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Tending your garden

The secret is not chasing butterflies. It’s tending the garden so that they come to you.

Mário Quintana

I read this quote in a newsletter and it made me think a lot about when I work to improve the sales of virtual goods in games. Marketers know that there are 3 steps behind every buy: trust, value, and pricing. Game design helps with the three when we are allowed to do so.

A game that sells virtual goods is like a garden or amusement park. People arrive, and some of them go away. Someone decides to pose on a flower, someone to someone decides to line up for an attraction. Game design helps serve all those people.

Trust > Value > Pricing

Trust means that Players believe in what your game (and your company) is. If they don’t believe you, they won’t listen to you. You build trust through consistency and honesty. First of all, game design helps identify the segments of Players. Then we help the Players understand the game mechanics, setting clear expectations.

Township was a pioneer in introducing the same minigames that the Players saw in the ads in the game itself. Massive success. Why? Because of trust.

Behind the value, there is time, which is the real currency Players invest in a game. Marketing is in the middle of a radical transformation. Advertising on social media and search engines is costly and ineffective. Game design will show who you are to the Players and what your game represents. The value of a virtual good comes from the reasons and emotions it evokes in Players.

I buy extra movements in a match-3 because I need just another swipe to beat the level (reason). I don’t want to restart, because maybe on the next try, I will perform worse (fear, emotion).

Pricing is something decided by other departments. By using design research we provide an analysis of the pricing of our competitors.

I explain this very briefly:

We start by identifying which elements of the game are related to time (remember? Time is the currency). Then find the resources derived from those. Study the Shop to find and calculate the price of everything. For some elements, you cannot calculate the direct value. Make estimations based on assumptions. Imagine you are a Player who wants to buy everything and calculate the spend depth of your game.

That’s how you care for your garden!

Published inGame Design

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