Chapter 4

Facebook Game Design: Basic Principles for Growth and Revenue

In This Chapter

  • Gaining and retaining players
  • Earning and growing revenue to make your game more profitable
  • Talking with Justin Smith of Inside Virtual Goods and AppData about how much you should expect to make from a well-designed Facebook game

Because I wrote this book in part for developers from the traditional side of the game industry, this chapter begins with some words from Nabeel Hyatt, a former game developer turned venture capitalist. Many game veterans come to Facebook assuming the worst about its style of gaming and the people who play Facebook games. Hyatt’s advice to them: Don’t go into it too cynically, and don’t be exploitative. “You’re going to get your best viral and design mechanics from things that users are excited to do,” says Hyatt.

CROSSREF You can read more about Nabeel Hyatt in Chapter 15.

Consider how Brian Reynolds, designer of Civilization II, Rise of Nations, and other hardcore strategy game classics, first became interested in Facebook games. Playing the early hit Mafia Wars, he once told me for a GigaOM article, he noticed that it fostered play among a broad range of acquaintances. This observation was crystallized in the moment when his much older aunt, also a Mafia Wars player, posted on his Facebook wall: “Hi Brian—Thanks for the energy packs, I love you!” Seen that way, the Facebook game creates a context for socialization, in much the same way that classic parlor ...

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