Video Game Market Sizing

April 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Here are some figures on the video game software industry (thank you Ibisworld):

2012 Revenue: $11.2 billion

% Spent on marketing: 14.0%

Estimated marketing budget, therefore, was $1.6 billion.

% of market controlled by the top five firms: 64.6% (These are Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony).

Let’s assume for a moment that marketing spend is proportional across all firms (even though it is probably tilted heavily towards the big guys). That means that about $1 billion is spent by the big four, and about $560 million is spent by everyone else.

According to IbisWorld, the increasing trend for marketing is to do a mix of TV, online, print and radio advertising, usually focused on the launch of a title, rather than the ongoing sales.

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First game play trials ran today

March 18, 2012 Leave a comment

Students hanging around the Haas lounge on Sunday were asked to help test out the group play features of uControl.  Three groups of about 4 students played Pong against each other.  Reactions to the experience were positive, judging from body language and intense focus of the players.  Successes and failures in the game were met with loud shouts in unison.  Some of the feedback we received were that the team aspect of the game was fun, the controller did not seem to be very sensitive, and some found it hard to figure out what team they were on at first.

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Highlights from “Gamification by Design” by Zichermann & Cunningham

March 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Highlights from “Gamification by Design,” by Gabe Zichermann & Christopher Cunningham

This book provided a helpful explanation of what elements work together to make games that are fun and addictive.  Here is a list of the things which seem most applicable to our project:

  • Games all work because they operate on two powerful human motivators: flow and reinforcement. Flow is a state of mind achieved by working on a challenge that lies in the sweet spot between too difficult (too much anxiety) and too easy (boring).  Reinforcement is delivering rewards that match people’s motivations to play, which can fall into four categories.
  • Game players have differing motivations, and these segment them into four types of players (note that these are not mutually exclusive):
    • Explorers (like to discover things within a world, focused on experience)
    • Achievers (like competitive games)
    • Socializers (play games for the sake of the social interaction – the largest majority of players fall in this category, ~70%)
    • Killers (achievers who prefer zero-sum outcomes)
  • Different rewards can all be summarized by the acronym SAPS: Status, Access, Power and Stuff.  These are also in order from the most to least powerful.  Status can include granting badges,  attaining new levels, and inclusion on leaderboards.  Access basically is allowing some players to get ahead of others. Power comes in the form of delegating some authority to some players.  Stuff are things like freebies, and interestingly have a drawback in that once a player receives stuff they have no more incentive to play.
  • The standard actions you are asking players to do in a social game include:
Advocate Flirt Rate
Argue Give Read
Comment Greet Recommend
Compare Harass Share
Compete Help Show off
Curate Join Taunt
Explore Like View
Express Poke Vote
  • All games provide mastery as players move from not knowing anything about it to understanding it very well.  Keep in mind that actions may be different at different stages, but that socializing should be included throughout.  Also, it is a good idea to keep the highest level flexible, so that the game can be extended once players start reaching the peak.  Stages of mastery of a game are:
    • Novice
    • Problem solver
    • Expert
    • Master
    • Visionary
    • Overall, it is important for a game designer to remember that they are there to help the player go through a journey of their own.  The designer is just the guide up the mountain.
    • Game design has a framework called MDA: Mechanics, Dynamics, and Aesthetics.  These are defined as:
      • Mechanics: the functioning components of the game
      • Dynamics: how players interact with the mechanics
      • Aesthetics: how the game makes a player feel while playing
      • Important game mechanics:
        • Points
          • Can be obvious or subtle, but the game designer must track them to be able to know whether players are interacting as intended with the game
          • Can include experience points (XP), redeemable points (virtual economies fit within this type), skill points, karma points, and reputation points.
  • Levels
    • Indicate progress.
    • Difficulty progression is not necessarily linear
  • Leaderboards
    • Various types exist, and have different functions.  Need to be careful that leaderboards do not create disincentives for novice players to join
  • Badges
    • Can be used to signal status and progression
    • Also trigger human desire for collecting
  • Onboarding
    • For our games, this is a very critical area of the design.  Onboarding is how you get a complete non-player from zero understanding through the first minutes of play.  This can be likened to a funnel, and sets the stage for whether the player will get engaged or will pass on by.  Key things to do in the first minute include:
      • Play first, then explain
      • Reward early
      • Do not require that they process too much information to get started
      • Set them up for success on the first interaction (basically, create a tutorial sequence that the player cannot fail at.)
      • After the previous, then you can learn something about the players, especially to help steer their experience for later in the game
      • A good beginning sequence is:
        • Action
        • Reward
        • Action
        • Action
        • Reward
        • Join (register)
        • Invite friends
  • Quests
    • Give players a reason to be playing
    • Cooperative quests are very rewarding, but can be difficult to set up well
  • Social engagement loops
    • Start with inspiring a motivating emotion, which leads to a social call to action, gives the player reason to re-engage, provide visible progress or reward, which then inspires more motivating emotion, etc.
  • Customization
    • Even a small amount can increase player commitment
    • Beware of giving too much, since too many options make players uneasy or unhappy
  • Agile – be willing and able to iterate
  • Feedback and reinforcement
    • Feedback is absolutely necessary for showing players where they are at any moment
    • The following list covers all the types of mechanics that game designers can build into the experience:
      • Pattern recognition
      • Collecting
      • Surprise and unexpected delight
      • Organizing and creating order
      • Gifting
      • Flirtation and romance
      • Recognition for achievement
      • Leading others
      • Fame, getting attention
      • Being the hero
      • Gaining status
      • Nurturing, growing
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Lessons in group game design

