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What makes a gaming experience in casual video games satisfying?

Game economy design refers to the mechanics the player can buy and earn into a game. The economic system takes into account how numbers influence the players' experience.

Starloop Studios, Blogger

January 13, 2022

7 Min Read
Monster Tales Battle Land by Starloop Studios

Video games are inspired by real-life and are like miniature lives where players achieve missions to move on. Therefore, video games can be as extensive as real life in terms of how the economy works. If this element is balanced, the whole game will run smoothly and make the players come back.

The economy is the backbone of your game and has one primary purpose: to keep your players coming back. There are many aspects to a game's economy, so designing a game economy requires a lot of team cooperation to be perfectly interconnected.

What is Game Economy Design?

In general, game economy design refers to the mechanics the player can buy and earn into a game. The economic system takes into account how numbers influence the players' experience. For example, how often do players win gold, under what circumstances, and how can they spend it. But this is just a tiny aspect in designing the game economy. Knowing how much an armor costs in the game doesn't help you if you don't establish in advance how long it takes the player to get that amount of gold or what actions he has to do.

An economy designer must establish a comprehensive, detailed framework to anticipate possible problems with the game, their solutions, and how the players will act. Usually, games that are not so complex do not require a game economy designer. Instead, free-to-play games require a video game economic strategy that causes players to use in-app purchases without making it impossible for unpaying players to progress.

By creating the best video game economic strategy, developers can maximize their revenues while offering the best game experience for both players who pay money and players who don’t spend money. 

What can be achieved with Game Economy Design?  

An optimal game economy challenges, excites, and provides players with the right amount of satisfaction. Therefore, a strong game economy is a necessary element that you must carefully integrate for your game's longevity. The longer the player stays in the game, the more likely they are to monetize eventually. Therefore, although the game economy design is about monetization, game designers must keep in mind that to achieve this primary purpose, they must first achieve mini-goals like these: 

● Keep your players coming back 
● Keep things interesting 
● Keep things alluring 
● Keep things challenging 
● Keep things exciting 

To achieve these goals, the gameplay needs to be challenging but not impossible. For example, if players easily win what they want, they won't want it for long, just like in real life. They will no longer feel motivated to fight for new items, boost characters, or other rewards.

To attract players, game economy designers have to give players a sense of struggle. To do that, the design team will establish the initial game soft currency, how much hard currency is required to buy one unit, other ways for players to acquire it, or a currency limit a player can have at any given time.

Examples of some of the most daring projects made by the Starloop Studios team

To keep things alluring and offer an exciting user experience, a gameplay studio has to classify the resources they distribute to players. For example, if you have a sum of money in real life, you can do several things with them: buy clothes, get food, a new mobile phone or travel. As there are many options in real life, video games should offer the same plurality to players. By creating a balance in the game, they can achieve the expression of individuality, make choices, and achieve different things based on their decisions.

What tools are used for Game Economy Design?  

Working with the best tools to design a game economy will make your work easier, support your creativity and teamwork, and can even speed up the whole process. In addition, by using the right tools in your project, you will improve the quality of the final game.

Machination: This is a fairly rare breed, a tool dedicated to game design. Machination helps you craft perfectly balanced games and simulate game systems before writing a single line of code.

Unreal Engine and Unity. Not in vain are Unreal Engine and Unity the most used game engines worldwide. They help you create a head-to-tail video game, so here you will find everything you need to design and plan a customized in-game economy. In addition, Unreal Engine and Unity help you integrate a fully-featured economy into your game and manage it through a streamlined dashboard.

Quest is a free, easy learn-and-use tool that can help you if you plan to build a text-based adventure. However, this browser-based software is more suitable for those early in their careers because it lets you nail down narrative storytelling and pacing basics.

Google Drive is one of the most collaborative tools, so game studios use it for GDDs, storyboards, character design, level design, or game economy design spreadsheets. In designing a game economy, teamwork is the central point, so sharing data in real-time helps keep everything up to date.

Miro is another video game software that helps you collaborate on ideas in real-time and present your ideas organized. In-game design, whiteboard, and visual collaboration platforms can help your team stay on the same page without having to send endless emails back and forth or risk missing tasks by not staying clear on who is doing what.

What professionals are involved in Game Economy Design? 

Behind a complex game economy design operation is usually a team that knows how to cooperate in excess so that things go well. There are a lot of creative minds working closely together and anticipating things that might go wrong in the game and offering timely solutions. A game economy design team has many tasks and details to work on, each having a well-established role in the team. Some manage the team, others observe team successes and analyze their problems, or other team members keep their eyes open for different ways to improve. For a game economy design team to be complete, it should consist of members such as: 

Game Designers are the team members responsible for the mechanics and narratives of the game. They also determine how the game works as a whole. Not all projects require specialized Game Economy Designers, but only those more complex games. For more miniature games, the responsibility for game design is accorded to general designers.

Game Artists. The objects you see in the game, the items you want to buy, the eye-catching environments, and the challenges that excite you to accept them - all this and much more are designed and brought to life by Game Artists. They are in charge of the way the players see and feel the game. Although the whole team must work closely together, they must pay more attention to teamwork because they translate the whole team's vision into images.

Game Programmers/QA. If Game Artists are responsible for creating the concept and how the game is viewed, Game Programmers transpose all the concepts on the screen by writing the codes. By collaborating closely with the entire team, the game's balance will be optimal, and bugs will be discovered and fixed.

Project Managers & LiveOps Specialists. These team members are responsible for the release schedule, maintaining the initial game plan, and adjustments running smoothly at every interval. In addition, because they create and implement game economy strategies, they must be involved in the molding process of the game economy.

The number of members in a team can vary depending on the complexity and size of the project. For example, suppose it is a more extensive video game. In that case, there will be a special team for the game economy design that will deal with the design of economy-related systems, balancing numerical indicators, and working on monetization tactics.

Do you have a project in mind? With ten years of experience in the video game industry, Starloop Studios has the expertise to design a well-balanced game economy that keeps your players engaged and paying.

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