How freemium games make you pay (VIDEO)

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This post was first published on Games in Asia.

Nils Pihl is the cofounder of a behavioral analytics startup based in Beijing called Mention LLC. His team is working on a gaming analytics tool called Traintracks, and has also worked with neural interfaces and done some technical consulting. A behavioral engineer by trade, Pihl is known around town for his captivating speeches at the local Barcamp events in Beijing, China. Recently he headed down to Shanghai’s Game Developers Conference to give a one-hour speech entitled, “The Psychology of Freemium,” an amalgamation of his last three Barcamp speeches. Mention just posted the video on Youtube. Whether you’re interested in game development or not, anyone who has ever played a video game should find this interesting. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Newtonian engagement and evaluation points: an engaged player will remain engaged until acted on by an outside force.
  • The “evaluation matrix” allows developers to model player decisions, especially during onboarding and drop off.
  • Use cognitive biases and attention scope to manage the player’s mission.
  • How Dopamine works: motivation is tied to the anticipation of reward more than the reward itself.
  • Give the player relevant rewards and remember his or her mission.

If you’d like to see more of Pihl’s (shorter) insights on why gamification is a dirty word, why you’ve never done anything irrational in your entire life, or why he is not a whale, check out Mention’s YouTube page and blog.

(Editing by Willis Wee)

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