King.com CEO Riccardo Zacconi’s talk at this year’s Casual Connect revolved primarily around how best to create a compelling multi-platform experience. And he wasn’t just preaching the importance of ports, either. In his eyes, if you want additional control over how long people play your game and how much they spend, you’d better weave in some kind of social features or cross-platform play.
Zacconi began by discussing King.com’s own multi-platform strategy. Since they’ve begun porting games from their site to Facebook, they’ve made sure to tailor and treat them as separate entities.
Bubble Witch Saga was the dominant example in the talk, and Zacconi broke down what the company did to make it work with Facebook. He labeled this the “Saga Framework,” a blueprint that contained general Facebook functionality, the inclusion of a storyline and levels, and monetization methods in the form of in-app purchases as well as a chance for players to view ads to bypass wait times. They also did something they don’t generally do with games hosted on their own website: supported it post-launch.
Somewhere in the ballpark of 3% of players were making it to level 14, and it was clear that the difficulty of levels 8 and 9 were the culprit. In response, King.com tweaked them and made them easier, which ultimately led to 31% of users still playing at level 14.
Returning to the multi-platform talk, Zacconi shared with the audience a few examples of mobile games that have performed incredibly well thanks to Facebook. The first one cited was Bingo Bash, a game that sees Facebook-connected users playing 30% longer and spending 80% more on in-app purchases. The second example, Diamond Dash, is nothing to scoff at either: Facebook-connected users are 8x more likely to play, and it’s seen 18.5 million redirects from Facebook to the app itself according to Zacconi.
The message is clear: Ignore the potential of social elements and cross-pollination between platforms at your own risk.
Again conveying his points with Bubble Witch Saga, Zacconi shed some light on the level of connectivity between it and the Facebook version. If you complete a level on one platform, your progress will automatically be acknowledged on the other. Moreover, the items you purchase won’t remain linked with the version you purchased them on. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before, but it took on a new meaning after the examples of Bingo Bash and Diamond Dash.
Despite the powerful tool that is social play, Zacconi also preached the importance of giving the player options. If someone wants to play a game without having to link their Facebook, that route should be available to them. Ever the salient example, Zacconi noted that Bubble Witch Saga would grant non-Facebook users with leaderboards in lieu of social features.
I won’t sugarcoat it: A decent chunk of the talk was dedicated to promoting King.com and Bubble Witch Saga. But on a more positive note, citing such well-established success cases provided the many developers in the audience with grounded examples of the ways in which cross-platform connectivity and social elements can aid their game. It’s an opportunity to improve the frequency and length with which they play, as well as how much money the ultimately put into it.
And in today’s fickle climate, that’s beyond valuable.