Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Casual Connect 2013: The Power and Influence of Social Fandom in Gaming

by Jennifer Betka, SVP Marketing, and Nick Williams, Marketing Research Director, Wikia
·         Wikia is where fans and brands join forces. Wikia knows pop culture and entertainment covering movies, books, comics, and games. Their platform offers collaboration and influence, and is where super fans go to create content.
·         The Wikia Activity Monitor tracks how strong the communities are. Social and mobile make up 36% of the game communities, and these fandoms are growing rapidly.
·         Runescape is a casual game going strong after 12 years. A game’s lasting power is in direct relation to the strength of the community behind it.
·         What fuels fandom? Easy yet challenging gameplay, just enough social features, accessible, available, complex and dynamic mechanics that are constantly changing, a healthy addiction, and a good theme. The most popular themes are fantasy and pets.
·         There’s a huge demand for fans and developers to connect. Developers on Wikia can be authenticated and can collaborate with fans through The Lab program.
·         Developers should not try to build their community on Wikia from the ground up. The best communities are built organically.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Casual Connect 2013: How to Monetize Emotions in Free-to-Play Games

by Julia Palatovska, Business Development Director, and Tatiana Timoshenko, Director of Licensing, G5 Entertainment
·         Summary: The core emotions to monetize are impatience, curiosity, comfort, and ambition. Don’t force players to pay, but make them want to pay.
·         Impatience – Players don’t want to wait. Allow them to pay to boost things up, expand their session time, or to skip grinding.
·         Curiosity – Announce new content ahead of time and have locked content that players can pay for.
·         Comfort – Pay to overcome restrictions, get tools for easier progression, and get protection from disasters.
·         Ambition – Pay to overtake friends on the leaderboards, have the best items, and own awesome things. Always compare players to their friends.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Casual Connect 2013: Keeping Your Development Team Motivated to Run the Free-to-Play Marathon

by Guy Bendov, CEO, Sidekick Games
·         Think about development in two phases, pre-launch and post-launch. In other words, it’s assumptions and realities.
·         The unknowns of moving into the free-to-play space are scary. Not everyone can handle it.
·         Advice – lose ridigness, locate the nimble and detail-oriented, create a small team with external help, focus on the core features and postpone the others, the team needs to support quick iterations
·         Gratifying for the team – short bursts, playable deliverables, everyone should get exposures to the numbers
·         Explore but don’t lose the end goal. Write a game brief with the main features, and then explore the game with everyone involved.
·         A free-to-play game is like running an online shop. You need marketing, sales, and in-store updates with item management, promotions, pricing, and placement.
·         Communicate with players often and have the entire team communicate with them. Players are the guiding angels and the numbers they generate are key. Print out all the numbers and expose it to the team by pasting it near the team area.
·         Tips – allow the team to change game parameters online without pushing content updates, leave time for third party service integration, be quick to respond to failures, don’t lose yourself
·         Making a free-to-play game is like what Ray Bradbury said about love and business. “First you jump off the cliff and you build your wings on the way down.”

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Casual Connect 2013: Real-Time Performance at a Massive Scale

by Francois Orsini, VP of Platform Engineering and Chief Architect, Machine Zone
·         Game of War offers real-time gameplay and translation at a massive scale. Their servers have worldwide reach, no language barriers, 5 million to 40 million DAU, 100k to 500k concurrent users, cross platform, and are always on 24/7. Their games offer real-time chat with translations, events with massive parallel broadcasting and auto-subscription model, push notifications, and high availability. Their infrastructure has big scale architecture, is fully distributed and redundant, is cluster native with auto failover, and is cloud aware.
·         Their secret sauce it to know your subject and use the right tools. Pick proven software that are open-sourced. They profile everything and benchmark.
·         Ingredients include…
o    Erlang – a hidden jewel, open-sourced in 1998, supports distributed, fault-tolerant, soft real-time for non-stop apps, concurrent with no locks, hot swapping of code
o    MySQL – proven technology, logical shards and partitions
o    Redis – works with HaProxy/Heartbeat
·         Other tools to thing about – NoSQL (Cassandra, RIAK, Couchbase), MariaDB, PostgreSQL, RDBMS, Continuent Tungsten

