥其它作用:比如,公会可以将其设定为成员贡献的指标、建立等级制度、或者设定周期性目标。

8.活动货币(event currency)

限时活动为什么能对盈利、用户参与度起到那么强的助推作用,原因之一就是开发者能够引入一整个独立于游戏主体的经济系统。

当然,如果已经积累大量货币的玩家可以轻松满足活动要求,或者选择不参与活动直接氪金拿奖励,那么限时活动的真正目的就达不到了。这可能会迫使开发者为不同类型的玩家多次调整平衡。

很多游戏通过应用活动货币来避免这类问题,这类货币只会暂时地出现在游戏中,只跟限时活动有关。玩家可以使用它们交换奖励,或者解锁活动的部分专属内容。

在In Family Guy: Quest的星际迷航活动中,活动产生的一系列货币(活动结束后就会消失)能够制造出一些专属的奖励。

这就让活动变得更加独立、易于管理,同时也增加了游戏的消费深度。

9.废弃货币(discard currency)

废弃货币是通过销毁游戏道具获得的。设计这些货币是为了将道具的用处扩展到游戏玩法之外,或者减少摩擦,或者弱化随机掉落和meta循环带来的不愉悦结果,具体目标可能是:

· 把这些物品转化成常见奖励(也就是融合系统)。
· 允许使用不再具有游戏价值的过时道具。就比如说,已经超过库存上限的重复物品。
· 减少战利品宝箱造成的摩擦,允许玩家将不想要的物品间接转化成想要的东西,所以抽到不想要的东西并不会让人那么沮丧。
· 帮助玩家完成收集,移除库存中重复的物品,合成缺少的物品。如果没有废弃货币的话,要完成收集难度会高很多。
· 帮助玩家更新他们的道具库存,减少了循环式meta和power creep带来的摩擦。

这也能让玩家更放心地花钱,因为他们知道,即使所购买道具的优势是有限的,但它们也会带来一些长期收益。

在RAID: Shadow Legends中就有个类似于融合系统的特色,要求玩家牺牲别的单位来升级其它角色。游戏会定期奖励使用价值较低的单位,它们只是另一种可消耗的资源类型(所以它们可以反复出现在刷关奖励、战利品宝箱……之中)。

《炉石传说》中的“奥术之尘系统”允许玩家将不想要的物品分成废弃货币,然后用它来合成想要的东西。不然要从掉落中获得想要的特定卡牌是非常非常难的。

除此之外,在引入一套全新的卡牌时,拥有大量旧卡牌的玩家可以分解它们获得奥术之尘,更快地兑换到新卡牌,这就带来了一种长期价值。当然,这种策略并不是万全的,要做到全收集还是得花钱。

10.VIP货币(VIP currency)

VIP货币是IAP交易的副产物,能够对盈利起到助推作用。

需要注意的是,大多数游戏并没有设计成货币的形式,而是通过永久积分来实现,这能起到更大的激励作用。

比如在Steam上买游戏能够获得Seam积分,你可以用它来兑换聊天装扮、贴纸。
11.非正式货币(informal currency)

如果人们有一种需求不能通过正常的方式得到满足,这时偏门渠道就会出现。在很多游戏中,这种需求就是玩家希望能够不通过以物易物的形式交换到自己想要的物品。

非正式货币指的是玩家把某种游戏元素当成是交易媒介来使用,但开发者的设计意图并非如此。

如果游戏允许以物易物&礼物赠送,但不能给对方送任何货币,这种情况可能就会出现。禁止赠送货币是一种常见防漏洞利用手段,因为有的游戏玩家会创建假账号分享新手礼包福利、二次买卖货币——如臭名昭著的《魔兽世界》的金农,或者是为了防破坏游戏经济的黑客——比如《侠盗猎车手Online》里的……

或者,如果游戏的主要货币大幅贬值,或出现其它问题,导致其它游戏道具更适合充当货币,这种情况就会发生。

就比如说,在《创世纪Online》中,金子大幅贬值,因为它供过于求。此外,地图上的单堆金子的叠加是有限制的,所以玩家基本无法大量储蓄金币。

而“马粪”这个物品的储蓄价值更高,因为游戏中的马不具备拉屎功能,所以这个世界的马粪数量是非常有限的。它具有收藏价值,是地位的象征之一(就好比富人拥有钻石),当然也非常搞笑。所以在高价值交易中,马粪就成为了一种货币,甚至还有人用真钱做投机买卖。它还是收藏家的得意藏品之一。

