Category: For Gamers!

Let’s start with some numbers.  The world championship for “League of Legends” reached 27 million viewers in 2014.  Over 100,000 people attended the Intel Extreme Masters in 2015, hosted by the world’s largest eSports company, ESL.  Turner Broadcasting and WME/IMG aim to broadcast 20 live e-sports events over the course of 2016.  Tournament prizes for some of the top games include nearly $60 million for Dota 2 over 578 tournaments and over $27 million for League of Legends in over 1600 tournaments.

All metrics are increasing:  physical attendance, number of online viewers, number of competitors, cash prizes, etc.

I’ve touched on eSports a few times previously, suffice that competitive gaming is (or should be) a common interest to both game developers and gamers.  At its simplest, competitive gaming provides an opportunity for everyone to have fun and possibly make some money.  However, professional players, teams, ladder rankings and tournament events are also marketing venues – even if the “game” is not your game.   That is to say, getting involved with other racing games is a way to promote your raging app to gamers likely willing to try it.

RacingScott Pruett’s BMW Riley at a 2012 Rolex Sports Car Race

The race car above shows the decals of numerous sponsors who contributed either financially or materially to Scott Pruett’s racing team.  Of course, race car sponsorships represent a different marketing model than is associated with mobile and online games.  It does not hurt to take a look at their model to see how it might be applied to yours:

  • Cars serve as moving billboards for logos (brand name recognition)
  • Teams have uniforms which also prominently feature sponsor logos.
  • Print and media usually reference sponsors as part of “the story.”
  • Cross-marketing opportunities and promotions between sponsors.
  • Autograph sessions for extended and personal visibility.
  • Event hospitality and “free hand outs” to people within the target market.

Numerous marketing and promotion elements are in play and can be easily adapted for mobile apps and eSports events.  The cost of eSports sponsorships vs the opportunities they may create are very much on the low-end of budget requirements, consisting of cost of game play and team apparel, perhaps some extra hardware.  The primary expense is likely to come from admission, travel and lodging to attend tournaments.  Still many events are conducted online at the same time as events become more widespread and accessible.

Obviously, there is a major gap between starting a team and getting the team to place in major tournaments.  Leastwise, you have the option to form or recruit your own team or seek out teams already looking for sponsors.  Like anything else, winning in tournaments comes from consistent and persistent practice.  Still, we are talking about people who are going to play anyway.

One option for developers to consider is to invite the highest ranking players of their own app to form the basis a competitive eSports team for a similar game that is already heavily monetized in tournaments within the same genre.  Companies with enough developers could form their own teams, as well – as not long ago (and still) there are many businesses which have their own baseball and bowling teams.  That goes to say that gaming, sports and esports are not just games but social and professional networking opportunities, as well.

You only need to look at professional sports like baseball, basketball, football, hockey, tennis, racing, even surfing to see the outcome of eSports.  From forming or sponsoring your own teams to running competitions and potentially hosting your own events (physical or virtual), you have several possibilities to consider.  I remember the days when most people had never been online and where the internet was believed to be a passing fad.  Obviously it wasn’t, but the lesson is to get in on the “groundfloor” of The Next Big Thing early.

The Evil Geniuses took the top prize in DOTA 2’s “The International” 2015 – $6.6 million.  Meanwhile in Pro-Golf, Jordan Spieth brought home  $1.8 million for winning The Masters.

Metagaming is basically using “real world knowledge” for in-game benefits to include such things as raid strategies, making in-game money, game add-ons to improve efficiency, etc. Metagaming is natural, logical, exceedingly common, perhaps unavoidable, but only really discouraged in the old-school roleplaying game genre.

Mega Metagaming, as I’ve coined the term, makes use of “real world knowledge” for in-game and real-world benefit: real money, notoriety and influence in addition to in-game benefits. It is also very common, but still with considerable untapped potential. Online gaming is an ever-evolving “market” wherein eSports is but one component; albeit the largest and most lucrative, presently.

