Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
arrowPress Releases
April 19, 2014
PR Newswire
View All





If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM TechWeb sites:


GDC Online: Koster Shares Lessons Learned In Social Game Design
GDC Online: Koster Shares Lessons Learned In Social Game Design Exclusive
October 6, 2010 | By Kris Graft

October 6, 2010 | By Kris Graft
Comments
    38 comments
More: Console/PC, GDC Online, Exclusive



At a GDC Online talk in Austin today, Raph Koster, VP of creative design at Disney-owned social game developer Playdom (Sorority Life), challenged myths about the social game audience and gave triple-A developers tips on making the leap from big-budget packaged games to social game development.

"The biggest thing involved in making this shift, making this leap is mental adjustments," Koster said, adding that to go into social gaming, you have to be more than just a "bad-ass game developer."

Filling in at the session for scheduled speaker and co-founder of Playdom subsidiary Metaplace John Donham, Koster offered a series of tips to help with those important mental adjustments:

Almost All Console Games Are Niche

Koster showed a list of PlayStation 3 games that have sold over 1 million units. With games like Uncharted 2 and God of War 3 on the list, it represented a powerful lineup of well-made games that reached a large audience.

Then he showed a list of social games that had over 1 million users – 219 games for the month of August alone. "That makes console gaming look like a very small marble in the toybox," said Koster.

While Koster conceded, "it's undeniable that triple-A titles make piles and piles of money… [with social games], monetization is on a whole different kind of scale."

Audience

It's not true that people just play Facebook games on the side while doing "primary" Facebook activities like uploading pictures or checking on friends, Koster said. He also said it's inaccurate to say that people only play Facebook games for five minutes, or that social game players are unintelligent.

People play these games for hours, he said, adding that 35 percent of the audience will purchase virtual goods at some point. "These people aren't casual. … [but] this isn't just a plain old hardcore gamer market," said Koster. "These are the people that watch Dancing with the Stars, not [The] Big Bang Theory." And they're willing to pay for the experience, he said.

Get Independent Feedback

Koster stressed the importance of tracking metrics and making necessary changes to a social game as rapidly as possible. He said the process of using metrics instead of drawing on his own experience and supposed know-how was initially counterintuitive for him, given his more traditional, core-focused design background (he was previously creator on Star Wars Galaxies).

But by taking advantage of access to metrics, triple-A developers moving into social games no longer have to wait after years of development "to find out if something works," Koster said. Social game makers can find out almost instantly.

It's better to "have your dream crushed after 48 hours rather than five years," said Koster. "…Establish a process that gets you feedback at every stage, including before you even start."

The creative director also pointed to an important resource for fast play-testing and feedback, UserTesting.com. There, developers can spend $39 for a video of a visitor using the developer's social game or website, and also receive a written summary describing their experience with the product.

Does Retention Matter?

Koster told developers their "key metrics are virality, retention and ARPU [average revenue per user]." Without those elements, "your business goes away" he said.

He added that despite the industry's constant emphasis on social games' virality, "It's not the be-all end-all anymore."

"…What makes the game viral has to be inside the core loop of the game mechanic," said Koster. But he said today, virality is more about drastically reducing user acquisition costs and, in his opinion, "ARPU is the knob that's easiest to turn."

Specialization Is Bad

Another adjustment Koster said traditional core game developers need to make is to throw out the concept that specialization is good. A social game company needs to be structured considerably different from a core game developer, he argued.

"Think of roles as hats," said Koster." You have to structure your team in such a way that all of these hats are worn by [a lot less] people."

Koster said that in social game development a "bad-ass" level designer isn't as valuable as a level designer who was also a retail manager that knows about selling products at a store, for example. "What you need is people who can wear more than one hat."

I Don't Care What You Think... Prove It

"Not every feature makes your game better," Koster said. But with core games, it can be extremely difficult to prove that. Again, metrics can instantly show the effect of a new feature in a social game.

Koster recalls a situation where Playdom put achievements in a game, for example, and the veteran team was confident that it knew how to implement them. But the metrics revealed a surprise: "[Achievements'] chief effect was that people recommended the game slightly less," said Koster.

In triple-A game development, Playdom would've left the feature as it was, because they'd have no idea that it wasn't good for the game. Now, instead, Playdom is on version seven of the achievements system, Koster pointed out.

