I’m looking at various games online and on cell phones. I think it’s interesting to note that some games with similar themes have widely different levels of success. I think part of it is because many game developers require the high levels of commitment before getting the player interested in the game.
Sure successful games can require high levels of commitment…like, people are going to play StarCraft 2…and pay for it before checking it out.
But for many indies, why should a player pay for the game before getting an idea of whether it’s fun. Additionally, why should they have to create a login/provide an e-mail address…before getting to play the game. These all provide friction that get in the way of fun.
Here’s a design principle that I’ve seen work…
Require higher levels of player commitment AFTER building higher levels of player interest.
This means…developers keep things as lightweight as possible. Figure out the quickest and easiest way to get the player into a game…then once they show interest…like spending 10 minutes in a game…pop up a dialog that asks them to create an account, etc.
If they spend a few hours in a game, ask them to upgrade, etc.
Yes, there is no guarantee that they will register, etc. But now most people are so use to seeing login/register screens at the beginning of a game…that if you do the same…it’s not really indie…but cliche…and the game may even trigger a visceral “skip this” response.
To recap…raise the level of commitment/engagement (getting an e-mail address, creating a login, buying the game, subscribing, etc.) after each corresponding stage the player shows higher levels of interest/commitment.