Gamer Hate

Belligerently lacking in remorse.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Gacha Mechanics Explained by Jun Otsuka

One of the benefits of working at Wooga (however briefly) is that industry insiders will come and give lectures internally. While I was working on Warlords, I got a chance to hear Jun Otsuka go into depth on Gacha monetization. As he worked at one of the first companies to utilize it successfully in Japan, he had some keen insights. Here are my notes from his lecture.

Gacha Lecture Summary
An attempt to summarize the Gacha lecture.

Japan as a Market
Japan’s market is very valuable with an ARPU three times the average of other countries. It is also expected to grow due to smart phones only currently being used by 53% of the population.

What is Gacha?

  • Gacha is like a lottery where you never lose, and you can win big, or VERY big.
  • Gacha builds player assets, bringing them comfort in an ever expanding library of stuff that they have earned and won.
  • Gacha has categories of permanent assets, often in arrangements such as:
    Normal, Rare, Epic.
    Normal, Rare, Epic, Legendary.
    Normal, Superior, Rare, Epic, Legendary.

When you insert money into the Gacha machine:

  • For Hard Currency: You have a 0% chance of getting normal stuff, with a high chance of getting the next tier up, and a greater chance of higher quality goods. e.g. Normal 0%, Rare 99%, Epic 1%.
  • For Soft Currency: You have a very high chance of getting normal stuff, with a very small chance for higher tier goods. e.g. Normal 95%, Rare 4.99%, Epic 0.01%.

Designing Gacha
Design the Gacha mechanic first, then design the game around the mechanic (this is why monster games are so popular, easy to imagine).
The biggest gap in power should be between normal and the next tier up. This gives the player a taste of what could come, but keeps it rare.
Never use consumables for Gacha, you want the player to build a library of assets that keeps them in the game. It’s difficult to leave “real” stuff behind that represents hours of effort or an incredibly lucky Gacha draw. Consumables will eventually be consumed and then gone, giving the player no real incentive to stay (what did I get for my money?).
Non paying users should be able to complete the story and enjoy events. It just takes more time and effort (e.g. strategy/tactics).

Gacha Specifics
Give tutorial players gems and a rare to show the difference between normal and rare.
Give players a way to use their friends’ Epic monsters to have a taste of what winning the lottery could be like.
Sell slots to hold more Gatcha assets and have a scaling progression of costs for each slot (e.g. Non-payer has 2 slots, 1 slot costs 10 gold, 2nd slot costs 20 gold, 3rd costs 40, etc). These are always purchased in Japan.

Service in Japan
Support your player base with excellent service to keep them coming back for more, especially since they are high paying users and in Japan, they probably expect good service in many respects. This means:
Daily Dungeons that support different styles of play and strategies for success (e.g. if the game has elemental summons, having 1 day per summon type, and then gold earning on weekends).
Many special events each month (10 to 25 per month). This requires support with a calendar of events to make sure everyone can find events of interest and keep track of when they are coming.
Have easy to complete events periodically to promote getting involved in events and the Gatcha system in general.

Respond quickly to issues.
Be open and honest about problems and address them quickly.
Give “Sorry Gems” (hard currency) whenever issues come up to not only keep regular players happy, but to give Non Paying Users a taste of what they can do (puts them into the Gatcha system).

Benefits Drawbacks of Gacha

  • Higher ARPU
  • Higher quality long-term users.
  • More hardcore gameplay/less casual.
  • Lower DAU.

TLDR
Find it, Try it, Want it, Buy it.

posted by CommanderHate at 9:26 am  

Friday, March 10, 2017

GDC Notes – 2016

So I was thinking… I archive almost everything I do, in terms of game design. Meetings, discussions, plans for new game mechanics, games, features, storylines… Stuff that will never ever be used, or help anyone (except myself). I saw that as unfair, so I’m just going to start posting random stuff that I think might be useful to others here. Because why not.