"When we started I thought we'd be right 90 percent of the time," said Koster. But in reality, "our hit rate was 10 percent. … We're better now -– it just takes us three tries till we get something to work."

Koster also encouraged developers to realize that "every user is a place to learn, and there are always more of them." He said it was hard to convince himself that it's worth annoying some players for the sake of testing and learning, but in the end it is to benefit the wider base and helps gain more users.

Everyone Has To Know The Metrics And What Their Goal Is

And those highly-important metrics should not be kept a secret from the team. Instead, project them on the wall, and use certain metrics to motivate the team and drive them to goals. "What it does is focus the team very, very powerfully," said Koster.

However, "metrics are not a cure-all," he warned. "They are for optimizing. … Metrics are awesome, but you have to be just as creative, just as awesome a designer as you ever have been."

There Are New Winners Today

Koster also said not to listen to detractors who say that the social game bubble is destined to soon burst. While double-digit percentage user base declines for leading games like FarmVille make headlines, "it is not true that this market is over and done with. … The business challenges have just shifted," said Koster.

Aside from declines of major social games, the smaller developers are coming up and making significant strides in the category, he said.

It's Not Spam

Notifications on Facebook are one of the more contentious topics between social game detractors and proponents. "Wall post spam is not spam to people who are playing the game," Koster argued.

Koster said that the notion behind sending those notifications about a social game is the same thing that drives people to send birthday cards to friends and relatives. He argued that there's real emotion and social aspects that go into notifications. "'Virality' is in many ways a terrible name for what this really is. … It's denigrating to call that 'spam,'" Koster said.

It's As Much Of A Business As It Is A Game

"You can no longer be a designer that doesn't understand money," said Koster. "…You have to be constantly on your toes."

With social games, tiny changes, such as a link placement or the color of an invite could boost numbers or drag them down. "You have to constantly treat this like a living business at every moment."

Try And Level The Playing Field

Finally, Koster encouraged the use of tools and techniques that can level the playing field with competitors. He suggested using cross-product marketing networks like Applifier and leveraging other games in your studio to bring them to other products. "Find other ways to broadcast your message," he said.


Related Jobs

Activision Publishing
Activision Publishing — Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
[04.19.14]

Principal Graphics Programmer
Activision Publishing
Activision Publishing — Santa Monica, California, United States
[04.19.14]

Executive Producer-Skylanders
Insomniac Games
Insomniac Games — Burbank, California, United States
[04.18.14]

Associate Engine Programmer
Insomniac Games
Insomniac Games — Burbank , California, United States
[04.18.14]

Senior Engine Programmer










Comments


Ernest Adams
profile image
I have exactly as much respect for a game designer who spends most of his or her time thinking about money as I do for an artist or poet or dancer or composer who spends most of his or her time thinking about money.



If that's what you do, change your business card. Your title is now "producer," not "game designer."

Timmy GILBERT
profile image
Game designer are not artist, they are designer, the role of a designer is to think and solve problem, not to have a huge ego, that's the role of the artist, he need that to be expressive.

E Zachary Knight
profile image
So a graphic designer is not an artist? What about a fashion designer? Interior designer? Architectural Designer? Landscape designer?



A designer is a person who designs something. A game designer is a person who designs games. They are an artist.

Timmy GILBERT
profile image
As a person, you can use design for moral goal or artistic goal, you can design responsibly, but design is not art, that's why it's a different word. The designer can be an artist, the design is not about art.

Pierre Dumas
profile image
Do you have a definition for ART that you agree with ?

+ Your source ?

Please

Pierre Dumas
profile image
Do you have a definition for ART that you agree with ?

+ Your source ?

Please

Rui Campos
profile image
I think Chris Crawford said it better when he described design for personal 'expression' as art and design for profit as 'entertainment'. I think it's a good distinction and avoids any value judgement. It's sort of a pet peeve of mine when entertainers, or performers, insist on calling themselves artists.

Pierre Dumas
profile image
Do you have a definition for ART that you agree with ?

+ Your source ?

Please

Alan Jack
profile image
Edit: Re-read it, I see your point, its about money.

Raph Koster
profile image
Most artists, poets, dancers, painters and musicians I know spend a huge amount of time thinking about money and where their next meal comes from. Are you really going to be that absolutist about it? Shakespeare owned a share in the Globe. Shall we replace his title of playwright with that of producer?

