Now these points of data make a beautiful line.
I still believe in the social game space, and in the players. If anyone needs more great games, it's the huge Facebook audience that so rarely gets them. They've only just begun to see how games can be a meaningful part of your life.
I still believe in the power of metrics as an information source. Metrics are the most direct and honest communication from your players. Even more, I believe in free-to-play games. They force us to get us out of our own heads as developers and design for players rather than for ourselves.
But when it comes to social/mobile game "best practices" and especially friction-based monetization, I believe there's a better way. Players stick with your game because they made an emotional connection. They pay money for your game because that emotional connection is meaningful to them.
There are emotional consequences to basing a game's monetization around steadily increasing friction. Just because players are willing to spend money for something doesn't mean they want to, they like to, or that you haven't just eroded whatever good will they had toward you and your game.
We have models that show huge success, like League of Legends, The Lord of the Rings Online, World of Tanks, and Free Realms. Players will pay to save time, to have unique and visually appealing items, or to customize their experience. They'll pay for fun, they'll pay for coolness, they'll pay for status, and they'll pay for more content in the game.
We don't have to beat them over the head with bricks just so they'll pay us to stop beating them.
Social and social/mobile companies are trapped. Faced with an aggressive marketplace and skyrocketing costs, jobs and even whole companies are at stake. It's hard to justify turning your back on a proven model. To do that, you have to take risks. You have to look beyond data and understand its emotional context. You have to be in the game for the long haul and not for whatever increases tomorrow's profit. You have to see players as your allies instead of test subjects.
You have to stop thinking like GLaDOS and start thinking more like Stephen Jay Gould.
Our endgame isn't a player who's burned out after paying the maximum we can get out of him for three months. Our endgame is a happy, consistent player who sees the game improving, the community growing, and positive ways for him to spend his money with us over the years. Our endgame is a player who feels like the game community is his home.
Our endgame isn't just about whales. Our endgame is to better the play experience for the whole funnel.
I feel FANTASTIC and I'm still alive.
My PET scan in September was all clear. As of now, I'm in remission. I see a specialist once a month to have a scope stuck down my throat so he can see if the cancer's back. I'll have ongoing PET scans and checkups for five years, and after that I'll be called "cured." When I feel a tickle in the back of my throat, like I have the past few weeks, I have trouble sleeping.
I still find myself looking at statistics from time to time. Many say there's a 90 percent cure rate for this specific type of cancer. It's a fairly new area of research, though, and there's a small set of evidence that it may have a much higher than expected rate of metastasis to the lungs. Lung metastasis is tricky business, even if you can have radiation a second time.
But this isn't about survival statistics, and the median isn't the message. This, like life and like metrics, is about evolution. It's about change. It's about picking new behaviors based on the results of previous behaviors.
It's about how an understanding of the endgame can change the way you play.