随着网游在朋友间共享的病毒式营销技术逐渐没落，另一个技术显得日渐重要，那就是游戏检索。此技术让游戏可以自行发现游戏，并充分享受这个过程。这便是游戏曝光率的指导思想，此类想法于LOGIN 2011这个充满游戏小组的世界中成功树立。Jennifer Bartlett和Lee Clancy两个从业者深入阐述该机制，让游戏检索在这个充满竞争性的网络社交游戏世界中发挥作用。
JENNIFER BARTLETT：我是Sometrics旗下Game Coins的总监，这是个在线游戏检索和用户获取平台，将游戏发行商与数百万个使用虚拟货币的高参与性玩家联系起来。我负责功能和用户体验，通过有意思的游戏检索行为让发行商有机会获得付费玩家。
只要我们在游戏业的努力仍受关注，我们就同其他游戏入口相同，IMVU成员可以在网页和3D聊天软件中同他们的朋友玩游戏。我们目前正在同OMGPOP和Viximo展开合作，为IMVU提供更多更有质量的休闲和社交游戏（游戏邦注：这些游戏包括《Ravenwood Fair》、《Backyard Monsters》和《Resort World》等。）。对IMVU成员来说，游戏是另一个娱乐和结交朋友的方式。对IMVU这个公司来说，游戏可以增加虚拟货币的出售量。我们的成员可以花费IMVU Credits购买虚拟商品和休闲及社交游戏中的道具，就像Facebook用户使用Facebook Credits购买Zynga或Crowdstar中的虚拟商品。
LEE：供我选择的东西很多，但是有些内容特别适合IMVU的运营，包括：游戏服务呈现出的趋势（ThinkEquity的Atul Bagga）；2011年Kontagent主要社交度量和基准（Kontagent的Aaron Huang）；浏览器与基于用户的免费MMO游戏的比较（Interpret的Michael Cai）；Entropia全球现金经济（Mindark的John Bates）。（本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译，转载请注明来源：游戏邦）
Game Discovery — Being Found in a World Filled With Games
By Paul Philleo
As viral techniques for having online games shared between friends become fewer, one of the techniques that have become becomes more important over time is that of game discovery, which allows games to find the games themselves — and enjoy the process in doing so. This is the central topic for the Game Discovery — Being Found in a World Filled With Games panel at LOGIN 2011. Two of the panelists, Jennifer Bartlett with Sometrics and Lee Clancy with IMVU, offer an in-depth view into the mechanisms that make game discovery work in the competitive world of online social games.
PAUL PHILLEO: Hi Jennifer and Lee, we appreciate the time you’re giving us for this interview. Tell us a little about your companies and the work with the game industry you do through them.
JENNIFER BARTLETT: I’m the director of Sometrics’ Game Coins, an online games discovery and user acquisition platform that connects game publishers with millions of highly engaged players using virtual currency. I’m responsible for the features and user experience of the destination, which provides publishers an opportunity to acquire paying gamers through fun game discovery activities and a universal Game.
LEE CLANCY: IMVU is an online social entertainment destination where members use 3-D avatars to meet new people, chat, create, and play games with their friends. IMVU has more than 50 million registered users, more than 10 million unique visitors per month, and a $40-plus million annualized revenue run rate.
IMVU has the world’s largest virtual goods catalog of more than six million items with approximately 7,000 new items added every day — almost all of which are created by IMVU’s own members. The virtual goods catalog consists of everything from 2-D stickers to detailed 3-D items like virtual jewelry, clothing, hair, cars, and other fun items that help IMVU community members create an IMVU identity as unique as their own.
As far as our work with the games industry is concerned, we are similar to other leading game portals in that IMVU members can play games with their IMVU friends on both our website and in our 3-D Chat software. We currently have an ongoing partnership with OMGPOP and Viximo to offer a wide range of quality casual and social games to the IMVU community (e.g., Ravenwood Fair, Backyard Monsters, Resort World, Big Business, etc.). For IMVU members, games are another way to have fun and meet new people. For IMVU as a company, games are (with our virtual goods catalog) another driver of demand for our virtual currency (“Credits”) and a significant “sink” of that currency in our virtual economy. Our members can spend IMVU Credits to purchase virtual goods and power-ups in these casual and social games, not unlike how Facebook users can use Facebook Credits to purchase virtual goods in Zynga or Crowdstar games on Facebook.
