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Ten reasons why Candy Crush Saga became a hit!

In May 15m people were playing Candy Crush Saga (CCS) every day on Facebook, it’s topped both the Google Play and App Store charts, and is currently number one on the iOS Top Grossing chart. But CCS isn’t the only match-three game out there, so why has it done so well?

1. TV advertising

Mind Candy, creators of Moshi Monsters, declared TV advertising their secret weapon. We’ve run several TV campaigns for games and every time the acquisition costs (CPA) have been fantastic. More games should follow CCS and advertise on TV.

CCS have done a remarkable job with their UK campaign, their adverts are well placed; being mass market (advertising on prime-time UK TV around shows like Coronation Street) they nail the target market perfectly. CCS even appeared in PSY’s follow up to ‘Gangnam Style’, ‘Gentleman’. it’s rumoured that King paid $1m for the Candy Crush placement which gives us an idea of the kind of marketing budget King are playing with.

Industry insiders have also suggested that the CCS adverts aren’t there to just drive play but to make the game more of a house-hold name as King seeks to monetize away from the digital product (licensing). 
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It’s good to grind: choosing the right virtual currency model

Designing games for children is difficult. There are a wide spread of skills and abilities, even between narrow ages; a six year old girl is very different to a 10 year old boy. To cater to a range of players we prefer to design economies that reward grinding not just skill – we don’t want only the older, more skilful, players to be able to succeed. Grinding allows anyone (who spends enough time) to do well.

Grinding is a term relating to activity the player does over and over again in order to complete an objective or get to the next level. For example, it could be harvesting gold or completing fetch quests. Admittedly grinding sounds like a negative term, but it doesn’t have to be, grinding activities can be fun too.

Grinding games are monetized in two ways:
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The ten best social gaming articles of 2012 – part 2

Amongst all the cat pictures and Gangnam Style tributes there’s a wealth of social gaming knowledge on the internet. For over two years we’ve been collating the best social gaming articles and publishing them in our This Week in Social Games (TWISG) newsletter. Read by over 1,000 subscribers.

With the year coming to an end it’s time to highlight the best of the best – the ten most insightful articles based on the percentage of clicks by our readers. From finding out what’s in Zynga’s ‘secret sauce’ to how to get your first 1,000 players, plus a handful of articles on making money by giving stuff away from free, it’s all here.

If that’s not enough, you can also read part one of this blog from back in June and get the twenty best social gaming features of 2012.

If you’re not signed up to TWISG yet, you can do that by clicking here.

So let’s begin with….

1. The secret sauce of social games

Reading this article from The Verge is the perfect way for anyone new to social games to become an instant expert! Featuring contributions from Zynga, Kixeye and Storm8 it looks at everything, such copycats, in-game spending, Whales, trends in game design and much, much more. Even if you think you already know it all, you will still find something new.
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Viral mechanics: FarmVille 2

Following on from our post on the viral mechanics employed in Sim City Social, this time we’re turning our attention to FarmVille 2, the sequel to the biggest social game ever!

The original FarmVille is only three years old and still has 3.2 million users logging on to tend to their virtual farm each day! Considering FarmVille at its peak had 83 million monthly active players it’s clear to see that a lot has changed in those three years. For a broader view of the changes Zynga has made, take a look at this short video:
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Viral mechanics: Sim City Social

In the first of a series of posts we’re examining the viral actions employed by some of the most important social games.

In this post we’re looking at EA’s Sim City Social. The gaming giant’s ‘Sim City’ brand used to be the biggest name in city building sims, until Zynga arrived on the scene. Now EA hopes to open Sim City up to a new market and bring existing Sim City players into social gaming.
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The ten best social game articles of 2012 – part 1

Our This Week in Social Games newsletter is now into its second year, and what a year it’s been in the world of social games. We’ve had the meteoric rise of Draw Something, the confusing “Gacha-gate” in Japan and more Zynga stories than we know what to do with.

To celebrate, we’ve compiled the ten most popular articles from TWISG (that’s what we all it at Dubit) over the past six months and put them all in one handy blog post.

