分析《Madden 25》改进免费模式设计的做法

作者:Ben Sipe

作为一名游戏赢利顾问/设计师,我就自己玩过的游戏写了不少研究文章。但我写的文章都是关于小工作室的游戏,因为我对这些游戏有先入为主的看法:它们会犯更多错误或更容易找到可以批评的地方。不过这次我不拿小工作室开刀了,这回我想谈的是EA的《Madden 25》。EA是有人才、有资源、有预算做出一些像《Simpsons Tapped Out》和《Real Racing 3》那样优秀的免费游戏的,但当他们真的开始做免费游戏时,结果如何呢?我们从《Madden 25》中找答案吧。

分析《Madden 25》改进免费模式设计的做法

Madden 25(from venturebeat.com)

做得好的地方

画面

意料之中,这款游戏的外观还是相当养眼的!它比我所见过的所有其他手机美式足球游戏都来得漂亮。事实上,这款游戏与NFLPA(注:国家橄榄球联盟球员协会)有合作,所以球员都是真的,而不只是购买了使用NFL的权限。游戏的音乐和音效也很棒(大部分时候)。从引入音乐到主菜单的音乐,我都没有错过。我唯一可以不听的就是在选择页面中出现的“let’s go baby”的叫声。

组建球队

相比于只能玩默认名单上的球队,我非常喜欢组建球队的概念。这个设定也非常适合免费模式,因为绝对有某些队伍更出色,因此要求玩家花一些钱才能使用。这里,玩家可以选择他们自己最爱的球队,但那支球队不会一开始就比其他人更好。EA还陆续引入新球员安装包,这样游戏时间就可以持续得比一个赛季更长了。

限时内容

有些球员只能在有限的时间内使用,还有一些特殊的“每周球员”卡牌。这对于收集游戏来说是非常重要的设定。可使用的时间虽然短,但对玩家绝对有吸引力。

促销和首次购买选项

EA不只是在比赛结束后打折出售卡牌和球员包,而且还有打了大折出售的一次性新人包。如果玩家喜欢这款游戏,那么让他们在第一次玩游戏时花5美元购买这么优惠的东西,是非常容易的事。

操作

《Madden 25》是我玩的第一款手机美式足球游戏。在游戏中,玩家不能始终直接控制一名球员。玩家需要随着玩法展开慢慢适度它们。我知道有些人认为放弃虚拟操作杆和按钮才是手机游戏的正确发展方向(直到出现体面的操控器)。点击操作不太好用,但一旦习惯,游戏就容易玩了。

然而,如果你完全不能接受点击操作,你可以在设置页面中切换成虚拟操作杆。

拍卖系统

在《Madden 25》中看到拍卖系统让我觉得很是惊讶。我喜欢出售或购买卡牌的功能。这还使我得以寻找我自己中意的球员。是个寻找卡牌的好办法。

可以改进的地方

出售玩法

在游戏机版的《Madden》系列中,玩家一开始就拥有所有玩法,而在《Madden 25》中却不是这么回事,玩家对此颇有微词。我蛮喜欢通过升级或完成任务“挣”玩法的设定,但像我这样的玩家应该是少数吧。如果EA想靠玩法挣钱,想转变玩家对这个设定的看法,那么他们就不应该限制玩法。我这么说是什么意思?也就是,不要让玩家看到他们所不具有的所有玩法。否则,你只是在提醒他们,你真正给他们的内容少得可怜。

事实上,我宁愿避免出售大部分玩法。也许留一些放在玩法安装包里吧,但我希望给玩家大部分他们立即可以玩的东西。

玩法收费

有些玩法是需要玩家支付软通货才能使用的。不要担心EA不向你收取使用这种玩法的500金币。价格可以五花八门,但我见过的最低价就是2金币。是的,2金币啊。我理解这个资源和管理通货水平的概念,但通过收取使用玩法的2金币,你除了提醒玩家他们刚开始游戏时不能使用这种玩法和激起玩家的不满情绪,你什么结果也得不到。

(升级)在我写这篇文章时,EA可能已经修改了这个功能了,但我还是要在本文中谈这一点,因为我认为先让玩家花硬通货购买玩法,然后再对使用该玩法收软通货的做法,实在太荒唐了。