Through the filter of your background and respective experiences, what do you feel some of the best means of creating game discovery might be?
JENNIFER: In my work with Game Coins, we’ve seen success in game discovery by providing players with centrality, personalization, community, and fun. The goal in game discovery is to find a way to rise above and beyond the constant chatter from competitors to catch (and keep) the attention of current and potential players without spending a fortune. This isn’t easy, especially as the market becomes ever more competitive. Being able to match players with the right games, based on behavior and demographics, is key.
To make sure target users discover the games you want them to, you have to make it easy and fun for them to do so: Provide a single location to centralize the experience and create a one-stop-shop for finding games and game material that they’ll enjoy. If you personally don’t have the resources to create such a destination, look to other partners who do (such as Game Coins), and find out more about how they can help you to engage and acquire new users from its established audience. Such destinations should include content that is engaging on multiple levels — whether that involves interacting with a community, aspects related to players’ personal interests, a recommendations engine that responds to a visitor’s preferences, or just plain old fun.
LEE: It’s important to consider this question from both the game developer and game publisher/portal perspective. For developers looking to get their games discovered by users, they clearly have to find ways to stand out amid an increasingly crowded shelf of games. For those lucky enough to have established large userbases for some of their games, cross-promoting your newer games to users of your past games is a no-brainer. For example, Zynga powered Cityville’s massive ramp by driving trial of Cityville among its huge legacy Farmville base. Most developers don’t have that luxury, however, so other strategies come into play. One important approach that developers such as Playdom and Lolapps have pursued successfully is distribution on alternative social game platforms beyond Facebook (like IMVU, Hi5, and a host of smaller indigenous social networks in foreign markets). That is, being a bigger fish in a smaller or less-crowded pond can be a lucrative strategy for getting your game discovered.
From the publisher or portal perspective, fostering game discovery is a 24/7 activity. It goes without saying that most consumers hear about new games via good old word-of-mouth, but game publishers and platforms can do plenty to make that word of mouth travel as quickly as possible for their games. On IMVU, important sources of user-to-user lighter fluid for new games include a Facebook-style status update system called Pulse, game-specific user forums, interest-based groups, sharing options for major social networks, and both asynchronous and real-time messaging among users. As a platform, we also offer developers a vast set of promotional resources for driving game discovery such as email newsletters, IMVU-to-user messaging, sitewide promotional banners, highlighting of “new” games in the navigation bar of both our website and 3-D Chat software, and high-click-through “blue bars” that blast timely news and promotion to every IMVU user with every page view. And as mentioned above, alternative platforms can give your game affordable promotional channels, more engaged users, and better monetization than larger platforms. A final must-have game discovery feature for portals and publishers is a games “lobby” or destination that merchandises new and popular games in one place to all visiting users, and it is important to keep content in the games lobby fresh and updated frequently.
What role do you feel game discovery has in conjunction with the mechanisms of virality? Are they complementary or competitive influences?
JENNIFER: Game discovery and virality are complementary; unfortunately, virality is hard to obtain and sustain. The threshold for success in “going viral” has become tremendously high, with a huge number of competitive products fighting for attention and, speaking strictly about Facebook, increased restrictions on how developers may communicate with an open audience within the social community. Many viral campaigns barely leave the ground because they don’t get the incredible luck — or money — required for success.
In some ways, successful game discovery is manufactured virality. Our Game Coins controls the method of distribution, making it easier to ensure that a message we send out reaches interested ears of players who are ready to try a new game. Helping people discover new games by rewarding them for their actions and driving excitement about the discovery process helps to naturally increase virality as a result, especially if such processes also tie in some social hooks such as Facebook sharing, Twitter, and various other game-centric community features.
