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Free-to-Play: Making Money From Games You Give Away

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Free-to-Play: Making Money From Games You Give Away

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  • Copyright 2013
  • Dimensions: 6" x 9"
  • Edition: 1st
  • eBook (Watermarked)
  • ISBN-10: 0-13-341118-4
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-13-341118-8

“ Will’s knowledge of F2P comes from years of building games, as well as writing about and consulting with developers on the model. All the topics covered in this book—economics, gameplay, monetization, analytics and marketing—are important to consider when you’re building an F2P game, and Will covers each with an easy-to-digest style.” —Ian Marsh, co-founder, NimbleBit

Free-to-Play: Making Money From Games You Give Away is an accessible and complete guide to the business model that has revolutionized the videogames industry, creating huge hits, multi-billion-dollar startups and a new deal for players: Play for free, spend on what you like.

Written by respected game designer and consultant Will Luton, Free-to-Play gives you the in-the-trenches insight you need to build, run and make money from games you give away. In it you’ll find:

  • Psychology behind player decisions and the motivations to play
  • Simple and accessible explanations of the math and economic theories behind F2P, including working examples
  • Processes for capturing and using player data to improve your game
  • Marketing tips on positioning your game and attracting players
  • Plus: A downloadable F2P spreadsheet, articles from the author, a foreword by NimbleBit co-founder Ian Marsh and an interview with Zynga CEO, Mark Pincus.

Sample Content

Table of Contents

How F2P Changed Games XV

Chapter 1: Economics
How the Money Works 1
Physical vs. Digital (Why Bits Aren’t Atoms) 2
The Internet Is an Open Market; Your Game Isn’t 6
We Don’t Buy Things; We Buy Emotions 7
Not All Players Spend Equally 9
The Math 11
The Acronyms: A Primer 14
The Money Formulas 15
Winning at F2P: Increasing Profits with KPIs 17
Users and Engagement 20
Retention and Churn 20
Spend and Conversion 21
Cost Per Acquisition 24
Overheads 24
Improving KPIs Holistically 24

Chapter 2: Gameplay
Keeping Players Coming Back 27
F2P: The Good Games Revolution 28
Core Loops: The Beating Heart of Games 32
Structure of the Loop 32
Upgrades in the Loop 33
Waits in the Loop 34
Grinding in the Loops 38
Sessioning: Showing Your Players the Door 39
Finite Loops: How Sessions Work 40

Return Triggers: Enticing Your Players to
Come Back 44
Appointment Triggers 45
Competitive Triggers 46
Social Commitment Triggers 47
Location Triggers 48
Sales and Events Triggers 48
Nudge Triggers 49
Player Motivations: Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds
and Spades 52
Hearts (or Socializers) 52
Clubs (or Killers) 53
Diamonds (or Achievers) 53
Spades (or Explorers) 53
It’s an Understanding 53
Goal Systems: Retaining Players for Years 56
Rats in Boxes: The Secrets of Variable
Reinforcement 57
Increasing the Rewards 59
Choosing a Schedule 62
Examples of Goal Systems 63
Don’t Tick Boxes 68

Chapter 3: Monetization
Play ers Reward You with $$$ 71
IAP 101 72
What to Sell: The Four Cs of IAPs 76
Content 76
Convenience 77
Competitive Advantage 80

Customization 81
Mixed Cs 84
Creating Demand: Supply and Pinch Points 84
Virtual Currencies 86
Energy 87
Virtual Goods 88
Making Money from Demand 88
Creating Value: Comparison, Quality and
Experience 89
Comparison 90
Quality and Experience 92
Breaking the Barrier: Getting Players to Spend 93
User Experience 96
First Purchase Deal 96
Social Proof 97
Beyond IAPs 97
Advertising 97
Product Placement 104
Merchandise 104
Store Cards 105
Observe, Improve, Repeat 105

Chapter 4: Analytics
Understanding and Serving 107
Your Play ers
The Eternal Beta 108
Don’t Listen to What People Say, Look at
What They Do 109
Collecting Data 111
The Metrics You Need 114
AB Testing 121
Data Quality 123

Statistics: The Analyst’s Toolbox 124
Averages: Mean, Mode and Median 125
Causation and Variables 128
Regression Analysis 128
The Art of Interpretation 130
Gather Data, Test, Analyze 130

Chapter 5: Marketing
Reaching Players 133
Eyes on Your Game 135
Buying Players 135
Press 136
Organic Traffic 137
Viral Marketing 141
Players in the Funnel 143
No Two Players Are Alike 148
Catching Leaks: Sharing Players and
Building Communities 149
Strategic Positioning 151
The High-level Proposition 153
The Best Marketing of All 156

Appendix A
The F2P Spreadsheet    159

Appendix B
Additional Resources on 163
Free-to-Play Games

Appendix C
Interview with Zynga Co-founder 179
and CEO Mark Pincus
Index 188


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