Jacek Wesolowski
profile image
It's a complex and nuanced matter, but there's a classic sketch that I think sums it up pretty nicely: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwbB6B0cQs4

Ernest Adams
profile image
I think they WORRY about it, but I hope they don't THINK about it.



Artists are of course welcome to have investments just like anyone else. But they're not supposed to spend their time thinking about them, lest they turn into producers or day-traders. Shakespeare was a writer and actor, but I suspect other people did the producing.



Nor, I believe, did he consider each line in his plays for its monetization value. He built in big chunks to please specific audiences -- historical references for the aristocrats, comedy and satire for the middle classes, fights and dirty jokes for the groundlings -- just as movies do today. But his business model was a lot closer to that of retail game stores. You pays your money and you takes your chances.



If you regard it as an essential part of your business to consider every single aspect of what you make in terms of its cash value, why not just run a lemonade stand or a machine shop?

Tadhg Kelly
profile image
Quite.



I find it disturbing how much the games industry is slowly adopting the behavioural techniques of the gambling industry as opposed to looking for the next leap.



There are some excellent uses for metrics too, but social games are often messy bits of ill-contexted function stuck together in Frankenstein messes owing to one metric or another "proving" that an element should be there. The result is not exactly Google-like elegance or innovative thinking.



It's more like casino operators moving the tables or removing the clocks on the wall to deceive or trick users into staying around for longer.

Morgan Ramsay
profile image
Ernest:



Nevermind the discussion about product as a component of the marketing mix. The games you design should provide sufficient value to players to warrant their investment (i.e., entertainment time per dollar.) The size and frequency of their investment should then be sufficient to warrant your cost of production. At the end of day, for a commercial game designer, creating fun (or any other goals of game design) is about determining how to allot the money you have to the most compelling reasons for consumers to purchase your games. Game designers are always thinking about money, regardless of whether dollar signs are front and center. Metrics allow you to optimize the return, for producers and consumers.



Tadhg:



In my book, "Gamers at Work" (Apress, 2011), I interview Trip Hawkins. As you know, he founded EA, but he has been running Digital Chocolate since 3DO collapsed. (Digital Chocolate is a mobile games leader and is aggressively entering the social games space.) Toward the end of the interview, I effectively asked Trip about whether he thought mass-market video games were going the way of casino games. He rightly pointed out that this is an entertainment business and we're obligated to figure out what players want and ways for them to "release hormones like dopamine and feel good about themselves." He went on to say that slot machines are a social ill because they are a dehumanizing addiction, not because they depend on behavioral modification. The real problem with these casino games is that they don't "constructively involve your emotions."

Mike Lopez
profile image
Monetization and virality are just additional systems to be designed. It is not at all like a producer worrying about the labor and time costs of features, tasks, tech and new personnel.



Most experienced professional retail game designers also think about what makes their piece of gameplay (level, systems, mechanics or narrative) have mass appeal so they can sell more of their game and be able to make more money and more games. If they are thinking about appeal and sales then they are also thinking about money.

Nathan Frost
profile image
Ernest:



If Shakespeare was struggling to decide which version of a line was more artistically effective, and had access to a metric that showed that he'd make more money with line A than line B, then he would be stupid not to include line A.



I think metrics should always be used for such decisions.



Beyond this, one begins trading artistic integrity for commercial viability. We need well-produced examples of both.

Tim Holt
profile image
When I think of artists who don't think about money, I think of Britney Spears. Mind you she'll be a B-list celebrity at some point and singing at the casinos when she's in her 50's to pay the bills at some point. But at least she didn't think about money!

Tim Holt
profile image
When I think of artists who don't think about money, I think of Britney Spears. Mind you she'll be a B-list celebrity at some point and singing at the casinos when she's in her 50's to pay the bills at some point. But at least she didn't think about money!

T K
profile image
well said ralph. idealism of a vision of a" pure" game designer is just a fantasy of some bygone era.

brett bibby
profile image
Ernest said "most" of the time and I agree with the general analogy.



Looking at shallow metrics to guide game design is fundamentally flawed. It gives data points to be sure, but there's so much more to it than this, and Raph of all people knows this well. Just because the metrics say a player did this or that, or even left a game or expressed dislike doesn't mean that it's bad for them or the game as a whole. And even if it is, shall we heed it? I say no and it's not a fantasy of a bygone era.

