In Gamasutra's latest feature
, Will Luton, creative director of UK iOS game studio Mobile Pie, developers of My Star
, describes how location-aware technology helps bring players back for microtransaction monetization opportunities.
While apps like Foursquare and Facebook are currently the primary way mobile users use "checkins", games can benefit from the technology, Luton writes. His team's iOS game My Star
features Facebook Places checkins.
"Offering game advantage based on location has great application in retention for free-to-play mobile beyond the immediate return. It encourages a cognitive link between a player's movement or future activity and the potential in-game benefit that could offer them. A user thinking about a game is more likely to play it again, tell a friend about it, or make an in-game purchase," he writes.
"When a player taps the Poster icon in a My Star
session Facebook checks for a user, before the game queries the device for a location. This is then passed to Facebook Places via a URL, which return five places with IDs, ordered by increasing distance. The game then uses these IDs to find any current posters at the location stored on the server. If any location hasn't before been discovered the server creates a new entry."
Players, who are cast as aspiring musicians, can stick posters up on these real world locations digitally -- leaving a trace and contributing to their popularity (in-game) and their engagement with the game.
"The poster feature was about giving users a new reason to play our game over a comparable one. The new use of location is a clear innovation and one on which My Star
To find out more about the research that backs up these assertions and the effect they had on My Star
, read the full feature -- Location Awareness in Mobile Games: Uses & Advantages -- live now on Gamasutra