商店漏洞

正如我之前所提到的,EA在向像我这样的新玩家促销新手包方面做得不错。我没有足够的钱,但我可以浏览商店,然后花少少的钱购买一个新手包,对吧?错。有一个漏洞使我进不了商店。事实上,通过同事,我发现如果你按一定顺序点击菜单,还是可以进入商店的,但我按照直接的路径是无法购买的。

当设计菜单和促销时,确保所有进入商店的路径是可用的。谁知道因为这种菜单漏洞,EA要损失多少销售额呢。

限时内容

在告诉玩家哪位球员或什么内容是限时的,《Madden》本可以做得更好。你应该向玩家展示精彩的内容,让他们想玩它。我曾两次收到“每周球员”卡牌,我的反应是“哇,很酷很稀有的卡牌”,而不是“是啊,这正是我想要的卡牌!”如果我不知道内容是什么,我对限时内容是不会动心的。

基础卡牌

一开始我没有意识到球员卡牌有不同的类型,有的卡牌上有球员真实属性的“真正的”卡牌,也有“基础”卡牌。当你第一次玩这款游戏时,游戏会给你一些“基础”卡牌,但它不会告诉你。所以当我选择Vikings时,Adrian Peterson的速度为70/100。我以为最佳跑卫的速度就是70?我很困惑,但我的一些NFL粉丝同事非常生气,因为他们认为游戏不平衡。我知道有些人在我解释这点以前就删除了这款游戏,所以我很想知道有多少NFL粉丝(游戏的目标市场)因为不理解而卸载了游戏?

困惑的“好处”之一是,我能够在拍卖行以1000金币出售我的基础AP卡牌。我意识到,他们这么做是为了给玩家一些可以识别的球员卡牌,但EA本应该解释得更清楚一些。

平衡玩法

在不购买球员的情况下怎么获胜?HB Counter Trap。这种玩法几乎无人能挡。每当AI后防想阻止它时,但我的平均奔跑速度是40码,且有约40%的概率脱离30码。只有当你发现速度为90以上的跑卫时,这个百分率才增加。几乎可以保证2点转化率。一旦你发现像这样的游戏漏洞,你很快就会对这款游戏失去兴趣。

我理解这是一款数值游戏。它只是对计算的模拟,所以可能会有一些漏洞,但这款游戏本应该禁止一些在游戏中高频率出现的玩法。例如,可能HB Counter Trap第一次获得10码,第二次获得5码,但当你执行第三次时,就要禁用它。

拍卖UX

拍卖功能不错,但UX并不好。当玩家选择查看拍卖选项时,游戏显示拍卖行即将失效。理论上,这听起来像个新颖的说法。然而,在拍卖失效以前,我还不够时间看完商品的属性。如果我滚动到右边加载更多即将期满的拍卖信息,它们就会在加载的时候全部失效。

我要怎么办?

1、不要向我显示失效的拍卖信息。应该向玩家显示大约1-5分钟后才会失效的拍卖信息。这样玩家才有时间查看属性,并且在我决定滚动页面加载更多时,信息不会失效。

2、用更多时间重置拍卖。当玩家投票一个即将失效的物品,物品就会进行重置倒计时15秒。我认为最好是1分钟。这使得浏览拍卖行的新玩家也有机会出价。EA还必须记住,移动设备的用户有时候会遇上短暂的网络延迟。比如我……当我在去工作的路上玩游戏时,我甚至不能浏览拍卖行,更别说投票即将失效的物品了。

3、分类排序。感谢增加了搜索文件过滤器,但分类排序太重要了。我希望能在最短的时间内知道谁在出售最便宜的球员。这还有助于玩家寻找合理的定价。Drew Brees目前的市场价格是多少?天晓得。

4、修复搜索功能。如果我搜索“Adrian Peterson”,游戏会返回所有带“Adrian”的信息。如果我只输入“Adrian”或者输错名字了,那么得到这种结果就是合理的。但是,如果我输入的名称完全正确,请不要让我翻阅几百条无关的球员拍卖信息。