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Casual Connect 2013: The Perfect Store: Getting Users to the In-Game Store and Keeping Them There

by Yaniv Nizan, CEO & Co-founder, SOOMLA
·         SOOMLA offers developers the ability to create beautiful stores by providing a template and wizard. It supports Unity, Cocos2D, and native platforms. It is network connected and helps to optimize revenue.
·         The perfect store is a core part of the game, keeps users engages for long periods, and give users reasons to come back. Create an everyday shopping experience where users have to go in the store to complete the story. Give affordable items that enhance gameplay and give an immediate return on investment.
·         Store location is very important. Have the store come up after every level or session or when winning events. Make sure the store is always one step away.
·         Sell the value of your items. Visualize the attributes of the items, offer easy comparison, give many combinations, and prompt with “are you sure?”
·         Include some mystery. Have players unlock items, show silhouettes, and give surprise boxes. The store needs to evolve over time and not all options should be available from the start.
·         Keep it fresh. Unlock items with levels and upgrades, have seasonal items, and limited edition items.
·         Waiting mechanics work. Include fuel/energy/lives systems that take time to replenish. Include a bit of waiting in the store as well.
·         My takeways – Use short-term timers to keep players playing. When a player purchases an item, the item isn’t delivered until 5 minutes later. This will drive the player to play one more game while he waits for his item to arrive.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Casual Connect 2013: Tune Your Designer/Developer Workflow

by Tom Krcha, Gaming Evangelist, Adobe Systems
·         Illustrator includes the new drawscript functionality, which converts your shapes to code.
·         Brackets is an open-source code editor that implements extremely well with Adobe products.
·         CreateJS is a HTML5 game engine backed by Adobe. CreateJS drawscripts are much more condensed and much of it is converted into binary code.
·         SVG is very powerful but has huge specification around it. You need to implement a rendering engine to use SVG to its full effect.
·         OpenFrameworks is a C++ engine that exports to Flash.
·         DragonBones is an open-source 2D skeleton animation solution that will be included in new versions of Flash. It will generate textures and XML automatically from time animations. It allows you to switch bones and sheets, allowing for real-time costume changes.
·         Flash can generate spritesheets from a timeline animation. It can also export animations to HTML5 and keep it in vectors.
·         New versions of Photoshop will allow you to generate all web assets, easily exporting all layers/assets automatically. The exportation is also completely live and real-time, so any additional changes will automatically update the files.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Casual Connect 2013: Mobile Monetization Insights from Amazon

by Jason Chein, Director, Amazon Game Circle
·         Game Circle is a service from Amazon that provides achievements, leaderboards, and cloud save.
·         Amazon did a cohort analysis study, comparing the top 50 grossing games against the others. They found that the top 50 have higher session length per user and higher average selling prices, which lead to their higher revenue. The differences were in engagement, timeshare, and price ranges.
·         Customers who stay longer are willing to spend more. It’s about building relationships…
o    Engage customers early. 18% of customer’s value is realized on day 1.
o    Keep them in the game. 44% of repeat purchases happen within one hour after their first purchase.
o    Give them a reason to come back. 62% of revenue happens after day 7 and 35% after day 30.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Casual Connect 2013: Transmedia: Taking Game I.P. to Hollywood and Beyond

by Scott Faye, Content Producer, Depth Entertainment
·         The social, mobile, and digital spaces have leveled the playing field. Hollywood studios and networks are no longer the gatekeepers of creative content development.
·         Major studios need content, as seen when Disney bought Playdom and when WB bought Kabam. They need business and games offer broad-based entertainment I.P. Games should move into the Hollywood space with greater quality control as it provides potent I.P. creation and ancillary creative development. Games are a viable 360 degree injection medium.
·         Rovio made 57% of its revenue from Angry Birds merchandising rather than games. They are also releasing a cartoon and an animated movie.
·         Other media platforms to move into are digital comics, print, web series, augmented reality, merchandising, music, film, and television.
·         Get a unique experienced I.P. development team and create an I.P. bible with your storyverse. The bible should have the key pillars that all projects will embody, including characters, world history, timelines, mythology, and the morality fulcrum.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Casual Connect 2013: Free-to-Play 2013 Year in Review

