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“One more go” doesn’t work anymore

By on July 22, 2010
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Game design has long had the objective of making users want “just one more go”. With more than a passing nod to the arcade business models of yesteryear, much design thought has gone into making users keep playing till the wee small hours of the night.

In today’s world, that’s bad design.

It used to be that once someone had forked over their cash, we had no way of getting more money from them. So all we could do was to make the game so addictive that people would stay up late – and then talk about staying up late. It was all about building good worth of mouth.

In this age of Facebook, web and iPhone free-to-play games, this isn’t what you need any more.

Now you need games that are “come back tomorrow” games.

Come back tomorrow

“Come back tomorrow” generates more users over time because the game is designed to keep people playing, not sating their desires in an orgy of “one more goes”

“Come back tomorrow” generates more ad revenue, because you get more impressions without interrupting the game flow.

“Come back tomorrow” generates more virtual goods revenue, because every time a player returns to your game, you have another chance to convert them.

Are you designing online games with a “one more go” mentality. Is it time to stop?

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve:
  • ChrisBateman

    Nick, once again you go for the sensational headline over the facts of the matter. 🙂 You behave as if microtransactions and social games had invalidated the core market AND the casual non-social market (e.g. PopCap). But that's not the case, as you must know. Come-back-tomorrow isn't a new strategy – RPGs of various kinds have combined this with one-more-go for some time – what's new is trying to make this work in the lighter more casual space.

    I'd like to comment on the neurobiology of these two motives but alas, no time. 🙂

    Best wishes!

  • I like your generalisation very much, jurie, and totally agree with it. But sometimes it's important to give people a jolt and wakt them up to the fact that what used to work doesn;t work so well any more, because the business has changed.

    You are very right about Bejewelled Blitz.

  • This can be generalized to: You should design for your business model (because your business model affects your target audience and their expectations).

    It used to be that people would put in quarters to play a game. Designers designed to that. Now designers design to virtual item selling, say. Or episodic games – different business model, different design goals (neither One More Go nor Come Back Tomorrow).

    And arguably Come Back Tomorrow is the fashion du jour, but not the only model that works. E.g. Bejeweled Blitz uses One More Go very effectively.