Party In My Dorm这个游戏更典型:玩家不可以交易货币,但是他们可以交易其它物品,变成以物易物。问题在于,以物易物是低效的——玩家并不知道物品的实际价值,必须考虑每次交易是否值得,可能需要进行多次交换,直到获得想要的道具……

所以玩家们设定了通用的交易媒介:chibis和bentos(相当于碎片和宝箱)。这个由用户创造的游戏经济能够自我调节价格并促进交易。

总结

我希望本文能让你对游戏货币有更全面的认识,或者帮助你改进已存在的游戏货币。

本文由游戏邦编译,转载请注明来源,或咨询微信zhengjintiao

Currencies are the pillar of any real-world modern economy, since exchanges are done through them. Their objective is to be as universal and frictionless as possible, to make the system more efficient in allowing transactions.

Contrary to that, F2P games feature specialized currencies that have strict rules and limitations. Each in-game currency has been designed with a purpose: be it to push the player towards specific activities that will foster the fun, generate monetizable scarcity, provide a reason to come back later, or other.

This article aims to list the main types of in-game currencies, their uses, and general characteristics. The goal is to help you decide which ones would be appropriate for your game and which extra rules you should add to them — or even think of new hybrid mutations.

This is a follow-up of my article about IAP packs balance and design, which covers the relationship of in-game currencies with real world money. You may want to check that one out if you haven’t already!

Types of currencies and their purpose

First of all: What’s a currency?

I’m defining ‘currency’ as an element that has no use value in and of itself, but rather its main purpose and value comes from its ability to be exchanged for something else which has an actual use value.

So in accordance to this, I’m not considering currencies the following things:

· Score metrics like Clash Royale’s Trophies. Even though trophies grant rewards when reaching certain milestones or at the end of a competition period, we could argue that the main purpose of Trophies is not to be exchanged, but to represent the player’s competitive prowess and progression.
· Progression metrics like Experience Points or Player Level, which similarly are oriented towards representing (or gating) player progression within the game, rather than serving as a means to be exchanged.

But I will be considering currencies any resources or items whose purpose is accumulation to buy upgrades (like Clash Royale‘s cards… the first card of each type is to unlock the unit in gameplay, but after that point they’re a currency).

Also, note that the types are not mutually exclusive and some of the categories may in fact be subcategories of each other. For example, an event currency can be a hard currency, within the context of an event.

Based on those assumptions, I’m classifying currencies in 11 different categories. (Though I’m sure the list is missing several so it may grow. If you spot what’s missing, let me know in the comments!). They are:

1. Hard currency (AKA cash)

A hard currency is a high value currency which is primarily obtained through IAP and is closely related to monetization. Often it allows the player access to exclusive premium content. Examples would be the Gems on Brawl Stars, or the Gold Bars in Candy Crush Saga.

Hard currency is the closest thing to an universal medium of exchange, since it not only allows players to purchase content, but can also be exchanged for most of the other currencies — and indirectly allows players to obtain the means to get what they want:

Gems in Brawl Stars allow players to buy content directly or exchange them for coins. And while trophies aren’t purchasable, the player can buy boxes which accelerate the acquisition of more brawlers and upgrades, that ultimately allow the player to move forward on the trophy count.

As a consequence, overflowing the economy with hard currency will diminish a game’s ability to generate situations of scarcity where the player needs to spend real money.

Because of this, sources of hard currency tend to be few and are under strict control — it’s a resource that generally doesn’t suffer inflation over the progression of the game.

A good way to check the health of an in-game economy is to check the sources of hard currency, and the amounts stored by paying and non-paying users. Increments on the player currency savings may indicate an imbalance on rewards, or perhaps the lack of valuable content to buy, or sinks.

Nevertheless, if used wisely and with measure, hard currency is an excellent reward because it’s extremely valuable for all the players, regardless of their progression or amount spent. This may not necessarily be true for other types of rewards (i.e. heroes, which may already be owned by the player, not valuable for competition, or below the level of the characters already owned by the player).

2. Soft currency (AKA coins)

A soft currency is a low value, general-purpose currency which is primarily obtained for free, either by playing or just waiting. Examples of this would be Credits in Call of Duty Mobile (the main reward for completing matches), or coins in Idle Miner Tycoon (which are automatically generated over time).

