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How to Price Your Virtual Currency (Dataset Across 57 Social Games, SNS and MMO/Virtual Worlds)

    One of the key early decisions to game design or creating a virtual currency platform is designing the price and exchange rate of virtual currency. Unfortunately after it’s been released, it’s also one of the most difficult to change, because the change impacts the userbase and economy of the system as a whole. So if you’re starting out, how do you decide how to price your virtual currency? Three Types of Virtual Currency To answer this question, I started by looking across a broad swath of popular social games, social networks, and some MMOs and virtual worlds. Currency is typically used… Read More »How to Price Your Virtual Currency (Dataset Across 57 Social Games, SNS and MMO/Virtual Worlds)

    Roundup: Ongoing Gamification Debate

      Gamification as a buzz word seems to be picking up steam and there’s a lot of conversations going on about the topic these days. After my recent post defining gamification and giving examples of it, I’ve pulled together a roundup and quick summary of the topics. To start off, the web can’t seem to decide whether or not gamification is a real word. Wikipedia deleted the word from its index and since then it’s reappeared again. There also seems to be a disagreement about whether it’s spelled gamification vs. gameification, and it looks like a pretty even heat. Trying to… Read More »Roundup: Ongoing Gamification Debate

      What is Gamification and Real World Examples of It

        What Is Gamification? Gamification is a new vocabulary word lately, and there’s even a summit about it. What is the definition of gamification? The word gamification is used to describe companies integrating game mechanics into their non-gaming product or service to drive user engagement. These companies are “gamifying” their products and services by adding light game mechanics on top of them. What does that actually look like? While the term is relatively new, the tactics aren’t and have already been in play for quite some time. Here are some examples of gamification in action. Real World Examples of Gamification Collecting… Read More »What is Gamification and Real World Examples of It

        Quick Notes from Smartphone Games Summit — Android, Social, Freemium and More

          I stopped by the Smartphone Games Summit today, and thought I’d post a few notes. Great job to Charles Hudson and mediabistro for another great event. One of the interesting sessions in the morning was a session called Smartphone Game Trends, presented by Peter Farago, VP of Marketing for Flurry. Smartphone Game Trends Consumers are changing in their behavior from portable games (DS) to iPhone On iPhone, 1% of games are on iPhone (in a pie with portable and console) but they claim 5% of revenue share. Issues with Android Install base for Android is almost equal to iPhone, but… Read More »Quick Notes from Smartphone Games Summit — Android, Social, Freemium and More

          How Games Fulfill Maslow’s Hierarchy

            It struck me the other day how well Maslow’s hierarchy of needs maps directly to many social game mechanics. Maslow’s hierarchy was introduced in the 1940’s as a concept that people are motivated to satisfy basic needs before they build up to other needs. The lower level of the pyramid is built off of hygiene needs, such as health, food, water and sleep. After those conditions are satisfied, people’s needs progress up the five levels to emphasize psychological and social needs. Levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy Self-actualizing needs — fulfillment of your true potential Esteem needs — personal worth, achievement, social recognition Social needs — belonging, love,… Read More »How Games Fulfill Maslow’s Hierarchy

            Three smart ways Frontierville executes on game mechanics

              The entire company has been playing Zynga’s Frontierville for the last few weeks as a group observation on social games. I’m amused (and a little embarrassed?) to admit that I’m one of the few people I know in the games industry that actually enjoys playing these games. However, as penance for an excessive amount of time wasted, I’ve decided to blog about some of the interesting things that they are doing to make the game effective. 😉 1. An !Explosion! of Rewards (Achievement) After harvesting crops or feeding hungry animals, Frontierville really emphasizes the reward. Huge piles of coins, food and collectible… Read More »Three smart ways Frontierville executes on game mechanics

              GDC10 Notes: The Evolution of Habbo Hotel’s Virtual Economy

                Session Title: The Evolution of Habbo Hotel’s Virtual Economy by Sulka Haro (Lead Designer, Sulake) Overview of Habbo Hotel Age range is 12–17, with $74 million in revenue Offices in 13 countries They maintain 16 instances = 16 separate virtual economies 10 years old this year Sulka describes the 6 phases of change that the Habbo Hotel’s Virtual Economy has gone through No currencies Emergent currencies Paid currency Tradable paid currencies Dual currencies “Official” secondary market Phase 1: No Currencies When the game started, there wasn’t an in-game currency and players would just text-message to buy a chair. This made… Read More »GDC10 Notes: The Evolution of Habbo Hotel’s Virtual Economy

                GDC10 Notes: Sid Meier on Why Everything You Know is Wrong

                  Friday morning’s keynote was from none other than Sid Meier himself, co-founder of Firaxis and the creator of the Civ series. Session Title: The Psychology of Game Design (Everything You Know Is Wrong) from Sid Meier Meier began his talk with the assertion that gameplay is primarily a psychological experience and player psychology is primarily based on egomania, paranoia, delusion and self-destructive behavior. If you like playing the Civ games, it’s because you love being a god-king and controlling everything, therefore you are an egomanic. However, game play doesn’t map to real life. He described the Winner Paradox, in the… Read More »GDC10 Notes: Sid Meier on Why Everything You Know is Wrong

                  GDC10 Notes: Achievements Considered Harmful?

                    Last week I sat through a couple sessions at GDC10 — excellent talks all around. Here’s a quick write-up of my notes part 1, but more detailed coverage also available here. Session Title: Achievements Considered Harmful — Chris Hecker Hecker classifies achievements as tangible — cash, gold star, trophy verbal — praise symbolic — achievements like on Xbox And also breaks them down on a variety of criteria expected vs unexpected informational (objective feedback) vs controlling (opinionated feedback) task contingent vs engagement contingent vs performance contingent free choice vs self-reported dull vs interesting transitory vs long-lasting endogenous vs exogenous tangible, expected, contingent reward situations reduce free choice intrinsic motivations verbal,… Read More »GDC10 Notes: Achievements Considered Harmful?