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问题:当设计免费游戏时,应该保持多少“阻力”,才能促进赢利又不损害玩家留存率?哪些游戏做得好?

回答:Anthony Pecorella(Kongregate公司制作人)

我主要从事中度硬核游戏,一般是多人游戏,所以我的经验对休闲游戏可能不会非常适用。虽然我们自己不开发游戏,但在Kongregate,我们研究了平台上的数百款游戏的赢利策略。根据这些研究,我们通常建议游戏在初期将“阻力”保持在比较低的水平。应该将几乎全部的焦点放在留存率上——向玩家展示游戏的乐趣,鼓励玩家重回游戏。

我们研究成功的游戏的游戏次数和消费指数。对于多人游戏,玩家的第一次消费发生在第23次游戏的时候(游戏邦注:单人游戏会更早,但消费额更少)。玩游戏10次的玩家对收益的贡献只占相当小的比例,而绝大部分收益来自游戏次数超过50的玩家。沉浸于游戏的玩家更愿意消费,且消费额更大。当你的游戏成为玩家的爱好时,他们会更愿意通过购买虚拟物品支持你的游戏。

Wartune(from mmobomb.com)

Wartune(from mmobomb.com)

至于做得好的游戏,我提名我们公司发行的、Reality Square Games开发的《Wartune》。这款游戏在早期向玩家介绍新玩法元素方面做得非常好,没有严格限制玩家的游戏时间,甚至提供相当可观的虚拟金币。虽然玩家不会太早自己花钱,但是,当玩家深深地迷上游戏、了解花钱能带来的好处时,就更可能花更多钱。

Eric Seufert(Grey Area营销和用户开发主管)

答案显然是通过beta测试——我不肯定这个方法适用于所有游戏(如《Diamond Dash》vs.《Kingdoms of Camelot》vs.《Subway Surfers》)。我认为《Hey Day》完美地命中留存率/赢利之间的平衡点:在前15-20次游戏时,阻力非常小,但因为阻力与更复杂的玩法、等待时间、解锁新动画/建筑(设计得很好)相结合,所以玩家消费的热情非常高。

Patrick O’Luanaigh(nDreams首席执行官)

我认为Anthony说得在理,我都想重复一遍了。我见过许多游戏赚钱心切,在游戏的前十分钟就开始介绍商店、消耗品和“宣传品”,我觉得这是免费游戏的一大误区。你的目标首先是取悦玩家,让他们迷上你的游戏,让他们玩了还想玩。如果你这个目标达到了,那么即使赢利策略做得不太好,也没关系。这个目标达不到,再好的赢利策略也救不了你。

可能我太天真了,但我非常支持将“阻力”作为一种机制。我更偏好“引诱玩家”。我不想让玩家觉察到游戏正在拉住他们,要求他们花钱才能玩下去。我想让玩家觉得自己就是想走在别的玩家前面,想更快升级,想得到极品道具,想炫耀或想让游戏玩法更丰富。

所以我们的设计原则是“先做好游戏,然后让玩家愿意为了游戏的卓越而消费”,而不是“先做好游戏,然后增加游戏的阻力和不便,使游戏变烂。”

Teut Weidemann(育碧在线游戏专家)

我们说的是“阻力”。但那是对事物的消极作用,所以我们从来不把保留阻力当作一条设计原则。

我们使用进程,我们设计玩家进程,就好像不存在消费行为。当我们的进程(生命期)策略有效时,我们才引入各种进程加速道具或有助于赢利的活动。

注:因为存在加速进程的办法——消费,所以才有阻力存在。所以我们给玩家虚拟货币,让他们能购买进程。就这样,阻力消失了。

Oscar Clark(Applifier倡导者)

大部分人都不喜欢将人为设置的阻力作为一种游戏机制。然而,在评估游戏的流量和确保玩家最大可能地消费我们创造出来的昂贵资源,阻力是一个非常实用的概念。

我的意思是,游戏的乐趣主要来自解决构成挑战的难题。在简单的资源管理游戏中,这种挑战就是加快进程。当它们的目标需要维护或只是需要花时间才能完成时,进程就成为一种挑战了;当然,结果要足够吸引玩家返回游戏。玩家可以用钱克服某些挑战,但不应该让赢利策略限制于消除那种阻力或牺牲挑战的体验。不同的游戏以不同的方式体现阻力,比如,奔跑游戏中的障碍,赛车游戏中的汽油,射击游戏中的医疗用品。实现平衡能够很自然地调整游戏阻力的水平和游戏体验;允许我们廉价出售消耗品和耐久品。随时了解你的游戏阻碍玩家再次游戏的阻力水平,决定游戏的赢利策略,这二者具有同等的重要性。

我们知道让玩家心甘情愿地花钱是需要时间的,必须等到他们完成游戏的“学习”阶段,我们才能进入“赢利”阶段;对于鲸鱼玩家,大概需要8-12天才能实现这种转变。要最大化玩家消费的可能性,你的内容必须足够有趣,道具必须能提升游戏体验。

最后,阻力对游戏有影响是很自然的事,关键是看我们如何实现平衡以增加游戏的乐趣和重玩价值。这是一个动态平衡,如果我们做得不好,玩家就会退出,可能是因为挑战不够,也可能是因为挑战太大。但是,事情不总是这样吗?