We all know about this one because it’s part of the dual-currency mechanism that has ruled the F2P model since before the times of Facebook games. The benefit of this dual model being that it’s a simple way to separate the content for non-paying users from the one that is premium and exclusive.

Playrix’scapes series and Matchington Mansion feature a single currency, which is used on almost anything purchasable. So they only have soft currency. This requires a more strict control of incomes and outcomes to avoid devaluation, which would harm the need for players to monetize.

3. Medium currency

So what happens when you want a currency that players can grind with relatively ease without destroying your overall economy, but your soft currency is too soft to generate monetization around it? You create a mix, of course!

The medium currency is a currency obtainable through grinding, but which has some kind of limitation to their usage or accumulation.
This makes it more resilient to the devaluation that soft currencies tend to suffer due to their nature, while creating additional monetization opportunities around their limitations (storage expansions, refills, etc…).

Some games incorporate several of these gating mechanics to their soft currencies, in order to keep the game economy more under control.
This is a great idea to have a game economy that’s easy to manage, but incorporates clear friction points versus a standard model, which users may find unfair or frustrating.

Our friends at Supercell are fond of adding limits to their soft currencies: In Clash of Clans the storage level determines the max amount of gold coins that can be owned. And both Clash Royale and Brawl Stars, have time-based caps to the amount of soft currency obtainable by playing.

Some examples of the gating that medium currencies may incorporate are:

Capped accumulation

This may range between a hard limit on how much currency can be stored (like Gold in Clash of Clans), or making harder the accumulation beyond a certain point (like the protection capacity of storages in Rise of Kingdoms).

In Rise of Kingdoms, the accumulation of resources beyond the protection capacities of the Storehouse will be increasingly difficult due to the constant pressure of enemies raiding. This makes upgrading it extremely appealing, totally worth paying real money.

In most cases, this cap can be increased through successive upgrades or other purchases, which generates an additional — and highly valuable, in the player’s eyes — monetization point.

Capped acquisition

On the other hand, the limitation can be on how much the player can obtain within a specific period of time, rather than on how much it can be stored. The hard limits on currency acquisition on Clash Royale and Brawl Stars are good examples.

Contrary to the usage of energy, in those examples the player can still play after reaching the limit, but that won’t generate currency rewards.

This is well suited for multiplayer games, where there’s an interest in allowing long sessions so that the players keep on being content for the rest, but it lacks the monetization aggressiveness of energy.

Additional applications of this concept may include boosting the ratio of acquisition up until reaching a certain amount (which some items do in Brawl Stars and Wild Rift) or stopping the resource generation when reaching a certain point (like happens with energy in most games).

Limited usage

Another point where gates can be added is on the capacity of the currency to be exchanged into the game element that has the actual value.

For example, this can be because the player has to accumulate specific amounts before the currency can be used, or because multiple resources or additional requirements are required in order to allow the exchange — or because the points where the currency can be spent are few and limited.

In Hay Day, lacking some of the upgrade materials means that the ones that are in surplus are useless. This is a strong incentive to pay for the missing resources in order to use the owned ones.

And in Township, population requirements act as a progression bottleneck, forcing the player to develop all the layers of the tycoon and progress, instead of focusing exclusively on accumulating coins by completing orders.

4. Energy currency

The defining characteristic of energy is that it’s exchanged exclusively for playing time. Usually it’s a price to be paid on every attempt or action (Monster Legends‘ Dungeons), or has to be paid on a retry (Candy Crush, Homescapes).

Either if it’s a strict cost per action like in Monster Legends, or a payment upon failure (to allow that the player can extend its play time through skill and luck), the objective of energy currencies is to gate the time that the player can spend in the game for free.

5. Feature currency

If your game features multiple activities which reward the same thing, players will naturally tend to orbit towards those that are more efficient for gaining rewards. For example, they’ll do Daily Dungeons instead of grinding the single player mode, because Dungeons grant more gold.

This is an issue, because each of those activities may ask the player different inventory requirements and styles of playing, which will make the game more interesting and also incentivize players to spend more on it. So, inadvertently enabling them to avoid less reward-generous activities can limit your overall ARPDAU and lead them to miss out on features that can add value to their gaming experience.

To avoid the likelihood of certain game activities from being overlooked by players, consider creating a currency that can only be obtained on specific modes.

