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Deconstructing Free To Play

In this talk I discuss some of the precise mechanisms by which F2P games are most successfully monetized, and the psychological tradeoffs and consequences involved.

Deconstructing Free to Play is a talk I delivered at Phoenix IGDA. It's long, so here is an outline of the topics covered:

  1. How Jetpack Joyride Jacked Learning
    • Learning Curves and how F2P monetization manipulates them.
    • Details about how Jetpack Joyride statistically constrains progress for monetization.
  2. The Pay Wall Dynamic
    • How successful F2P games create situations to compel real money spending.
    • Jetpack Joyride, Real Racing 3, Candy Crush Saga, Puzzle and Dragons examples.
  3. Gameplay Depth & Monetization
    • How monetization techniques are really independent of gameplay depth.
    • How PAD's basic gameplay design is good, deep and accessible despite coercive structures.
    • How random factors can dismantle a game's depth.
  4. Puzzle and Dragons' Compulsion Devices
    • How manipulations of resource availability confound players' impressions of abundance.
    • How free rewards actually catalyze player anxiety and subsequently lead to real money purchases.
    • The effects of complex special limited-time event schedules.
    • The conventional F2P Stamina/ Energy meter and how it psychologically works.
    • How the true nature of various systems are deliberately obfuscated.
  5. Concluding Thoughts
    • Buyer's Remorse.
    • F2P as dopamine hacks.
    • Learned Helplessness.
    • Long term implications, Q&A.

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