In the past couple of years an incredible phenomenon has occurred in the online world: gaming. Yes, there’s always been PC games that have “revolutionized” the industry, but I’m talking about this new gaming…within sites like Facebook, made by companies like Zynga. This games aren’t like anything that you see anywhere else. Seriously, watch about twelve seconds of any video gaming convention, or read any game review for a game released on the PC or a console and the descriptions of these games and what makes them good is nothing like what you see in social gaming. What makes console games good, you might ask? Well as a relatively involved gamer I look for: content (plot strength, gameplay depth, etc.) and graphics. Content is important because it is how the game is played and how enjoyable it is. Better graphics = better game is a huge myth in the gaming industry, but is an almost universal one. Now look at social gaming…can you think of even a handful of games that tout their amazing graphics or incredibly deep story? No. It doesn’t exist. While the offline and console gaming industry is evolving graphically and technologically, the social gaming industry is reverting back to old-school Nintendo style graphics and strategies. And it’s working!!
The most amazing/unbelievable things about social gaming is that it offers games that require constant repetition and boring, monotonous grinding in order to increase your level or improve your character (or farm, just to throw it out there). What is the attraction with this? I recently watched a video of Jesse Schell presenting on the absurdity and unpredictability of social gaming, specifically within Facebook. Watch it right here. Skip to about 9:25 and he talks about the psychology behind games like Farmville and Mafia Wars. What makes millions of people willing to spend millions of dollars on virtual goods that can’t benefit them beyond minor bragging rights? Basically it’s all about how the consumer views their time, and how valuable it is. Roughly, this is the thought process of a social gamer who pays money for a game:
Step 1) My friend is playing this game, I’m going to join.
Step 2) My friend is better than me, I MUST GET BETTER
Step 3) How is this game worth my time? Oh yeah, because I’ve already spent a ton of time playing it.
Step 4) Hell, I’ve played this game for weeks, might as well pay $20 to boost straight past my friend instead of grinding for any longer
Step 5) Only an idiot would pay for a game then not play it, so I have to keep playing
Step 6) Start cycle over from the beginning (if there’s another friend), or from Step 3 otherwise.
This is a vicious cycle but I’ve seen many friends get drawn into it…I have as well. I have never paid a cent for a game, but I’ve spent so much time that is apparently worthless (since I didn’t actually spend my money) on these games and I think it was foolish in hindsight. But just to humor myself, and the gaming industry…why haven’t they taken it to the next step? Take out the “how much time am I wasting with this, and how valuable is that time?” step and just tell the consumer exactly how much it’s worth…then the $20 the spend to gain a level will seem insignificant.
What I propose is this: When a user joins up on a game…keep track of how long they play. Don’t tell the user because they may realize just how much time they have spent growing and selling strawberries, but just keep the amount of time recorded for each specific user. When they hit a certain milestone (5 hours of playtime, etc) reward them with virtual currency. Get even more specific, give them a badge or other visual reward for being dedicated to growing a certain crop. The user gets a reward, then also has to spend more time catching up all of their other crops in order to earn the specific reward for that crop…it’s a never-ending cycle of constant play that would generate even more revenue. Set up the rewards given for time spent on a certain task or goal on an variable-ratio schedule (the same type of schedule slot machines are on) and people won’t be able to stay away for long. Yes, this idea was being thought up as I was writing this post and is very unpolished and could be fleshed out more. But the point I am trying to make is…make users know exactly how valuable their time is by rewarding them for the amount of time they spend in an application, not just by how productive they are.
Over 100 views in my first week!! Thank you readers!! Much, much more to come in the near future. http://tpallgrownup.wordpress.com/
I recently was linked to the site Quora.com and told that I should check it out and form a first impression. I went on the site and spent about ten minutes browsing and testing the functionality, and I was honestly impressed. The site is rough around the edges, and disorganized at times, but the core purpose is obvious. Quora is a question and answer site that allows each user to create a profile and then answer questions from other users, about anything and everything. Answers and topics can be endorsed by users, adding credibility to that particular user. The more users that join up and use Quora, the more answers provided as well as a higher chance of a credible, reliable answer will being given. To put it into perspective, I view Quora as a hybrid of Wikipedia and Yahoo! Answers, with a strong hint of the KGB text messaging question/answer service added in. Any question can be asked, as well as answered…once again, the more users means the more information available on an infinite number of topics.
