How To Design A Game Economy?

Group of people designing a game economy

The production of a high-quality video game requires the cooperation of several teams, including artists who are responsible for the game’s look and feel, game designers who are responsible for the game’s mechanics and narrative, and programmers and quality assurance testers who are responsible for producing code that is free of errors.

For the whole thing to work, the game needs to be balanced, and ideally, this should be done by a game economy designer. This person would be responsible for balancing all of the numerical indicators in the game, connecting them, and working on monetization if it was necessary.

Economic expertise is extremely important for balancing, even though the creation of the game economy often becomes the responsibility of a game designer in small companies. This is because economic expertise enables one to see the big picture and draw parallels with real life using a variety of scientific methodologies.

What is a game economy?

What exactly is a “game economy”? A game economy is a virtual economy that controls the configuration of all of a game’s game loops (currencies, time loops, XP, levels, pricing, etc.). Within the same game, distinct player behaviors will be structured depending on the game economy they are using.

Two people talking in front of a computer.

A game economy that is well-balanced poses challenges provides excitement and satisfies. It gives gamers just the proper amount of resistance, and it gives them just the perfect amount of reward for their efforts.

How to design a game economy?

How to design a game economy? In addition to all of the components that contribute to the overall quality of a video game, the game economy design needs to be flawless. A designer of a game’s economy is responsible for having a broad perspective and, through the application of a variety of scientific approaches, establishing a correlation between the economic systems of the game and those of the real world.

Two characteristics are consistent throughout all good gaming economies:

  • The economy allows players to rise economically within the game.
  • The economy allows creators to monetize the game.

The former refers to the enjoyment that players have from the game, which includes things like incentives and challenges that encourage them to keep playing. The last aspect pertains to how you can make use of the same experiences and link them with your method of monetization.

It might be challenging to create a well-balanced game economy that meets the needs of both the developers and the players. It calls for a significant amount of investigation, preparation, execution, and refinement. As a direct consequence of this, the assignment could look intimidating to most people.

On the other hand, if you want to develop a thriving in-game economy, you can do so by following the step-by-step approach that is detailed below:

Step one: Conduct research on other games in the same genre as your own.

The design of your game economy can benefit from looking to other games in the same genre for inspiration and ideas to get you started. Therefore, look for other games that fall into the same genre as yours and compile a list of them. While you are doing this, make sure that you identify successful games as well as games that have not been successful in the genre.

After that, compete in all of the games. Also, pay attention to how the creators have handled the creation of the game’s economy. Take as much time as you need to disassemble and evaluate the components of the game. Additionally, make an effort to comprehend how the interplay of all the components results in a well-balanced game economy.

A man using his computer in a room.

When you have completed the study, you will have several ideas at your disposal. You will obtain ideas that you can put into action, and you will be able to avoid pitfalls (from the bad games). In addition, there is a possibility that you will obtain novel ideas that none of your rivals have applied.

Step two: Construct the fundamentals of the economy

1. Have a good understanding of the player’s motivations

There will be a variety of reasons for players to participate in your game. Some of them may play in order of achievements, others will play to engage in social interaction, and still, others will play to alleviate the boredom they are experiencing.

The decisions that players make are influenced by these many motivations. For example, players whose primary goals are achievement or player-against-player (PvP) combat are likely to spend more money on in-game things than players whose primary reasons are sociability or relieving boredom.

Therefore, while you are designing the economics of your game, you should take into consideration the various types of players and the goals that drive them. Then, depending on the objectives of your game, you can modify the gameplay so that it caters to specific sorts of players more than others or treats all types of players in the same manner.

2. Create Currencies

Players will use various in-game currencies to make purchases within your game. Additionally, your game economy needs to include both a soft currency and a hard currency to function properly.

Soft currencies are completely fictional forms of currency that have no basis in real-world currency. Soft currencies are a type of virtual currency that can be awarded to players for doing certain in-game tasks, such as logging in daily, progressing through levels, or achieving certain goals.

Hard currencies, on the other hand, are those that a player can purchase with actual money from the outside world. The in-game store is where you make money off of your users by peddling these different currencies.

Side view of a man using his computer.

Your gamers shouldn’t have a hard time obtaining their soft currency, but they also shouldn’t find it impossible. You ought to provide your players with pliable currencies for everything they accomplish. You should hold on to them and give them out only after your gamers have completed difficult challenges.

