11 Techniques for Player Value Maximization: Part 2
This is a continuation from part one where we discussed techniques for maximizing player value. Now let’s crank it to 11…
7. Reduce Friction and Reward UGC
User generated content (UGC) is a great way to add new content for “free”; however, only a small percentage of players actually contribute. As with purchase flows, reducing the friction of creating and submitting content, will often increase UGC. How can you simplify the process? Is there a way to make UGC part of the primary gameplay? What happens when you reward players for submitting awesome content?
Positive reinforcement is critical for encouraging UGC. This feedback loop is strongly demonstrated on Facebook as its engaged users regularly post updates in hopes of receiving ‘likes’ for their “witty” posts. Consider surfacing user ratings, usage numbers, comments/reviews, and publicly praising valuable contributors.
8. Be Careful What You Charge For
Many freemium titles monetize through advertising and often provide an ad-free option through a paid version or in-app purchase. This may sound like an excellent idea, after all some players will happily pull out their wallet in exchange for an uninterrupted experience, but choosing the wrong price point can have a negative impact on monetization.
Depending on the type of game and audience, in-game ads can generate significantly more revenue than the small fee paid to remove them. Be sure to calculate lifetime value from in-game ads and price appropriately.
9. Better with Friends
Gaming is naturally very social. We all have different motivations or preferences for playing games, as defined by Bartle’s Player Types; however, the majority of players can be categorized as a “socializer”. Games built for social interaction not only appeal to this large audience but drive significant organic and viral growth.
Even games that are not pure social experience like Draw Something, tap into this with ancillary social elements (e.g. Diamond Dash’s weekly friend leaderboard, Family Feud & Friends’ multiplayer mode, Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP’s contextual story tweets). Consider how players might want to interact with friends or express themselves through your game.
Now even if you build the most engaging, fun social experience, it’s worthless if players don’t connect with their friends. Players are often hesitant to immediately authenticate with Facebook or other social networks when first launching a new game. Communicate the value throughout the experience and upsell the benefits when relevant. For example, after a player achieves a new high score, ask if they want to compare their amazing new feat with friends. Additional incentives such as free virtual currency, friend “bonuses”, or other unlockable content may also help.
10. Encourage Positive Reviews
Ratings matter, everyone’s a critic, and more than ever today, quality is transparently judged by lovers and haters. This is especially apparent in the App Store and Google Play as ratings sit beside the download button of every app.
You may not be able to influence users to praise a terrible game (so first make it awesome) but there are ways to encourage fans to share their love. Ask players to review your game after moments of joy or prompt users after they’ve invested several hours playing.
On the other hand, minimizing negative reviews can be even more important. Crashes, griefers/trolls, unmet expectations, and overly disruptive advertising can motivate a player to retaliate with a scathing, single-star rating. Minimize these as much as possible by monitoring crash reports using a tool similar to Crashlytics, providing amazing customer support and community management through in-game support or feedback tools; clearly communicating in marketplace descriptions and within the game; and limiting interruptions or using more integrated, user-initiated ad experiences.
As enjoyable or painful as it may be, it’s important to regularly read user reviews, especially after releasing new game updates. It’s a great resource and even the negative opinions can provide valuable feedback.
11. Feedback is King
As we discussed previously, it’s critical to use quantifiable data to measure and optimize the business of your game; however, that shouldn’t replace qualitative feedback (as supported by Steve Blank’s Customer Development Model). Your players often know what they love and hate about your game and you should hear about it.
Make it dead simple and enjoyable for players to send feedback within your game:
- Add a feedback button to the main menu so that it’s always accessible
- Prompt users to fill out a short survey or poll using a mobile-friendly interface (think tapping and swiping)
- Encourage and reward players for submitting their thoughts or ideas
When possible, add additional meta-information with each correspondence. Include device type, game version, location, game progression, and other data to provide additional context and help identify possible issues.
Of course, there are several other techniques for maximizing player value that we didn’t touch on. What other unique or effective approaches have you seen? Share in the comments below!