Adrian Ghizaru
profile image
The metrics don't say how -a- player performs, but rather how statistically significant classes of players do. Therein lies the fallacy of your logic, as well as the distinction between a -game designer- driven by the desire to please his/her audience at large, vs one driven by ego (i.e. one who "knows" how games should be designed, and doesn't need the data to tell him/her what to build).

Abel Bascunana Pons
profile image
I think both Raph Koster and Ernest Adams are right. Being a Game Designer is something you've to feel, and the ultimate goal is providing fun to players. At the same time, the industry is not anymore the one where there were only a few companies and games to choose from, so if a game designer wants to earn a living making games, she has to be aware what worked/not, what are the new trends, what niches remains unexplored, etc...



A personal note: I wonder if EA wouldn't profit now reopening The Sims Online now that the market seems more mature with social online games...



PS. Ernest and Raph, you're respected persons by many people within the games industry, and seen as references by us, i would please ask you as a personal favour to be courteous to each other, you are almost like idols to me =)

Raph Koster
profile image
Don't worry, Abel, we are friends who happen to disagree on a bunch of stuff. :)

Ernest Adams
profile image
Quite right. I have enormous respect for Raph's talents and his mind, and I quote him every time I give my Fundamental Principles of Game Design lecture (which is usually 5-10 times a year). But I don't play his games much and I doubt he plays mine much -- he doesn't strike me as a Madden fan.



My problem with Raph at the moment is that he seems to have become a game industry executive. That's not a respectable job for a game designer. :)

Cody Kostiuk
profile image
I'm wondering if there are any lessons learned from your social gaming experience with Metaplace, Raph? Metaplace seemed to be more like a vision or a statement than a business endeavor; and that is hardly a bad thing, I think.

Michael Joseph
profile image
I think what bugs people about so called "social" games is it's not enough that the games are merely super accessible (a good thing) by virtue of not requiring hardware acceleration and cutting edge machines, and by running in a browser, and being relatively easy to learn and play, it's that the monetization is built directly into the game like some kind of infernal slot machine. The game design process is saturated with concerns over how every action, ever piece of art, every sound might affect the psychology of the player and best increase the chances of them purchasing some useless virtual junk (I wish I could hide my disdain for these types of games better :p).



So rather than simply call them "web accessible games" which basically amount to time killing solitaire replacements, the designers of these "games" focus too much on mechanics that are designed to ensnare the player and keep them coming back at regular intervals. From a game design perspective, this is a very significant departure from tradition whereby a game is designed to be a good product that a user can buy at a worthy price. Traditional PC and console games are on the other side of the design spectrum from social games (i cant even stand the marketing speak used to name the genre).



Personally, I think social games run a serious risk of burning out their user base over the next five years.

Tadhg Kelly
profile image
..."Wall post spam is not spam to people who are playing the game," Koster argued...



Oh Raph, come on. Yes it is.



Unless that post is personally relevant to the person upon whose wall it is being posted, it absolutely IS spam. It's no different than claiming that because someone may have submitted an email to a site years ago that this justifies mass-mailing them on a constant basis.



Spam is spam if a user is not expecting and welcoming a message. That's why Facebook is slowly removing all of the so-called viral channels: Because the game developers cannot seem to use them in the spirit for which they are intended and instead just use them as channels of free advertising looking for 0.5% click-through. Users don't like it, that risks killing the golden goose, and so Facebook has to clamp down.

John Trauger
profile image
Agreed. "Spam" is exactly what it is. And what it is to a player who is at all conscious of the volume of empty posts he or she is putting out.



When I was playing Farmville at the start of this year, I was very conscious of the spmmerific side of the game and sought to self-limit the sheer volume of crap Farmville wanted to put on my wall to those posts I actually felt had some redeeming value.

Patrick Sebring
profile image
I feel there are several competing points here that are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Ernest talks about the utopian side of what the game designer should be, yet Raph is simply making points on understanding the audience and having an addictive and commercially successful title. I would have to think that in this day and age we're smart enough designers to do both and broaden the audience without the obligatory selling of the soul.



I feel that the social games of today are a hybrid of vegas and a hobby. Addictive enough to pull the player in and fun/rewarding enough to feel like it's worth spending money on items in the game. The neat thing about social games is that it broadens the audience that plays games and by that virtue lessens some of the demonization of games. I would like to ask how today's social games are any different than what arcades were in the 70's and 80's? The number of quarters I pumped into Galaga is a lot more than I've spent on any AAA title.