Abstract: This talk covers the 6 trends that came out of free-to-play games in 2013 including the solidification of social and mobile markets, rise of the mid-core, King’s dominance, casino games, endless runners, and that nobody knows anything.
·         Speakers include Dave Rohrl (VP of Game Production, Funsockets), Juan Gril (Studio Director, Joju Games), and Steve Meretzky (Former VP of Game Design, Playdom).
·         Trend #1 – Facebook and mobile leaderboards
o    Top developers on each platform mostly carry over between years. Zynga, King, and Wooga were top of the Facebook chain in the last two years.
o    Lessons – it’s very tough to break into Facebook and the platform solidified fast, mobile is more open but it’s getting harder
·         Trend #2 – Rise of the mid-core
o    Clash of ClansModern War, and Kingdom Age have proven that more men are playing mobile games. Supercell and Kabam have built businesses off this premise.
o    These games have lots of social aspects like guilds, collection aspects, and high production costs (ie. Injustice and Real Racing).
o    Lessons – men play casual games, combat and collection mechanics are successful, production values are rising very fast
·         Trend #3 – King
o    King started their saga series with Puzzle Saga and Bubble Saga. They became successful with Bubble Witch Saga andCandy Crush Saga, and has since followed with Mahjongg Saga, Pyramid Solitaire Saga, HoopDeLoop Saga, Pet Rescue Saga, Papa Bear Saga, and Farm Hero Saga.
o    When Candy Crush Saga came to mobile, it launched a true cultural phenomenon like other many hits in the past such asTetris, Pacman, Guitar Hero, Farmvile, Angry Birds, and Clash of Clans.
o    Lessons – strategy matters, persistence matters, quality matters
·         Trend #4 – Chipping in
o    Casino games remain dominant. Tables are social and offer multiplayer.
o    The pros of casino games are reduced design risk, reduced learning curves, and an understood monetization model. The cons are that it’s easy to replicate the mechanics, players resist game variants and innovation, and development requires premium math skills to maintain a stable economy. The market is also saturated with big name players like Big Fish, Zynga, and GSN.
o    Lessons – casino games offer great monetization, it’s a crowded field, legalized online gambling will expand the market
·         Trend #5 – Endless runners
o    Endless runners have had successful iterations since its introduction with CanabaltJetpack Joyride added an alternative movement to simple jumping and missions, Temple Run added the third dimension along with tilting and sliding, Subway Surfers added customization features, Despicable Me: Minion Rush added stages and boss fights, and Running With Friends added asynchronous multiplayer. There’s still plenty of room to explore for the genre.
o    Lessons – simple and addictive, missions and alternative actions are key, production values are rising
·         Trend #6 – Nobody knows anything
o    A common myth was that “word games are dead,” but Words With Friends, Spelltower, and wurdle have become big hits.
o    “Dragons are for core gamers,” but Dragonvale and Puzzles & Dragons have disproved that myth.
o    “Zynga will always be #1,” but King has surpassed its dominance.
o    “Hidden object games don’t work on Facebook” but Gardens of Time changed the paradigm. The new mantra became “Hidden object games are the biggest thing on Facebook” and a wave of clones came out, all failing one after the other. The mantra went back to “hidden object games don’t work on Facebook” and now Criminal Case came out and proved that wrong yet again.
o    “Casual players want easy fun,” but Candy Crush Saga is an extremely difficult game.
o    Lessons – metrics only help you sand off the rough edges