LEE: Virality is a double-edged sword for game discovery. Good viral mechanisms can get new games lots of users quickly (even in an era of more stringent communication policies on Facebook), but games that get viral quickly and grow can crowd out viral activity around newer games. As entrenched games garner more users and monetization, their developers typically can afford to spend marketing dollars to accelerate virality. Similarly, the Zynga bar is an obvious example of how a leading developer can help virality along via cross-promotion and try to steal a bigger share of gameplayers’ time spent to the detriment of smaller developers.
Can you identify a couple of options available to developers who want to encourage discovery of their own games but lack the resources available to major developers and publishers?
JENNIFER: For anyone who can’t develop their own RewardVille — cross-promotion, social media (Twitter, fan page, etc.), platforms/communities like Game Coins and TeePee, and similar services that specialize on your preferred platform (such as Appstrip for Facebook) are all great ways to help drive discovery of games, and developers should use a healthy mix of all their options.
For developers with more than one game or service, cross-promotion can be very effective. Consider the iTunes App Store, in which thousands of new apps are released every month. The most successful developers are those who are able to build and leverage existing users to spread the word about a new game — even if only through downloads. Finding ways to adapt these methods can be very beneficial in the online games world as well — look to use new and existing partnerships, relevant ad-buys, etc.
LEE: One basic yet powerful option for developers is to allow users to meet new people via their games by connecting like-minded players. Adding ways for players to make new friends within the game can extend the game’s audience because the viral spread occurs across otherwise disconnected social graphs. That is, if a user plays a game and invites three of his real-world friends to play, then the viral coefficient on sharing game activities is probably lower than the case in which a user makes three new friends playing the game, each of whom shares game activities to their individual social graphs and becomes a vehicle for game discovery. For example, in some of our partners’ games on IMVU, we’ve integrated the ability for an IMVU user to “add a friend” to their IMVU friend graph from within the game, which helps drive overall connections on IMVU and expose the game to more users.
One potential option that we haven’t yet fostered on IMVU is more tools for game developers to leverage the existing viral channels on IMVU to grow their userbases. For example, when a content “creator” on IMVU creates a virtual good and then sells that item to users via our immense virtual goods catalog, the creator typically follows up with that user personally via on-site messaging. This high-touch activity not only engages that user, but also increases the likelihood that the user will purchase new items from that creator in the future. Such outreach between creators and users happens naturally on IMVU every day, and IMVU benefits as a company because creators often do a better job of merchandising the virtual goods in our catalog than IMVU employees could ever do. Even today, enterprising game developers could probably harness these free promotional channels within IMVU’s thriving economy to support game discovery. For example, they could incentivize creators to become mini-affiliates by mentioning their games to users or promoting them on creator homepages or product pages.
What are the best ways to measure the success of game discovery mechanisms — and monetizing them?
LEE: From a game publisher or platform perspective, you need to be cognizant of the overall impact of game discovery on your overall “economy.” While it’s obvious that you should make sure that users can find new games that may appeal to them, it’s also important for platform owners to consider the impact of game discovery on overall time/money spent. For example, in IMVU’s case, we recently culled various lower performing games from our service in order to channel users into more successful games, which increased the overall volume of credits spent because more users were having a better experience with the higher-performing games than with those that performed poorly.
To wrap up, what other talks do you hope to catch at LOGIN 2011 this year, and why?
JENNIFER: A/B Testing and Game Design and Making Metrics Work for You in particular, as I’m interested in understanding user behavior more in order to continuously make a better product and community for gamers. I’m also hoping to catch one of the panels discussing social and mobile gaming — that’s obviously a direction the industry is moving in, and we’re always interested in hearing about the various business approaches to this exploding category of games and how some of the traditional players are trying to get a handle on this evolving marketplace, particularly in terms of game discovery.
LEE: There’s lots of good stuff to choose from (including IMVU’s own Brett Durrett speaking on real-time learning using A/B testing and continuous deployment), but here are a few picks that are a strong fit with IMVU’s business and processes: Emerging Trends in Games as a Service — Atul Bagga from ThinkEquity; Kontagent’s Top Social Metrics & Benchmarks for 2011 — Aaron Huang from Kontagent; Browser vs. client-based free-to-play MMOs panel (with Michael Cai of Interpret); Entropia Universe Real Cash Economy — John Bates, Mindark. (Source: Login News)