I obviously don't think that the monetary factor should be the sole driving motivation by any means. Although there is the fact that this is a business regardless of how you look at it. The artists might not have created their works with riches in mind but they rely on them to survive. We could all become game design buskers but in the end we're still hoping someone will pay us.

Tadhg Kelly
profile image
On a personal note, I am disappointed that Raph is trotting out the usual it's-all-metrics and notifications-not-spam lines here. I had hoped for something more insightful and forward-looking.

Raph Koster
profile image
Actually, the talk specifically said it is NOT all metrics. That doesn't mean that the metrics aren't an incredibly valuable tool that are all too often dismissed by game developers who dislike aspects of social games. The point I used in the talk was that metrics are just playtesting at lightspeed. I don't know any designers worth their salt who dislike playtesting.



As far as he notifications... They are an intrinsic social gesture. Does the current infrastructure have poor *targeting* for the messages? Yes, and Facebook is fixing that. But to dismiss something that the core players of these games find to be incredibly valuable and social seems to me to be missing the point of how these games are played.

Tadhg Kelly
profile image
Hey Raph,



Look, I work in social games too, and I don't buy this "intrinsic social gesture" line at all. If you talk to any regular users of the platform they almost universally loathe the wall publishing posts that they receive, just as they loathed the notifications abuses that they used to constantly receive last year. Many (most, in my anecdotal experience) don't really know what to do about it, so it just floats across their eyeballs, cluttering up their user experience.



Many don't even realise that they have consented to allow this sort of thing either. When they click through to a game, they just click Install on the confirmation/permission question screen without thinking about (because it seems like a needless dialogue).



Most players actually play their social games in a more-or-less single player fashion. They simply put up with being questioned about publishing events 5 times a day because they want to play the game, not because they want to share. Some players publish to brag, some to basically get friends to join to unlock game content. Many because they're not even aware that they have.



That is what's actually going on in the publishing space. It's not magical, it's just good old fashion click-trickery. And it sort-of works because it does generate click-backs (on the order of about 1-in-200). This makes it much the same kind of marketing activity as technically-but-not-really solicited email newsletters and the like.



What you're talking about is a kind of social publishing that I think should exist for social games, no question. It requires game designs that actually would use such a system properly, generating meaningful stories that players pre-select for themselves, i.e. truly wanted information. I think the platform should be all about that kind of message because each would lead to a quality interaction.



However that is not at all what the wall publishing system as it exists today does. It is also not something that Facebook's policy change will bring about. Facebook has basically just introduced a limit to only those that already have the app installed. This simply means that publishers like Playdom and Zynga will use it for the same messages as before plus "reminder" messages for people who have technically installed the app ages ago and long since forgotten.



I'm sorry, this sounds negative, but that is to date exactly how social game publishers have behaved. Their messaging style is blunt and salesy and exactly the same as any kind of interruption marketing. If they were serious about genuine social engagement in their games then they would remove the asking question for wall publishing and simply have a "Share" button in their interface. Or, the first time the game asked to publish, have a prominent "Never Ask Me This Again" button.



But we all know that they are not going to do that because actually the trick-clicks generate far more of a response than any kind of genuine interaction is likely to (because the games are not really worth bragging about) so we are where we are.



It is necessary to the business model, but let's just be honest about what is actually going on here.

Tadhg Kelly
profile image
On the metrics question by the way, I agree with the sentiment.



But if you look at many of the main social games taken as a whole, they are actually full of very crufty interfaces. There are lots of commonly-repeated elements across all games, included more or less by default, because some metric somewhere said that that little inclusion added a 0.5% uptick in the figures last week.



What's missing there is insight, by which I mean the larger solution. The thousand-metric-cuts-of-death eventually lead to software that is nothing but bells and whistles and only has a tepid level of real engagement overall. Daily returning habits is not a function of engagement depth, it's a function of light mechanics like needing to return and harvest your corn at 2am because the game operates on a clock. This is something we've seen in games like Planetarion since 1999 but social games made that loop a global phenomenon.



My point is about the larger solution. The sparse Google page made as a bold design choice based on not one but a hundred different sentiments made clear from frustrations of the Yahoo portal. The Yahoo method was to always tweak what was there (because there's rarely a metric that says "start from scratch") rather than question the fundamental. And, like typically sheep-like developers, all other developers have been busily replicating each others' portal-esque designs much like Yahoo might have rather than making the *insightful* leaps that would grow the form.



