The ten best social gaming articles of 2013

Matthew Warneford

Minecraft, Clash of Clans, Candy Crush and the mess at Zynga…these were only four of the many topics we covered in our This Week in Casual Games (TWICG) newsletter this year. Twice a year we review TWICG and pick the ten most read articles of the year (twice!). If you’ve not signed-up for TWICG yet, click here and get the week’s most insightful casual game articles sent to your inbox in one handy weekly email.

Here are ten stories that our readers have clicked on more than any other, so far this year.

Why Candy Crush is so addictive

Because it’s awesome, right? That’s the simple answer, but we don’t do simple here, we want to know what makes Candy Crush the most addictive and highest grossing game on the app stores. Thankfully Michail Katkoff has written this thorough post that details the mechanics, virality and monetization techniques that have made CCS a smash hit.

How Clash of Clans makes a million bucks a day!

At the last count Supercell’s Clash of Clans was pulling in $1m a day! But how does Supercell do it? Well, their marketing budget is rumoured to be pretty high, but aside from that they have a great game on their hands. After all, it’s one thing to acquire players; it’s another to keep them. In this Gamasutra interview, product lead Lasse Louhento takes us through the five key elements behind the game’s success, from attracting hardcore and casual gamers, to the over reliance on tutorials.

Ex-Zynga staffer dishes the dirt

Earlier this year Zynga let 520 members of staff go and closed the studio behind Draw Something. Soon after the sackings one of the former employees took to Reddit to answer the community’s questions. In this eye-opening AMA the former employee discusses what Zynga did right and the lessons that other studios can learn. He also dishes the dirt on what was really going on behind the scenes at the biggest name in social gaming.

What makes Candy Crush so sweet?

Candy Crush Saga has managed to take Facebook and mobile gaming by storm, but what’s the secret to its success? In his blog, Christopher Foley of Kontagent breaks down the game’s use of goal-oriented play and its tactics for monetization and virality.

Maximising monetization in social games

At last year’s GDC Online conference Emily Greer, co-founder of Kongregate, gave an excellent presentation on how to maximise monetization in social games. Her slides are now available on Slideshare and they’re awesome. Greer’s presentation reads more like a business lesson than game design and covers demand, competition and pricing strategies to help readers understand the creation of in-game economies. There are also plenty of tips for how to improve your average revenue per user and warnings for what to avoid.

Why Clash of Clans has the winning formula…nearly

Clash of Clans has been a massive this year, both in critical acclaim and (more importantly) monetization. But why has this combination of resource management and strategy proved such a big hit? This post, by Clash of Clans super-fan Michael Katoff, also known as ‘the evil monetization guy at Rovio’ (his words, not ours), delves into why the game has proved to be such a success and where it could improve.

Lessons learned from in-app purchases

You only have to look at the top grossing apps charts to see that In-app purchasing has revolutionised gaming. But, as 4Agency found out, making money from a game isn’t as simple as giving it away for free and asking people to buy better guns. In this post 4Agency’s Charles Cox details his learnings from using IAP in their game, Armoured Drive.

10 ways to retain players

As mobile gaming has advanced and browser-based gaming has become more lucrative player retention has never been more important. Mickey Blumental knows this more than most people, having spent his early years creating mobile versions of hit console titles like Need for Speed and Resident Evil. Back then the plan was to get people through the game as quick as possible. Now, as highlighted in his blog post, keeping players playing for as long as possible is key to a game’s success, and indeed the games that follow it. In his post for Gamasutra Mickey picks his ten key ways to retain players, with plenty of useful examples.

The Sesame Street guide to app design

Sesame Street has been a part of childhoods since the late ‘60s and was the product of Sesame Workshop – a non-profit organisation focused on educating children through TV programming. Now Sesame Workshop’s activity goes beyond TV and into digital edutainment, with apps and online games. This PDF, published by Sesame Workshop, utilises more than 40 years of children’s media testing, in excess of 20 years of digital platform testing, and 50 plus touch screen studies to create a fantastic guide to designing touch tablet experiences for preschoolers. It also has plenty of pictures of Grover and Elmo. Enjoy!

Six Tips for Increasing User Engagement

Heavy users are key to the success of any pay-to-play game so once you have them it’s important that you know how to retain them. In this post for Pocket Gamer mobile apps marketing expert, Adrienne Gauldie offers her advice on increasing user retention for mobile games, from push notifications to audience targeting.

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