The Daily Games

by BlueFire, HSM guest contributor

Dailies are activities and tasks you take on every day. They are the essence of casual gaming. These casual, daily games benefit people who like to play games, but can’t dedicate much time to it. They are good for goal oriented people, because they give them something to shoot for, the ultimate goal or just a series of little goals. Daily games are also great incentives for long-term loyalty play. You can devote more time to the game overall, if your play is spread out over an extended period.

Farmville didn’t invent the concept, but they probably perfected it. In this game, crop planting and harvesting were tasks you worked on every day to earn rewards. Facebook games are successful because they are social and very casual. You don’t have to devote much time to play them. You can just check in once a day and still do well. In the 1990’s, we saw a version of this with digital pets, such as the Tamagotchi. You fed your pet on a cycle, and played with it once a day to keep it happy. Unfortunately, my pets always died, but I liked having a daily routine, and something depending on me to take care of it.

Playing poker

PlayStation Home has dailies too, with different sorts of tasks. The pioneer of Home dailies is Aurora. Like many in Home, I am excited by the recent news that Aurora may soon see an increase in the level limit beyond the long-standing 100. Other dailies include fossil digging in Granzella’s Southern Island, Granzella’s Defend Edo, and Digital Leisure’s Paradise Springs Casino. These are games you play a short time each day, and do a little at a time. They give you a routine, and something to do in Home.

I wish more games in Home adopted that format. Aurora even limits how much XP you can earn per day. I know some people get frustrated because they have no patience, but without a long-term, continuing game they would complain they have nothing to do.

I play app games on my tablet, and I like a lot of them, but I would like to see more of this type of gaming in Home. They could easily be monetized, by selling items or spaces that make the game easier or faster. You can see examples of this in Aurora and Granzella. In Aurora, you can buy a personal space, upgrades and clothing items that let you earn more XP per day. The upgrades make the process faster for the impatient, but still takes quite a while to reach level 100.

Digging fossils

In Granzella, you can buy a personal space to access a different area to dig, as well as tools and charms that will help you find more fossils per day, with better odds of finding rare ones. You can also buy tickets to enter a paid site three times a day. For three dollars you can enter sixty times over twenty days, and find up to nine fossils a day in that site alone. With all the sites combined you can find fifteen fossils a day, but you have no guarantee of finding a rare one, just better odds.

In Edo, you can buy a personal space and upgrades to have a better chance of beating your enemies and earning ryo to trade. The Paradise Springs casino gives you free tokens once a week, and now offers daily free spins on a slot machine, and a new free daily poker table. Before these features were added, if I lost all my chips I would have to wait until the next week to get more free ones. Now I can return daily to play the poker table.

Running after Orbs

Some of Home’s existing games could be turned into dailies. Imagine if you could only do one mission per day in Mercia. Some people wouldn’t like it, but it might have been more interesting if the game had been stretched out over weeks or months. People wouldn’t have been tempted to spend an entire day maxing out their level to get all the rewards.

Dailies can be great fun, but they need a good balance of labor and reward. The recent egg crushing game in the Lockwood Showcase was a disaster. You weren’t limited to one session per day, but you couldn’t do too much in a session without getting dizzy. Earning the higher rewards took forever, even with the Rogue outfit.

Dailies also need a good balance of a high level limit, how much you can do per day even with upgrades, and reasonably priced upgrades. It’s also good if multiple games contribute to your XP, as in Novus Prime where you can play missions or shoot robot spiders to earn nebulon, or Aurora, where you can chase Orbs in the public space, or shoot invaders in the Aurora Island personal space.

Defeating demons

We don’t come to Home for hardcore gaming. I wish Home would accept this, and add more casual games. Games that don’t require too much time, effort or money from their users, but engage your interest for a short session, and then give you a reward. Ideally, you would be sharing this game with your friends, before you go back to just hanging out.

Imagine if Home had at least ten games like this. If you played all of them, you would end up spending more money on upgrades, and more time in Home. At the moment we only have Aurora, fossil hunting in Granzella, the Casino, and to some extent Edo. There are other games in Home, of course, but few of them budget your time like a true daily.

When casual games demand more of your time, they begin to compete with serious disc games. And Home simply can’t compete there. Home is casual, and Home’s management needs to accept that, and own it. But casual daily gaming it can still be a profitable strategy. If you as a player split your time between multiple casual games, then you become less conscious of how much total time and money you spend in Home. You have more fun, and Home’s bottom line benefits.

October 2nd, 2012 by | 5 comments
BlueFire is a guest contributor for HomeStation Magazine.

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5 Responses to “The Daily Games”

  1. NorseGamer says:

    This is a really interesting article — and it couldn’t have come at a more apropos time.

    On a personal level, I want Home to have more complex games in it. More things to do. More bells and whistles. Hell, I wish Home *itself* was a game, in addition to being a gaming platform.

    But there’s no escaping a cold, hard fact: the games which consistently topped SCEA’s sales charts (by number of units sold, not by revenue) were the Casino and the Midways. Both of them are comparatively casual (and highly repetitive) gaming experiences. Meanwhile, more complex games often failed to crack the top-ten lists, or at best lasted for a month before fading. Granted, their commodities may have been more expensive in some cases, but it’s hard to ignore the conspicuous sales longevity of Home’s more casual games.

    This is a big deal, because Home 2012 — in response to Sony’s reimagining of it as a gaming platform instead of a social network for gamers — has seen an absolute avalanche of complex gaming experiences. Cutthroats. No Man’s Land. Mercia. Home Tycoon. Multiplayer MiniBots. And this is a trend which is only going to continue with games like FUBAR and Uproar, with more coming after them.