Feature currencies have a very specific in-game usage, and are linked exclusively to a specific game activity. Some of the objectives may be:

· To force the user to play a specific section of the game in order to be able to access a set of rewards, progression or upgrade axis.
· To isolate an entire system from the rest of the in-game economy, in order to make it easier to manage, balance and analyze.
· Limit access to a specific feature, whose over-usage might be detrimental for the economy.

In War Dragons, making your dragons mate costs Breeding Tokens (and since every time you only have a chance to get the breed you wanted, those lusty lizards will cost you millions).

Since this resource is the exclusive gate to a key game mechanic, devs can use it as a reward to direct the player to any activity they want (missions, events, specific features…).

Feature currencies are great to isolate the economy loop of entire features, therefore making them easier to analyze and maintain.

Idle RPGs like Idle Heroes feature many examples of features which introduce new, single-use currencies that force the player to go through specific activities to gather them.

For example, playing the Brave Trial is the only way to obtain Dragon Scales, the only currency accepted at the Trial Shop, which has some cool exclusive content.

In Clash Royale, unrestricted trade among clanmates could severely monetization (i.e. players optimizing their drop rates, whales or hackers gifting everyone else…).

The solution is trade tokens, which are asked as an additional cost on the trades. Since access to them is heavily gated (a reward on special events, clan wars and offers), they make sure that this feature never gets out of control.

6. Social currency (AKA virality currency)

Social currency is a feature currency which aims to foster a specific game behavior of incentivizing virality, social interaction and connectivity inside the game.
It’s important to note that virality can actually have two meanings:

· Bring new users via those who are already on the game (classic, K-factor virality).
This is the one that most of us think the most with the word virality: players extending the contagion among people they already know outside of the game.
· Incentivize interaction and connection between players that are already in the game, with the objective of boosting their engagement and retention (the neighboring or network effect).

Usually, this is oriented towards players that are not related or friends outside of the game.

In general, social currencies in games are oriented towards the second example, since players bringing new players is not something that happens often enough to sustain a currency.

In Puzzle & Dragons dungeons, your team is reinforced with a monster from another player. Doing so, as well as being selected by others, generates Pal Points (social currency), which grant monster egg rolls. And if you use players from your friend list, you get many more points.

This makes players look to add as many friends as possible and constantly delete inactive low-level ones (because the friend list is limited), as well as post their ID in fan pages, in the hope of being added by active players that will help them farm Pal Points.

Meanwhile, Summoners War grants Social Points that allow players to summon more creatures. They are primarily obtained by gifting to friends, and being gifted by them on a daily basis.

This encourages users to add active players as friends (through an ‘friends suggestion’ list), and discard those that are inactive (and therefore occupy space on the friend list but don’t generate social currency).

7. Guild currency

Guild currency is intrinsically related to a clans/alliances/guilds feature. What makes it stand out from other feature currencies is the fact that it usually has unique mechanics related to being generated by a group.

This often means that additional balancing measures need to be deployed (calculating the distribution of costs among all members, limiting the benefits that some can provide to freebooters, etc…).

Examples of potentially unique mechanics in guild currencies would be:

· The currency is shared and generated by all the guild members, but can only be spent by the high members of its hierarchy (i.e. Shop Titans‘ Renown, which guild leaders can spend in Boosts or Perks to the entire clan).
· The currency is entirely individual, but all team members may contribute to the payment, and the benefits are shared (i.e. gold priced City Upgrades in Shop Titans).
· The currency is entirely individual, but it’s generated by the shared collective effort (i.e. Guild Points in Summoners Wars).

Games may incorporate multiple guild-based currencies, to provide different incentives. Shop Titans feature Guild Coins which provide an individual and immediate reward for completing guild activities, but also Renown which grants long termed, collective benefits.

It’s also important to note that guild currency may also have additional social dynamics beyond its direct exchange usefulness: For example, clans may use it as an indicator of contribution of each teammate to establish group hierarchy, or set periodic quotas as a requirement for membership.

8. Event currency

One of the reasons why time-limited events are so positive to monetization and engagement is the fact that they can introduce entire layers of game economy which are completely independent from the main game.

Of course, that objective would be defeated if players who’ve accumulated tons of currency can use it to smash the requirements presented there, or to buy the rewards without engaging on the event activities. This could force the developer to balance the event multiple times for several user profiles.

Many games avoid these issues entirely by using event currencies, which are feature currencies that exist temporarily and are entirely focused around a time-limited event. They may allow players to purchase an actual set of rewards, or perhaps are part of a system which exists exclusively within an event.

