What Do Social Gamers Really Pay For?June 26th, 2012 at 3:26 pm by Ereika
The new shift away from Facebook Credits to a transparent payment platform utilizing existing world currency brings up an interesting question: What are social gamers really paying for when they make credit purchases inside a game? Without a solid answer this question, monetization efforts – whether through hard currency or direct purchases – are destined to be a struggle at best.
Social Gamers Pay for Experiences
Premium items often do well in social games because they add something unique to the gameplay. Power-ups, stronger weapons, better armor, all of these allow the player to attain greater rewards within the game and to go further with their in-game experiences. When monetizing items of this type, social game developers need to consider:
- Where are the areas of my game where players are most likely to experience defeat?
- How can we correlate greater success in these areas to premium items in the game?
- How can we maintain the challenge of these areas that will allow free users to succeed at a lower rate/pace, while giving monetized players a more successful and satisfying experience that is not too easy? (i.e. game balance)
Social Gamers Pay for Completion
As the success of games like Farmville can attest, social gamers will very often pay for in-game items that provide completion or fulfillment in a gaming experience. Instant “grow” items, items that add speed boosts, and premium limited-use items all fall into this category. When monetizing items of this type, social game developers need to consider:
- How are actions and levels limited in game, and where are these limitations most greatly felt?
- How do premium items directly eliminate these constraints, without limiting the playability of the game? (i.e. game balance)
- For limited-use items, developers need to consider the balance between the power of the effect of the item, and the number of times the item can be used.
Social Gamers Pay for Status
All social gamers play for a certain amount of status, regardless of the actual itemization. This may be tied to personal status and satisfaction with leveling up and completing areas of the game, or it may be tied to leaderboards and competing with friends over the net. The way premium items are implemented in a social game directly affects the amount of status users can obtain in game. This is one factor that needs to be considered separately from other questions as well as in a holistic way in order to maintain proper game balance.
Keeping these three factors in mind – experiences, completion, and status – as you plan your monetization strategies can help you to appeal to the motivations of players within your social game.