That's why I said I was disappointed. Come on, you really don't need to stand up at GDC Online and tell people that you've realised you can pick up 0.5% extra speed by moving a hyperlink to more prominent positions. That's easy stuff that is frankly beneath someone of your stature.



What I want to know is what Raph Koster's bold new idea is, not a laundry list of minor notions on how to make a better cash register.

Raph Koster
profile image
The talk was pretty narrowly targeted at "things that AAA game developers moving over need to know," not bold new ideas. (And the talk did say, metrics do not replace design. For larger insights and suggestions on other practices, well, that would be my design talk tomorrow, I hope. :)

Michael Joseph
profile image
@Patrick Sebring re: "Although there is the fact that this is a business regardless of how you look at it. The artists might not have created their works with riches in mind but they rely on them to survive. We could all become game design buskers but in the end we're still hoping someone will pay us."



True, not all can afford to remain completely faithful to our best ideals when faced with the need to keep a roof overhead and food on the table, but there's a clear distinction between supporting one's self through honest work and the exploitative practice of peddling pet rocks and other useless (or worse harmful) widgets. As you know the choice isn't reduced to busking or exploitation.



Further, there's no need to attempt to reconcile this difference. A pet rock is a pet rock. Recently there's a ton of headlines and articles suggesting that everyone needs to become pet rock makers. Hardly.

Patrick Sebring
profile image
I completely agree and I'm not saying that we sell our souls and our integrity in any way. Like any industry there will always be the snakeoil salesmen lurking in the corners with the only motivation of greed (heck, look at hollywood or the music industry). The point I was trying to make is that there is a lot of validity in understanding the reason people do things (Raph's "Theory of Fun" is a great example). Not for the purpose of exploiting but also for creating a more natural and enjoyable experience (or more addicting). Everyone that's been in the industry has had the meetings where a mandate is given for usually either marketing or accessiblity that goes counter the design. This is just part of the business unless you have the freedom to self-publish, are one of the owners or have full creative license. Often you can address these things with some elegant design that satisfies both.



This however is not the same thing as what you're talking about with the pet-rock factory analogy. Those outside of the creative realm that look at the numbers and see the a success will invariably try to emulate that success. I think anyone that's creative and is constantly told to copy something, re-brand it and put a new coat of paint on it will not want to continue doing it.



This is why I believe we're on the edge of a new dawn of seeing the rise of the indie studio and a lot of great games with the giants of the industry playing catchup in areas. This is outside this topic of what are considered "social" games since they also have merit as games and deserve the same respect. Besides wasn't Trade Wars 2002 and MUDs early social games? Here is the best thing I've seen to support the indie migration: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc

Wael Hadj mouldi
profile image
One thing we all need to keep in mind is WHY our profile is shifting from gamedesigner to gamedesigner + marketing designer:



- 70$ Games (besides few exceptions) don't bring enough money anymore.

- Players are less and less willing to pay 70$ anymore on a "gamble" (see mirror's edge).

- We now work on games that are available for FREE. FREE as in "I don't pay a dime for a 6 months work done by 10 people".

- We need to get our dinner on the table.



This is why we now need to understand how, where and when we can get a reward for our efforts.



I don't understand how can't this be compatible with our current work and jeopardize our status of artist?



My 2 cents

David Fox
profile image
Fantastic comments all around. There's no question that the video game money curve is going to follow those game companies (and designers) that understand real-time marketing. For video game veterans these new techniques of truly knowing thy customer's motivation and moment-by-moment preferences is hugely empowering -- it feels a bit like magic. For the crop of kids coming out of Stanford, it's Metrics 101 -- utterly obvious and taken for granted.



The Big Question I struggle with is whether today's top social games CAN really evolve into more genuine play experiences. Many say "social games is in it's infancy, give it time!" But that doesn't feel accurate to me. When other platforms were in their infancy the games weren't graphically sophisticated or mechanically elegant but they still were engines of delight and play, built by people focused on delight and play.



Can the same game, same company, same PERSON be both an "engineer of compulsion loops leading to stronger monetization" as well a "trickmaster of delight and play"? I know it's something I struggle with.


none
 
Comment: