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Balancing game economics is an art and a science

Wild economy is a tricky thing. It does not take much to break her. If gamers notice a greedy robbery by developers, as was the case with controversies surrounding loot boxes, they can boycott the game. However, if developers do not properly rate the articles in a free game, it can lead to rising costs and insufficient revenue.

From Star Wars Battlefront II from Electronic Arts to Blizzard's Diablo III Auction House to Bethesda's Fallout Shelter, we've seen the consequences of failure.

How can developers spread the monetization of gaming to a larger number of players? Are subscriptions the answer? Or can Blockchain help? And what role does fraud of accounts and credentials play in further disrupting the game industry? Akamai recently sponsored a GamesBeat breakfast we held in Anaheim, California to answer these questions.

I moderated the session, and our group of experts included Nelson Rodriguez, Akamai; Spencer Tucker, Senior Vice President of Scopely; and John Linden, CEO of Mythical. We had a few dozen CEOs and game executives in the audience.

Here is an edited transcript of our panel.

  Spencer Tucker is Senior Vice President at Scopely.

Above: Spencer Tucker is Senior Vice President at Scopely.

Credit: Scopely

GamesBeat: I think everyone knows it's important to build a game industry. The times when you notice it are usually when something goes horribly wrong. From this arise many lessons that we will try to convey today. [Former Blizzard developer] You know the auction house of Diablo III [laughter]. The original disaster of the game economy. But there were many others, like Battlefront II. All sorts of things that are dealing with loot boxes these days. We will also talk about the future, things like blockchain games.

When we suggested this topic, did you have some things in mind that you wanted to address about the balanced game economies are?

Spencer Tucker: One that we are focusing on becomes increasingly important over time, in my opinion, is the concept of personalized game economics, and that value is a relative thing. Segmented consideration of different behaviors – how much does someone spend, for example, in a 30-day period? And then the value is determined in proportion to the amount of money spent on a particular piece of content in the last 30 days.

That's something we think about. It is a good starting point for talks. The idea is that in the past, if you are familiar with mystery boxes, such things are usually an expected value system. This thing is worth every dollar of money, and that is a kind of calculus based either on historical expenditures at the overall level, or a kind of calculation between the power of an object in proportion to the amount we would like to charge for that object, and then We Turn that against a whole population. However, there are not many companies with semi-durable and durable goods that continually examine actual player behavior in order to extend behavior beyond its natural threshold for a relative period of time.

For example, if we looked at the distribution of spending over the past month and said, "Hey, someone spent between $ 1 and $ 50." That's a bucket. We want to identify the content to bring it past the $ 50 threshold over a period of time. We may calculate the price as a percentage of spending in the last 30 days instead of the actual fixed cost. We do it differently against the entire distribution of the population. The goal is to increase the buying speed between the buckets over time, interest them in the buying experience, and ultimately view the buying activity as a retention funnel.

GamesBeat: Some of them sound like prices for airline seats, different prices for each passenger.

Tucker: Price discrimination is one thing. You could offer the same good at different prices. There are other options. They treat the value as the relative thing, apart from the price. This could come to fruition in an MMO. They have a lot of people talking about how much something costs. If you make a price distinction, you could say, "Hey, I'll sell you that sword for $ 100 and sell the same sword for $ 20 to that other man." But then these two people get together and ask, "Why? I pay so much while you pay so much? "You do not have the context to understand it, so you have a negative reaction from this level of transparency.

If you treat the value as the relative thing, the distribution for that value is more likely because mystery boxes are somewhat veiled. Then you can keep this value exchange behind the scenes. You pay the same price, so you attack a price point on a relative basis that moves a lot of volume, but the frequency with which you must make the purchase to ultimately acquire that good depends on how much you spend 30-day rolling period.

Audience: So you're talking about shifting your chances of winning.

Tucker: Shifting odds or shifting odds in a practical way We say, for example, that we are doing this now. We'll say, "Hey, we're going to create a secret bag, we call that bag the same, no matter which bucket you fall in." From the player's point of view, the bag is named A. It's an A for all. The price of A is 99 cents. But what varies is the amount or range and likelihood of range of items in this bag.

The idea is to optimize to drive people beyond their natural threshold. If you look at the mean of spending cups and divide your people in a meaningful way, you can make people go beyond their natural limits. The goal is to make them inelastic over time rather than being overpriced by attacking only the upper output spectrum, which is usually the case here. We are very anxious to reach the top segment.

John Linden: Can you then publish quotas? Because if the odds change per player, how is legality in Belgium and other countries with new regulations?

Tucker: We publish quotas. It depends on whether. Right now we have a number of approaches there. We can classify content. We publish quotas based on a class. Rarity and the like.

