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I recently read the transcript of an investor-focussed session on social games. They talked about ‘3 pillars of social game monetisation’ as being viral channels, cross-promotion and advertising. That’s were most companies are right now although I would extend that a little as follows:

The key components to building large user volumes (fostering ‘virality’) are:

  1. Intrinsic ‘shareability’ – users instantly feel compelled to tell their friends/followers about it because they like the game so much – the story is ‘baked into’ the product. It doesn’t need ‘marketing’….it needs great product design.
  2. Integral ‘social gameplay’ – users intrinsically benefit from involving their friends in the game play experience and are therefore intrinsically motivated to persuade their friends to join them in the experience
  3. Cross-promotions – the publisher is able to leverage an existing user audience in order to promote new games to them
  4. Paid-for advertising – the publisher pays to acquire new users (e.g. on a ‘cost per install’ basis).
[1] and [2] are absolute essentials – without a good product that has been designed with the end use environment in place there can be no hope of success irrespective of how much promotion or advertising is undertaken as players simply won’t revisit the game after an initial exploratory visit (first install).  The old saying of; “You can’t polish a turd’ is particularly true when applied to consumer digital media.

Zynga are very well-placed (resourced) to do [4] and have a massive head start on [3] from their previous hits. There are other companies out there that are not spending oodles of coin on advertising though, which is encouraging given that most indie developers don’t have the cash to pay to acquire customers on a grand scale. See Crowdstar and Booyah for a starter.

The 2 areas I see for innovation in terms of revenue are

  • better payment options – get those that can’t yet pay to be able to through innovative means, and
  • find ingenious ways to yield additional value to new revenue sources through the medium of very large playing masses.
We need to look beyond ‘build a massive player base and monetise the hell out of a small %’ (a brilliant start though that has been!) and work out new ways to track that what they are doing in these games – on massive scales – relate that to, for example, purchasing behaviours or product preferences and to derive monetary value from that.

That’s what we are trying to do at www.soshigames.com and our mission is to do this in a way that helps charities and NGOs gain increased donations, additional sources of unrestricted funding as well as to raise awareness of issues and, utlimately change behaviours for the benefit of our society.

My company, PIXELearning, is involved in a partnership with Milamber Digital (www.milamberdigital.com) that is really quite exciting.

Milamber Digital logo

Milamber Digital

Milamber is building a global repository of engaging education-based content, housing it in a digital library, adapting it to multi-platform products as ‘Nuggets’ for multi-channel distribution, so that it

  • scales to mass and niche audiences
  • is monetizable through old and new marketing, and/or media business models

I have been involved in the eLearning space since the mid-90’s and it has always amazed me how much content exists that is hidden away and never shared. It seems to be a quite phenomenal waste of human effort (and hard cash) that so much content is duplicated over and over again or, even worse, never made available to mass audiences to consume and/or to ‘mash up’ to use in different and innovative ways.

Ten years ago I wrote a future-looking white paper that predicted how learning content, in a multitude of formats, could be identified, searched, assembled and sold in ways that suited the end consumer (e.g. even to individuals not just organisations). A number of eLearning portals came and went in that period. Learning content aggregators never really…erm…aggregated. Learning interoperability standards only seemed to yield ways to control access to content, not to allow it to be used in a granular fashion where learning designers/training professionals could delve into great repositories and find pieces they could reuse and re-purpose.

Milamber – and their partners Pearson, Redtray, Ashridge, Wharton and 2SMS are out to change that with a bold plans that could have a big impact in the global learning business.

According to Milamber the key drivers are:

  • Modern learners want the ability to grab relevant content quickly, and in an easily digestible formats. Milamber have devised the concept of a ‘Nugget’ as a small but very valuable piece of learning information.
  • Modern learners want content to be engaging. Nuggets can be made up of multimedia elements and entwined within a story for easy and enjoyable digestion. The system is also enabled for Nuggets to be supplemented with new learning techniques such as simulations.
  • Content owners want the ability to target larger audiences with their existing content. Nuggets bring the price point for a learning object down significantly, so that it can target a broader audience or niche audiences more cost effectively. For the first time Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) can be targeted with nuggets at a price that makes purchase easy to justify.
  • Content owners want the ability to stop the use of their material without payment. The lower price and availability of nuggets makes “ripping it off” less worthwhile, whilst Milamber will also use the most effective mobile security functionality available, to protect against piracy.

If this resonates with you or, if you think you know someone who may find this of interest, Milamber is seeking 500 ‘Founder Members’ who, by virtue of making an early-stage contribution to the project, will share in the success and benefits it brings.

From Milamber: 500 individuals are being exclusively invited to become Founder Members of our next generation Milamber Digital project. The Founder Members are being specially selected to create a community of people that has a diverse range of skills and backgrounds but who all have one thing in common – they are passionate about improving education in today’s networked, digital world. “

You can find out more at http://www.milamberdigital.com/vision.html and on the Milamber blog at http://www.milamberblog.com/milamber-launches-founder-membership-programme/



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