Charles Chapman(First Touch Games主管)

我完全同意Patrick的观点。我个人比较赞成低阻力,因为从设计的角度出发,低阻力似乎更自然些。但所有成功的免费游戏都存在不同程度的阻力。

我们最近突然从《Score!》的数据中得到不少经验。这款游戏是付费应用,但几个月前增加了一些游戏内消费物品,一个Golden Shots更新包(作弊道具)和一个关卡更新包。12月21日,也就是在苹果的12天圣诞封锁期,我们把游戏改成免费模式,又在27号进行了一次大推销活动。

意料之中,我们的下载量在27号爆发了,收益也因此大大增加;在应用免费之后,优惠活动之前的6天里,收益甚至更高。大约75%的收益来自Golden Shots更新包,另外25%来自关卡更新包。

所以从传统的免费游戏角度看,我们的游戏是零阻力,整款游戏都是开放的、免费的,绝大多数收益来自玩家购买作弊道具。我们让《Score!》免费,但充分利用我们在排行榜上的排名。这款应用其实是付费的,但有一些可购买的东西让它赚到更多钱。

Dream League Soccer(from itunes.apple.com)

Dream League Soccer(from itunes.apple.com)

对我们而言,我们的另一款应用《Dream League Soccer》甚至比《Score!》还成功。它的名气不如后者,但也是阻力非常小的游戏。这款游戏的留存率非常高,但玩家平均收益比较低。留存率高和日活跃玩家数量多,使我们的广告收入非常丰厚。

对于哪款游戏做得好,很难说,但我能指出许多有效的方式。借一个老式游戏开发者的观点,你先做好游戏,再制定低阻力的赢利策略,也是可以成功的。根据现实经验,要冲到收益排行榜的前列,你还需要更激进一点的策略。但是,排行榜末尾的游戏仍然可能运营得很好。(本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译,作者:Zoya Street)

[Gamesbriefers] How much friction should there be in F2P games?

by Zoya Street

Question:

When designing F2P games, how do you decide how much “friction” to build into the game to drive monetisation without hurting retention, and who has done it well?

Answers:

Anthony Pecorella Producer for virtual goods games at Kongregate

As a quick bit of context, my experience is primarily with mid-core games, generally multiplayer, so these lessons may not translate as well to casual games. While we don’t develop games ourselves, at Kongregate we have studied monetization patterns across a few hundred games on our platform. Based on these studies, we generally recommend keeping “friction” very low early on. The focus should instead be almost entirely on retention – showing the player the fun of the game and encouraging them to come back.

We looked at number of gameplays and purchasing metrics from players across our successful games. The average first purchase of a buyer comes on the 23rd gameplay for a multiplayer game (single player games monetize earlier, but smaller). A very small percentage of revenue is generated from players in their first 10 gameplays, with the vast majority coming from players who have loaded a game at least 50 times. Players are much more likely to decide to spend, and spend substantially, on a game that they are engaged with and enjoy. You want your game to become a hobby for them, and at that time they are going to be interested in supporting your game and getting an advantage in it through virtual goods sales.

One game I would point to that has done this very well is Wartune, published with us by Reality Square Games. The game does a great job early on introducing players to new gameplay elements, doesn’t heavily restrict their play session, and even provides a fair amount of premium currency at the beginning. Spending is slower to ramp up, but players get deeply engaged in the game and understand the value of currency after they’ve gotten into the game, at which point more opportunities to spend open up.

Eric Seufert Head of Marketing and Acquisition at Grey Area

The obvious answer is through testing in beta — I’m not sure that a universal rule would apply to all game types (for instance, Diamond Dash vs. Kingdoms of Camelot vs. Subway Surfers). I think Hey Day hit the retention / monetization equilibrium point perfectly: very little friction in the first 15-20 game sessions, but as the friction builds with more sophisticated recipes and wait times, the appeal of unlocking a new animation or building (since they are so beautifully designed) creates a powerful additional incentivize to purchase HC.