Linden: But that would change per player, right?

  Balancing the game economics of the breakfast participants. John Linden is a speaker. To his right sits Spencer Tucker.

Above: balance between the game industry and breakfast visitors. John Linden is a speaker. To his right sits Spencer Tucker.

Picture credits: Dilan Yuksel

Tucker: Yes, but the class is a bucket. Think of it as a rarity level. Orange Rarity contains a number of things, but there is an area within that level, and you publish the percentage of that area in the entire area. That's an example. Another example is when we talked about mystery boxing – it's something we have not done yet, but I think there will be alternatives to mystery boxes in the future, which are very similar in effect, but quite a bit other ways work as a player standpoint.

If you're familiar with PvP stores where you can get money and get started, Galaxy of Heroes has one. They refresh the memory to update the content in this memory. If you adopt the concept of a mystery box, they currently function as a probabilistic system, where you know the range, but the result only after the purchase. If you've taken this kind of random probabilistic part, imagine a PvP store where I know exactly what I'm going to buy each time I pay the fixed cost for a particular item that pops up in the store. But when I freshen up, what comes up in the store is determined by a table.

This becomes a mystery box. The table itself offers a number of possibilities. If you get this tracking object, it will be 99 cents, the same price as anything else. But you do not know when it will turn up. Then you have an incentive to refresh. Adding value through the upgrade, such as progress toward an end goal, could be a jackpot mechanism. Then you have motivated people to refresh themselves so they do not lose value. They only buy things that are important.

From a game economics point of view, the good thing is that people get things that have "no value" but have value in experience, or for another population, they basically prevent people from junking that content receive. They only buy what they really care about. I only pay 99 cents for this consumable because I actually need that item instead of receiving thousands of those items over many, many purchases.

Audience: They effectively train them to keep going.

Tucker: Refresh until you see what you want and buy what you want. Chase what you want, hunt the refresher, and if you refresh this field, you'll also progress towards a kind of milestone.

Target Audience: Is this all theoretical?

Tucker: We will build that. We have not built it yet.


Above: Scopely's Star Trek Fleet Command

Credit: Scopely

Target Audience: Will resetting cost money?

Tucker: The reset will cost you money. That's the key. We have done other things. There are other games – things we have that we have built. For example, in many mobile games they are not a mystery box, but real MMOs. Economies are a one-off item. The saturation meets the individual demand, since there is no concept for a spare parts market. There is no trade, no real inflation in that sense, unless you have a real aftermarket.

Part of the problem is how to explain the demand and demand decline in such a system over time. In these mystery boxes, we adjust the odds etc. based on the aggregated view, but not on an individual basis, as we do not really have an aggregate demand. We have it on an individual basis. When we build something less a puzzle than a finite pool, you control the crowd and effectively create scarcity. For example, if you are familiar with capsule machines, enter a quarter and there are a fixed number of items there. Maybe you want one thing. Imagine this and then bundle the financial segment of the population. We'll say, "These two factions or those 300 players," and you're all bunching them up against this solid pool. Now they all effectively compete for the same content pool. Then adjust the relative price based on the expected value of this pool. There are a fixed number of people who receive this tracking item. They have created a socially competitive shopping mechanism.

Target Audience: Do you go as far as an auction for this item?

Tucker: It's not an auction. It's a system where you buy content. When this content is purchased, it will be removed from the pool. The idea is that there are quite a few people competing for this finite pool, the demand will be higher and you will spend more.

Breaking the ice is the challenge there. We have a so-called social network and externality component. Suppose this table is a faction. They are all persons who play the same finite pool. We are all fighting for the same content, but we are in a political group. In order for everyone in this group to incentivize the involvement of both factions and encourage the behavior of participation in this particular monetization mechanism, I can say: "Anyone who makes a purchase will receive a fraction of a free allowance at that table, regardless of how much they have spent. "With every purchase, a fraction of a free shopping is built.

If you're building a bunch of free shopping, what you want to do as a table, we all want to have a competitive advantage for this piece of content as a group. We want to coordinate when we spend our money. We will pay attention to the pool. We'll look at who in our group is making the purchases, how many free moves we have, and then try to coordinate a burn to get that content before the box is reset.

Such mechanics are things that are there we will see more from – the social component, the proxy spending pressure. They urge people to go beyond their normal spending capacity by spending more on other people in the group. Then the dynamics that exist are such that people who spend nothing put pressure on people who spend, because everyone benefits from this activity.

Then you control the amount of content you spend, so there is true scarcity in that sense. We know that after emptying the box, someone has everything that was in the box, while at the moment there is no guarantee that a mystery box will ever get something in the box, unless it rolls on the right one Wise. We rely on the probabilities of this box, but there is no guarantee.

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