On the other side, it should not be difficult for your gamers to acquire hard currencies in your game. You need to make the process of shopping at your in-game store as streamlined as possible so that your gamers may buy real money with as few clicks as possible.

3. Create Taps and Sinks

Taps are locations where your players can obtain in-game currency. These sources include daily logs, the completion of objectives, other performance data, and so on in the case of soft currencies. The primary source of hard money is the in-game store that you have access to.

The in-game currency that players have gained from the aforementioned sources can be spent at sinks, which are locations within your game. These are the things that your players may buy, and they include things related to gameplay such as weapons, armor, and power-ups, items related to appearances such as skins, costumes, and accessories, and exclusives such as more levels, extra content, and so on.

You need to construct your game economy so that there is an equal number of faucets and sinks for it to be considered balanced. The current equilibrium rewards expenditure on the part of your players.

4. Steer out of the “Pay to Win” Snare

The strategy known as “Pay-to-Win” tricks players into believing they need to spend real money to progress in the game. If a player chooses not to purchase in-game incentives, they are either unable to progress in the game or have a difficult time doing so if it is a “pay-to-win” game.

This strategy appears to be more advantageous for monetization at first glance. However, this tactic is ultimately unsuccessful because it gives the impression to the players that they are being coerced into paying money to advance in the game (thus the name “Pay-To-Win”). This strategy discourages even players who are prepared to pay for the opportunity.

This method also reduces the significance of the effectiveness of flexible currencies. Players can acquire a feel for the kind of prizes available in-game by using soft currency. Because of this exposure to rewards, many players will eventually end up purchasing hard currency.

Step three: Playtest and iterate

Before you release your game to the public, playtesting it might help you improve the overall experience it offers. You can locate mistakes, defects, and issues, and you can also receive comments on the design of your game economy.

Playtesters who have had no previous experience with the game should be used for the most accurate results. They should, preferably, fall into the same demographic category as the people you envision playing your game.

You should inquire about their thoughts and impressions regarding the structure of your games and ask for their feedback. In addition to this, you should watch how they play the game and make mental notes on their responses and choices while they are playing.

If the majority of your playtesters have a negative reaction to a design aspect in your economy, you will need to either eliminate it or make adjustments to how it works. On the other side, you are free to continue working with them if the responses they provide are positive.

Step four: Make additional improvements based on user feedback and analytical data

After the game has been released, you should not continue to make changes to the design of the economy based on player and audience input. Both provide insights into the architecture of your game’s economy that you might not obtain in any other way.

You can get review information from a variety of different sources, including user comments. One of these places is the page for your game in the app store, where you may read reviews that other people have left. In a similar vein, game-related blogs and news websites are both excellent places to look for the thoughts of gaming industry professionals regarding your game.

Game analytics should be your go-to source for information regarding player behavior. Using analytics software such as deltaDNA and GameAnalytics, you can gather data that is both comprehensive and accurate regarding the activity of players.

Imagine if feedback from players or statistics on their in-game behavior reveals that they dislike some elements of the in-game economy that you designed. In that situation, you have the option of completely removing certain components or of modifying them to make them more effective.

The modifications should then be included in the subsequent update. After then, you can look for new reviews and data, as well as make more modifications for the subsequent update.

Why do you need a well-balanced game economy design?

Why do you need a well-balanced game economy design? Even if you have a flawless economy in your game, if the gameplay is uninteresting, gamers won’t bother to play it and won’t spend money on in-game products. Or, you could create a video game with an appealing design and sophisticated animation, but if it is easy for the player to move through the stages, they don’t need to pay anything, and the game is over quickly, all of this will have been for nothing. Or, if the game is too challenging without any sort of incentive mechanism, the player will become discouraged and give up playing the game.

Two people working in front of a computer.

As a result, it is essential to construct the economics of the game so that it is well-balanced. It is necessary to describe not only the primary goal of the game but also the subsidiary goals. For example, it is necessary to determine after how many days of gameplay the player can advance to level 15 of the game. Then, each of the goals should be able to be rationalized using the game’s economy.

Designing a game economy can be a difficult undertaking if you lack relevant skills or a well-prepared team. As a result, outsourcing this activity may be a good choice. With over 10 years of industry experience, Lunar Sky Games can provide you with solutions for a well-balanced game economy design that will keep your players engaged and paying. We help turn your vision into a reality. Contact us now for a consultation.

 

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