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Evaluating Monetization Early in Development (GDC 2017)

Adam Telfer March 04, 2017

As promised, here are the slides from my talk at GDC 2017 on Evaluating Monetization Early.

GDC 2017: Monetization

GDC 2017: Evaluating Monetization Early from Adam Telfer

A Quick Summary:

  • Define Your Core Monetization
    • Monetization’s root comes from a long lasting urge to progress.
    • The most successful monetization mechanics come from speeding up pacing to progress. So adding and tightening pacing systems is the key to improving monetization opportunities.
    • Pacing systems which can be monetized on usually come in 4 forms: Time, Stats, Currencies and Luck. Find where in your core loop you can add additional pacing systems which make natural sense.
  • Ensure your game can scale for years
    • To be in the top grossing you need games which take years to progress, and can withstand tens of thousands of dollars of spending
    • Watch out for red flags in your prototype that it won’t scale:
      • Map out a vision of your progress over years. Do you think it will be enough?
      • Do the mechanics break? How large is your scope of stat upgrades?
      • Do the sessions break? In the mid and end game, are you asking too much of your players?
      • Does your Content scale? Can you effectively produce enough content to retain top players?
      • Does your Economy scale? Does your tight currencies remain valuable?
  • Design & Tighten Triggers for spending
    • Record down for your game the various trigger points you see players spending. Can you add more? How can you tighten these reasons?
    • Triggers Usually come in the form of these 6 forms:
      • Loss Aversion: Protecting what players believe they’ve earned
      • Vanity: Showing off to other players in the game
      • Competitiveness: Wanting to dominate the game or other players
      • Impatience: Wanting to make progress quickly
      • Investment: Investing a small amount early which reaps greater rewards in the future
      • Social: Spending for the benefit of others
    • Which of these triggers does your game have? How do you tighten these?
  • Prototype with Monetization & Pacing
    • Prototype with your pacing & monetization included to avoid misleading fun early in prototyping

Thanks for all that attended, and I hope this is useful for everyone!


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