Social Game Design reveals what you need to know in order to create and monetize online social games. Using examples from successful game designs, you'll learn what makes these games compelling, and why people will pay to play them. This book will inspire you to apply these principles in order to meet the challenges of this new space, creating original games that both delight players and generate profit. We'll talk about different business models, how to acquire and keep players, how to sell virtual goods, and how to keep players coming back day after day.  

Key Features

With Social Game Design, you'll:

  • Discover how and why a social game design makes money, using real-world examples, including Farmville, Empires & Allies, Ravenwood Fair, League of Legends, Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville, Pocket Legends, Words With Friends, World of Warcraft, and more.
  • Gain insight in a collection of interviews with industry professionals from Zynga, Microsoft, Spacetime, OMGPop, and other top companies.
  • Get inspired to create your own unique game
  • Learn how to launch profitable games and harvest user analytics to make them even better. 


Game designers and developers.
Secondary: students of game design.
Level: All levels of game designers/developers.

Table of Contents

Introduction; A brief history of online game monetization; Industry terms; Game type vs monetization strategy; What can you do in design to help a one-time purchase game?; Design tactics for advergames; Designing for episodic content and paid unlocks; Design tactics for a purely subscription game; How to design for a free to play game with a subscription option; How to design virtual goods for your game; Currencies; Game Economy; Design considerations for combination systems; Why free-to-play is the present and future of online gaming; Review / Summary


No. of pages:
© 2011
Morgan Kaufmann
Print ISBN:

About the authors

Tim Fields

Tim Fields has been in the game industry since 1995 as a producer, project manager, design lead, and business developer. Tim has helped small studios and top publishers like EA and Microsoft run teams that create great games. He has worked on shooters, sports games, racing titles, and RPGs using talent and teams from North America, Asia, Europe, and the UK.

Brandon Cotton

Brandon Cotton has over 10 years of game industry experience covering a wide variety of technology, platforms and game types. He is active in the social and online game design community, and currently serves as a founder, design lead, and programmer for Portalarium. He has built games for NCSoft, Ubisoft, and Microsoft, and holds a degree in Computer Science from the University of Texas.