The ten best social game articles of 2011 – part two

Matthew Warneford

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.

1 - Roger Dickey’s Tactics for Game Monetization

The man most of our readers wanted to hear from in 2011 was Mafia Wars creator Roger Dickey. His presentation at Money Talks is perfect for anyone new to games monetization and has some great examples for seasoned Veterans. Dickey’s key reason for social games success is what he calls ‘fun pain’. Want to know what he’s on about? Watch the video below.

2 - Four Reasons Why Virtual Goods Make Us Happy

We all know that virtual goods make us happy. All of us at Dubit can’t wait for our virtual Christmas presents. But why do they make us happy and how can we use this information to make gamers enjoy their time with our games even more? This article from Forbes tells us why and points to, among other things, the benefits of small but frequent transactions and the importance of ‘low-hassle’.

3 - Can Games Still Succeed on Facebook?

Zynga’s IPO was one the biggest social gaming stories of 2011, but does Zynga’s success mean that it’s now impossible to make money from games on Facebook? Not according to Inside Social Games who cite going after new markets and the importance of strategy games in their tips for companies who aren’t lucky enough to be Zynga. Oh, and remember you might not do too well making a game where you manage a bakery or work on a farm – that’s been pretty much done to death now.

4 - Exposing Social Gaming’s Hidden Lever

There were plenty of articles in 2011 that drew comparisons between the mechanics found in social games and those used in the gambling industry, but none got quite the attention that was lavished on this feature from Gamasutra.  As well as some lovely graphs it looks at how Zynga managed to leverage these mechanics and become a billion dollar company because of it.

5 – The Design of Free-To-Play Games: Part 1

New to the concept of free-to-play games? Then this is the feature for you. Written for Gamasutra it outlines the key differences between traditional and free-to-play games, the importance of accessibility, and tactics for player recruitment.

6 - Trending Now: Simple Social Game Mechanics and Design Choices Gaining Ground

As social gaming gains in popularity, certain elements crop up time and time again. This can often be labelled as ‘copying’ but the truth of the matter is that as certain concepts become popular players begin to look for them in each game they play. In this article on Inside Social Games the site looks at some of these key trends and which social games have employed them most effectively.

7 - Game Monetization Lessons from Magic: The Gathering

What social game monetization have to do with classic card game Magic: The Gathering? A lot! Yep, if you think Magic is just about people buying and trading cards then you’ve not met a hardcore player. But don’t worry, this post by Tyler York and Magic fan Adam Summerville is all you need, offering valuable insight the power of actual versus perceived value and the importance of randomness.

8 – Gamification Dynamics: Choice and Competition

This article by Badgerville’s Tony Ventrice forms part of his series on gamifaction and what makes games fun. In this instalment he looks at the roles of choice and competition, with a heavy focus on the role of zero-sum competition.

9 - GDC Online – Playdom presents: The Year in Social Games

We love a good list, and this one’s great! For their talk at GDC, Playdom’s Steve Meretzky (creative director) and Dave Rohrl (VP of game design) presented their top social gaming trends of 2011. You can read their list at Motiveateplay or view the whole presentation on below.

10 - The Secrets Of Wooga’s Social Game Success

Wooga is the third biggest Facebook developer behind Zynga and EA, if you remove PopCap’s stats from EA’s Wooga leaps to number two in the chart. So it’s no surprise that this interview with Wooga’s head of studio, Henric Suuronen was so popular. In it Surrornen discusses social game mechanics, game design, and monetization.

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