The ten best social game articles of 2012 – part 1

Matthew Warneford

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.

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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.

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.

3. Zynganomics: 4 Secrets of the Social Gaming Business Model

We love it when articles help to simplify the business of social games, it’s one of the reasons we publish This Week in Social Games every week. This feature from Mashable does just that, breaking down four of the most important factors in Zynga’s (and other studio’s) success, from trigger activities to the illusion of ‘free’. Have a read, it’s free! Or is it? Yes, it is.

4. Confessions of a Zynga addict spending $1,000 a year

What’s it like to spend $1,000 playing YoVille? Business Insider found out by speaking to a self confessed Zynga Whale. While the player’s story is interesting, what’s more insightful is hearing how Zynga managed to turn a non-gamer into the type of player that sets up multiple accounts, stays up late to work in a virtual bakery and trades in virtual goods.

5. How to be viral – Retention patterns in social vs. casual games

Social and casual games are different genres that are often wrongly lumped together. That doesn’t mean they can’t learn from each other, as this article from Vostu’s co-founder Mario Schlosser and chief researcher Neil Molino shows. The pair compare their social title, Megacity, and casual footy sim Gol Mania. The findings highlight the differences in their retention rates but also show that viral acquisition is quite similar, providing tips on how to make casual games more social and in-turn more viral.

6. Who is playing social games – infographic

We love infographics, they’re so pretty and informative. When they’re about social games we think all our Christmases have come at once. This is why we think this infographic from Econsultancy is so great at showing who is playing social games, from ages and income to whether they consume social games on phones or PCs.

7. Monetizing virtual goods and pleasing players

Virtual goods are big business, there’s no doubting it. But to get the most out of them virtual goods need to implemented with an understanding of the market. Whether it’s a bigger gun or a prettier dress, virtual goods need to be balanced and you need to ensure that players don’t think the only way to progress in your game is through currency and not skill. This article from Gamasutra by Tom Fields (an extract from his book Social Game Design: Monetization Methods and Mechanics) is a great guide for anyone interested in the risks, opportunities, and techniques for the implementation of virtual goods.

8. Using Facebook ads to find your game’s audience

Facebook isn’t just a great place to play games, it’s also a mine of useful information to help you develop and market your game. This excellent article from marketer and indie developer Christian Fager outlines how to use split testing to hone in on your audience via Facebook ads, driving traffic to your fan page or home page and determining specifically what demographic is most interested in your title.

9. The 9 best games funded by Kickstarter

As video games get more expensive to develop fewer risks are taken and we’re left playing sequels and movie tie-ins. But thanks to Kickstarter, developers are finding new ways to develop games they want to make, resulting in some truly original titles. To celebrate this originality we’ve compiled a list of our nine favourite Kickstarter games, from a platformer staring a Republican politician to a game poking fun at the developer’s wife’s poor grasp of German. See the full list on the Dubit blog.

10. 167 sites to promote your new mobile game

Creating an awesome mobile game is one thing, getting it noticed is another! That’s why we love this list of 167 websites which carry reviews for mobile games. Of course, some are more suitable than others (they may just review iPhone games) and some are more popular than others. This is why the Alexa ranking is useful, acting as a gauge to separate the sites that will deliver you a handful of buyers from those which could turn your latest title into the next Angry Birds. Check out the full list (with contact details) at Manic Dev.

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