Today I’m am doing a bit of economy design at Lucky Lady Games and figuring out the mechanics behind a starting coin balance can be somewhat tricky. Relatively it is a very simple concept: People need coins to try your game out so that they can get hooked long enough to want to put in money to play more. So how much is a good starting point for maximum ROI?
You can easily not put much thought behind this and try out different numbers so you can get it right before scaling (you already have your game up). Most of us probably don’t have this luxury or time to collect this data and change our coin economy after the fact and risk pissing off existing users. Plus, you want to get up and running with a good baseline decision asap, so this article will just give you some points on social casino economy design to think about.
It is very tempting to go with the industry benchmark of a $3-$5 package number but because we are dealing with social casino design, I wanted to dig deeper into the psychological aspects of a casino player from a big picture and make sure the user experience works well together.
So the question I am tackling: How do we align our starting coin balance in our social casino to the overall user experience in the game?
When defining coin balance in social casinos we have a few options. First option is to over inflate the economy numbers and give players a huge fantasy bank roll. The second option would be to keep coin balance more realistic to real money play so their casino experience would be a lot more purist form. The positives and negatives are debated below.
Increasing/inflating coins/fantasy bankroll:
Elicit feel good/feel more fun, like a party WOO HOO RAINING MONEY
People might feel richer and freer to spend
Disassociate real money from casino play
People might feel like they’ve already achieved success relatively quickly
Numbers may get so large that they become meaningless
They might feel that they are being treated like children
Might let you give them less money later and have it seem like a lot aka $500 bonus
Reduced value in the currency (could be negative or positive)
Might make the stakes seem higher so more tension for players
Better sense of escapism in games, fantasy play
Aligning gold $ value to be more on par with sweeps play may be less confusing to the player who are use to playing casino games
Players may be hesitant to bet as it’s too realistic/stressful
Establishes a more serious tone/brand strategy if that is what you are going for in design