    These games are expensive to produce and tie up an enormous amount of resources to support. And let’s remember that a lot of Home’s third-party developers are comparatively small; these are some major gambles to make. No one wants to make the next Conspiracy or Dragon’s Green, both of which were relatively quick commercial flops.

    Which forces us to ask: what exactly is the profile of a Home consumer? I don’t mean a Home user — I mean a Home *consumer.* Someone who’s in that small percentage of the population that actually monetizes. Why are they in Home, and what are they willing to spend money on?

    If we rely on what little publicly-available sales data there is, it seems the Home consumer is motivated to spend money in low microtransaction amounts for temporary gaming experiences. That Home is more or less a casual freemium pit-stop in-between AAA disc games, or a haven for low-rent gamers who can’t afford said disc games. It may also be viewed, in conjunction with this, as a sort of “Sims” metaverse, which could be what drives some of the non-gaming sales.

    There are, of course, the “whales” at the far end of the power-law curve — the hardcore Home consumers who generate a disproportionately large amount of revenue for the service and its providers. Indeed, this publication caters heavily to that group (particularly since we ourselves are a part of it — you kinda have to be to devote this much free time to supporting a Home community publication). But the cold truth of that sales data stares all of us in the face: the typical Home gamer is likely a much more casual gamer, and Digital Leisure and Mass Media are laughing all the way to the bank.

    There are two basic ways to make money in Home: monetize the gaming end of it, or monetize the social end of it. Lockwood, better than anyone else so far, has mastered the latter category; LOOT’s also done a good job there. But with so many developers chasing the gaming side of the equation, there’s a whole lot of pressure right now to crack that magic formula (indeed, HSM previously explored this question at http://www.hsmagazine.net/2012/06/defining-homes-it-game/).

    Longevity, which is what your article touches on, is one of the most important factors for a Home game to have. Home gamers are an interesting bunch; when a new game opens up, they swarm all over it, power through it, and then walk away once the levels have been maxed out — even though the game hasn’t changed at all, they feel like they no longer have a purpose to continue with the game.

    (A perfect example of this is Cutthroats 2.0 — a dramatic improvement on the original, with enormous replayability, and yet the biggest complaint on the Sony forum was about the lack of an increased level cap. Facepalm.)

    Games of chance or pure reflex tend to be somewhat insulated from this trend, as do PvP games where there’s sufficiently compelling gameplay to keep doing the same thing over and over. But longevity is crucial. A Home game has to be compelling for months or even years at a time, which requires a completely different kind of design than a conventional game.

    One way to do it is to follow nDreams’ example with Xi, which had meticulously planned-out infusions of fresh content and an unfolding story, but such an ARG is a hideously complex and expensive proposition, and really can’t be sustained long-term without significant resources. Another solution is to cap the daily progress a player can make, which nDreams did with Aurora. And this seems to be the more practical solution, given the available resources and gaming audience.

    What I’m personally hoping to see more of are games with daily caps that can’t progress to the next infusion of content unless community goals are hit as well. In this way, each user feels compelled to help achieve something greater than themselves, which helps drive user engagement and social interaction.

    I will confess that I’m *very* hopeful about Home Tycoon. Cubehouse and I were fortunate enough to hang with the Hellfire guys during E3 and learn quite a lot about the game, and it’s clear that Jeff and his team did their homework. If what rolls out this Wednesday is as good as what we talked about back in June (and so far everything looks even better than what was outlined), this could be a real slam-dunk for Home with some long-term staying power.

    Thanks for a great article, BlueFire. Welcome to the front page of HSM. :)

    • KrazyFace says:

      Woo! Tycoon’s out this week!?

      This’ll be the first time I’ve looked forward to getting into a Home game right after playing a real one! I was gonna comment on this article but this news has made my head go all funny…

  2. Burbie52 says:

    I don’t come into Home to game really. I do play them occassionally but it isn’t the focus of my Home use. That being said I agree that for many the idea of a daily game is the best because as you said some don’t have a lot of time to do otherwise. Welcome to HSM and this was a good article BlueFire. Great topic and good write up. I play the casino more than anything, mostly the video poker (which can be addicting), but the social side has been and always will be my focus combined with the meta-game of decorating my spaces and my avatar. Those are the social dailies I think.

  3. Dr_Do-Little says:

    I like the daylies objectives too. Mayde routine secures me ;) A good balance between different type of games is key. Daylies cant be applied to every games.
    RPG’s like Mercia are bound to have players spend escessive time leveling up. But I think a random daylie quest could be a very good thing for that game, once you acheive level 30.
    It might keep people interrested as well as generating more sales.

  4. Gary160974 says:

    No point in trying to go bells and whistles on a game in home, as it is a game within a game and never going to be as good as a game that has the full power of the PS3. Home games should be something that you cant really get on a PS3 outside of home. These games like mercia and no mans land get released and neglected just as quick, have zero shelf life and are released to a fanfare with, developers giving interviews to every fan site out there, adverts on you tube, teasers and question and answer sessions, Some of the most boring, tedious and set up marketing on home, but it works because people go out there buy all the premium stuff, complete the game in a days and move on. Home is a place of hope not reality, so we hope games like mercia or no mans land will have updates but in reality if it doesnt make enough money it wont ever be touched again after its initial fanfare. Games like midway, the casino and fossil digging require updates to keep going so these games tend not to be neglected short shelf games because these developers want loads of micro ticket transactions. So id rather have ticketed long life games that keeps getting updates than short term games that require a bigger outlay initially but then are forgotten a month later.

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