Critical Acclaim and Commercial Success in Mobile Free-to-Play Games

Alha Kati Koskinen Elina Paavilainen Janne Hamari Juho
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

Critical acclaim is considered to be one of the main predictors of profitability of game products. Major game publishers face tremendous hurdles in order to fare well in different forums that review and rate their products. However, little evidence exists on the relationship between ratings and profitability beyond anecdotal assumptions. In this study we investigate the relationship between critical acclaim and commercial success in mobile free-to-play games via a mixed-method study. First we look at the correlation of reviews and profitability, and then present an exploratory qualitative inquiry, analyzing games with high Metascores and games with high grossing. The results reveal that the relationship between review ratings and profitability is even more problematic in mobile free-to-play games than in many other game categories. Games with high Metascores differ substantially from the top-grossing games, being closer to traditional single-player games than typical free-to-play games, with little emphasis on monetization mechanics.


Free-to-Play Games: Professionals’ Perspectives

Alha Kati Koskinen Elina Paavilainen Janne Hamari Juho Kinnunen Jani
2014 DiGRA Nordic '14: Proceedings of the 2014 International DiGRA Nordic Conference

This paper investigates the free-to-play revenue model from the perspective of game professionals. To court larger player audiences and to address their wide willingness-to-pay spectrum, game developers have increasingly adopted the free-to-play revenue model. However, at the same, worrying concerns over the revenue model have been voiced. For example, free-to-play games have been deemed as exploitative and unethical. We investigated this contrast by conducting a thematic interview study. We employed grounded theory in the analysis of the data containing 14 game professionals’ interviews about their views on the free-to-play model. The results show, that the free-to-play model is something that the developers view favorably while the public writing about the games can even be hostile. The games have evolved, while the voiced opinions still talk about games of the beginning of the model. Relatively few ethical problems were seen that would address the whole model, and the future of the free-to-play games was seen bright.


Meta-synthesis of player typologies

Tuunanen Janne Hamari Juho
2012 DiGRA Nordic '12: Proceedings of 2012 International DiGRA Nordic Conference

This paper investigates different ways in which players have been categorized in game research literature in order to distinguish relevant customer segments for designing and marketing of game’s value offerings. This paper adopts segmentation and marketing theory as its bases of analysis. The goal is to synthesize the results of various studies and to find the prevailing concepts, combine them, and draw implications to further studies and segmentation of the player base. The research process for this study proceeded from large literature search, to author-centric (Webster & Watson 2002) identification and categorization of previous works based on the established factors of segmentation (demographic, psychographic, and behavioral variables) in marketing theory. The previous works on player typologies were further analyzed using concept-centric approach and synthesized according to common and repeating factors in the previous studies. The results indicate that player typologies in previous literature can be synthesized into seven key dimensions: Skill, Achievement, Exploration, Sociability, Killer, Immersion and In-game demographics. The paper highlights for further studies the self-fulfilling and self-validating nature of the current player typologies because their relatively high use in game design practices as well as discusses the role of game design in segmentation of players.


Framework for Designing and Evaluating Game Achievements

Hamari Juho Eranti Veikko
2011 DiGRA '11 - Proceedings of the 2011 DiGRA International Conference: Think Design Play

This paper presents a framework for evaluating and designing game design patterns commonly called as “achievements”. The results are based on empirical studies of a variety of popular achievement systems. The results, along with the framework for analyzing and designing achievements, present two definitions of game achievements. From the perspective of the achievement system, an achievement appears as a challenge consisting of a signifying element, rewards and completion logics whose fulfilment conditions are defined through events in other systems (usually games). From the perspective of a single game, an achievement appears as an optional challenge provided by a meta-game that is independent of a single game session and yields possible reward(s).