Here are my notes from GDC 2016, mostly in shorthand based on my understanding of what was said. For some real fun you could potentially look up the lectures in the GDC vault and see if you agree or disagree with what I thought. 😉

GDC Takeaways

Social Media Q&A
Developing a community and keeping them informed is critical to success.
Amazon Monetization
We should sell t-shirts, use Amazon Coins, and Amazon Underground.
Digital River Monetization
Americans use Credit Cards and Paypal, buying things is scary.
Free To Play Design Roundtable
How does New York Times have subscriptions but remain in games?
Digital River Monetization Esports
Tailor ads to consumer, use visuals.
UX Onboarding Notes
Make players fall in love with your game (then shake them down for cash).
Design Roundtable Loot Tables and Rogue-Likes
True random sucks, never do it.
Character Design for Diverse Audiences
Make characters racially ambiguous to attract adults and kids.
Vungle Secret to Game Profitability
Buying installs is stupid, make your customers spam their friends.
Design Roundtable – Mind Altering Design
Celebrate good stuff, make good things happen if bad stuff is happening too much.

Social Media Q&A
Ideas for Improvement
– Release Beta of games to Newsletter readers for early feedback and to grow our community while making them feel appreciated.
– Create community site for games. Blog, forum, etc. Collect feedback, color code it.
– Consider Tone of Voice, potential tagline to create personality (e.g. Hey Solvers!), generally build identity.
– Research journalists, reach out to those who would appreciate our products.
– Use e-mails with gifs attached to demonstrate gameplay (wordventure promo).
– Write in tone of demographic, make up a character that is your audience and speak like them based on where you’re posting.
How to Build Following
– Post pictures with every post. Text is scrolled past by most.
– Use #ScreenshotSaturdays
– Find # for similar games and hijack their threads (e.g. #NYTimes
– 1/3rd of posts about our stuff, 1/3rd engaging with others who do similar stuff, 1/3rd amplification of other people’s messages (become part of community).
– Post videos of products.
Dev Blog
– Post content daily to create backlog of information.
– Create community and interest pre-release (e.g for Wordventures).
– Read community feedback to improve games.
– Post often.
Older Women
– Keep messages short. Imitate those with similar messages.
– Use # for that age group (research). Do they even use twitter?
– Talk to older women, get reactions.
– Use Fiver…
– Facebook interest graph?
Hiring Community Manager
– Look for most engaged and dedicated in community.
– Test them with questions from community reviews.
– Writing test/style: reviewer vs PR vs marketing.

Amazon Monetization
Amazon Coins – Discounts and incentives for users, while devs get full price of coins.
Merch by Amazon – Shirts and other stuff printed on demand with no min/max. We get money, no overhead.
Amazon Underground – Free to users, amazon pays us per minute of play (approximately USD 0.12/hour). Based on median engagement (5 minutes) and 50,000 DAU, roughly USD 2,500 per day).

Selling Points for Amazon
– Higher conversion to payers among amazon coin customers.
– Can spike sales with 20% amazon coin return scheme on IAPs.
Other Tips
– Use merch as community engagement tool, ask them what art they want to see (wordventures).
Digital River Monetization

PC Gaming
– Free to play growing. Steam growing.
– Global PC market 25.5 billion with ½ revenue from DLC.
– Subscriptions are in decline.
– Payment methods by country differ:
– U.S. favors: Visa +30%, Paypal 24%, Debit 15%, Mastercard 10%.
– Germany favors: Paypal 52%, Paypal Express 10%, Paysafe 8%, Credit/Debit 12%.
Purchase Point Notes
– 50% cancel transaction if preferred payment method is not available (44% US, 61% Germany).
– Reduce spending friction by saving billing information/user account when possible.
– Have a confirmation screen to reassure customer that payment was successful.
– Visual design of payment screens should be our brand/product/company (not payment company, or other non-related graphics).
– Checkout Resistance Issues:
– Website insecure 62%.
– Preferred method not available 44%.
– Redirected to website 43%.
– Took too long (too many screens) 40%.
– Bounced to new window (feels insecure).

Free To Play Design Roundtable

Coin Economy Tips
– Give currency for free so people use it more frequently.
– Hard currency price should have higher value to time.
– Create collection systems (gatcha system).
– Subscription requires you to leave games category in Apple store (NY Times doesn’t??).
– Incentivized ads, cannot use if under 13.
– Separate cash and grind currencies.
– Time vs Money vs Friends – 3 currency types.
– Allow to convert between currencies.
– New currency every X levels in order to prevent mudflation.
– Raffles to remove money from economy.

Prevention of Cheating
– Delay sales/transfer of items to make it harder to steal (gold farmers).
– Chargebacks can cause Visa to close your account.
– Limit gifts per day.
– Hard drive ID – if you chargeback you get banned.
– Limit or eliminate P2P transactions.
– Increase time to enter the regular game economy cycle.

