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Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games [Kindle Edition]

Rob Fahey , Nicholas Lovell
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Free-to-play is the most exciting thing to happen to the games business for decades. Each week brings new success stories, as creators around the world unleash the potential of free-to-play - building successful, thriving games for mobile, social and even console and PC platforms, all with a single, powerful price tag: free. Yet at the same time, many other creators are struggling to make free-to-play work for them - while some bad uses of free-to-play have even attracted criticism for the entire industry.

Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games cuts through the confusion, presenting 15 clear, direct rules that will allow creators to build commercially successful games. There are no exploitative tricks or get-rich-quick schemes here - this is a practical guide for game designers who want to make money from free-to-play games while respecting their audience and building a devoted fan following. Each rule is explained in depth and illustrated with several examples from real games.

The 15 rules were originally published on the popular GAMESbrief blog, and they appear here in a greatly expanded and revised form. Around three quarters of the content in the book is not available elsewhere, including an extensive section of new background information which explains the business, financial and psychological concepts behind free-to-play, and how to successfully apply them to your games.

This book is designed as a reference for all game creators - whether you’re a veteran of the industry trying to get up to speed with the free-to-play business model, a newcomer learning the ropes, or even an experienced free-to-play creator seeking to polish your knowledge and challenge your perceptions. It’s also a perfect read for anyone - game creator or not - who wants to understand how the free-to-play model works, and what the future of the games business looks like.

Feedback for Nicholas' presentation of the Design Rules at the Free-to-Play Summit in London:

“15 bullet points of useful information with lots of meat and no fluff. Head and shoulders above the rest.”
Wolfgang Hamann, Koolhaus Games

“Nicholas Lovell’s presentation was outstanding… Particularly useful for me as someone who has just made the change from 5 years in boxed games to the F2P side of the industry.”
Dan Robinson, Eutechnyx

“Stand out talks for me were Nicholas Lovell’s talk on the 15 rules of F2P… Particularly relevant, with lots to take away and apply.”
Nick Adams, Blitz Game Studios

Product Details

  • File Size: 235 KB
  • Print Length: 76 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: GAMESbrief; 1 edition (October 15, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009RT7Q3Y
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #136,746 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An Overview, Not Really Rules April 2, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
I'm honestly a bit surprised at the glowing praise about this on here. I didn't find anything really all that useful, but I have made F2P games in the past. I've made games that followed all of these rules that have failed hard and made others that disagreed with what is written here that have done well.

The book uses a lot of loosey-goosey definitions that feel good, but don't really hold up to scrutiny. If "someone is having fun with a game it is a fun game", then the rule to "make it fun" is intensely meaningless.

They throw out the "Starbucks test" that a game should have something worthwhile in the first few minutes of engagement, but then readily admit that two of the most successful games, League of Legends and Team Fortress violate this rule hard. So... is it essential or is it not? One of the author mentions that Team Fortress has money and experience, so I don't think he has played the game much.

I went to a talk at GDC in 2012 that was supposed to be the "secrets" of the top App Store games. What the author there did was take the top 30 games and then data mine out things they had in common. This led to wonderful "secrets" like "Your game should have 'beboppin" tunes". Well, it may be true that the top games have whatever the heck 'beboppin' tunes are supposed to be, but that doesn't mean that adding it to your game will make it a hit or that leaving it out will be a rule violation that alienates players.

This book is similar to that talk. It is a light overview that data mines the best practices of some popular games, but really doesn't dig any deeper as to whether what they found is a rule or a happenstance.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Designing your first Free-to-Play game? Read this. October 25, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This short collection of free-to-play videogame design rules is a handy reference, particularly if you aren't already well versed in design considerations due to the differences between the traditional videogame sales model and free-to-play.

Critically, the design rules in this e-book respect the player and are focused on providing value and fun. This is not a list of predatory tactics to employ to drive short term revenue gain.

From the brief section on Operant Conditioning - "We're all better off when games are fun and engaging, rather than being crude psychological ploys." Word.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Usefull April 25, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Found the information very useful for a good price. Gets you up to speed with all the basics of F2P.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Valuable succinct advice March 26, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I appreciate that the authors kept the book succinct and didn't fluff this into a longer work, saves time reading it.
Solid advice for games and really anyone designing any freemium product.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of good information February 20, 2013
By Grumble
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This guide has a lot of good information and it was absolutely FREE!
If you're designing a game or F2P business you MUST read this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy and useful read February 18, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I believe every person that works in the gaming industry should have this book, it's a refreshing set of rules for each of us to keep in mind when designing a game or a game feature.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quick read December 8, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Was looking for an informational book on video game design. It's book spoke to it a bit. Enjoined the information I was given.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Guidance December 5, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very simple, clear, and (what should be) common sense guiding principles of designing free to play games. These concepts guide our studio as we design our games, and every studio would be better off for having read this!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Quick & Informative Rule Book to consider in this genre
I recommend this rule book to anyone that spends anytime thinking about this new world of game development. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Kingpin
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Worth It
This book was very informative and gave perfect examples of its content. Well organized. I am able to understand more about the F2P design model.
Published 2 months ago by Mary Beth Lawson
5.0 out of 5 stars Good guidelines.
Great guidelines for someone who doesn't have the time to read an entire book.
Published 3 months ago by M. Spaans
5.0 out of 5 stars required reading
Brilliant. Tho not everything may be applicable to those of us developing $3k games. However, If you are ANY type of game developer that creates F2P games, you need to read this... Read more
Published 3 months ago by markitect
5.0 out of 5 stars good book
Good read actually. It shows a lot of definitions of game and how to apply it in business in the real world
Published 5 months ago by tuan
4.0 out of 5 stars Good primer on F2P
Highly recommend it for a quick primer on thinking about your games business in this new way. Pair it with Lovell's book, "The Curve" for the history/philosophy behind the... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Kevin Browne
5.0 out of 5 stars Very useful!
If you are new to F2P games business model or already developing a game for F2P market, this book is a must-read. Easy to read and focus. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Oscar A. Campos Gonzalez
3.0 out of 5 stars worth reading
Worth reading Good abstraction Easy reading Fun writing But i wanna more examples in details.
And also need to update game examples
Published 10 months ago by blpark
4.0 out of 5 stars Good compact read, but begs for more depth
It's a great primer for "things to have in mind when looking at F2P for the first time", nicely postulated by Lovell and further extended by Fahey's great writing which... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Miguel Melo
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommendeed for newbies
The cheapest way to test your indie f2p game project for business sustainability before pushing it to the market is to read this tiny book.
Published 15 months ago by romaroma
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