Earning and Growing Revenue

Besides advertising, sponsorships/tie-ins, and other indirect revenue channels, most Facebook developers make the lion’s share of their money by getting players to purchase virtual goods via their in-game currency. Although most players won’t pay anything for your game, this section covers some of the tricks veteran designers use to make it more likely that they will.

Make Sure the Game’s Monetization is Deeply Integrated into the Game’s Design

Ask any game designer the secret to a successful game and they’ll say something like “Good game design and fun gameplay” (which would require a whole other book to explain). But ask any Facebook game designer that same question, and the answer will be just a touch different, something like: “Good game design and fun gameplay with monetization deeply integrated into the design and gameplay.” Because all Facebook games are free to play, and there are so many, it’s not enough to create a good, fun game. Monetization options have to be designed from the start, alongside all the other features that make up the game.

Without being overly obtrusive, artificial, or spammy, the goal is to always make the player aware of how they can pay for the game, and how that payment can make the game more fun. A perfect example of this is found in Backyard Monsters (see Figure 4-4), which is a resource-management strategy game. Players have to harvest enough raw materials to build their base and army. (It’s part of the core game loop.) ...

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