The Monetization of eSports

The prize pool of The International 2015 – the fifth DOTA 2 championship tournament amounted to $18 million dollars. Compare this to Pro-Golf’s Master’s Tournament for 2015 where the prize pool topped $10 million, for the first time ever. Going further, we can look at the payouts:

DOTA 2

  • Evil Geniuses – $6.6 million
  • CDEC Gaming – $2.8 million
  • LGD Gaming – $2.2 million

The Masters

  • Jordan Spieth – $1.8 million
  • Phil Mickelson – $880 thousand
  • Justin Rose – $880 thousand

Call of Duty, League of Legends, Turbo-Racing, Starcraft 2, Counter-Strike, World of Tanks and countless other games have also had tournaments with high-stakes prize payouts. This is not limited just to games, either. In 2013, Kapitall, a company oriented to investor education offered $100,000 as the top prize for its Market Tournament.

Behind the Scenes

There are a lot of people engaged involved in a lot work behind the scenes in making these tournaments happen.  The creation of a professional eSports Team to compete for millions of dollars is similar to everything that goes into forming, managing, training and financing a real-world sports team.

Beyond the eSports teams, someone has to organize the tournaments, coordinate the technical and streaming/television components, create the web sites, sign the sponsors, conduct the marketing and advertising, get the vendors to sell burgers and pizza to thousands of people attending the events – just to support the tournaments.

Tournaments represent a fairly small portion of the collective gaming ecosystem.  There is much more to gaming than tournaments.  There are many opportunities to make money from gaming the more one understands the broader gaming ecosystem.  That’s not to say that they are easy or as simple as getting paid to play games.

Guilds and More

In the lead up to this article, I addressed how to make a great gaming guild.   At its simplest, a gaming guild is a group of players who cooperate toward common goals (like Raiding, Crafting, Roleplaying, etc.).

The Syndicate is the best example of a gaming guild that evolved into something far more than a guild. With over a 19 year history playing games, The Syndicate has an influence on game developers (having several in its own ranks) – as they specialize in game and system testing, strategy guide writing, consulting and feedback.

That entails a lot of hard work – but it is work that would not be possible without “a game” or game developers wanting their services.

But, just as there are gaming guilds there are niche markets to go with them.  Gamerlaunch.com and guildportal.com specialize in providing guild web sites. The monetization components here include not just web site hosting, but advertising, affiliate programs, sometimes gaming guides, and app development of their own. There remains plenty of room for localized expansion (by country, language and even by game genre).

On top of this, there are game review sites, magazine and video channels on YouTube – all of which can have an influence on a game’s development and player community, too.  What developers and players should know by now quite well is that game reviews can and do have a significant impact on the life of the game.   While written for developers, an earlier post on “Super Users” would also be useful for gamers aspiring to get more from their gaming activity or seriously interested in Mega Metagaming.

Gold Farming

Reselling in-game goods and currency for real money is, if not illegal, against the terms and conditions of most games. I don’t want to get into this too deep here as it is a topic of its own.

More and more game developers are experimenting with a variety of currency conversion models to address a wide range of issues to include making it possible for “free to play” gamers being able to access premium content.   Others, like Entropia Universe actually do have a real to virtual conversion model.

It is also appropriate to note here that both Congress and the Internal Revenue Service of the United States has examined taxing MMO-derived income.  Leastwise, there are many, many issues complicating the entire real vs. virtual goods and currencies exchange to warrant a separate examination.

With that discussion and perhaps as an expansion upon it is the future of digital currencies, in general.

Nevertheless, there are games that do permit you to plunder your way to enough in-game currency that you can swap it with the game developer for “real game time” – i.e. their paid subscription rate and other premium content.  Having a guild – a group of people to help you with that brings advantages for everyone in the guild.

Games as Tools for Education and Professional Training

This is a big pot of stew waiting for more and more people to stir it.  As the classroom itself becomes ever more digital, we will see “games” adapted for additional purposes.  It is an old concept, in fact, going back to the old 1983 movie “Wargames” with Matthew Broderick.

