Notes From Zynga on Monetizing Your Web Game

Mafia Wars Woman

Mafia Wars WomanMaking money their Web games is obviously something all developers want to do. No pay–no game! So, when Roger Dickey, the brains behind Zynga’s Mafia Wars and GM of FishVille shares his secrets, it’s definitely worth taking notes.

Zynga is well-known for its focus on game metrics and its immense success with Mafia Wars, FarmVille, etc. You can watch the 35 minute video and/or read the notes taken down from it on the AltDevBlogaDay blog.

In my own game, I’ve been concentrating on adding adverts, subscriptions, in-game purchases and sponsorship. But this article has a broader scope and focuses on what works and how to build in monetization from the start, as opposed to bolting it on afterwards. I don’t really want to inflict pain on players just so I can then sell them pain relief, but it’s a valid mechanism–as is adding seasonal content–selling multiple items and offering first-time buyer incentives. Also don’t forget to add territory expansion in any game where building is a big part of the game.

One method not listed there, which I’m considering adding, is letting players auction their game positions when they leave. Having invested time and money in game playing, there will come a time when a player departs or drops out to start again. If they can get something back before they go, well, it’s win-win. (And, say, a 10 percent auctioneer’s fee). Of course, you have to ask yourself the question: Is it a good idea to encourage players to leave?

Comments

2 Responses to “Notes From Zynga on Monetizing Your Web Game”

December 23, 2011 at 1:55 pm, Tyler York said:

Hey David,

Thanks for mentioning my article! Roger is a seriously smart dude and we’re lucky to have his permission to share the video from our meetup event. I’d watch him closely.

Tyler

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February 28, 2014 at 5:31 am, andrew said:

The idea of players auctioning their characters may encorage them to play as in the end their time has not been wasted as they have created a saleable object of value. The technicalities of paying someone say through paypal and taxation issues might be a showstopper though unless you have a virtual currency.

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