The Mobile Free to Play Bible
Here is the mobile free to play (F2P) bible. A collection of articles, links and videos that I’ve collected over the years which can really help you understand the main tenants of game design for mobile free to play. Each of these articles has inspired me in different ways to create better games, I hope they’ll do the same for you.
Free to Play Core Loops
The basics of Free to Play come down to designing a “Core Loop“. A very repeatable gameplay system that acts as a basis for all other actions in the game.
Here are some excellent articles that pertain to designing effective Game Loops:
For the master class, here is my article on how to expand your Game Loop to ensure it doesn’t get too repetitive:
Stats, Skill and Luck
One of the most fundamental game design principles is balancing the impact of Luck versus Skill. Since Free to play so often also deal with RPG-like progression in the form of Stats, F2P goes one step further in requiring designers to balance all 3: Stats, Skill and Luck together.
To understand the importance of each, as well as how to evaluate game concepts in relation to this balance, here is a list of articles:
Stats, Skill and Luck (mobilefreetoplay)
Understanding Randomness in terms of Mastery (LostGarden)
Retention & Session Design
The key metrics of a game’s success: Retention and Sessions per Day. These are the toughest metrics to increase.
Here is a list of articles that have helped me solve issues with Retention and Session Design:
Eventually, mobile free to play comes down to how you’re going to make money with your game. When you’ve nailed retention, it’s important you understand effective methods of monetization:
Monetization ultimately comes down to an economy of intermediate virtual currencies. Sources and Sinks.
To learn the dark art of economy design, here are some articles to get you started:
Evaluating Early Game Concepts
I’ve had to evaluate a ton of different game ideas in their early stages. How do you approach a crowded, mature game market? Should we make games for girls? casuals? core gamers? Is cloning okay, or should we go for something completely unique?
Does my mobile free to play game idea have a chance of success in the market?
For an answer to these questions and a whole lot more, take a look at my inspirations:
Production & Project Management
Especially in small teams, usually a Game Designer ends up doing a lot more than dreaming up how the game will work. We’re commonly asked to lead teams, provide a vision, and even run project management.
For some basics in the area, here are some articles that I use as a basis:
The Basics: Free to Play’s Key Performance Indicators (GameAnalytics)
Introduction to Mobile Analytics & Reporting (Quarterview)
Blogs to Follow
Mobile Dev Memo – Weekly blog by Industry marketing expert Eric Seufert. Each week there is a powerful article that really nails the current trends in F2P (especially in marketing).
Lost Garden – Blog by Daniel Cook. This blog has been the most valuable source of game design knowledge that I’ve ever read. Not always relevant to free to play, but has excellent articles about understanding how to improve your game designs.
Quarter View – Joseph Kim
Both Guns Blazing – Anil Das-Gupta
Deconstructor of Fun – Michail Katkoff