Social platforms, like Ning
, facilitate new game mechanics as well as providing new opportunities to engage users and increase game distribution. It's certainly no replacement for compelling game play (that is, you still need a good game) but exploiting the capabilities of the social web can help get your game the traction it needs. Incorporating this technology can be time consuming (though it doesn't have to be) but the benefits far outweigh the costs.
Read on for some often overlooked strategies to boost your game on the social web and (shameless plug!) find out how J2Play
does most of the work for you.
People will play for longer and come back more frequently if they have a reason to do so. Some form of competition is key. Even the simplest high score boards give people a reason to keep returning. Can't compete with the hardcore players? Challenge someone of your choosing! Multiplayer games can provide live competition.
One of the realizations surrounding Web 2.0 is that people love to (some would say "need to") create, input, or otherwise influence the system (your game). This is easily and obviously harnessed by letting players rate things - other players, levels, etc. Let people leave comments for others to read and respond to. If applicable, emphasizing popular content shows people that they're having an impact just by playing.
Finally, social platforms offer a friends list. Encourage further interaction with friends any way you can - chat, challenges, gifts, taunts, etc. Create a game mechanic that involves other people. Social sites are popular because of the interactions they allow. Extend this to your game.
Listing your game in the application directory
is an effective way for people to discover your game (especially on Ning where OpenSocial
applications are still relatively new). This is certainly where it starts, but it spreads through your players (so-called "viral distribution"). There are a host of ways to distribute through players using different OpenSocial functions available to developers.
Pay attention to your game's profile view
as it is the first thing most users will see. Make it attractive. Add information about the user. It absolutely must contain an obvious link to the application.
Send activity feeds and messages between users, but be aware of platform policies and restrictions. Pay close attention to wording. It should entice the reader to act (e.g., "PLAY NOW to see how you stack up to Jane!"). Once again, be sure to include an obvious link to the application.
If possible (as it can be resource intensive), track responses to these player initiated distribution channels. Knowing what works and what doesn't can help you improve.
The J2Play Solution
's vision is to level the playing field for social game developers by making social engagement and distribution fast and easy to implement no matter what type of game you have or where you want to publish it.
Developers maintain complete control and ownership over their game. They can choose their language (Flash, Java, or PHP) and choose which social networks to submit to. There are even toolkits for PC and mobile game developers looking to go social.
The J2Play platform hosts the game, provides deep integration into Ning and 7 other major social networks (including importing friends lists and profiles, publishing activity feeds, sending messages, and inviting other users). The platform handles the framework and presentation for profile views, high scores, challenges, and achievements. These are all available through a simple API, as well as many more engagement and distribution opportunities.
Finally, and most importantly, developers choose how they want to make money - ad revenue or game sales, with more options coming soon.
Fully leveraging social networks' capabilities makes your game easier to find and more compelling to play. You can get most of this in a matter of minutes with J2Play!
To get started with J2Play, visit the J2Play Developer site
or email J2Play Developer Support