There’s the obvious correlation that when forming a professional eSports Team, some will employ others to provide professional training.  As computer games in general are becoming increasingly realistic, they begin to provide professionals low-cost, convenient access to hands-on application and training in realistic environments not likely to be found elsewhere.  This includes military training where it can be extremely expensive, is not always convenient and can have broader implications (real or imagined) in live training exercises.

In this direction, we might also look at wargaming (conflict simulation) as it takes place at King’s College London, quite possibly the most prestigious wargaming environment in the world.  One might even say that’s “very old school” – compared to what is available today, even with conventional smart phones.

Over the Top?

Certainly, some will assert that elements of this article are somewhat “over the top” – that it is improbable that end users, people who play games, may earn anything like a living wage doing so. A look at the past and present, however, points to that being an inevitable outcome in the not too distant future.

The core catalyst is the increasing affordability and availability of smart phones, globally. The electronic game industry can be traced back to arcade games of the late 1970’s into the 1980’s. By 1982, the arcade video game industry in North America alone generated $8 billion in revenues (equating to over $20 billion in today’s dollars).

With the proliferation of personal computers, global sales of computer and console games in 1994 amounted to about $35 billion in today’s dollars. Continuing through the early 2000’s, the vast majority of this market comprised mostly North America, Europe and portions of Southeast Asia.

As a reference, in 1997 per the US Census Bureau, only about 1 in 3 Americans had a personal computer. The smart phone of today has greater power, functionality and graphics than what was available in 1997. It is accessible and affordable to billions of people. Internet.org and other initiatives aim to guarantee that everyone on the planet has access to the Internet with some Android-capable devices going for under $40.

I realize this posts skips around and is perhaps a bit disjointed, perhaps not fully embellishing upon the idea of mega metagaming.  It is a broad term encompassing many different things, almost all of which relate to or are an extension of the games we play.  The main point considers that for how large the gaming industry already is (and will become), that there are plenty of opportunities to use the games you play for your real world benefit.

Again, I won’t assert that such is easy, but probably no more difficult to earn a living by playing games than the effort to become a professional football player or pro-golfer, a doctor, or any other career out there.  It does not necessarily mean that you will get paid to play a game directly, but that it could very well prove an instrumental part in making money.

Many online games provide the opportunity to form guilds. One can also form a gaming guild to encompass multiple games. Here, we will look at (1) the different reasons why you might want to create a guild, (2) what to expect, and (3) just about everything to make your guild awesome!

Is Running a Guild Right for You?

The single most important aspect of being a Guild Leader is being an active and regular player – either playing almost daily or possibly being a weekend warrior. It is also helpful to have at least some experience as a member or officer of an existing guild, so you know better what you are getting into. From there, starting a guild is something you might consider if you really enjoy the game or want to make gaming “more than just a hobby”.

  • You really enjoy the game (or several games)
  • You want to make gaming more than just a hobby
  • You are willing to invest in the potential to get more from your game time
  • One or more of the following describe you:
    • You are very social and like to meet new people
    • You prefer playing only with friends and family
    • You are very competitive
    • You work hard and play harder
    • You are very experienced with the game
    • You are an entrepreneur at heart

Starting and running a gaming guild can involve a significant investment of time and energy. Its success and longevity depend a lot on your commitment and reasons for starting the guild.

If you are already a member of a guild and want to branch out, talk with your present guild leader in hopes of creating an alliance for common interests. This can work especially well if you are starting from a social guild and want to focus heavily on PvP or Raiding.

Different Types of Guilds

Being the founder of the guild you get to decide what kind of guild it will be and potentially evolve into. There are several basic types of guilds:

  • Social Guilds – Aiming to be a friendly place for friendly people to cooperate on any aspect of the game, focused mostly on helping everyone to “level up”. Social guilds tend to be large and can eventually evolve into other types of guilds (usually Family or Raiding Guilds).
  • Family Guilds – A place for friends and family often picking up other players who have proven to be very friendly and cooperative.
  • Roleplaying Guilds – Focused on game lore and “immersion” in the game world.
  • Raiding Guilds – Very organized, usually high maintenance groups focused on beating the most challenging “end game” content, ranking high on leaderboards, and often developing a reputation throughout the game’s community.
  • PvP Guilds – Focused on Player vs. Player game components, typically very competitive and the most likely type of guild to seek playing professionally – for real rewards and money.
  • Metagaming Guilds – Not usually referred to as such, but the most entrepreneurial of all. Guilds of this nature aim to be represented in multiple games and to monetize their role within the gaming community.

