The secret sauce of Dota 2: crowdsourcing and crowdfunding

The secret sauce of Dota 2 - crowdsourcing and crowdfundingA peculiar misconception seems quite common when it comes to Valve’s Dota 2: the belief that Dota 2 is not well-monetized, perhaps because as it brings in people to the Steam platform, Valve simply does not care about monetizing it.

When we look at the actual figures though, this conception is heavily challenged. Let’s dive in!

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MOBA monetization and the power of the crowd

MOBA monetization and the power of the crowdMultiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games have rapidly risen to amongst the most popular online games – so much so, that they are predicated to become the largest category of online games this year.

In a MOBA, two teams of players (typically 5 vs 5) attempt to destroy the base of the opposing team. Each player controls a single character, who grows in power as the match progresses (progress is wiped between matches) and teamwork is the key to victory.

The market leader is Riot Games’ League of Legends, followed by the clear number 2, Valve’s Dota 2. Other successful games in the genre include Hi-Rez’s Smite and Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm.

In this post, I examine how MOBA games are monetized given that all of them are free-to-play titles. There might also be something interesting to learn on the crowdsourcing front here.

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World of Tanks Generals: a different take on card game monetization

World of Tanks Generals - a different take on card game monetizationWith digital collectible card games becoming a “dominant category” (according to SuperData research), it is no wonder that more companies want their share of the pie. One of the more recent newcomers is Wargaming’s World of Tanks Generals, which is currently in open beta.

What makes World of Tanks Generals interesting from a business perspective is that it uses a radically different monetization model than the usual random pack model used in most collectible card games. Coupled with this is a different progression loop model.

Sounds interesting, so let’s take a deeper look.

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Card games going digital: Can Magic the Gathering compete with Hearthstone?

Card games going digital: Can Magic the Gathering compete with HearthstoneCollectible card games became an instant hit upon the creation of Magic the Gathering by Richard Garfield and Wizards of the Coast in 1993. Magic has went through some changing fortunes over the past 20 years (including WotC being acquired by Hasbro in 1999) and faced some successful competition in the form of card games based on Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokemon, but Magic is now bigger than ever.

However, dark clouds loom on the horizon, as a digital disruption is taking the collectible card game genre by storm. In this post, I will examine the current situation and take a closer look at two key players: Hasbro’s Magic the Gathering and Blizzard’s Hearthstone.

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Free-to-play (F2P) MMO monetization: World of Tanks

Free-to-play F2P MMO monetization - World of TanksOnline games have largely moved to a free-to-play model where the monetization is achieved through microtransactions instead of traditional box sales or subscription fees. According to data from Superdataresearch, the worldwide MMO games market was split between $7.5 billion for free-to-play games and $2.8 billion for pay-to-play games in 2014 with free-to-play on the rise and pay-to-play on the decline.

Within this market, World of Tanks is a particularly interesting title. According to data from Superdataresearch, the average monthly revenue per user (ARPU) of World of Tanks is the best in the world at $4.51. World of Tanks also sports a superb conversion rate (share of users who pay) of over 25%, which is also sky-high in this industry. Together, these figures amount to over $500 million of annual revenue for Wargaming, the creator of World of Tanks.

Therefore, taking a look at what Wargaming has done with World of Tanks is of particular interest.

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LEGO as a platform and as service

LEGO as a platform and as servicePlatforms are all the hype nowadays. Whether it’s iOS, Android, Uber, or Airbnb, it seems that platforms are set to inherit the Earth.

I have examined the platform hype and the deeper meanings derived from reinterpreting platforms through a lens of service-dominant logic before, and in this post I want to turn the focus to LEGO.

What? LEGO is not a software company that provides a platform for other companies to sell their wares, what has it got to do with platforms? While it is different, I claim that LEGO is, indeed, a platform, and I’ll show you why and why it matters – and how to go beyond that to LEGO as service.

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WoW level 90 boost and the limits of level-based game design

WoW level 90 boost and the limits of level-based game designCharacter levels have been an essential part of the game design toolkit for a long time. In many cases, they work quite well, such as in single-player games and in tabletop environments with a set group of players. However, when it comes to massively multiplayer games, there are also quite a few problems with this design paradigm, especially if the game manages to persist for an extended period of time.

The prominent example that illustrates this is World of Warcraft that recently celebrated its 10th anniversary and, in a highly controversial move, introduced an opportunity for players to purchase a boost for their character to near-max level.

In this post, I will examine this design element, the upcoming Timewalking design element that is about to be introduced to the game to alleviate other issues with level-based design, and some alternative designs as featured in Ultima Online, EVE, and Guild Wars 2.

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Toys-to-life games and toys: from Skylanders to LEGO Fusion

Toys-to-life games and toys from Skylanders to LEGO FusionToys-to-life refers to a relatively new category of games and related toys that was born as recently as 2011 with the release of Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure. It has been a spectacularly successful category, with the Skylanders franchise alone surpassing $3 billion in sales.

As of late, there have been many new entrants to the competition, so it is a good time to take a look at what toys-to-life games are all about, what kinds of offerings there are on the market, and where the market may be headed.

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