Monday, September 16, 2013

Casual Connect 2013: Building Your Game with Google Play

by Bob Meese, Business Development, and Greg Hartrell, Lead Product Manager, Google
·         75% of Android users are playing games. Google Play Game Services offer achievements, leaderboards, cloud saves, and real-time multiplayer. Achievements drive engagement with meta goals, leaderboards encourage competition and engagement, cloud saves allow players to continue their sessions across platforms (Android, iOS, Web), and real-time multiplayer supports 4-player peer-to-peer simultaneous matchmaking and direct to downloads for those who don’t own the app.
·         Google Play Game Services is an Android app that provides one hub for all Android gaming. Players can see games and people, track progress, and discover new games. The SDK can be implemented quickly and it drives user engagement and acquisition. Games that have implemented the SDK have received 40% increase in day 7 retention, 20% increase in play sessions per user per day, and 10% install uplift per day.
·         Get started at and

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Casual Connect 2013: Navigating Different Devices: How to Make Successful Cross-Platform Games

moderated by Neal Sinno, SVP of Casual & Mobile Games, Arkadium
·         Panelists include Mathieu Nouzareth (CEO and Co-founder, FreshPlanet Inc.), Carl Callewaert (Evangelist, Unity), Lisa Paulson (VP Business Development, A&E), and Rob Sandberg (Sr. Producer, Reliance Entertainment Digital)
·         A&E goes where the product makes sense, either on Facebook or mobile. All their games are outsourced and they have a lot of level content. A&E’s audience is mostly Midwesterners and Southerners who are less tech savvy than the coasters, so they do a lot of marketing pushes on Facebook and more mainstream platforms.
·         FreshPlanet used Adobe Air to launch SongPop on multiple platforms, which allowed them to reach critical mass easier.
·         Unity’s slogan is to make once and deploy anywhere. It’s good to hire game designers who have worked on different platforms.
·         Try to keep social and mobile the same game experience, and only change the UI. Different devices should deliver the same experience, like localization, but tune the messaging to the audience.
·         One problem nowadays is that games have to implement so many SDKs. SongPop has 15 SDKs, which are all constantly changing and updating. It’s frustrating when the game is nearing release and an SDK updates, requiring more work and increasing the filesizes.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Casual Connect 2013: The Merits of Multiplayer

by Rik Haandrikman, Director of Business Development, GamePoint
·         Rik defines a multiplayer game as any game in which your interactions with other players is a core part of the gameplay. Some examples of casual multiplayer games are Zynga Poker, Clash of Clans, and 8 Ball Pool, and core games are World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, and League of Legends.
·         The pros of multiplayer are great retention (it may have poor day 1 retention, but incredibly high retention for anyone who sticks around afterwards), built-in discoverability through word of mouth, and endless content through users.
·         The cons of multiplayer are that users are content (one player’s bad actions can affect all players’ satisfaction), gaining critical mass is hard (especially with synchronous multiplayer), and multiplayer isn’t the norm (users need to be educated).

Friday, September 13, 2013

Casual Connect 2013: Grow Big, Think Small, Unleash Your Game’s Customer Acquisition Potential

by Mitchell Weisman, Founder & CEO, LifeStreet Media
·         Summary: Sometimes the little things are the big things. The three things to keep in mind when dealing with high volume customer acquisition is that averages lie, real-time bidding is huge, and perpetual listing has come of age.
·         Averages lie. Let’s say you have a $1 average group and a $10 average group, which puts the total LTV average at $5.50. So you pay $3 for acquisition and find out that you don’t even get the high value users. You have to think smaller. Break the two groups into cohorts and buy the user groups separately. Pay $0.80 for the first group and $8 for the second group.
·         Real-time bidding is huge. You used to have to buy one price for all impressions, but now you can pay different prices for each impression.
·         Perpetual, automated testing is the way to go. Static, manual testing is no longer acceptable. You can use the RevJet platform for perpetual high velocity testing and optimization. This increases value of each impression and lifts RPM by 30%-100% or more.
·         Do a glance test (does the user quickly glance at your ad), then do a dwell test (does the user actually stare at the ad), then make a call to action. Animations can easily get a glance and strangeness of an ad can get dwells.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Casual Connect 2013: The Four Most Important Emotions for Free-to-Play Casual Games

