I admit it. I resisted for so long, but now I have started, I just can’t help myself. I have been bitten by the Farmville and Cafe World bug and I now have to keep checking back on my little pixel worlds to see whether my cafe customers are happy or whether it is time to harvest my crops.
As inane as these games are, I can’t help but think how clever the game creators are. This isn’t the first time I have come across this model, but the Facebook games really encourage the social aspect so are further ahead than some of the others I have seen. However, at a time when the big sites are still scratching their heads over how to monetise their sites and actually start realising some of the paper profits which they keep being told they have, these innocuous little games have achieved just that.
The model seems so simple:
1. Give a game away for free. Allow people to start playing, and make it very clear that they don’t have to pay money.
2. Ensure that the game is competitive by adding the social aspect (neighbours, friends or team mates)
3. Allow everyone to progress as far as they like in the game, as long as they spend the time.
4. BUT (and this is the secret), offer paid for options if you want to fast-forward your progress and leapfrog your friends. Also add special seasonal paid for options, or paid for options which go to help charities.
Perhaps because it is the competitive nature of the game that this model works. Maybe it is because the costs aren’t actually that high, and the money is going to increasing the entertainment value. Whatever the reason, the model appears to be working, because more and more online games are following it.
Is there something here that the rest of us can take note of? Is there something here that the free social sites can learn from? Is there something in the model which can work as we move towards the online world and demand more and more free information?
The thing I like about this model is it fits with the world as it is today. They don’t try and shoehorn the ‘way it used to be done’ into the current circumstances. I don’t think that should be ignored.
And in the meantime, I had better go and see whether my soy beans are ready to harvest…
Thanks to idlepines for the snapshot of their farm