Want the week’s most insightful social gaming and virtual world articles sent to your inbox every week? Then sign-up to receive TWISG.

1. Why Diablo 3 is less addictive than Diablo 2

We love Diablo here at Dubit and it’s been a huge success. Forget all the news about server problems, the game sold 6.3 million units in its first week! However, the latest game in the series hasn’t proved as popular with fans as some would have hoped. Why? Well, blogger and software engineer Alex Curelea thinks it’s down to game’s lack of a reward loop which is leaving players frustrated. For more on this and why it’s a lesson all developers can learn from, read Alex’s blog post.

2.Billionaire loses $704m due to ban on social game mechanic

In May this year Yoshikazu Tanaka lost $704m when Japan’s Consumer Affairs Agency said it was considering whether a social game mechanic called “complete gacha” violates the law. For an informed explanation of complete gacha take a look at this post on Gamasutra. Since then a council of major Japanese social game studios moved to outlaw the practice before the Consumer Affairs Agency could get involved, as Japan looks to clamp down on excessive spending in games. For more on the story, check out Pocket Gamer.
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The ten best social game articles of 2011 – part two

Our This Week in Social Games newsletter is now one year old. On its six-month birthday we celebrated by counting down the most popular on stories of the past half a year. So now it’s a whole one year old we thought it only right to finish the job with the most popular stories from July to December 2011.

If you’ve not read the first part, you can read it here or subscribe to it here.
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Fighting against free is like fighting against gravity

Digital content will be free. Tv will be free, games will be free, books will be free, music will be free. All digital entertainment will be free. Fighting against free is like fighting against gravity. Why? Because digital distribution is free.

The internet is the most efficient distribution network ever invented. If something can be digitized if can be distributed for almost zero cost. It sounds obvious, but the impact is profound.

In the past businesses relied on distribution to protect their prices:

  • Writing the news is easy. Creating a network of printing presses and distribution centres to get the news across the country in the same day is hard.
  • Creating music is easy. Recording an album, burning a CD, and setting up a network of shops to sell the music is hard.

When you buy a newspaper or a CD only a small part of the price goes towards the cost of creating the content. You’re really paying for the distribution.

Today anyone can write their own blog or create their own music. But it’s not the citizen journalists that are threatening the newspapers. The real threat are the millions of ordinary people who email news stories to their friends!
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The ten best social gaming articles of 2011 – Part one

We’ve been publishing our This Week in Social Games (TWISG) newsletter for six months. It’s our weekly e-newsletter that contains that week’s most insightful articles on social games and virtual worlds and delivers them as a digest into our subscriber’s inbox.

But that’s not meta enough for us at Dubit. So now we’ve scoured all the issues of TWISG and produced this list of the top ten articles (based on clicks). It’s a bit like those annuals you used to get as a kid but you don’t have to wait for Christmas.

Want the week’s most insightful social gaming and virtual world articles sent to your inbox every week? Then sign-up to receive TWISG.

1 . Do you speak metrics? (free sign-up required)

Do you know your WAU from your ARPU? What’s the K-Factor? If this makes no sense to you then you have been one of the many people who clicked this story. Unfortunately it requires registration to Games Industry Biz but if you’re not signed-up already, now’s the time.
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Converting players into payers in five steps

Remember the first time you played Farmville, why did you do it? Were you looking for more ways to spend money online? Or was it because you were bored? Maybe a friend recommended the game? Or the advert just sounded fun? Unless you’ve got more money than Mark Zuckerburg, I’d bet it was one of the later reasons. Your players are no different: no-one plays Farmville because they just can’t wait to buy more virtual goods, and yet some do get their wallets out. This post is about how to convert some of your players into payers.

Remember, your game is not just a game, it’s a marketing and sales process. When a new player joins your game, he’s not just a player, he’s a sales opportunity. Your job is to design an experience that, over time, converts those opportunities into sales.

We start by thinking about the end of the sales funnel. Why will anyone get excited enough about your game to get their credit card out, because I’m pretty sure virtual goods don’t fall into the bottom two levels of Maslows hierarchy. Then figure out the steps between a new, yet to be convinced player, and one who has become excited enough to open their wallet.

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