Patrick O’Luanaigh CEO at nDreams

I think Anthony’s point is so good, I’d like to repeat it. I’ve seen so many games that monetise too early, introducing the store, consumable items and ‘introductory offers’ within the first ten minutes, and I really think this is a huge mistake for F2P games. Your aim is first and foremost to delight players, get them to fall in love with your game and look forward to their next play. Do this well, and even a slightly shoddy monetisation will work. Do it badly, and the best monetisation strategy in the world won’t help you.

Maybe I’m naive, but I’m not a big fan of “friction” as a mechanic. I prefer “temptation”. I don’t want players to feel that the game is slowing them down/holding them back, and they need to pay money to play the game properly. I want players to feel constantly tempted to jump ahead, speed up, get the amazing items, show off more or make the game even richer.

So our design tends to be, “Make a great game, then add things to make it even better that can be earned/bought” rather than “Make a great game, then cripple it by adding friction and inconvenience”.

Teut Weidemann Online specialist at Ubisoft

We weeere talking friction. But thats the negative view on things. Thats why we never use friction as a design principle.

We use progress and design the player progress as if there is no monetization. When we are happy with the progress time (life time) we simply put in various progress accelerators or helps for monetization.

Note: the friction only exists because there is a faster way to progress: when you pay. Thats why we give players currency for game mechanics so they can buy it. Suddenly there is no friction anymore.

Oscar Clark Evangelist at Applifier

Whilst, like most of us I don’t like artificial friction added as a game mechanic. However, the concept of Friction is very useful to assess the flow of the game and to ensure that we players get the most possible use out of the expensive assets we have created.

What I mean by this is that the enjoyment comes largely from solving patterns/puzzles against some challenge. In simple resource management games this challenge is in the rate of the creation process. It becomes a kind of challenge when their objects require maintenance or simply time to complete their growth; as long as the result is compelling enough for me to return. Players can overcome some of this with money, but monetisation shouldn’t be limited to just removing that friction or you remove the challenge of the experience. Other game models use friction in different ways, obstacles in the endless runner, fuel in racing games, health packs in shooters. The balance of these adjust the level of friction of the play in natural ways associated with the playing experience; and which allows us to sell the cheap to create consumable or durable assets. Understanding the level of friction in your game against the propensity to restart playing immediately (and in future playing sessions) at every point in the lifecycle of the player is as important as how you decide to monetise the game in the first place.

We know it takes time for players to be willing to spend money and they have to complete their ‘Learning’ stage before they enter the ‘Earning’ stage; and for whales it seems to take 8-12 days of play to make that transition. Your content needs to be replayable to that extent and create goods which add to their playing experience in order to maximise the potential of your audience.

In the end its natural friction that works with the game that’s important and how balance it in order to enhance the enjoyment and replayability of the game. This is a dynamic equilibrium and if we get it wrong then players will churn either because there is not enough challenge or because the challenge is too great, But hasn’t that always been the case?

Charles Chapman Director and Owner of First Touch Games

I’d agree with Patrick here completely, I’d personally go for low friction as it feels more natural from a design point of view but the world of F2P has successes all over the spectrum.

Our own recent experience with Score! has given us some great data almost by accident – it was always designed to be a paid app, but had a couple of IAPs added a few months ago, of Golden Shots (cheats), and a new levels pack. Then as part of Apple’s 12 days of Christmas we went free from the 21st December, and then we had the big promo on the 27th.

It would be no surprise that the huge number of downloads we got on the 27th led to a huge revenue increase, but in the 6 days the app was free before the big promo, revenue was much higher, even accounting for natural holiday season increases. Around 75% of this was from the Golden Shots pack, and the other 25% from the level pack purchase.

So here we have zero friction in a traditional F2P sense, the entire game is open and free, with the majority of revenue coming from users paying to (effectively) cheat. As a result of this, we’ve left Score! free, largely to capitalize on the chart positions we’ve had, but also genuinely that as a paid app with some limited IAP tagged on it’s making more money.

Our other main app, Dream League Soccer, which has been more successful for us than Score!, but doesn’t get the same level of coverage, is also very friction light. As a result it has fairly high retention, but relatively low ARPDAU. The high retention, and resultant DAU gives us pretty good advertising revenue too.

In terms of who has done what well, it’s hard to look beyond the usual suspects, but I’d say many approaches can work. Thankfully from an old fashioned game developers point of view, you can still be successful by creating a great game first and then figuring out a way of low friction monetization. Realistically though to be hitting the top ends of the top-grossing charts, you’re going to need to be a bit more aggressive, or have some other magic. But also thankfully, there’s still good business to be had at the lower ends of the top-grossing charts.(source:gamesbrief)


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