by Nicole Lazzaro, Founder & President, XEODesign
·         Summary: The four key emotions are fiero, curiosity, amusement, and desire. You can tap into these emotions by making the store fun to explore, allowing for social play, making items feel special, and making purchasing a part of the play experience.
·         You can increase purchasing with emotions from play. Nicole has a degree in psychology from Stanford and deals with play experience consulting.
·         What’s working now is to have engagement loops that drive purchasing. Multiple loops increase the number of engagement points.
·         Emotions help us focus, remember, decide, perform, and learn. The four key emotions are fiero, curiosity, amusement, and desire. They map to the four main actions… compete, explore, socialize, and collect.
·         Curiosity (easy fun) – encourage exploration of the store, tell story with descriptions, make sure you get the player to click on the items to read the descriptions
·         Fiero (hard fun) – have goals and obstacles that require strategy to overcome, give opportunity to compete and win, give challenge and mystery, make players earn the right to buy something from the store, gamify the store so that you buy items to unlock other items for purchasing, have missions that require shopping to get people in the habit, Tiny Tower’s shop for currency exchange is a tiny game itself and players feel smart for understanding the conversion rate strategy
·         Amusement (people fun) – include communication, have cooperation or competition, encourage friendship and social bonds, employ silliness to build trust (ie. Tiny Tower’s costume shop), have social comparison with friends using leaderboards or map progression, have funny things because people will share amusing things
·         Desire (serious fun) – increase the perception of value, give tactile impressions of worth (by giving items good graphics and satisfying audio)
·         Takeaways – make the store fun using amusing stories, allow players to play to progress (as well as pay), allow customization, show players that you care by being generous, make purchasing part of the play experience.
My takeaways – Her breakdown of the four emotions map directly to Richard Bartle’s test of gamer psychology. There are killers (hard fun and fiero), achievers (serious fun and desire), explorers (easy fun and curiosity), and socializers (people fun and amusement). 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Casual Connect 2013: Monetization Toolkit: Tuning Game Design Using Analytics

by Roxanne Gibert, Product Manager of User Acquisition, DeNA
·         The key LTV drivers are monetization, retention, engagement, virality, and re-engagement. Set your metric targets against industry benchmarks and internal KPIs.
·         The KPIs are user acquisition (LTV by source, funnels), monetization (virtual goods, exchange rates, conversion points), engagement (user flow, progression), and retention (level gates, event completion).
·         Look at level progression of users who installed in the last 24 hours and look at DAU separated by levels.
·         A/B test with virtual goods (price points, conversion points), leveling curve (payouts, level gates), and exchange rates (hard currency to soft). Be careful of metric cannibalization (new features, promotions, events) and always have a hypothesis (expected results, targeted users, change to LTVs).
·         Have cohorts of reasonable sizes (10 to 20 thousand people). If you have a smaller audience, have cohorts of at least 1000 people.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Casual Connect 2013: Incorporating Player Feedback in the Game Design Process