I could go more in-depth on the potential Quora has, and how well it may play with the big guns like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. but I’ll instead post the answer to a question from the site itself. Keep in mind, this answer is only one from one person, but it is logical and does show the upside of a site like this. The question asked was “Should Twitter Be Worried About Quora?” The answer can be seen here: http://www.quora.com/Should-Twitter-be-worried-about-Quora as well as below. It was provided by James Hritz, the VP Strategy & Biz Dev for Fox Audience Network.
“Absolutely! Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and anyone else in the social networking space should be worried. Very worried.
If you think Quora picked up an $80M+ valuation to just build a better Q&A site, then you are not seeing the big picture.
Yes, today Quora is a totally different tool than any of these aforementioned sites, but once Quora has perfected the technology around helping users easily find the right expert at the right time, reaching back and implementing technologies like real-time communication, status updates & photos will be trivial. A question of time & money rather than any hard thinking. Quora will stand on the shoulders of everyone who has already climbed the mountain.
A Quora-based social network will have profiles that are built organically and based on social proof and credibility. Think about it. Of course you followed the company you work for, eventually you will answer questions about your company and you will start to gain endorsements when you provide answers from your firsthand experience.
What type of profile will you come to trust more? A profile on Quora where a user has said he worked at company x and has 100+ endorsements for his answers to various questions on the topic, or a LinkedIn profile where the user essentially cut-and-pasted his inflated resume? Yes, maybe that user has a few written recommendations, but a LinkedIn profile grows stale over time and just like resumes, no one ever really reads them.
By comparison, profiles built organically over years on Quora will have a depth and dimension that will be much like comparing a Facebook profile to a MySpace profile. I think the term “living document” applies.
Quora is unearthing the intellectual capital market. A market that is based on users making exchanges of value based on what they know. This happens in real life everyday. The Quora system has created a way to make this scalable and the best part is the race to generate impact will not be based on “popularity,” but the true value of a person’s accumulated experience and knowledge. In a very real sense, Quora has subtly implemented a social game mechanic not unlike what you see in Farmville or other social games.
While I love Twitter and I am an active user, Twitter and Facebook (to a smaller extent) is a pure popularity contest. Just keep tweeting and friending and you will have lots of contacts whether you are legitimate or not. Hence the spam problem. The only reason Kim Kardashian has millions of followers is because she has access to money and tools of mass media. I can guarantee Kardashian will not be able to get the same traction in a Quora based social world as a Twitter or Facebook world.
On the business model front, Quora will monetize either by being an SEM resource or selling data about questions people publicly ask. For example, every person who asks a question about which car is better than some other car is a potential automotive lead. This is incredibly valuable and the best part is Quora never has to show a single ad to users on the site, nor do they have to hire a massive sales force or beg ad agencies to work with them.
I’ve had a chance to watch the Quora debate for a couple weeks now and I am stunned to witness how myopic some of the smartest people I know and respect have looked at this product and can only see a Q&A site. Its almost as if the combination of the mediocre economy and the undeniable success of Facebook and Twitter has killed their imagination.”
If such a response doesn’t at least intrigue you, then maybe Social Media is not your forte. I can entirely support such a response but I do think that there is an unpredictability to the internet that is also uncontrollable. Success on the internet is more often a lucky streak turned bandwagon scenario that can be adapted and changed to suit the users. Look at any of the most popular YouTube video fads (Numa Numa, the evolution of dance, star wars kid, etc.), or the drastic shift from MySpace to Facebook that occurred in only a couple of years. The internet is a relatively make-or-break environment and if you have something good, it only betters your chance of making it. I believe that Quora does have what it needs to succeed and has a new outlook on social media that hasn’t been tapped into. The idea of an organically growing profile that provides both credibility and popularity is a great idea that, if implemented well, can be the next huge internet success.
- Want to improve the user experience? Keep it simple, stupid. tinyurl.com/d7kcj9f 1 hour ago
- Being "social" isn't enough anymore, become a risk taker tinyurl.com/d6yqs6f 7 hours ago
- Participation creates a better audience, breeds enthusiasm tinyurl.com/bx4twxj 10 hours ago
- I think I learn more about social media offline, here's why tinyurl.com/abhncly 13 hours ago
- Tori thought she was hungry and ordered three breakfasts. She wasn't that hungry. #anotherbrokenegg… instagram.com/p/ZgHUM1Hsmn/ 16 hours ago
Posts From the Past
- 7,847 Views