Archive for April 2010

Ugly Viral vs. Pretty Viral

April 16, 2010

Recently I encountered yet another app on Facebook that required me to “become a fan” and install the app before I could even see what it was, much less whether I liked it enough to become a real fan.

Sorry, no.

That’s not viral except in the meanest, ugliest sense.  Like Ebola.  I saw a friend of mine — a trusted source of information — who ostensibly was a fan of this app.  So I clicked on it.  But when I saw the app’s reputation-extortion scheme, I surfed away, and wondered a bit about my friend.

This is only the most recent smarmy way that app developers have tried to extract virality from their users.  There are good ways and not so good ways to do this.  Why do developers persist in using techniques that fall into the doing “every horrible thing” category?  Isn’t there a better way to go about acquiring customers by social means?

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How to make a cool $2MM+ with a sparkle pony

April 15, 2010

This morning Blizzard announced the online sale of a new “celestial steed” for use in WoW.    These mounts cost $25 (on top of the retail price plus $15 monthly subscription).  So in a world of free games and virtual items selling for a dollar or two, how popular could a $25 sparkly flying pony be?

Well, the queue for their purchase was at least up to over 91,000 people waiting in the queue.  When I took a screen shot, it had fallen to “only” about 85,000.

90,000 X $25 = $2,250,000.

In one day.  From one item.  In a game that isn’t free to play anyway. (more…)

The (Psychological) Development of “Social” Games

April 1, 2010

At GDC this year I saw a slide in a talk that referenced different developmental styles of play (my notes are sadly unclear as to whose talk this was — if you know, please let me know!).  This has had me thinking about the developmental stages of social games.  Not the software development, but the evolution of the styles of gameplay we put in them as we learn more about creating them.

It should be clear to anyone watching this space that game developers are learning as fast as they can about how to create new gameplay in online (putatively) social games; we know a lot less than we still don’t know.  As such, it’s very interesting to me how closely the emergence of types of gameplay in popular social games is following the path of individual psychological development of play — and what this may tell us about the future of the design of social games.   (more…)

Things of Beauty: Osmos and Hemisphere’s Slides

April 1, 2010

At GDC, one of the best presentations I went to was given by Eddy Boxerman and Andy Nealen from Hemisphere Games about their indy game, Osmos.  This game is the only one that I have paid for as a downloadable PC game since Portal, and to me it shares a miraculous feeling of beautiful design with Valve’s hit game.  If you haven’t seen the trailer for this game or played it, go to the link there and get a quick taste.   I’ll wait.

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