Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Trust Comes from not Sucking

I get my internet from Comcast. It's expensive, but it's fast and generally reliable.  They also provide some cool features every now and then, and based on an Email I just received, I thought maybe they had a new one I could use.

It says: You now have acccess to Secure Backup and Sharing.  You see, I just lost a bunch of data from a failed hard drive, maybe I'm interested in this. *Click*

Here's the Email. Activate now...it's included. Sweet.  If I want more than two GB of space, I need to pay extra. That's how these things work, so that's cool.  Quick & Easy. *Click*

Activate, yes, I want to activate. Easier yes, it's easier. I get it. *Click*

What the hell?  What happened to 'included', what happened to 'easy'.  They sent the friggin' Email to this account, on this computer.  There are no instructions in the Email they sent me, not counting claims of how easy it is. I've invested less than 5 minutes in this "Easy" and "Secure" system, and I've already decided there is NO WAY I can trust them.  No place to click, no further instructions, just a big, fat, sorry, we didn't mean YOU, minus the sorry.



Sunday, March 07, 2010


Success of online games depends on 'going viral' and ourWorld is no exception. We continue to work on improving our presence on social networking sites like Facebook and Tagged as well as partnering with an ever growing assortment of gaming portals, including MiniClip.

The basic process of "going viral" is to making it easy and rewarding for individuals to share what you do with their friends and family. The tricky parts are designing "easy" and measuring "rewarding" in ways that actually matter to both the you and your existing players.

Facebook has mastered easy. In fact, it became so easy that Facebook members who weren't interested in every last application began to complain about the massive number of referrals their friends were sending, both on purpose and through semi-automated systems. Facebook has began reigning in these referrals, making it a bit more difficult to get the word out if you're not already successful on the platform. Not impossible, just more difficult.

Rewarding is tricky because the purpose of referrals is getting new players. In ourWorld we give Gems (in game currency that normally costs real money) for referrals, but many, many of those referrals are fake, just people making accounts and leveling them up themselves for the free stuff. We've capped the awards players can make doing this, but clearly the goal of finding new players could be hit more squarely. The key to really nailing referral awards would be something that makes inviting actual, real, friends is really valuable, both to the player and to the friend.

Valuable to the current player is fairly easy. They've already bought into the game and in-game awards are meaningful. The people being invited, however, don't know anything about the game. Promises of Gems, Clothes, Furniture, or Power Items are essentially meaningless. The only thing in the game they know about is their friend. That means the invite needs to focus on spending online time in a cool world with your friend, and it has to be easy to do with no strings attached.

To the real keys to a viral feature: Easy, Rewarding, Easy, Friendship, Easy.

I think we can work with that.