Brief notes from sitting in on the “Trends in Social Game Product Development” panel at Inside Social Apps conference in San Francisco, CA.
Trends in Social Game Product Development
Brenda Garno Brathwaite, COO & Game Designer, Loot Drop, Inc.
Bill Jackson, Creative Director, CastleVille, Zynga Dallas
Sebastian Knutsson, Chief Creative Officer and Co-Founder, King.com
Mike Sego, CEO, Gaia Interactive
While acquiring customers has become more expensive over the last couple of years, monetization rates from top developers have continued to substantially improve. Today, there are examples of developers large and small that are finding distribution, engagement, and monetization success, despite all the changes in the world of Facebook and social gaming over the last year. At the same time, genres and content are continuing to evolve with new mechanics and game play. How should developers be thinking about product development in 2012? Top developers will discuss.
- Bill Jackson – Social is the next generation in gaming. Not a new direction, but the logical next step. I do believe there is an opportunity in the gaming space for networked, synchronous play. Right now the right game needs to come along that demands it. This is something that’s well developed in the console game space, but not yet very well seen in the social gaming realm. Also exciting is progressing the asynchronous play out there right now.
- Mike Sego – Position that the only trend in game development is better graphics is wrong. The next step is naturally social. Lower cost to developing for social and mobile platforms – this allows for a much larger variety of games. Now, 3 developers working in a garage can open up a whole market of social and mobile. This is not as possible when you’re thinking only in terms of graphics and rendering improvements. Building social features isn’t absolutely necessary for game development. It’s important to use social features appropriately, and use them to enhance the actual game, not just junk it up with social. Regarding synchnous play, I think the games that are most successful on Facebook are the games that mimic the usage pattern on Facebook – asynchronous. Games like Words With Friends work – people login and take their turn, and logoff – this is asynchronous.
- Brenda Brathwaite – Now that we have this ridiculous culture of fast follow and mobile, games like parking wars and Farmville is possible.
- Sebastian Knutsson – I see the the use of friends in the future of social development as moving more and more to collaborative gaming, and multiplayer gaming. I like Tetris Battles, organized and networked tournaments. Allowing people to connect with their friends is where it’s at.
- What can we learn from Cow Clicker? Brenda – It distills down the core essence of a social game. The fact that it worked is a very interesting statement about the players. Burned to the ground in the Cowpocalypse. Ian would like to be known for something other than Cow Clicker.
- 4 factors that u can use to figure out Customer LTV – short-term retention, long-term retention, % of paying users, ARPPU – Gaia
- “The core thing is making a game that YOU like to play”
- “Can you monetize guilt?” Brenda Garno says World of Warcraft has been doing it forever!