Ning Developer Docs

Increasing Engagement and Distribution of Your Social Game

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

J2Play'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.

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Comment by Robert on May 1, 2009 at 12:58am
Sounds interesting. I could use involver for lead gen. Your comment about YouTube reminded me of a video campaign free online slots site I ran for a client where we got over 140K views, but very few "relationships". From what I understand, a tool like involver would help drive viewers to opt-in to an email sign up form after watching the video for example. If Involver works as promised, I bet we could convert some of those 140K viewers into leads plus track/update as the video gets spread.
Comment by Ian Crawford on April 1, 2009 at 6:59pm
B Teegarden,

I'm not sure why you posted that here. I don't work for Ning, so I can't help you.
Comment by B Teegarden on April 1, 2009 at 5:55pm
I have a question?

Suppose you run several networks on Ning and you pay for premium services on 3 networks and one day you decide to change the URL you are using as your own domain name. You add that domain name as an additional premium service and delete the old domain name service and suddenly you find that even though you have everything set up at your registrar correctly and have waited 24 hours, your ning network still redirects to the old domain, no matter what. Then, you try to contact Ning for 3 solid days with absolutely NO RESPONSE!

Clearly you would feel that there is some kind of error going on with a service you are paying for and it should not be to much to expect a timely response. It's not like I need help learning how to set GoDaddy right as I have done this on other networks and can even compare what I am doing now with my other domain settings.

Well, I have been down for THREE DAYS STRAIGHT and it looks like the only way I can get any assistance is to start paying an additional $10 a month.

In my book, this is just not right, no matter how one tries to justify!

Very disgruntled in Nashville
Comment by The Consultingguy of MHM Management on March 25, 2009 at 7:57am
I would like to work with you on integrating our 3DJays interactive community model. I am handling marketing. Download Is Available Go To MysiteHere

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