Brilliant Cash Shop Scheme

The one social networking game still clinging to my Facebook account is Restaurant City. EA bought Playfish, so I do not exactly promote the game, but I am still sufficiently amused to visit a few times a day to keep my imaginary staff running. Playfish has recently made some simple adjustments that I expect to produce increases in their cash shop revenue.

Another of their games, Pet Society, has long had mystery boxes (and eggs, etc.). They are bought with in-game currency, although they have added some cash-only boxes. Mystery boxes have random items from an appropriately themed pool, although the initial boxes were just “pay for something random!” These must have been sufficiently popular (slot machines tend to be) because they added cash shop mystery boxes to their other games. That is step zero the revenue enhancement.

In Pet Society, there is now a screen that shows how many different items are in each mystery box pool (not what they are) and which you have found. Hey, it is an achievement screen for collectors! Gotta catch ’em all! This is a brilliant way to encourage people to buy a few more to finish the set. Why was this not in at the start? This is step one.

Back in Restaurant City, the new holiday mystery boxes have set bonuses. Collect all the items each box can yield, and you get a bonus item with gameplay stats. Now we have an achievement that yields practical value! (Bonus scheming for making them time-limited. Buy now, before artificial scarcity sets in!) This is step two. So far, we are familiar with these as ways to encourage achievement-seeking, which can be as easy as putting an unchecked box on a list.

Step three, the masterstroke, is giving away mystery boxes. Giving away cash shop items is genius? Yes! Every player had a chance to “earn” one recently, and if you did you could give one away to the first friend to click on the link. Congratulations, you get the point towards the achievement free. Would you like to keep going? If you have many friends playing, you might have gotten two or three checked off. There are multiple sets available, so maybe you just need one more to finish it out. Would you like to spend those few dollars to see if you can finish the set and get the bonus item? Look how shiny your mystery item is, how much faster the magic stove would be in your restaurant, and you just need one lucky box…

: Zubon

7 thoughts on “Brilliant Cash Shop Scheme”

  1. Korea called, they want 2001 back.

    Of course, back in 2001, those mystery boxes contained god-level items that you would use in PvP to literally dominate an entire server and be declared king in-game, with thousands of followers.

    There are a few good stories out there of people teaming up on an account and taking turns opening boxes, because back then it took a few seconds to open just one box, and you had to open thousands to get what you wanted. At least until the next month or so, when new boxes appeared with still higher-powered stuff. Spending thousands a month was expected if you wanted to be high-end.

    But I think that’s like step 12 or so.

  2. I understand that people love slot machines, and ‘comps’. But I really hate how it’s considered gameplay. Just because gambling is called gaming in Nevada doesn’t mean it’s the same as video game playing!

    1. All games have slot-machine type reward systems in them. If they didn’t, it wouldn’t be a fun game, if the outcome is already set in stone.

      Just take a look at World of Warcraft… I left once I realized the slot-machine of it and just exactly how high the odds were stacked against you… You want that next upgrade, you spend two hours in a dungeon, kill the final boss, and something drops for the guy next to you, but nothing for you. You lose. You take the two hours and run the dungeon again, you lose again. If your item only holds a 10% drop rate, you would have to spend 20 hours in ONE dungeon to get the item… and thats on average… if your luck isn’t good, it could be up to 40 hours… except here, instead of putting money in, you’re putting in time (but as we all know… time is money, friend). The entire game is one giant slot-machine where you are considered to be a noob if the odds don’t roll in your favor.

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