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F2P Design Crash Course (Casual Connect Kyiv 2013)


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A high-speed run through some of the most important and interesting patterns and advice that we've discovered about our games on Kongregate. This talk was given by Anthony Pecorella at Casual Connect Kyiv.

Published in: Entertainment & Humor, Design

F2P Design Crash Course (Casual Connect Kyiv 2013)

  1. 1. F2P Design Elements – Data Driven Advice For Success Anthony Pecorella Director of Production
  2. 2. Who am I? • At Kongregate for 5 years, directing our browserbased virtual goods business • Also an indie game designer, cofounder of Level Up Labs, created Defender’s Quest and CellCraft
  3. 3. What is Kongregate? • Open platform for browser-based games – Flash, Unity, HTML5, Java, etc. – 93%+ of users already have Unity installed • • • • • 15M monthly unique visitors worldwide Core gamers – 85% male, average age of 21 Core genres: MMOs, RPGs, CCGs, TD, shooters, etc. Platform level virtual currency, “kreds” Acquired by GameStop July 2010
  4. 4. What is Kongregate? • Mobile publisher of Free To Play games for core gamers. Synapse Games LingPlay
  5. 5. Select Developer Partners
  6. 6. How To Succeed On Kongregate • We have collected data from hundreds of games over the past few years. • We provide advice and analysis on a per-game basis for games we work with, but here we will look at more general patterns and trends. • This talk will go through highlights of lessons learned and advice we’ve developed. • This advice is of course not unique to the Kongregate platform and applies more generally to free to play games, especially in the core genres.
  7. 7. Terminology • All stats are lifetime • User / Player: a Kongregate registered user who loaded the game page at least once • ARPU: average revenue per user • ARPPU: average revenue per paying user • Play: a game session, measured by page loads • “Eastern European” is broadly used to include Russia, Estonia, Poland, and Ukraine – There are of course lots of other countries in Eastern Europe, but we don’t have any games from them. Come see me after the talk if you’re interested in putting your game on Kongregate!
  8. 8. Overview of Kongregate Games • X axis is the User Rating (a score from 1 – 5) • Y axis is the ARPU. Top game is actually $10. • Bubble size is lifetime relative revenue
  9. 9. Overview of Kongregate Games • X axis is the User Rating (a score from 1 – 5) • Y axis is the ARPU. Top game is actually $10. • Bubble size is lifetime relative revenue
  10. 10. Overview of Kongregate Games • X axis is the User Rating (a score from 1 – 5) • Y axis is the ARPU. Top game is actually $10. • Bubble size is lifetime relative revenue
  11. 11. Progress is Essential • The foundations of a F2P game are strong RPG elements and a sense of progress over time • Building your account, leveling up, adding/improving skills and stats, etc • Surprisingly it’s more important than multiplayer • Deep RPG mechanics and multiplayer matter: – 25x ARPU for Multiplayer RPG vs Single Player non-RPG!
  12. 12. Long Term Retention is Critical • Nearly all revenue comes from people who play a game at least 100 times. • Focusing on long term retention is probably the best thing you can do for your game’s revenue.
  13. 13. Spending Happens Over Time • For top performing games, paying users continue to spend for months, if not years
  14. 14. Keep Players Busy • The more they are able to do, the more time they’ll spend with the game. • Wartune has live PvP, co-op PvE, team battles, single player, asynchronous battles, world raid bosses... Wartune, R2 Games
  15. 15. Help Create A Daily Experience • Give players clear goals in a daily gameplay loop. • Wartune provides something to do every day, and rewards exploring the various parts of the game. Wartune, R2 Games
  16. 16. Create New Content Regularly • We surveyed lapsed big spenders and 64% reported the reason they left the game was a lack of new content • Good news: 70% said they’d come back if new content were added! • Try to give players something new to do every 6 – 8 weeks if possible. – Don’t aim for huge semi-annual or annual updates. Better to spread out in smaller chunks.
  17. 17. Do Seasonal/Holiday Events • Have special content tied to what is fun and relevant in player’s real world lives. • Bush Whacker 2 has incredible retention because of all of the special events and features they have in the game. Bush Whacker 2, DJ Arts
  18. 18. Guilds, Guilds, Guilds! • 100% of top games on Kongregate have guilds! • Guilds are incredibly powerful late-game tools. – Create strong personal bonds with other players – Encourage high-level, deep competition between guilds – Motivate spending to help perform at a high level, not just personally but for the guild’s sake – Players who join guilds are 10 to 20 times more valuable – Check out my guild talk at
  19. 19. Percentage Of Big Spenders • What percent of paying users spend >$1000 USD?
  20. 20. Big Spender Revenue • On Kongregate, revenue driven by quality over quantity. • Make sure players can spend $1000+ meaningfully.
  21. 21. Avoid Fine-Grained Pricing • In a few Eastern European games, we see currency conversion that gives the player precise control over how much to spend. • Unfortunately, this limits your ability as a salesperson to “up sell” bigger packages of currency, or better deals. • The buyer will only purchase exactly as much as he needs, so he will never have a balance of extra currency or decide to buy a bit extra because it’s a better deal.
  22. 22. Instead, Up-sell and Incentivize • • • • Break currency sales into a few packages. Provide a special deal for first-time buyers. Add bonus currency for bigger purchases. Throw in a bunch of great stuff if the player spends big! Cloudstone, Nexon Dragons of Atlantis, Kabam
  23. 23. Gamify Continued Spending • Provide incentives for bigger spenders on successive purchases, like a loyalty program (frequent flyer). – VIP Program that comes with extra convenience and power. – Increased VIP levels for even bigger spending. – Reward your most valuable players, make them feel good about purchases. Pockie Pirates, NGames Ltd.
  24. 24. Key Takeaways • Long term retention and engagement is crucial. • Keep players coming back with new content and events. • Provide incentives to purchase larger packages of currency and keep purchasing. • Make sure players have the ability to spend $1000+ in your game in a meaningful, fun way.
  25. 25. Thank you! • For a copy of the presentation or questions, email • For more talks & data visit • For web games contact us at • If you’re interested in mobile publishing, email • Follow us on Twitter: @EmilyG & @KongregateDevs