by Eric Cantini, CEO, Sunstorm Games
·         Abstract: This talk covers how to best run playtests with kids and offer other forms of collecting feedback from players.
·         Sunstorm Games was founded in 2009 and has published over 80 titles like FairFood Maker and My School Dance. They have 40 employees and focus on games for 11-13 year old girls.
·         There are two main strategies for collecting player feedback: analytical data and surveys. Get gameplay analytics via Kontagent or other similar platforms, and feedback through usability studies.
·         Sunstorm has one resource dedicated to full-time analytic implementation. QA are also required to become familiar with sophisticated reporting. Have a platform able to cleanse data, protect against fraud, and do occasional de-duplication.
·         Market performers are not universal. Just because an ad works overseas does not mean it works in the US, so test for each market.
·         Usability studies are one-on-one lab sessions with an observer watching and webcams pointed at the player’s face and the player’s hands. Girls tend to blame themselves for losing and don’t say that the game is too hard or if the game is broken. It’s important for the observer to ask the right questions. Don’t ask if the game is fun, since kids will always try to give you the pleasing answer. Also, having a female observer works more effectively, since girls are more comfortable with other females and boys are used to having a female teacher figure.
·         Do QA via crowdsourced testing such as uTesting. There are often a lot of QA feedback about bugs and crashes, and a few usability and gameplay mechanics feedback.
·         Run focus groups with product plan reviews for ideation and validation, and game design discussions.
·         Create player game design teams, who meet for a couple of sessions over the course of a few months. Start with a kickoff session, run several round table discussions, and end with a launch party.
·         Create a virtual player panel of 1000+ players who you can e-mail game design questions to and receive feedback. This is great to find favorite art styles, best name for the game, popular clothing, etc.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Casual Connect 2013: Growing a Hardcore Game on Facebook

by Leonard Franel, Head of Business Development, Plarium
·         Plarium started with casino games on social networks and casual games, then moved into the hardcore business with Total Domination and Stormfall Age of War.
·         Plarium has 25 employees dedicated to user acquisition and 51 in supporting departments (art, development, business).
·         Perfect Facebook integration with Open Graph, page posts, and strong paid user targeting. Open Graph stories on achievements were the most successful and lead to 75% increase in clickthroughs.
·         CPIs are rising based on platform, genre, and game’s age. It’s important to monetize players better and focus on increasing LTV. Improve monetization through PvP elements, holiday promotions, boosts (troop revivals), and permanent items (immortal guardians, legendary heroes).

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Casual Connect 2013: From the Mouths of Babes: Re-learning How to Design a Game By Watching Kids Play

by Kelly Fennig, Producer, Slant Six Games
·         Summary: When making a game for kids, test with kids often. Don’t make assumptions and don’t listen to the parent’s advice. Kids like edgy characters, slightly older characters, game mechanics that involve tapping on moving objects, and watching AI play.
·         Kelly worked on Max’s Pirate Planet – A Board Game Adventure, a game similar to Mario Party for children aged 5-8. The company consulted Dr. David Barner who provided help with child psychology.
·         Craft questions carefully. With characters, they made a lot of designs and asked kids, “Who would you want to play with at recess? Who has the best toys? Who would be your best friend?” Don’t ask negative questions (ie. who doesn’t…) and never follow up questions with “Why?” because kids usually cannot articulate their reasons.
·         Create characters that are 2-3 years older than the kids you’re targeting. This gives them a relatable older sibling that they can aspire to become soon. Don’t make the characters too young because kids are turned off by “baby games.”
·         Kids like edgier characters. The most popular character designs were those with mean eyebrows, tears on clothing, and “badass” attitude. Parents will say that these characters are too mean for their children, but studies prove that parents don’t know their own kids. Edgy characters appeal to both boys and girls. It’s the Angry Birds phenomenon; the birds are angry for a reason.
·         How something is said, or not said, is more important than the words that are said. Kids may say things just to please the person asking, but they are completely honest with their body language. Don’t ask if they like something or if they think it’s fun; it’s more important to watch the way they play.
·         With mini-games, they used intelligent design, where form follows function. Instead of prototyping, they tested using other games, specifically The Crazy Test on iPad. They only verbally explained the goals and allowed the kids to continue playing until they themselves choose to stop. They watched body language to determine the games that were the most intuitive and popular.
·         The top 8 ranked mechanics among kids and adults became mini-games. Tapping and dragging multiple moving objects going towards a center target became the tentacle swiping game, tapping on numerous random moving objects on the screen became the bat whacking game, tapping on multiple predictably moving objects became the spider smacking game, dragging through a randomly generated maze became the whaling sailing game, tap and flick on a moving object became the final end game, random lottery became a pick-a-card game, swiping in a random direction very quickly in a time-limited fashion became the sword duels, and whack-a-mole became the cannon duels.
·         A big decision was whether to allow players to watch the AI perform their turns. Adults claimed that kids would be bored waiting for the AI to play and requested an option to skip the animations. In reality, kids are completely engaged with the AI. Their eyes were glued to the screen, watching what their opponents were doing. Adults were the impatient players.
·         Don’t put in negative turns (where nothing happens) or the players would get frustrated. Players were given options for every turn so they always had something to do. There was no negative turns unless by choice. They can draw a card, teleport, look for treasure, or duel another player.
·         There are distinct play patterns not based on culture or gender; it was solely based on age. The 5 year olds were explorers who were just happy to be playing and moved around aimlessly. The 6 year olds were the treasure seekers and would much rather have someone else play the mini-games for them. The 7 year olds were the well-rounded players, who would help out younger players and would sometimes duel, but much rather keep their treasures and cards. The 8 year olds were duelers, but they weren’t very confrontational and would not duel someone who doesn’t want to duel back. The 9 year olds were the tactical players who took advantage of every situation that were there.
·         Lessons – shape early and shape often, over 60% of 8 year olds don’t read even if they know how to read, minimize text to short actionable sentences, don’t make games for younger audiences because kids don’t want to play “baby games,” ignore the reviewers because they’ll throw out a lot of gameplay assumptions that are simple wrong when tested

