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Game Design Secrets by Wagner James Au

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Monetizing Freemium Games: Design Considerations

Although some developers with an established reputation can still succeed via the paid download model (see the profile of Tiger Style in the next chapter), you’ll probably want to give your game away for free and monetize through in-app payments. Here are five design tips for making money in free-to-play iOS games.

Get Your Goods in Front of the Player As Often As Possible:

A developer with OpenFeint, the iOS-based social network, told me that developers saw virtual goods’ sales rise when players could see each others’ virtual items displayed in their profiles.

Your game should frequently display the virtual goods the players can buy and give them frequent opportunities to buy them. Many developers I spoke with emphasized the importance of finding ways to expose virtual goods to players often. For instance, display such offerings in an interstitial screen in between game levels or add an in-game pop-up message that appears during crucial gameplay points. (For example, “Running low on health? Buy regeneration boosts from Dr. Bob’s pharmacy!”) Also, create ways for players to make each other aware of in-app game purchases, such as with social media updates.

Offer Regular Special Discounts

This is especially true on the weekends, when most players have the leisure to buy and play.

Many iOS developers offer limited-time discounts or sales on special items. Ideally, these should be offered on a regular basis, so your players ...

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