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  • Writer's pictureDaniel J. King

Dissertation Blog #16

Citations of the Day

Georgieva, Gergana, Sylvester Arnab, Margarida Romero, and Sara de Freitas. “Transposing Freemium Business Model from Casual Games to Serious Games." Entertainment Computing 9 (2015): 29-41.

This article explores how casual game business models can be transposed into the serious games sector, focusing on the freemium business model used in social network games. The authors argue that serious game developers should exploit the best practices of casual gaming and include them in the development process of serious games from pre-production through to post-production.

The freemium model can be very attractive, but it needs several iterations before starting to pay off in terms of revenue streams. Virtual goods must be adequately designed to incentivize users to purchase them, and the game has to be distributed to as many users as possible due to the relatively low conversion ratio typical for the industry. An essential part of the freemium model is tracking players' behavior within the game and gaining knowledge about different user groups' preferences.

Harviainen, J. Tuomas, Jukka Ojasalo, and Somasundaram Nanda Kumar. “Customer Preferences in Mobile Game Pricing: A Service Design Based Case Study.” Electronic Markets 28 no. 2 (2018), 191-203.

This study used a series of service-design workshops to determine what kind of monetization freemium-game players would choose, if they could. Service design is a set of design-thinking application methods, which aims at goals such as co-design with various important stakeholders, the discovery of customer needs, and the creation of experience and value co-creation by facilitating networks. In this case, the purpose of the workshops was to develop alternate pricing models, and each workshop had four phases: Exploration, Creation, Reflection, and Implementation.

In the workshop answers, players acknowledged that some form of monetization was necessary, despite that all current monetization options except purely cosmetic additions were considered harmful to the play experience. Players were interested in finding a balance between options, ideally through a hybrid system of monetization that mixes various strategies. Just as players value autonomy is choosing what to play and how to play it, they appear to value the possibility of choosing how to pay for the experience as well.

Players indicated that they view their payments not so much as acquisitions of more content or easier play, but rather as rewarding the designers of the game for their good design. What counts for players is the ability to reward the designers the right way.

Design and Mechanics

I want to monetize Field of Cures to generate donations for a non-profit science advocacy organization. Here is a brainstorm list of ideas:

  • Pay for extra retries (usable for undoing moves or retrying puzzles)

  • Pay for extra flower specimens with random genes (kind of like a loot box)

  • Pay for nature reserve field upgrade (permanently yields extra flower specimens)

  • Pay for super-science points (used for gene mutating, splicing, editing, etc.)

  • Pay for cosmetic items honoring famous scientists from history

  • A direct donation button that does not affect the game at all

  • A one-time payment to unlock all game levels

  • A periodic choice to either pay for a nature reserve field upgrade or allow climate change to destroy part of the game world

Current Events

Ruth Bader Ginsberg died a few days ago. She had a long career -- may she rest in peace. I signed a petition for the senate to wait until after Inauguration Day to replace her on the Supreme Court. It's a long shot... it's probable that this senate will move to stuff her seat with a puppet of the plutocracy as fast as possible.

There is nothing to do but embrace stoicism and fight on.

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