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Casual Connect 2013: How to Design and Operate a Successful Live Event in Mobile/Social Games

by Chris Plummer, Head of Ideation and New Development Strategy, DeNA
·         Abstract: This talk covers the essential features of running a successful Raid Boss event.
·         Events are not a sale, not a pushing of new content, not just for whales, and not just for an ARPDAU spike. Credible events add something special to the game.
·         Events will dramatically inflect game performance week to week. It doubles or triples engagement day after day, and can 4x – 10x your daily revenue.
·         Common event frameworks include solo progression, PvP, and the raid boss.
·         Event harness essentials – start and end, changes the rules of the game, introduces a new mode, unique scoring system and currencies from the main game, rewards systems that are more rewarding than normal play, content tools, promotion and description UI, KPI analytics, and event-specific affinity.
·         Event designer’s checklist – clear premise (episodic content), exclusive content and UX design, clear progression design, KPI targets, base rewards for everyone that are very generous but not overkill, elite rewards for the whales, and all references players would need.
·         Raid Boss framework – unique energy to power your attack on a raid boss, ability to buy more battle energy, call for help, and earn tickets to redeem rewards (this gets people going to the store as a habit, where they’ll run into other items they want to buy). Consumables are not valuable, so give people something they’ll desire such as a permanent upgrade or cards.
·         Raid Boss features – invasion premise, unique instance (we group together to attack the boss), event-specific battle energy, call for help, victory rewards (give stuff away for what players did, who discovered the boss, who did the most damage, who did the most healing, who did the killing blow, etc.), limited lifespan, boss progress (becomes harder to find and harder to defeat), rewards that are cumulative across raids, leaderboard rewards (give crazy awesome rewards for the top 100), pay for advantage/affinity that are specific to that boss (and no longer work after the raid is over).
·         Raid Boss KPIs – participation rate, daily EP totals by engagement cohorts, revenue, DAU, win/loss ratios for the boss, number of help requests and response rate.
·         Tips – tune event so that high users finish the event and light users get through about one-third of it. All players should get something cool so it drives participation rates. Tune the events daily, make the rewards worth it, and tune the progression pace. Tune supply of energy first and rewards engagement before tuning the boss difficulty. Be very careful about tuning boss difficulty because the entire event is based around it, so tune everything else first. Offer insanely powerful rewards for top leaderboard positions.