Colin Barry

Zynga (CSN, Tuesday, Week 11)


Why do people play games in the real world?
-- Escape reality, kill time
-- Develop mastery, pursue achievements
-- Competition => with friends!
-- Structure interaction with friends => both acquaintances (get to know people better) and close friends (excuse to spend time together)
Problems: maybe hard, maybe boring, losing is no fun, scheduling challenges

Zynga uses of Facebook Platform:
==> Pro-social engineering
-- Go and help your friends harvest some eggplant! => cooperative, building together
-- Friends will drive game selection => play with your buddies
==> Anti-social engineering
-- Constant barrage of FarmVille posts => game may cost you a friendship

The business consequences:
1. Free customer acquisition via newsfeed and direct message (awkward?)
2. Heightened retention: "Come and help me out!" => aided by game elements: the games are easy and simplistic and bad.

A great social strategy: eBay Group Buying
1. User X opts-in
2. User X picks a gift for User Y
3. eBay posts group buying message on User X's profile: visible to mutual friends of X and Y; invisible to Y
Business outcome: avg successful gift has 4.2 participants, sells for 5x avg eBay sale price => people spend more money if they're spending it with their friends (solves social failures)
Side benefits: participants return to eBay site 4x on average, one-third of participants open a new PayPal account.
With zero marginal cost to eBay!