General Notes
– Plan for A/B testing and put elements in place for it.
– Change text colors and other innocuous seeming things to check if they influence purchases (e.g. red text increases purchases in America).

Digital River Monetization Esports
General Notes
– Contextual ads are important: they need to be relevant to the users.
– Build loyalty to your app/brand first, then advertise to the loyalists.
– Value added content: get X if you buy Y or N% off if you buy Y.
– Customer loyalty card or discounts?
– Use visuals when advertising, makes it easier to get a return.
– 15 second videos are very popular (vines).
– Animated gifs.
UX Onboarding Notes
Core Notes
– Balance luck versus skill to develop sense of mastering the game.
– Simple inputs that lead to a variety of outputs (duh).
– “Right” amount of choices. Don’t overwhelm, don’t give impression of overly simplistic.
– Clear consequence of actions (I do this, I understand that X will occur).
– Clear path to improvement of player’s “account,” (e.g. collection or experience or skill practice).
– Innovate… um… duh.
– Ask yourself: “What would it take to make me fall in love with this game?”

Theme
– Keeps player invested until they learn core mechanics.
– Sound, graphics, music, story, etc. All to keep player invested until the mechanics of the game become known and understood as a path to self-improvement.
– Replicate emotions of universal experiences (e.g. Walking Dead Season 1, teaching a child).
– Doing > Showing > Telling : Make players complicit in the core premise of the game/theme.
– Environmental storytelling, characters & animations, etc.

Design Roundtable Loot Tables and Rogue-Likes

Procedural Generation
– Provide context, where will this drop, is it appropriate for this area/creature?
– Use procedural for basic items.
– Prefix/Suffix to match themes, categorize by theme.
– Don’t try to be too specific to player experience, match the world/theme, or it feels contrived.
– E.g. Nemesis System (Shadows of Mordor) : Orcs fight orcs, what are events that would occur, what are the outcomes, how does this affect the world?
– Spend money to bypass randomness.
– Use progressive % to fix short term random frustration.
Character Design for Diverse Audiences
General
– Phenotypic identifiers that match user increase player interactivity.
– People look for phenotypic identifiers that they identify with, so characters of ambiguous or mysterious backgrounds tend to get identified as the player’s race.
– Character abstraction or ambiguity allows players to identify by parts that they believer are similar to them.
– Children 8-12 said that they preferred “Mysterious” character they can’t racially identify.

Vungle Secret to Game Profitability
The Problem
– LifeTime Value vs Customer Acquisition Cost of every user.
– 1.2 to 1.5 USD is a healthy value.
– Average CPI USD 4.00 * 1.2 = USD 4.80
– .012 per impression : of 5000, 770 engage.
– .09 per attentive view : 770, 194 click
– .34 per click, 194, 17 install
– 4.00 per install, 17, 1 pays
– Grand total of USD 67 per paying user. Compared to 4.80… hahaha… omg.

Solutions
– Qualify users through creative ads. Create ads for each segment, target them.
– Personalize first experience, good 1st impression (onboarding).
– Higher quality users through friends: facebook share, ask a friend about a puzzle via chat?
– Rewarded videos – Watch this get that.
– Push notification messages, determined by ad company?
– Give users deep links that benefit them if they share it (e.g. here’s your special link, share with friends, whoever uses it and installs our app, you get something).
Design Roundtable – Mind Altering Design
General
– Negatives should eventually build up to positives (e.g. after X wrong answers you get a free hint).
– Have an engagement currency – e.g. Solver Coins that are earned by solving puzzles or just by being in the app (typically done as a daily login bonus). Cannot be purchased with money.
– Steer towards largest sale : Best most obvious option to make player feel good about their choice (yeah I made the right call).
– Emphasize celebrations.
– Set goals but give them the benefit of already partially completed tasks.
– Players that get to see an end boss or get very close to a completion of a puzzle but then fail, tend to blame themselves rather than the game for the failur.
– Remind players when they are close to completion of certain goals to get more engagement (counter on magazine covers to show how many puzzles are left?).
– Bucket quests – prioritized by things player enjoys doing and is focused on (other quests are deprecated until player focuses on them). Reduces noise and potential to overwhelm.
– The more rare the event, the more impressive the celebration should be.

posted by CommanderHate at 2:37 am  

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