Note that you do not need to start a guild by yourself. You may have friends or find others willing to co-found a guild with you. In exceptional cases, it is even possible to “inherit” a guild if or when the present guild leader becomes inactive or wants to step down.

Guild Leaders and Officers

As a guild founder or co-founder, you get to define the type of guild it will be, its rules and policies. You are also the one who will, at least initially, make appointments to various “guild officer” positions. The critical point is that you do not need to do everything yourself. You can delegate tasks and responsibilities to others.

  • Guild Leader/s – That would be you, the final arbiter of anything relating to your guild. Note that if you really don’t want all of the associated responsibilities of “final arbiter”, you can fill this role as a figurehead.
  • Executive Director (or similar term) – who has the capacity to act on behalf of the guild leader in all things, your second-in-command, and hopefully the person who will replace you if you decide to step down.
  • Board of Directors / Inner Council Members – whatever you want to call it, these are the people who help you define and decide on all of the complex aspects of the guild, making rules, disciplinary actions.
  • Guild Treasurer – There is an in-game and real currency component to most games spanning everything from guild perks, guild bank space, acquisition of materials for high-end crafting, guild prizes and potentially things like pay to play subscriptions, web sites or even advertising. This role could be divided between in-game and real currency components.
  • Recruiting Officer/s – Players willing to spend time seeking out new guild members through in-game announcements on world or guild chat channels, spending time in “lowbie zones” helping new players for a more personal introduction to your guild. This can also extend to game forums, social networking pages, and your guild web site.
  • Webmaster – What? Yes, webmaster – someone who can set up and maintain your guild web site. This is probably an article unto itself; suffice that if you are aiming to have a large guild, a guild with a reputation, intend to be competitive in tournaments or are looking at entrepreneurial gaming components, a web site is an absolute must for success.
  • Class Training and PvP Officers – Experienced players who know their class (like Warrior or Mage) or very active in Player vs. Player content. Their role is to help other players optimize their skills and equipment for the roles they will be playing.
  • Event Coordinators – This can encompass almost anything – guild raids, PvP zergfests, in-game weddings, crafting events. To be successful, everyone needs to know when they are and what they will need for the event. The Event Coordinator is likely to be the one who maintains the Raid Roster and a list of players who can step in as substitutes.

Your guild can be structured as simply and informally or as complex and formal as you like. The type of guild you form will tend to define some of long-term requirements. Initially, you may not need any of these roles, as your guild grows and matures, everyone in it will need some form of guidance on conduct.

As the guild gets more active in raiding, players will be committing their time and will depend upon other key players to show up. It is not unusual for a raid guild to have a mandatory attendance policy. Real Life issues are important and usually take precedent, suffice that advanced notice of an absence may be required. That may seem extreme for a game, but guilds of this nature are approaching it as “more than just a game”.

Making Your Guild Awesome!

It does not happen overnight. It requires a significant investment of time and effort, a long-term commitment. As your guild grows to the point where you do have recruiting officers, guild events, social media activities, a treasurer, a web site, you are starting to rival many small businesses in terms of online potential.

  • Rules – A clear and consistent code of conduct and disciplinary process for violations.
  • Keep Calm – Avoid getting emotional. There can be a lot of drama in a guild, maintain the code of conduct, enforce it. At some point, we’ll cover more on this with another article.
  • A Regular Schedule of Events (raids, PvP hour, etc.) – start with one per week and expand as you grow. You want at least one occasion each week with maximum participation and remind everyone why your guild is the best for them.
  • A Promotions Protocol – how someone can rise in the guild ranks from new member to officer.
  • A Suggestion Box – Welcome and encourage ideas from guild members.
  • Diplomacy – coordinate events with other guilds, really good for high-end raids and PvP.
  • Clearly Defined Goals – let everyone know what your next objective is – the next raid boss to beat, getting everyone geared up, donating to the treasury so you can buy the next guild bank tab, etc.
  • Advanced Admissions Process – Some guilds require members to submit an application explaining why they would be a good fit for the guild, how they might benefit the guild. This is best reserved for when your guild is very established and well-known. This will slow down guild growth, but help make sure new members fit in better.

There’s a lot more that could be covered especially if one really wants to get hard core with the development of their guild. There are not many differences between managing a gaming guild and certain types of “real world” businesses or, perhaps more appropriately, organizations. Not all organizations are interested in making money, but many organizations have a money-making component to facilitate their interests.

The next article in this series will get into Mega Metagaming. As the mobile world evolves, so do games, the way we play them, sometimes the reasons why we play them, and we are well on the way to many games having the potential to be a lot more than “just a game”. There is the potential for playing games to evolve into real paying jobs. It is being done now.

In sports, some have taken the college route; others have gone from minor leagues to major leagues, some made their mark through the Olympics. In each of these pursuits and all of their supporting elements, people are involved. The same has and will continue to spill over to eSports and most segments of online gaming.

• We all like different types of games – MMO’s, MOBA’s, FPS, eSports, etc.,
• We play for different reasons – fun, competition, to pass the time, to socialize, and more.
• We have different habits – casual or hardcore, pay to play, play for free, solo or group, pve or pvp, etc.

The aim of this article is to cover the benefits of being part of or even forming a gaming guild. Each game has its own dynamics and the “guild” may be called by different names. Guilds are groups of players who are usually friendly and try to work together toward common “game” interests. Considering all of the above variables, we will approach the “guild” in somewhat generic, near universal terms from the perspective of a player and as a current or aspiring guild leader.

Guilds for Players

Being part of a good guild brings with it numerous benefits:

  • Guild chats enhance your social experience.
  • Better access to tips and guidance for game play.
  • Guild members may donate in game items (equipment or crafting materials) to help you advance.
  • Guild members are often willing to “Group” with you to tackle “group content”.
  • Guilds usually offer in-game perks (from stat bonuses to storage space) you might need to pay real money for.
  • Access to the highest tier, end-game content with the best gear (raids).
  • Some guilds provide training for player vs player and guild vs guild events.
  • Guild membership can lead to long-term, real-life friendships.
  • Membership in some very competitive guilds can be prestigious and lead to tournament play where the stakes can include real electronic gear or even cash payouts.

In many games, guilds advance gaining prestige and perks relative to the total of their player’s achievements. Thus, most guilds are always happy to get new members. If you really enjoy a game and think you will play it frequently, it is worth doing some research before joining a guild. You might check out their guild web site (if they have one), watch to see how active they are in ”world chat”, examine game-specific guild rankings, or spend some time talking to their guild master or a guild officer. Ultimately though, the benefits of being part of a guild far outweigh “going solo”.

Guilds for Soloists

More and more social games involve “persistent worlds”. Many players do prefer to play solo – something a lot of people do not understand. It seems counterintuitive to play solo in a Massive Multi-Player Online Game of any type. Many players are subject to frequent and unpredictable interruptions – perhaps on call for work, watching after children of their own, or any number of other reasons. Players who do not group are likely trying to be polite, not wanting their interruptions to slow you and the rest of your group down.

If this describes you, it should not hold you back from find a guild that is good for you. Most guilds would still be very happy to have you, just explain that you may not be able to participate in all group activities because you may have frequent interruptions. Real Life always comes first.

Guilds for Guild Masters

All of the benefits listed for players apply to guild masters and officers, too. There are all types of guilds, casual and hard core, some intending to remain small and others much more ambitious – and spanning “multiple games”. We’ll take a look at how to set up and develop a game guild in the next article. It is appropriate to point out some additional benefits present and aspiring guild masters might consider for realizing additional benefits from their game play.

Guild Web Sites/Pages – Not all guilds have one, but it can be very helpful to have one for recruiting new players. Many games offer in-game currency for referrals. Setting up a guild web page may require “some work” but the dividends can be worth it. Many gaming communities provide free “guild web page” hosting and the same can also be achieved through most social networks. Simply setting up a guild web page provides exposure to basic web site development (a real job and business skill) and provides you the means to reach new players before they join a game.

Guild Officers – You don’t need to do everything yourself. As you begin developing your guild, others may volunteer for “special duties” – some may be very social and happy to help recruit, others might want to specialize in Player vs Player competition, organizing raids, setting up your guild web page.  The entire process of appointing officers provides experience in setting up real organizational structure.

Social Networking – If you set up a guild web page, you can add a Facebook or Pinterest presence, too. Leastwise, as the “guild master” if you want something for your guild, you can advertise for volunteers in your own guild, web site and social networks.   Elaborating upon why people would want to join your guild is itself an exercise in marketing.

Guild Perks and Fundraisers – Guild stuff usually costs some combination of real or in-game currency.  The more perks your guild has, the easier it can be to attract new members.  How you finance that, especially if you are approaching this from a “free to play” perspective is not a whole lot different from bootstrapping a real business.

Those are some real world benefits of developing a guild that have more far reaching uses than simply taking down an “end-game boss”.  There are potentially many more benefits – suffice that if you really enjoy playing games we moving toward a world where there are (or can be) incentives to do so… and it is not all that different from liking football so much that you become a professional football player.

Mega Metagaming – per Wikipedia, “Metagaming is any strategy, action or method used in a game which transcends a prescribed ruleset, uses external factors to affect the game, or goes beyond the supposed limits or environment set by the game.”

I’m sort of inventing the term as it generates all of 45 search results on Google. It is not new, people have been doing it for years perhaps as the natural (and perhaps unintentional) result of developing their “gaming guilds” or “gaming sites” into something that is or comes close to being a “real world business” – where guilds or teams have a “brand name of their own”.

Those who understand the various dynamics applicable to mobile app and game designers are able to apply those dynamics to their own benefit, the benefit of their members and the benefit of the developers, too.

But, we’ll leave this subject for discussion after discussing how to set up and develop a good guild.

Lucky Wednesday!

Coffee Craze

Click for your Free Java Download!

coffee-craze1

Coffee Craze makes you the owner of a Coffee Shop – part arcade game, part small business simulator. As the owner, it is up to you to make your little shop a success by keeping your customers happy.

You will play the role of a barista while also managing your kitchen. A barista is similar to a “bartender” – it is an Italian word for one who works behind a counter and is specially trained in serving hot and cold drinks, usually with an espresso machine.

If successful, you will also be able to order exciting upgrades to make your business more fun and productive. Imagine how much talent is required to serve hot drinks on rollerskates!

coffee-craze2In addition to serving coffee and espresso, your customers fancy your cake and pastries, too. Don’t panic when your customers start to line up, just focus on their orders.

Each item on your menu is tied to one of twelve keys which align to their location in your kitchen.

As you finish filling one order, you can move onto the next – as you can put orders into a queue.

When one is completed, the next begins.  That’s important because cakes don’t appear out of nowhere – you have to make and bake ‘em.

 “You can please most people most of the time, but you can’t please everyone all of the time.”

Fast, accurate service will keep your customers happy!

Game Features:

  • Cute graphics
  • Coffee and Cake
  • Intuitive and easy to use game controls
  • Addictive gameplay
  • Fun and meaningful upgrades
  • Career and Endless game modes
  • Convenient small file for downloading

Coffee Craze

Available for Free only on July 29, 2015

If you miss the free download, you can still buy Coffee Craze on Opera Mobile Store here.

What is Lucky Wednesday?  It is an occasional event offered by Opera Mobile Store in conjunction with a developer to make a Premium App available to everyone for Free!