One of the reasons that I like social games so much is that the level of engagement and ongoing retention is much higher than in other types of social network apps. As the Developer Analytics team noted in their presentation at Interplay last week:
Social Gaming is HOT: Compared to Messaging apps (3x page view multiple) and Dating apps (20x multiple), social gaming apps are seeing, on average, a 50x multiple compared to other categories.
In other words, messaging apps average 3 pageviews per visitor, dating apps average 20 pageviews per visitor and gaming apps average 50 pageviews per visitor. As Charles and Jing noted in their presentation, this means that while we’ve always known that gamers prefer gaming to sex, now we know how much they prefer gaming to sex – 2.5 x!
However, many social games have started to encounter the endgame problem. Their best players have “leveled up” a long way, have earned all the money they can, and are starting to get bored. But no game wants to lose its best players. Massively had a relevant article recently about the same phenomenon in MMOGs that is worth reading:
Congratulations! You’ve hit level 70 (or whatever max level is in your favorite game), and you’re officially a badass. For many players, this is a goal they’ve been striving towards for months — even years in some cases. The feeling of having that first max level character is immensely invigorating. It’s like putting the finishing touches on a long-term project or getting to the last page of a monstrous novel. What an accomplishment! However, after basking in the glow of your newly maxed out character for a few days, you quickly realize you have a small problem: What do you do with yourself now?
It suggests some common solutions that game developers should note:
Collecting Rare Items
Anti- Grief Patrol [protecting new players from being killed by more experienced players]
Developing Trade/Crafting skills
Playing the “market”
Many of these endgames are inherently social in nature, marking either public recognition, cooperation or interaction with other players.
The meta point here is that most MMOGs have built an end-game to keep their best players engaged after they have topped out on the standard game. This end-game often relies on different game dynamics to the original game. I have seen few social games build such an end-game yet, although this is actually much easier to do for a web based games since it doesn’t actually have to be built until you have end-stage players. Do readers know of some good examples?