March 12, 2012 Leave a comment

Our meeting with Warren Trezevant was an excellent primer in group game design. All I did was sit back and listen… (Thanks Oren!!)

Here are some lessons learned:

  1. Get the participants “Thinking as a unit” because it’s emotionally engaging and highly rewarding experience.
  2. Tie the game result/participation with some tangible reward at the end
  3. Keep It Simple Stupid – You don’t want to be in the business of explaining the game.. but you would need a simple orientation/confirmation through individual confirmation and group confirmation training phases.
  4. Three things to nail down
    1. What world are you playing the game in? i.e. environment, time settings.. all settings are completely valid.
    2. What are your characters?
    3. What is the goal?
  5. Questions to probe on game concept
    1. Is the game compelling?
    2. Is the presentation compelling?
  6. Identify what you can do and what you cannot on the smartphone – few ideas – movements ( left/right/up/down) – tilt, force of movements, proximity of phone’s distance from the person holding it.
  7. More venue ideas
    1. Disneyland lines
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Lessons from Game Developer Expo

March 12, 2012 Leave a comment

Here are the key lessons from Game Developer Expo that Hong & Leslie attended last week!

  • Most of the game companies are focused on how to make the interface splendid. A lot of single-player apps on smart phone but have seen no group games.
  • A startup company’s engineer team had five members, 1 manager, 1 artist and 3 engineers. The manager told us that the difference between a good game and a mediocre game was in detail. But at this time, we’ll only focus on MVP.
  • Smart phone side software we can use: phonegap, appcelerator.
  • Graphics side software we can use 3D game engine: unity
  • Several turnkey options for handling monetization, both collecting fees and serving ads, are available.
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Lessons from Digital Signage Expo

March 12, 2012 Leave a comment

uControl was present (courtesy Leslie!) at the Digital Signage Expo. Here are some of the lessons learned from the conference.  It is not a complete list, but it should get us started:

  • Hottest new trends in digital signage:
    • See-through displays, used in retail
    • Displays in unusual shapes such as bubbles and human figures
    • Laser sensing instead of touch screen
    • Facial recognition
  • DOOH is definitely growing, but there are many examples of Network operator failures out there, such as See Saw Networks and Broad Sign.
  • The biggest player by far is Scala. Everyone seems to be offering a “turnkey solution,” which always includes tools to easily create and manage content, though they are all happy to this for customers also.
  • Important to have a content element designed to attract attention of passersby
  • Cost for custom content in DOOH is lower than similar projects in game development
  • Interesting development: DirecTv is offering digital signage advertising solution into its boxes
  • Good conference to attend – CETW (Consumer Engagement Technology World)
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Week6 Canvas

March 5, 2012 Leave a comment
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