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8Cs of F2P Game Design

We list the 8 most important factors you must keep in mind when designing a game.

Content - The first question we ask ourselves when discussing what game to build next is, can we make 500 levels on this? Even 500 might not be enough, content is NEVER enough.

We started out with 40 levels, thinking even that was too much. Now we’re launching a new map that takes total levels to 322 and straight-away we’ll start work ont he next map that will take total milestones to 378. Candy crush already has more than 500 levels and there is no sign of stopping.

Considerate Level Design - All levels till the end of content should be designed fairly, so as to ensure users can reach end of content without being forced to pay. Candy crush has 70% non-payers at end of content and Sudoku Quest currently has more than 90% non-payers at end of content. Fair game design leads to greater retention and better ratings.

We like to aim for 10% players reaching milestone 100, which means an average conversion (Users crossing over to next milestone) of 97.75%.

Consumable In-App Purchases - To maximize the monetization potential of your game, there are two important factors to keep in mind:

  1. Purchases must be consumable - Your users must have the potential to make purchases again and again as previous purchases get consumed.
     
  2. Desperate Buy - You must ensure you game has at least one desperate buy (be it time or moves or lives). This will contribute 60-70% of your total IAP revenue.

In relation to desperate buy and consumable in-app purchases, one should ensure there is a possibility of a single user spending more than $5000 in your game before end of content.

Change in Game-play - Diversity in game-play is essential to keep the user engaged, ensuring the user is not made to repeat the same thing over and over again. On Sudoku Quest we do it through variations of grid sizes, with 11 variants of Sudoku in the game, you will almost never solve the same grid size of Sudoku more than twice in a row. Candy Crush induced diversity in the gameplay by changing the goals of levels for example games limited by moves, clearing jelly, attaining score in a particular time etc.

Currencies - Premium currency which can only be bought with money and secondary currency that can be earned in-game and also bought. This gives you immense freedom to reward players within the game using the secondary currency leading to greater engagement. Rewarding secondary currency for gifting and inviting also leads to greater viral factor.

Competition - It’s the era of social mobile games and you need to capitalize on all the social tools available at your disposal. Bring the ego into play by allowing users to compete with their Facebook friends. Integrate with Leaderboards to fuel aspiration. Have achievements in your game to give players a sense of triumph when they unlock them.

Collaboration - Make use of your secondary currency to induce users to send gifts to and receive gifts from friends. Reward them for inviting players to the game.

Cross-platform - With all the cross-platform frameworks now available for game development, one can easily have a presence on multiple platforms with the same code. This allows you users to play on multiple device simultaneously and provides great spillover effect from platform to platform. Our free users from Facebook increased by 900% when we launched our game on iOS and Android.

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About the Author

Gurinder is VP-Marketing at HashCube, makers of Sudoku Quest, one of the biggest social games to come out of India. The company's replicable framework, which HashCube calls the 'Quest model', for casual games has lead to 40x monetization on Sudoku Quest compared to the competition plus 1000s of free users from Social and more engagement. The company is now poised to extend the Quest model on to other casual games.

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