Interesting design mechanics that you don’t see on ‘every’ game is something that takes time, experience and a bit of a ridged soul. What i mean by this is that PM and designers are constantly finding solutions to improve every different metric in the game. Whether it be your 30 day retention or your conversion rate, every feature has to be fine tuned to address certain issues in the game. Once in awhile, you will find a ‘manipulative’ design mechanic that after deconstructing the objective, it serves as a multi purpose metric improver (if that’s even a word).
Very similar to my Monthly Pass Post, where you can recognize the ROI immediately with such minimal dev time, im here to discuss another game design i’ve experienced that i thought was very interesting.
Piggy Bank System
Before i delve into the mechanics, lets talk Daily missions.
Daily Missions is a system that engages mid to hard core players. The objective around these daily missions is to force players to play all the different features in the game, by doing this devs reward players with ‘usually’ hard currency for completing all the daily missions. This system is usually an engagement mechanic that can maximize game session but can get a bit repetitive if performed on a daily basis for months. This exhaustion usually leads to players churning which is never a good thing.
Now daily missions original objective was to maximize player session and retention, but never a monetization mechanic. And thus the Piggy Bank system was born.
Piggy Bank System explained
This system is quite devious in its own mechanic as a piggy bank is placed in the daily missions for players to view on a daily basis. Based on player progression (completion of daily missions), the players piggy banks gets bigger. The content inside grows (Hard Currency) but the price doesn’t. (Ie, break piggy bank for $2.99)
This system is particular devious because it constantly test your mental fortitude whether its worth it to pay. Sadly enough if you do the currency conversion in the store, its always a bad deal. Why would i pay $4.99 for 1000 HC when i can get 5000 HC for $4.99 in the store, or 15,000 for $9.99 and so on. This triggers the thought process of the value of the product offerings in the store versus your piggy bank.
Step 1: Consciously activating the users the importance Hard Currency
Step 2: Making them understand the value of the Hard Currency
From there the players naturally learn this through the piggy bank system as they see their bank grow as they progress in the game. Now that they understand the system the question every day for them is when will they hold out until they crack open that safe.
Step 3: Convert them into a gambler.
The more they think about this system converts them to less of a gamer and more of a gambler. Which is the 3 step process and converting your gamer to a gambler
Along with this, on a PM perspective, this product positioning is a devious mechanic where the trade off is retention over revenue. I say revenue because you’re allowing players to potentially farm for a $30 value product if they played for a month. But for a PM conversion rate ranks as a higher priority versus ARPPU. This is because of the concept of “once a thief is always a thief’
The initial step of converting a user is much greater than getting them to repeat as a spender. 2 difficulties with this experience is attempting to control the first time spending experience and trying to make this experience the best experience possible. If not, they won’t repeat.
The assumption is that players will crack open that safe once the player deems the value of the product inside is greater that the price attached to it. Which can usually lead to a fun experience. If not, the failure to meta the system properly will not yield in a necessarily horrible experience as the piggy bank always resets and they can play this game again.
For those that don’t understand the casino slot industry, this system is very similar to the Progressive slot system:
These progressive slot machines may be stand-alone or linked to various other machines. As players put money into the machine or machines, a percentage of it is applied to the top prize and the potential jackpot continues to grow. If a player hits the designated symbols, he or she will win the entire jackpot, though there are smaller prizes available as well.
Usually, once someone wins a jackpot, it will reset to a designated minimum and start to build up again.
This mechanic is usually designed to retain more players on the slot machine as the jackpot value goes up in price based on their participation. The system is effectively trading off Revenue for retention as a portion of the player investment goes towards the slot machine.
Making them more of a gambler than a slot machine player.