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Social Game Design: Monetization Methods and Mechanics Paperback – December 12, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Tim Fields has been in the game industry since 1995 as a producer, project manager, design lead, and business developer. Tim has helped small studios and top publishers like EA and Microsoft run teams that create great games. He has worked on shooters, sports games, racing titles, and RPGs using talent and teams from North America, Asia, Europe, and the UK.
Brandon Cotton has over 10 years of game industry experience covering a wide variety of technology, platforms and game types. He is active in the social and online game design community, and currently serves as a founder, design lead, and programmer for Portalarium. He has built games for NCSoft, Ubisoft, and Microsoft, and holds a degree in Computer Science from the University of Texas.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 278 pages
  • Publisher: CRC Press; 1 edition (December 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0240817664
  • ISBN-13: 978-0240817668
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 7.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #476,272 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tim Fields makes games and writes books. He's been doing both since about 1995, and is a veteran producer, game designer, team leader and business developer. He has been involved in one way or another with several of the top franchises of the last few decades, such as Marvel, Halo, Call of Duty, Fast & Furious, Need for Speed, Brute Force, SSX and others. In addition to making games and helping companies and teams find partners, Tim is active in the game development and financial community as a consultant, writer, and speaker. He rambles around the world writing and reading with his wife, cats, and way too many books.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mark P. McDonald VINE VOICE on February 17, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
TIm Fields and Brandon Cotton are experienced game developers who look to explain what social gaming is than share their secrets of game design and development. Overall this book provides a clear and deep discussion of this phenomenon from a business and technical perspective. You might imagine that a book on social game design might read like a transcript from an old 'bill and ted' movie, but Fields and Cotton show that the business and technical edge of social gaming is real and something we ignore at our peril.

The book provides a multi-mode discussion of the issues surrounding social game design. The modes are text, interviews, examples and illustrations. The book is is not a how-to manual so much as a how-to-think-about-it discussion. Fields and Cotton make good use of direct discussions, interviews with gaming legends and examples to illustrate their points.

Business executives and aspiring game developers will each benefit from this book. Business executives will learn how traditional business concepts apply to social gaming and better understand the terminology and ethos behind the people that create the games. Aspiring game developers will learn from their peers as well as how to position and talk the business talk. Both valuable reasons for reading this book.

The book covers a wide range of game types and platforms from a conceptual, business and operational standpoint. People looking for more technical specs, discussions, hints and tips will be disappointed. The topics discussed are helpful and interesting but at times the advice can be a little obvious which is part of the reason for the three star review.

Recommended for people who want to understand the social gaming phenomenon at the next level -- below that of a magazine article -- as its breadth and format makes the content very accessible. Not particularly recommended for people looking for technical advice and support.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous VINE VOICE on January 26, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
What you think social gaming is, and what social gaming *actually* is...might be two different things. This book explains in detail what a social component in gaming can do for your game, how to set it up, and most importantly, how to use that social component to monetize your programming efforts.

It covers things that you may not have considered, including the newest business models, selling virtual goods within a game, and more importantly, how to engage and captivate your players to keep them coming back for more. There are a ton of case studies -- Zynga, Microsoft, Spacetime, OMGPop, Ravenwood Fair, and more -- to give you real-world examples of how other companies have blazed trails, and what you can learn from their successes (and misses). There are sections on keeping your game "sticky" so that people return day after day, explanations of internal currencies, and types of games to inspire you to create your own social game, whether or not you're currently a programmer.

The section on metrics is worth the whole cost of the book, in fact. Learning how to acquire and interpret KPI data to improve not only your players' experience, but also to refine your monetization strategies, is, really, priceless...and something all too many otherwise good games get wrong.

This is *not* a technical how-to manual. You won't find information on how to code the things you want here. You won't get step-by-step instructions on how to create in-app purchases.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jijnasu Forever VINE VOICE on February 4, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In a very thorough and succinct discussion, Fields and Cotton are able to provide readers with what could become a foundational way to look at monetization strategies in social games. The early chapters provide a good characterization of the different games (and their evolution) and the typical metrics used to assess the success of a game. The authors leverage their experience in game design to provide good examples of how (and why) these metrics matter and is a good starting point for game designers. Their discussion of the impact of social games on various stakeholders in the ecosystem (designers, developers, gamers) is also interesting. The authors main contribution is in their unique and detailed treatment of the customer acquisition and retention, monetization strategies. The last 3-4 chapters provide very thought-provoking frameworks to design incentive structures for social games. Particularly, the discussion on how to develop meaningful "leaderboards" is very informative. The chapter focusing on "currencies" for social games is also an excellent read. Chapters 7 (customer acquisition, retention), 8 (monetization) and 10 (currencies) are clear stand-outs in the book and are well worth investing in this book.

Throughout the book, each chapter features a detailed interview with experienced game designers/executives that amplify some of the points made in the chapter. While the interview format (reads like a verbatim script) and lack of a quick summary of the salient points from the interview can be distracting to some readers, it is well-worth the read.
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