In the previous installments in these series, we’ve discussed how leaderboards are key tools to increase the stickiness of your game and its viral growth. So now, let’s discuss how they can help impress your gamers and make your game more relevant.
Traditionally, old arcade machines just had a local highscore. On one of the first examples of ‘storing player data’, Asteroids, allowed to enter your initials after a game to show that you had smashed any previously existing records.
That same model was replicated in every console game. Highscores and rankings were all about showing who was the best of your house, or the Gameboy that you shared with your friends at school. Eventually, the internet appeared in scene and games went from one extreme to the other. Leaderboards became global, and there was definitely some strong appeal in that. If you got a rush by knowing that you’re the best at home, imagine the kind of rush you’d get of knowing that you are the absolute champion of the world. And that worked well enough… Until, at some point, developers started to see that there was a missing gap there. Yeah, of course, hardcore gamers and devoted fans were willing to spend hours fighting for those top 10 positions, but what about casual gamer number 900,000? Was there any appeal in being buried in an endless list of names?
When the so called ‘Social Gaming’ appeared into scene with the advent of Facebook, a new and obvious way of making the player feel relevant again came into life too:
Why not compete just with your friends? After all, you might not have a shot at competing with that Korean child prodigy in ‘Who has the biggest brain?’, but it still felt good to beat your buddies every once in a while.
Plus that need itself, promoted, to some extent, virality.
Of course, we all now know that it escalated into an arms race of spamming your friends with Farmville invitations, etc. But a key concept emerged there: The keystone of appeal in a leaderboard is relevancy. Be it because it makes you feel in the top of the world, the best… even if it just among your friends.
That’s why we’re huge believers in what we call the concept of the #LocalHero. When you give your players the chance to compete at the city level, the stakes, automatically go higher. It’s definitely more achievable for casual players too, and as we all know that’s definitely a crucial segment when you’re in mobile. Specially, because A LOT of casual gamers are thirty-somethings with some significant spending power.
Take for example Foursquare. Even though it’s not a gaming company, they are probably the best example of the success of this technique. Their mayorship mechanic was a major drive to keep people coming back to their app on their early days.
And if this works with a non-gaming audience, at such a hyper local level as being the ‘boss’ of a venue, imagine how better it gets with something as relevant as your home-town and with people more used to gaming mechanics.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. Just go ahead, and test it with your own players. One thing that Geosophic really prides itself in, is that we believe that value demonstrated is the best sales strategy. That’s the reason why you always get to try, completely free, any of our plans for 30 days, AFTER the leaderboard has gone into production. That should be a quick way of running some experiments and see how the virality, stickiness and relevancy of your game just rockets. Let us know how they go!