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Keys to developing quality educational games

Check One: Motivate to Learn Keys (Progression, Achievement and Ownership)

Progression means breaking content down into small chunks that gradually increases in complexity and difficulty. Achievement gives a player a measurement of personal success. Ownership is essential in motivating players to do well.

Check Two: Learning Objectives (Connecting Course Material with Motivate to Learn Keys)

To do this, list each learning objective and describe how it can be used to aide in progression, achievement and or ownership.

Check Three: Metrics (Values that Track Progress)

Score is the most universal metric used in games however, it alone, is rarely enough in educational games. Examine the learning objectives to determine what other values could be used to indicate the player is gaining knowledge of the material.

Check Four: Events (What Causes Metrics to Change)

Events, and how a player responds to them, should cause metrics to change in the player’s favor when knowledge of the learning objectives is being demonstrated.

Check Five: Interface (How Players Interact with Events)

Designing interfaces that function on mobile/touch screen and desktop machines, and are accessible to disabled users are major concerns for educational games.

Check Six: Leaderboards (Motivation through Comparison)

Ranking as much data as possible, both positive and negative, can give players motivation to keep playing.  It also gives players a chance to rank highly in more than one category.

Check Seven: Analytics (Data is Evidence)

Gathering data can provide loads of valuable information including ways of improving the game, help identify struggling students and even improve the learning material itself.

Top 5 Gaming Innovations @ CES 2014

Grid, PlayStation Now, 4K TVs, Tegra chips for tablest, the Oculus Crystal Cove prototype, Steam Machines etc

Watch this video

Android will pass 1 billion users across all devices in 2014

According to Gartner, Android passed one billion activations in September, but  it will surpass the milestone based on active device owners over the next 12 months. A dominant 75 percent of users are expected to come from emerging markets.  Looking at tablets separately, shipments will grow 47 percent year-on-year spurred by lower retail prices and the increasing popularity of smaller-sized tablets.

gartner Android will pass 1 billion users across all devices in 2014, according to Gartner

Facebook gaming targeting tablets and consoles in 2014

Facebook already has a place consoles. Xbox One gameplay capture is expected to hit Facebook this year, while PlayStation 4 owners can share screenshots and video via the social networking service without the need for an app. Players can also opt to show their real identity on the PlayStation Network with Facebook. 

“On the PS3 and Xbox 360, when they connect their gaming accounts to their console accounts, are incredibly committed — these guys are hardcore gamers. It’s all part of the move for Facebook to have richer media in the feed, to have screen-captures and video exports is driving a lot of value.”

Sony announces PlayStation Now, its cloud gaming service for TVs, consoles, and phones

PlayStation Now, a service that will bring streaming PlayStation games not only to PS4, but also PS3, PlayStation Vita, and even televisions, tablets, and smartphones. The service will stream full games, and save your games in the cloud. You’ll be able to rent titles or pay for a subscription service. It will support online multiplayer, trophies, and messages.

GAMES IN THE CLOUD

Gaikai Cloud gaming services work more like a YouTube video, where powerful servers actually run the games, and stream compressed video frames of that game running to your local devices. It doesn’t necessarily require an extremely fast internet connection, but it does require one with very low latency.

 

IAP economic trends for F2P mobile games

How it works
Discounted Currency ratio is a measure of how much a unit of in-game currency costs per dollar spent at the different IAP transations available.  In almost all cases, the DCr increases with IAP price.  We can see how the simple calculation works in the case of Clash of Clans.

In this way, we define Clash of Clan’s DRc as being 1.4.
The main trends
A data dump of the 50-or so games shows DRc is typically between 1 to 2, usually around 1.5-1.7.

The graph is ordered with the newest games towards the right hand side of the graph. Most games have a single hard currency. Some games have two hard currencies, the DCr of the ‘softer’ of the two hard currencies is shown in green.
There are no games with DCr of more than 2 in the right hand third of the graph. This suggests a growing consensus within the industry as it looks at what works and what doesn’t.  A more subtle note is that over time, fewer games have two hard currencies.
Double trouble

It’s interesting to see some games more heavily discount the harder of the hard currencies (i.e. the blue dot is higher than the green dot), while other more heavily discount the softer of the two (the latter being the more logical in my opinion).
I personally think it’s overly confusing for consumers to take this two hard currency approach, negating any monetisation benefit that can be gained from getting consumers to increase their in-app purchases frequency.
That is why having two hard currencies is becoming less common. In fact, the only successful game to use the system is CSR Classics, and that was only because that was system used in CSR Racing, which was released in 2012.
Compare and contrast
The graph of mobile strategy games – games that are similar to with Supercell’s Clash of Clans – all games follow and have a single hard currency with a DCr of between 1.4 and 1.8.

