From Players to Payers 4 steps to conversion
There are tons of way to monetize players in freemium game economies but certain base assumption and ideas still remain the same. Here are 4 steps that I keep in mind when designing monetization as all of the step are tied to the game’s core loop and thus increase also retention and virality.
Step 1: Enjoy & Learn
Not all players are talented gamers, so we have to have mechanics that’s so simple anyone can do it, and then reward them handsomely inline with the time they spend.
Sounds pretty simple but usually this is surprisingly hard for game designers who want to make players earn they way to success, when the goal in fact is to make 98% of your players feel like they’re killing it in your game.
For example in Treasure Isle players explore series of islands and dig for treasure. Each island is split into a grid, players click to dig one of the grid cells. The game engine decides if the player
found treasure, coins, fruit, or nothing at all – nearly every dig has some reward, few have treasure.
The beauty is that there is no skill to the game. No hard choices. Just click and dig! Through this simple repeatable action, players earn experience, level up, find treasure and along the way Zynga make sure they get to celebrate every little success.
Step 2: Go Viral!
If our players are going to spend money because they want to keep up with their friends playing the game, we need to make sure they’ve got someone to keep up with. Yet, if its a bad game there’s nothing that you can do to convince players to tell their friends about it (unless it’s so bad it’s actually good), but just because its a good game doesn’t mean they’ll tell their friends either.
To ensure that the game goes viral you have to design demand for virality. Why do players need friends in your game? That’s the question you need to ask when designing viral features.
Above is the most commonly used formula for virality. Player starts building a house but in order to finish the house player needs few unique items. At this point player knows that getting these items require several play session and a lot of grinding. Player can skip the grinding simply by asking friends to gift these items. A third option is to skip the grinding and skip the waiting for a friends’ gifts to arrive and just pay to proceed.
Step 3: Collaborate & Compete
This step is basically tied to the previous step as there’s no collaboration and competition if there’s nobody to collaborate and compete with.
Most important thing to keep in mind is that collaboration should take place in an area of the game where players can easily show off their progress. Important is also that both players should benefit from collaboration.
For example, FrontierVille encourages players to help clear trees from their friends Homestead and rewards both players with coins and experience points. Note, the time spent clearing trees is disproportionally reward because Zynga is encouraging players to visit their friends Homesteads.
The greater the incentive to help their friends the more often they’ll visit their friends, and the more often they visit the more often they will compare their progress to that of their friends.
Step 4: Spend to Save
When players are regularly comparing their progress to the progress of their friends the incentive to use money is progressing faster than your friends.
Incentivizing players to spend is achieved by balancing the game economy so that the after a fast start players’ progress quickly slows down. And once the progress is slowed down you offer players various methods to get ahead and achieve that next big step… over and over again…（source：deconstructoroffun）