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Forcing the Hard Currency in F2P Games
by Mikkel Faurholm on 04/22/14 05:10:00 am   Featured Blogs

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 



Depending on the game, a very closely calculated time in the gameplay comes, when the give-aways stop. No more free Diamonds for you Sir! The cost of objectives are getting too high to allow the player to keep spending hard currency without having to purchase any through IAP. 


Letting a player dodge the time gate in the first few instances of the game are very deliberate, trying to engage the player to a level where they feel a combination of ownership and a good portion time invested, for that specific game. But when it ends, players are forced to invest in hard currency to keep avoiding the time gate, keep playing (...and 'have fun') 

 

 


The recipe is fairly clear. Over the last few years, games have 'perfected' the way the get the player engaged/addicted, which is why, independent of theme, you'll sometime feel like you've played the game before. But there are those who swing and miss.

 

Lets look at some examples where games, in their attempt to get the player used to spending the hard currency, forces it too much. In some of the games it is just entertaining to call their bluff and sometimes, the game potentially looses players and revenue instead.

 

An example could be what i'd like to call 'plot-driven encouragement', to use hard currency like you see in Clash of Clans.

 

"Quickly, the bad guys are approaching. We need some type of defensive structure to hold them back"

 

 

You build a cannon to protect yourself, and you see that the structure will be about a minute under way. But the 'helper' pops up and tells you to stop being so stingy, with the 500 free Gems the game provide you with, a few minutes ago. For the small price of one gem, that minute of building time will go away, and you'll be ready for the attack in time. I would bet close to 100% of players listen to the generous and helpful lady and spend the one gem.

 

BUT HOLD ON!?

 

What happens if I refuse? What if I just wait the full minute and save the gem for later? Yep, you guessed it, absolutely nothing happens. The choice to decline the speed-up has no consequences, except waiting the minute. I'm tempted to say, of course nothing happens. why? Because the game would never risk introducing consequences this early in the game. 


Say the cannon did not complete in time, the women and children were stolen, and the town was burned to the ground - and the player was asked to start over? naaah, right? Their bluff was called, and I don't feel cheated, because the cost was so low. So this actually ends up being something that the player can faintly laugh about and move on - waiting the minute or not.



Lesser games unfortunately didn't succeed in doing so. Lets have a look at Social Point's 'Monster Legends Mobile'.

 

The creators of Dragon City, have made what feels like a sequel, and why not? Dragon City had huge success. But in Monster Legends Mobile, they took a few things for granted. An example of this is the first time the player is asked, during the tutorial, to hatch a Dragon Egg. The screen below appears. 

 

Finishing the hatching process can be instantly completed for the small fee of one gem (hard currency) - but it will be completed in 4 sec if the player decides to wait. or will it? My thought process was this; (based on the prior experience from games like Clash of Clan) 


The hard currency can often times strategically be used more efficient than what the game suggest. This is some hardcore casual gaming, i know. But looking at my provided gem stash in Monsters Legends at this point is only 5 gems.

 



Spending 20% of my hard currency or waiting 4 seconds. Not the hardest choice I have had to make, so I'll just wait the 4 seconds and claim my reward. After a few seconds of waiting, the player will notice that the 4 seconds countdown is not a countdown. It does not change. Then it hits you. I have to use the hard currency. 


Honestly? This is just terrible game design, user interface design and user experience. I have no problem with the game trying to force the spending of hard currency on me, and paying a single gem for the hatching of a fire-breathing dragon sounds pretty damn cheap, but this game is simulating a choice that I don't have. 

 

Let me quickly fix 

your game design Social Point.

 

 

The way Monsters Legends Mobile expect user behavior, end up having a very negative effect for players that realize this, myself included.  This is of course a very simple example where, again, most players won't even realize is there, because they just follow the orders of the orange arrow. Sloppy game design that just rides the wave of 'what everyone else did', but not balancing the cost vs. the waiting time. 


Implementing this type of affordance of the use of hard currency can quickly backfire, and players will much rather be forced to spend hard currency than being fool into thinking they are making a choice. Stop lying to the players, and just be honest about your agenda and be careful with the choices, or non-choices, you present to your players. You might end up robbing yourself.

 

There are loads of examples of this type of game design, where the hard currency was too much in focus. Making it big in the world of F2P games requires the game design and the monetization to co-exist and help each other - you can't focus too much on one or the other. Do you have examples of games trying to trick you into spending? Let me know.

 

Jump over to www.appcrimes.com for more or reach me @appcrimes


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