Many social games, including social casino games, monetize through the sale of virtual goods. In this post we explore the nature of social games, which enables this virtual goods economy. Keep in mind that you can find the full white paper here and that you can also check out posts 1 and 2 of the series. Please send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Social games developers, like many of their casual games and video games contemporaries, create entertainment products;
- A small percentage of social games players pays for virtual currency and goods, which unlock features and intensify game play;
- Social games players expect quick, continuous feedback, clear progress, and challenges that are interesting but not insurmountable.
For those outside the social games industry, it can be surprising that social games players pay to play casino and betting games without being able to win real money. Why do people pay to play social games with no chance of material gain? Social games developers, like many of their casual games and video games contemporaries, create entertainment products. Players pay for virtual goods and currency for entertainment just as they would to purchase a console video game or to go to the movies. Even though only a small percentage of players is willing to pay for virtual currency and goods, which unlock features and intensify game play, the broad reach of social games often translates this small percentage into strong revenues.
Because social games players pay for entertainment in ways that are relatively new to the video games industry – in micro-payments, such as a few dollars to customize a pet or to unlock a new level more quickly – rather than in larger sums, social games developers must be strongly attuned to users’ behavior, emotions and social drives. Social games users expect quick, continuous feedback, clear progress, and challenges that are interesting but not insurmountable. And all of this must occur in a friendly, competitive environment in which users can share their achievements with other players, secure placement on a public leaderboard, and if they choose with their social graph on Facebook – all to gain social status.
The emotional thrill of winning a prize exists in virtual-currency payout social casino and betting games, but the fun of playing is more complex than simply winning a prize. Achievement and status are key drivers of social games monetization.