Design Considerations for Play To Earn Games.
Having designed traditional games for twenty years, when it came to planning our first P2E game we had to consider things from a different perspective, as the player has a different set of goals and motivations. On top of the usual design considerations such as camera, controls, difficulty, game modes, etc we also considered the following: –
Barrier to Entry
Typically P2E games fall into two camps, those that are free to start and those that require an up-front investment. While this decision may be influenced by your project’s financial model, you should also take into account the type of game and the potential player base. A Poker game will potentially require a different approach to an MMO for instance.
A key issue is whether to focus on crypto enthusiasts or open the game up to everyone. If you go for the latter you may need to ring-fence certain modes or elements and also explain why. You will also need to educate non-crypto players and provide instruction on how to create and connect a wallet, etc.
The importance of identifying and considering your target market cannot be overemphasized as this will shape your design philosophy, and in the case of P2E, it needs to be even taken a step further. For instance, the target market has to be considered in terms of age; younger players will have more free time on their hands than older players, commitment levels; hardcore players will have different levels of commitment compared to casual players, and motivation to play; some players may be looking to earn an income while playing while others may just be looking for a fun game with any reward as a bonus. Ideally, some time should be spent researching the target player and their general makeup and your conclusions must, of course, be viewed alongside the type of game you’re making.
As you start to build up an idea of your player base it then becomes important to consider the rate and amount players can earn. This is vital for some players as it will be their driving force, and also because it will form the core P2E gameplay loop, which will define how engaging your game will be. It also underpins the structure of your project because excessive token inflation or deflation can kill your project. Fortunately, there is software that can help you to model the flow of tokens allowing you to gameplay different setups and scenarios such as https://machinations.io/
In a situation whereby your game works well, players would always be trying to reach the power-up, reach the next goal, level, or reward. An essential consideration is the time to do this, as your economy will fail if it’s too short, and on the other hand, if it’s too long, people can get bored. Early on it’s important to set targets and then, later on, it’s vital to play-test and re-adjust where necessary.
As early as possible you should map out your core gameplay loop and core P2E loop. At heart, they should be relatively simple, i.e. play — win — earn — improve — repeat, though layers of complexity can be added. The P2E loop here is just as important, as it will be the major motivation for a lot of players.
There are lots of considerations above, and they’re all important, but what is more important is to try to think about all of them in unison as they will affect one another at some level. By combining all the elements successfully, you can create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Case Study: eSkillz Games
Our plan is to create a range of high-end sports games with P2E elements, all wrapped together in a sports-themed metaverse.
We expect our target market to be predominantly male, aged 20–50, passionate about gaming and sports.
They will have a casual gaming skew and will prefer to play games that are quick to get into and offer bite-sized chunks of gaming.
We expect them to have a decent disposable income.
We think that initially, most players will be crypto savvy, but we want to target the huge traditional sports games market in the long run.
Free to play — no cost barrier to entry.
Open to all — allow non-crypto savvy players to access most, if not all game modes, then try to convert them to crypto users through education and assistance.
High distribution rate — players can start earning small amounts of tokens within the first few minutes of play.
Rewards — provide NFTs and rewards to encourage players to spend their earnings on improving their players and equipment.
Algorithm — develop an automated system that monitors player engagement, token flow and balances them out accordingly.
Gameplay — offer better opponents, tournaments, and game modes with bigger prizes to keep players playing.
Core Gameplay Loop; play — display skill — improve — repeat.
Core P2E Loop; play — display skill — earn — spend to improve — repeat.
eSkillz Games is creating the future of sports gaming through Web 3.0, P2E, NFT, and the Metaverse. To learn more visit https://eskillz.io @eSkillzNFT or https://discord.gg/eskillzgames