GDC: Building game retention tips

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Mar 252014

Aside from the ten minute talk at Critical Proximity that I posted yesterday, I spoke for an additional six minutes at GDC2014 (yes, that’s unusually low commitment for me!). It was a microtalk on retention tips for free to play games in the “build and invest” genre — stuff like farming games, city games, all those isometric games where you plonk down little objects. You can find the archived presentation here.

Quests work against self-expression. They force you to build what the developers want, not what you want.

Most of the panelists focused on the “modern” use of the term “retention” — which is to say, they focused on how to get people to come back for the second day, or for a week. The phrase “daily login bonus” was a common reference. But I knew that would be the case, and so took the opportunity to continue my hapless crusade to get social-style games to greater heights of community and user involvement.

So I presented on the topic of the real ways to get greater retention, like on the order of months. After all, we forget that SimCity, The Sims, Minecraft, and Dwarf Fortress are also “build and invest” games, and have much to team those on the more casual side of the spectrum. (Anyone else remember when SimCity was the casual side of the spectrum??) For anyone who found yesterday’s talk academic and vague, this one is very straightforwardly concrete.

Some of the questions after the presentation were also quite good. One was on the issue of borrowing techniques from one genre into another, and the answer given by Teut Weidemann was “steal from MMORPGs,” which I think every panelist agreed with. I also got someone asking me whether we would see cryptocurrencies hooked directly into games, with games serving as miners and so on. My answer was, not until all regulatory fears are removed, at least as far as larger publishers are concerned.

  5 Responses to “GDC: Building game retention tips”

  1. Months is nice. How about years, and decades? 😉 Well, I guess getting them to stop thinking about days and weeks is the First Step to getting healthier.

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