5、有意思的是,我喜欢《Madden 25》。我喜欢美式足球,但我并不为它“疯狂”。我不太经常玩运动类游戏,这意味着《Madden 25》为了让我这样的玩家喜欢上游戏,做了一些了不起的事,或者意味着对这个系列的真正受众做了一些很糟糕的事。我想二者兼用有。EA最终选择把《Madden》做成手机游戏,而不是在小小的触屏设备上做出相同的游戏机体验。确实,发布不是太成功,但当你第一次做某事时,你总是会犯错的。我已经认为它是至今最优秀的手机美式足球游戏了,但如果能做一些调整和更新,我想这款游戏的主机玩家也会喜欢上它吧。(爪游控

Improving Freemium Design Madden 25

By Ben Sipe

As a monetization consultant/designer I write about games I play. Historically, I’ve only written these articles on games from smaller studios because stereotypically they make more mistakes or are easier to critique. This streak ends today as I take on Madden 25. EA has the talent, relationships and budget to bring some seriously good F2P mobile titles such as Simpsons Tapped Out, Real Racing 3 and all the Pop Cap games, but what happens when they take a premium franchise and make it freemium? Let’s check out Madden 25 for mobile!

What it does right

Presentation

No surprise here but the game looks great! It looks better than any other mobile football game I’ve seen. It actually has the real players since they’re working with the NFLPA and not just buying the right to only use NFL. The music and sound effects are great (for the most part). I’m pumped to play the game from the intro music and the main menu music. The only thing I could do without is the same guy saying “let’s go baby” at my play selection screen. Every time.

Building a team

I love the idea of building a team versus only playing with the current roster. This also works better with the freemium business model because there are definitely teams which would be better and thus should cost some sort of currency to use them. Here players can choose their favorite team, but that team won’t start better than everyone else. EA can also introduce new player packs over time to which will allow the game to last longer than one season/year.

Limited time content

Some players are only available for a limited time and there are special “players of the week” cards. This is crucial for collection games. Short, but most definitely impactful.

Up selling & great first purchase option

EA not only up sells card and play packs at a discount after matches, but they have a one-time beginner pack sold at a heavy discount. If you like the game this is a no-brainer and got me to spend $5 within the first couple play sessions.

Controls

Madden 25 is the first football game I’ve played on mobile where you don’t directly control a player all the time. The players will attempt to execute plays and adapt to plays as they unfold. I know some will disagree but moving away from virtual analog sticks and buttons is the right move for mobile (until there’s a decent controller). The swipe controls aren’t perfect, but once you get used to them the game is easy to play.

However, if you’re completely against swipe controls you can switch back to a virtual analog stick in the settings.

Auctions

I was surprised to see the auction system in Madden 25. I love the ability to sell or buy cards. This also allows me to search for players I really like to see what the stats are on them. It’s a great way to discover cards.

What could be improved?
Selling plays

In console Madden games they give users all the plays from the start. This isn’t true in Madden 25, and players have been extremely vocal about it. I sort of like the idea of “earning” plays after leveling up or completing a goal, but I could be in the minority here. If EA wants to monetize on plays and convert the way people feel about the subject then they shouldn’t throw the lack of plays in the players face. What do I mean? Don’t show players ALL of the plays that they don’t have. You’re just reminding them how little content you’re actually giving them.

In fact, I’d get away from selling most of the plays at all. Maybe reserve a couple trick plays for play packs, but I’d give players most things they’d need to play right away.

Charging to use plays

Some plays that a player has earned (or bought) cost soft currency to use. Don’t worry EA doesn’t charge 500 coins to use the play. They can vary in price but the lowest I’ve seen is 2 coins. That’s right. 2 coins. I understand the concept of sources and sinks to manage currency levels, but you’re not achieving anything by charging 2 coins to use a play. Except that you’re reminding players that they didn’t have this play when they originally started and conjuring those emotions again from your players.

[Update] It appears EA might’ve pulled this functionality while writing this article, but I’m keeping this point in the article because I think it’s ridiculous to charge premium currency for the majority of plays and then again charge grind currency to use them.