In Family Guy: Quest for stuff‘s Star Trek event, its related activities generate a series of currencies (that will disappear after the event expires), which allow to craft several exclusive rewards.

This makes the event more self-contained and easier to manage, and introduces additional spending depth (buy the currency, currency generators, skips on production, etc).

9. Discard currency (AKA dust)

Discard currencies are obtained through the destruction of game items. These currencies pursue several objectives aimed to extend the usefulness of items beyond gameplay itself, or decrease the friction or randomized drops and meta rotations:

· Transform those items in rewards that can be given recurrently (i.e. fusion systems).
· Grant a use to obsolete items that no longer have gameplay value. For example, repeated items of a type that has been already maxed out.
· Decrease the friction generated by loot boxes, by allowing players to transform unwanted items into the desired ones, so the bad drops aren’t that frustrating.
· Help complete a collection, by removing items already owned and allow to craft the missing ones. Completing collections without this would be extremely hard.
· Helping players to update their inventory to a new set of items, therefore decreasing the friction of having a rotative meta or power creep.

It also grants more confidence for the player to spend, knowing that even if the dominance of the purchased items is limited, they’ll generate some long term return too.

‘Fusion systems’ like the one featured in RAID: Shadow Legends, requires players to sacrifice units in order to level up another. This allows the game to regularly reward lesser units, they’re just another type of resource to be consumed (so they can feed the constant drops in grinding modes, loot boxes, etc…).

‘Dusting systems’ like the one in Hearthstone allow the player to transform unwanted items into discard currency, and use that to craft missing ones. This allows players to build their desired decks (which otherwise would be extremely hard to do, due to the difficulty of finding specific cards on the drops).

It also decreases the friction when introducing a new card set, because players with a big inventory can dust it to get the new cards faster, which provides a ‘long term value’ sense on any investment. Of course, since the tradeoff is not perfect, this still means having to spend extra money to get it completely.

10. VIP currency (aka Prestige…)

A VIP currency is generated as a by-product of performing an IAP transaction, as a side-incentive for monetization and customer reward.

Note that most games tend to do this not through a currency but rather through a permanent score, which is a greater incentive.

Purchases in Steam (that famous game where you spend real money to buy tons of games which then you lack time to play) grant Steam Points, which can then be used to buy chat customizations and stickers.

11. Informal currency

There’s a saying that goes that money always finds a way, and that if people have a need which can’t be fulfilled by normal means, shadier ones will appear to do it. In many games, that need is the ability for players to trade stuff without resorting to bartering.

Informal currencies are game elements which players effectively use as medium of exchange, even though the intended purpose of the developers for that element was different.

This can happen on games that allow item gifting and trading, but don’t allow sending currency, which is a common setup to avoid exploits such as creating fake accounts for sharing the starter rewards, alternative sellers of currency (like the infamous World of Warcraft‘s gold farmers…), or hackers breaking the economy (like in GTA Online…).

Or it can happen if the main currency method of the game has been heavily devalued or has another problem which results in another game item being better suited to act as currency.

For instance, in Ultima Online, gold was strongly devalued because new gold was constantly being generated. Also, there was a limit on how much gold could be stacked together on a single pile on the map, which made storage of big amounts quite impractical.

On the contrary, the item ‘horse dung’ was much better suited to act as storage of value since the game horses didn’t poop so the amount of dungs in the world was strictly limited. So it had collector value, was a sign of status (like owning a diamond), and was funny as well. So ‘horse dung’ became a currency on high value exchanges and it even generated speculation with real money.

On the contrary, the item ‘horse dung’ was much better suited to act as storage of value since the game horses didn’t poop so the amount of dungs in the world was strictly limited. So it had collector value, was a sign of status (like owning a diamond) and was funny as well. So ‘horse dung’ became a currency on high value exchanges and even became a collector’s item.

Party In My Dorm (above) is an even clearer example: Players can’t trade currency, but they can exchange any other game item, allowing them to barter. The problem is that bartering is inefficient (a player doesn’t know the actual value of an item, has to consider if each deal is good, may have to do multiple exchanges until getting the wanted item…).

So players created their own universal exchanger: chibis and bentos (shards and loot boxes). They have generated an alternative, user generated game economy that self-regulates prices and facilitates trade.

Final words

I hope that this list helps you to expand your views on in-game currencies or inspires you to improve the ones you’re already considering on your game.

(source: gamasutra.com )


下一篇: