Where the value of a game is concerned, most players have four concerns relating to pay models:
These are questions developers should be asking about their players, too. There are thousands of games out there representing every pay model permutation possible. Each has its own level of financial investment to fully experience. Money, while very important is only one element in the equation.
According to Scott Rigby, author of “Glued to Games”, there are three core reasons why people play games:
This correlates closely with findings from a CareerBuilder.com Survey of over 6,000 people from 2007. Their survey indicated that when it comes to work, people’s “dream jobs” are more concerned with having fun (39%) and being able to make a difference in society (17%), than making money (13%). “Having fun” is functionally a combination of Competence and Autonomy, under Rigby’s analysis.
Games provide a means to fulfill the things that we may not be realizing in other areas of our lives. That is, if we are not having fun at work, when we are on our free time, we are likely going to seek out “whatever it is” that we call fun.
When it comes to game design, one of the first questions a developer needs to ask is, “Why is someone going to play this game?” What will it provide that the player really wants, or even needs? Game theory and psychology plays an important role in the success of a game, and it is directly demonstrated when “virtual vanity items” such as a +5 Tome of Epic Uper Strength in one MMO is available for US $24.
Games that offer a strong social or competitive environment depend upon the Internet, while games that focus on solo play generally don’t. Players are willing to play more and pay more when they have a strong social connection with other people playing it. Their investment in the game is no longer just measured in monetary terms, but social ones, to friends, teams, guildies, and sometimes even responsibilities within a guild or team environment.
Where Competence, Autonomy and Relatedness apply to all games, it can be generally said that most hugely successful games that do not rely upon an internet connection depend upon delivering an immersive experience – in play, graphics, etc. Most that do rely upon an internet connection rely upon a variety of strong social components. It is hard to get both via a mobile app today, but that will not always be the case.
This is all important as it relates to defining your position within the market. This does require some competitive analysis and surveys of your beta-team and players, alike. Compare your app against what other games of a similar nature offer players.