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Designing the right leaderboard system in your game

To be successful in the freemium space, a pre-requisite for monetizing and engaging players is to have competitive elements in your game. Whether it be

  • PVP (Player vs. Player)

  • PVE ( Player vs. Environment)

  • GVG (Guild vs Guild)

  • GVE (Guild vs Environment)

These system inherently create a higher need to progress versus a passive game where players can enjoy the game at their own pace.

There are 2 different types of competitive system that are found in freemium systems today.

  1. Limited Time Competitive Features

  2. Persistent Competitive Features

Limited Time Competitive Feature:

A Limited Time Competitive features is an event that runs for a short period of time and the rewards are distributed at the end of the competition. The objective of the tournament can vary from any type of meta system that is designed in your game.

These competitive features usually monetize the best due to the time constraints of the tournament. One thing to be careful with these features is creating expectations on what type of rewards are distributed to the winners, as revenue you make versus the carrot have a positive correlation. The better the reward the better the revenue.

Persistent Competitive Features:

Persistent competitive features are features that are built-in as a core game loop in your game. Participating in this feature is a prerequisite for any players to progress in the game, or gain a competitive advantage.

These systems are usually reward players on a daily / weekly / monthly basis and based on their rank, and usually given a unique currency. The unique currency is strategically designed so that players are required to play this feature to progress through the game.

There are 2 underlying differences in these 2 types of competitive features

Content Driven Leaderboard

Content driven features is a daunting task for developers as the constant pressure to create new assets on a monthly basis becomes arduous. The dynamic this creates in the long term is a power creep system where every tournament the devs run lead to a percentage base power boost that eventually the game designers lose control of (in terms of game balance).

Although an extremely viable business model, the limitation is based on the vitality of the developers as the content creation can be very expensive and time sensitive.

Whether you run a limited time event or persistent event monitoring your in-game economy is vital for the engagement of your players. Over inflating your rewards will also lead to players churning and making it these resources too scarce will make for an unengaged competitive feature. Eventually your limited time events will end up being persistently, limited time therefore your designers are required to account for the extra income that is being dumped into the economy to manage the supply and demand of you your game.

The worst thing you can do to your game is have floating resources where players have nothing to spend on since they are maxed out, and these are assumptions that are required to be made therefore when designed competitive features, it is important to always work towards ‘Evergreen features’

Evergreen system.

The holy grail. A system where players just spend money with the dev team not having to constantly add new content into the game. A system where dumping resources into the economy will funnel it self out of the economy as the sinks are stronger than inflation.

A well balanced diet of engagement and upkeep makes for a fun gaming experience, Clash Royale is an excellent example of game play driven monetization where players pay to obtain a better game play experience as there are are practically no rewards as you move up in trophies. Well not entirely nothing as moving up to new arenas unlocks new characters, but these new champs were released from the release of the game thus developers have no added new content to the game or are pressured into releasing new champions compared to a content driven product.

Players just spend on the treasure chest to unlock characters which have no advantages to the game at all. These monetization mechanics are born from ‘Fun’ which every developers strives to achieve but never really get there.

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