Upsell bug

Like I mentioned earlier, EA did a great job of upselling a beginners pack to me and I wanted it. I didn’t have enough currency, but I can just visit the store and get some to purchase the pack, right? Not exactly. There’s a bug that wouldn’t allow me to go to the store. After the fact, I found out from a co-worker that if you go through the menus in a certain sequence it’s possible, but I wasn’t able to take the direct route and make the purchase.

When planning menus and upsells, make sure all paths to the store are working. Who knows how many sales EA has missed because if this one menu bug.

Limited time content

Madden could do a much better job communicating who or what is limited. You want to show players the epic content so they WANT it. I’ve received the “player of the week” card twice now and my reaction was “oh cool, a rare card” versus “YES… that’s the card I’ve been trying to get!” I’m not as enthused to get the limited time content if I don’t know what the content is.

Base cards

I didn’t realize this at first (and neither did my colleagues) but player cards can come in a few different forms. There are “actual” cards with the player’s real stats, and there are “base” cards. When you first start playing the game you’re given “base” cards, but this wasn’t communicated. So when I chose the Vikings, Adrian Peterson’s rating was 70 out of 100. Arguably the best running back in football right now was a 70? I was confused, but some of my NFL-fanatic colleagues were outraged because they didn’t think the game was properly balanced. Some people I know deleted the app until I explained this to them so I wonder how many NFL fans (their target market) are uninstalling because they didn’t understand?

One “benefit” from the confusion is I was able to sell my base AP card on an Auction for 1,000 coins and someone bought it when there were better rated cards selling for less! I realize that they did this to give players some player cards that are recognizable, but EA could’ve done a better job of communicating this difference.

Balancing plays

Want to know how to win without purchasing players? HB Counter Trap left. The play is near unstoppable. Every once in a while the AI defense might stop it, but my average run is about 10 yards with about a 40% chance that I’ll break away for 30+ yards. That percentage only increases if you find a running back with 90+ rating for speed. 2 point conversions are almost guaranteed. Once you find an exploit like this the game might lose its appeal fast.

I understand this is a stat game. It’s just running simulations off of calculations so there might be a few hiccups here are there, but the game should be smart enough to shut down a play if it’s been run too frequently over the course of a game. For example, maybe HB Counter Trap left gains 10 yards the first time, 5 yards the second time but when you run it a third time in a quarter it’s shutdown.

Auction UX

It is nice to have the auction functionality, but what’s not nice is the UX. When the player selects to view auctions, the game displays auctions that are about to expire. On paper this sounds like a novel idea. However, it doesn’t give me enough time to review their stats before the auction expires. If I scroll to the right to load more auctions that are about to expire, they’ve all expired by the time they load.

What would I do?

Don’t drop me off at expired auctions. I’d drop the player off at auctions with about 1-5 minutes left. That gives me time to review the stats, and if I decide to scroll to load more they won’t be expired.

Reset auctions with more time. If you bid on a card that’s about to expire it resets the countdown to 15 seconds. I would reset to at least one minute. That would possibly give new players who are visiting the auctions a chance to get a bid in too. EA also needs to remember the players are on mobile devices which can sometime have shotty internet access. Like me… when I’m playing on the bus on my way into work. I can’t ever browse auctions, let alone, bid on one that’s about to expire.

Implement sorting. Thank you for adding search filters, but sorting is just as important. I want quickly know who is selling the cheapest players without scrolling for hours. This also would help players price their auctions affordably. What’s the current market price for Drew Brees? Good luck telling me that.

Fix the searching functionality. If I search for “Adrian Peterson” the game comes back with every Adrian in the NFL along with Adrian Peterson. This would make sense if I only typed Adrian or misspelt the name. However, if I know exactly who I want then please don’t make me sift through hundreds of auctions of players

The funny thing about Madden 25 is I like it. I like American football, but I’m not “crazy” about it. I also don’t typically play sports games which means Madden 25 did something awesome in order to get me to like the game, or they did something very wrong for fans of the series. I think it’s a little of both. EA finally made a Madden game for mobile versus attempting to create the same console experience on a small touch screen device. Sure the launch hasn’t been perfect, but when you’re doing something for the first time you’re bound to make mistakes. I already think this is the best mobile football game to date, and feel free to quote me on this, but with a few tweaks and updates I think console Madden players will come to love the game as well.(source:gamesbrief)