Archive for August, 2012

Where are online games headed?

No doubt online games like Angry Birds and Farmville have been a golden goose for its makers but what is next? People have enjoyed those games but now they want something edgier than slingshots. Some companies like EA games, Zynga, Kongregate and UBI interactive have understood this and started to work in that direction while other naïve ones still believe that simple games will always attract huge fans.  UBI interactive, for instance is using 3-D multitouch technology that enables any surface like a coffee table or a window into a digital game of Angry Birds. Users, having a Microsoft Kinect would very soon be able to enjoy this game.

There are other challenges.

  • Mobile gaming is on the rise. But everything about Mobile is fragmented. It is believed that mobile games spread more than word of mouth offline than online. Mobile experience is like that of a desktop for an end user as the user starts by looking at his desktop and not at a search bar or an app store. This makes the mobile experience highly decentralized as there are many applications which a user sees on his desktop.
  • Secondly, there is a shift from paid games to free online gaming or the free-to-play model. People are not willing to pay for online games as much as they were before. Instead, they look for free games. Free-to-play, social and mobile games have exploded in popularity in the last year. As a result, almost all the gaming companies have faced losses during that year.
  • Thirdly, people are spending less time on online games than they used to. Despite all the new categories that have been built over the past two years like social, mobile phone and tablet gaming the total time being spend on videogames is less than what it was a couple of years ago.
  • Fourthly, small and medium companies can see a storm coming as big companies like Amazon enter the online gaming arena and EA shifts its famous multi-player online game, Star Wars: The Old Republic to a free-to-play model.

It is indeed a time when companies need to think of what their strategy for the next 2-3 years would be and how can they increase engagement and monetize better. Instead of just targeting their old customers their goal should be to convince people who have never played games to play as it is social, it is easy and most importantly it is free. This will help in the growth of the market. Lastly, investment in technologies like HTML5 should be made as it offers major advantages to developers like creation of a single version of a game that can run across multiple platforms, including Facebook, the Web and mobile.


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The miserable Monday mornings

What is it about Monday that makes it so miserable? One thing I know Monday’s weren’t as miserable when I was in college as they are now, when I am working. I guess the reason is simple, reference. Let me try and explain it to you in a bit more detail.

When I was in college we were working mostly. Hard as it may seem, we did not have any holidays, MBA is rigorous and it is said that my school is among the best in the country. We had to sweat it out on most weekends. There was always something pending. In case we got some time free we would go out on a trip. So there was hardly any time to rest. As a result Monday seemed nothing different from other days. Similarly, Friday was the same as any other day.

Now, when I am working, things have changed a lot. Now, Monday comes after 2 days of rest. Hence, it seems miserable. On Friday, on the other hand, the mind knows that 2 days of comfort lie ahead and hence is more ebullient than any other day.

It is a simple principle of contrast. Everything is relative. The previous thing and the next thing has an influence on us. We always compare. Money, Wealth, Education, Beauty, Knowledge, Status, we need a reference point for everything.

When you go out to buy a suit, the price of a shirt may not seem expensive even if it is beyond what you thought it would be. Similarly, the price of cuff links may not even be noticed. Accessories would seem cheaper when you buy a car. Marketers have realized this long back and they make full use of it. Have you ever purchased an year’s subscription of a magazine when you only wanted to buy a single copy just because the full year deal seemed a better saver? Sales people would often show you a poor product at the price you expect alongside with the one they want you to buy. Similar is the case with property dealers. There are so many other examples in the real and the virtual world. Some companies check, how many time does a user takes from searching the product to buying it. If it is not much they would sell it but if it is a lot, the companies know that the user is hesitant and they would give you an instant offer to make the deal more lucrative for you. I could go on and on.

When making a choice, we tend to stick to a mid-range of choices set and ignore the extreme ones. So just adding more items to the choice set can influence our preferences. So, Monday morning would always be miserable as long as Sunday is a holiday.

Sahil Bansal

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