Thursday, August 22, 2013

Casual Connect 2013: Inside the Saga Series

Inside the Saga Series (by Jong Woo, VP Business Development, King)
·         Summary: King’s hit games follow a three-step process (launch a short Flash game on the web portal, port to Facebook with social and monetization features, and build a mobile version with cross-platform synchronization). Deliver snackable, satisfying, social experiences where players are rewarded for winning.
·         King follows a 3 step process to find their hit games
1.     They have a small team of 3 developers who build about one new game a month and put it on, their online portal. They track analytics and play times to see which of these small Flash games have the highest potential. This process allows them to fail faster and cheaply.
2.     The best games on their portal become candidates to be "saga-fied." This is when they add social, viral, monetization, and retention hooks into the games and put it up on Facebook. Facebook allows them to do heavy A/B testing and fine tune the game.
3.     The best performing Facebook games are brought over to mobile. Mobile versions are built natively (not ported over) and they focus heavily on cross-platform synchronization.
·         They have four pillars that guide their design decisions. Their motto is "the player is king" and they're all about optimizing the player experience.
1.     "Winning is the name of the game." King entered the social space pretty late and they intentionally strayed away from making resource management games that have no win conditions. They make sure their games always have clear and concrete goals, immediate feedback for winning or losing, and great rewards when you do win. They adopted the coin-op arcade framework, where you enter a quarter and play as long as you can survive. Their games have a lives system, in which you only stop playing if you lose. This is a "merit-based" system that rewards players positively for their skills.
2.     Rethinking the "social" in social games. Many social games treat your friends as resources, where you receive benefits for having more friends. King focuses on quality of friends, rather than quantity. When you see your friends on the map and leaderboards, this is an inherently social system that drives players to continue playing to stay competitive with their friends.
3.     Create snackable and satisfying experiences. The game should provide fun and meaningful interactions in a 3 minute session, as well as 3 hour sessions. It's unlike a slow sim, where you login for 3 minutes, and all you end up doing is buying something and placing it... then waiting 15 minutes to make another interaction. With Candy Crush, when you login for 3 minutes, you are delivered a complete satisfying game experience.
4.     Play where ever and whenever. King games provide a cross-platform experience with synchronized progress. The company invested heavily in the tech infrastructure that allows this and it was well worth it.

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