We slip into cognitive biases when making games, the easiest of which is to design and build for ourselves. This is generally dangerous, but especially so when it comes to monetisation design. The majority of your game’s income will come from a very small and specific demographic: You can expect to see around 3% of your audience become spenders in their lifetime, but the revenue majority will come from as little as 10% of top spenders.
This 0.3% of your game’s population aren’t you or me. So who are they? They’re are players with high levels of disposable income who value status. Or to say it another way, they’re the Rich Kids of Instagram.
The RKOI blog’s documentation of conspicuous consumption is a fantastic tool for getting outside of yourself and thinking about the financially unbounded lifestyle of the rich and needy. What is driving them? How are they spending?
Me and you will are unlikely to spend £1,075 on a pair of Maison Margiela trainers that look like they’re pulled from the trash. Yet people buy thousand dollar kicks because they want to be seen in thousand dollar kicks. Everyone who sees Mariela Fusions (and you cannot miss them) gets the signal: “I like these trainers and I can afford them”.
Yet tastes and costs are inherently linked, as exclusive prices create illustrious status. Those who desire status will desire objects notorious for being expensive, such as Rolex watches or fine wines. The RKOI are displaying their status by owning and consuming as publicly as possible. And unsurprisingly they do it in games too.
Make Your Game RKOI Friendly
Your game likely has one or more RKOI-like players. We can assume that the game is to their tastes, as they’re playing after all, but are you serving their desire for status? And is spending maximised for of these players?
You’ll need two things, to ensure you leverage RKOI players:
- Status Signals: A status might be as simple as something like Power (an indicator of strength) in Game of War or rare weapon skin in Counter Strike: Global Offensive. Effective status symbols are rare but also difficult and ideally expensive.
- Signal Broadcasting: The more visible and interactive a status symbol is, the more its power becomes amplified.
MMOs are traditionally strong in both status and signalling. An MMO player has a ready made audience around them to flaunt their rare and excruciating hard to acquire items. World of Warcraft players faced bans by fuelling an illicit $1 billion a year gold farming industry. However, mobile games are also leveraging status and broadcasting: Your friends’ progress on the Candy Crush Saga map and Hole.io’s skins are great examples. Top end spenders see value in repeat spending when it rewards them with clear status, keeping them playing longer.
I’ve used the Rich Kids of Instagram as a tool in many studios. People are convinced by the blog that monetisation depth isn’t about tricking those who can’t afford it but giving an in-game equivalent to a Lamborghini. Happier and longer retained players, not just increased monetisation, arise from embracing our inner RKOIs.