The following graph compares the operational tactics of larger companies in the space.


2014 in Video Games: The Year of Digital Acceptance

2013 

US Game Revenue in 2013

A Very Digital 2014

Traditional retailers embrace digital

While packaged software will have less shelf space as consumers opt to download games instead of buy them boxed, traditional retailers will keep skin in the game through digital packages and bonus items. Retailers might sell digital download cards for games, with exclusive bonus content if purchased in store. Retailers may also sell physical goods, such as an action figure, that comes bundled with a download code for the game. Gifts cards may also become more innovative, such as Nintendo’s augmented reality 3D gift cards currently available in Japan. Companies like GameStop, who encourage the purchasing of packaged games, may opt to provide download codes just to capture that lost revenue. They will likely be able to coopt publishers into giving free bonus content to gamers who purchase download codes through retail shops.

Exclusive digital releases from the major publishers

With shelf space shrinking at traditional retailers, expect the big publishers to release side-quests using established IP, as well as thoroughly built niche game experiences exclusively on digital platforms. Digital-only releases like NES Remix with AAA franchises are just the beginning to a range of digital exclusives.

Streaming games

Streaming games will hit the mainstream.  With Gaikai technology, Sony will be able to stream Playstation 3 games, rendered on a remote server, directly to a gamer’s Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, and eventually their smart TV. Think Netflix for games.  Delivering streaming games opens up the possibility for games to be seen across screens, including tablets, smartphones TVs and browsers.

Continued expansion of Free to Play

Free to play should see adoption across dedicated consoles and handheld platforms. In the words of Nintendo’s president Satoru Iwata, it’s about ensuring new games can reach their full sales potential.  “When we release a game with well-known characters but with brand-new gameplay that our consumers are not familiar with, it is hard for them to anticipate and appreciate the value of the content before actually purchasing and playing with it.  When we offer our consumers such new play experiences exclusively in a digital format, we intend to have wide flexibility in terms of their prices and ways to market them,”

By analyzing the revenue generated from massively multiplayer online games, SuperData found that F2P games were able to generate nearly triple the revenue of pay to play games.

MMO Revenue in 2013

 

Getting your players to Facebook Connect

The first and most important thing to figure out is what do users has to gain from connecting with Facebook. If the only reason is because it will be easier for them to post achievements to Facebook, well that’s really not something they would appreciate. What really makes it worthwhile is a true social element that is built into the game and makes it more fun for users to play connected:
  • Gifting like in Candy crush and farmville before
  • Challenge based game like Quizup or Songpop
  • Turn based game like Draw Something or Zynga Poker
  • Teams like in Clash of Clans
Once you figured out the value of connecting, make sure this value is communicated to the users in a clear way. Graphics would help here a lot.
Some users are hesitant about being associated with a game.  It’s important to assure users that you are not going to post anything without their permission. Spend some time thinking about what being a player of your game tells about the user and how to help them think about it. Here are two interesting examples:
  • Quizup – if I’m good at this game I must be smart and I want that on my profile so I’m much more likely to want to not only connect but actually post.
  • Candy Crush – try looking up “candy crush addiction” in twitter and see how many tweets you come up with. People are manually writing tweets. That’s what happens when the game becomes a known phenomena.
A few pieces of practical advice:
1) Simply Ask – One developer reported that he was able to get 30% of his users to connect simply by repeatedly popping up a message that asks them to do so every 5 game sessions or so.

2) Make Facebook the Easiest Choice – Having an alternative to the Facebook connect option that seems less favorable will make it easier for them to choose:
  • Two big ‘connect’ buttons:
    • Facebook – show your friends who is smarter
    • Email – play with random people
  • Small “single player” link – miss out on the fun
3) Incentivize – Offer some coins as an incentive for users to connect and post.

15 predictions for the future of mobile games in 2014

Here are 15 predictions sourced at Game Connection Europe 2013, which was held in Paris in early December.

Mobile gamers are quicker to drop cash on social games than players on the web

App-marketing firm Playnomics revealed in its latest player engagement study:

  • Mobile monetizers spend faster, by spending 63.4% of their total lifetime spend on their first day in app, while non-mobile spend only 10.4%

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  • Spend was more evenly distributed among mobile players, with the top 20% of mobile players accounting for 56.0% of total spend, while the top 20% of non-mobile players accounted for 86.7% of total spend

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  • With 74% accuracy, players who played fewer than 3 sessions in the first 7 days of play would not monetize whereas players who played 3 or more sessions would monetize
  • Average total play time was nearly equal between men (113.8 min.) and women (105.89 min.) in their first 60 days
  • Women burned through 72% of total play time in their first 14 days, while men played through only 62.2%