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Solitaire and Prizes

2012 | Playsino | Facebook | Flash | Social game | Casino and cards

Solitaire and Prizes is Playsino‘s first game on Facebook, and it’s a combination of authentic Solitaire gameplay, contemporary social gaming mechanics and aesthetics, plus a novel and somewhat unusual Sweepstakes element that offers players the chance to win real-world prizes.

I actually believe that authenticity is probably the biggest core strength of the game. Unlike most of our competitors, who – presumably in an attempt to go after what they must have perceived as the “mass market” – opted to over-simplify Solitaire to a point where it essentially turned into a puzzle-game featuring cards, we took a different approach and left the essence of Solitaire pretty much intact. (After all, there must be a reason why the Solitaire game built into Windows is still probably one of the most played games in the world…)

Ultimately I think this decision also had a large part in making player retention the game’s defining, standout KPI (“key performance indicator”). As the graph below shows, even 21+ day retention is hovering in the 40-50% zone, which significantly outperforms what’s considered “workable” by industry standards:

snp_retention

…and of course then there are the Sweepstakes. The premise is that by playing games players accumulate a dedicated currency (“golden tickets”), which they can use as entries into sweepstakes for various real-world prizes (electronics, gift-cards, apparel, vacations, etc.) The accumulation-rate of this currency is also directly tied to other progression metrics such as level, number of friends, number of achievements etc.
Well, the introduction of a prizing-component certainly differentiated the game and has proven to be an extremely interesting learning experience, but the jury is still out on its exact contribution to the overall success of the product. Apart from the obvious cost involved there are numerous logistical, legal, customer service and community management issues associated with this feature, primarily due to participation eligibility rules and regulations that differ from state to state and country to country.

The game was built completely from scratch and taken to initial launch in a bit less than 5 months.
My role was Lead Producer on the title, but – as usual – I also maintained very hands-on involvement with the development process. I designed the entire game, created art assets (particularly effects and UI), did some Flex/AS3 programming and handled product management.

Monetization was general is heavily consumable-driven: various powerups (called “tricks” and “charms”) represent the bulk of generated revenue, as they contribute to successful game-completion and consequently the faster accumulation of golden tickets. Purely decorative items (card-decks, tables) are also available, but they are dwarfed by the sheer volume of consumable-sales.

Overall SnP was one of the most thoroughly satisfying projects I have ever worked on.
At the time of writing this the game has a robust and polished feature-set thanks to a number of iterations and optimizations, and it still sits at a relatively modest 230,000 monthly active users, so I’m confident that a lot of good things lie ahead.

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