success is as amazing and inspiring as the game itself.

The game in its PC/Mac port.

The game in its PC/Mac port.

What’s also interesting is that the game allows itself to be designed as a Free to play game. It is a particularly good example because is indisputably a great game, is accessible for any platform you’d like to play it and we can use it as an example for this thought experiment of making it Free to play.

here (not recommended).

Design changes and expansions

Free to play triangle lens we can discuss three venues for monetization: Skips, Unlocks and Boosts. They are based on traditional “sim management” games, so we can adapt the triangle here to Content, Unlocks and Boosts.

  • music can be a good and simple trick.

  • Unlocks: All the locks on things that are accessible through “repairs”, the list of upgrades, access to dungeons, the alchemist potions. An additional element could be putting caps or limits on the amount of resources (wood, rock, coins and XP) that can be had at a time and unlock them through monetization/other resources. In 10000000, you can carry at most 4 items on a run: another potential source of revenue could be selling the ability to increase that limit so players can carry more.

  • Boosts: This is relatively straightforward, since when you’re playing you receive weapons, food, keys, orbs and scrolls that you can carry to the next run and act as boosts. All of these can be sold separately.

There are also two key areas for feature expansion. The first is a storage room that can hold any extra boosts the player found while running or purchased at the store. This causes the player to manage more effectively how they proceed on each run. These limits could be expanded through purchases.

Second, the Alchemist room enables a particular effect at the cost of a trade off. This should be changed to a boost fashion in which these alchemist effects can last only for one run, possibly with less strict tradeoffs and also stored in your storage room.

The Alchemist’s room

The Alchemist’s room

funnel in a better way.

However, the Triangle suggests to monetize with at most two of the methods, which is sound advice. Given that 10000000 isn’t a place to “enjoy watching an aquarium” such as DragonVale or Hay Day, the clever thing would be to stick with unlocks and boosts.



10000000 is an excellent game to share video replays to feel closer to the excitement of the game itself and sharing amazing feats that can be achieved in it. One additional content tweak would be increasing the animations and “pyrotechnic effects” of achieving chain reactions with the tiles in the running zone. When you’re playing and doing amazing feats, you feel great but you’re focused on the tiles, and when someone else is viewing, it would be nice to have something for other people to watch that is spectacular.


For example in Sonic Dash, they control the pacing of races and allow the player to do some “quick time swipes” for Sonic to breakdance in the air. This looks awesome and also wins some rings if done right.

If we want to go nuts, we can even discuss a room dedicated to store these glorious gameplay images and/or videos so the player herself can revisit them in the game or have it for her friends to see, but that’s a lot of additional work, development-wise.

Execution tradeoffs

We have discussed monetization and social aspects for the game to be considered a Free to play game, is that it? Well, not so much. Free to play games start when the game launches, and operate as a service, not a product. This cannot be stressed enough as it is easy to overlook in practical decisions and prioritizations how to approach the execution of these designs and handling the expectations associated to them.

So what does all this mean? In addition to the elements mentioned above they need to pass a check for game balance from a informed through analytics -especially when the game is already live. Additional checks must be passed regarding UI, accessibility, and timing of the monetization elements. There’s a huge amount of games that hide away the options to pay more under too many screens, unclear menus or the wrong timing for monetization, making it annoying instead of convenient.

spectacularly. Many times this is because developers fail to see the service aspects and just throw in some IAP without too much thought about them, only to claim foul when they don’t get disgustingly rich overnight.

Then all the work needed with art, programming, balancing and testing needs to be estimated and considered to be split in several iterations that have different tradeoffs on different platforms when they go live. For example, monetization re-designs would allow the game to be set free and include more revenue venues but it would not achieve all of its strength without the social features. On the other hand, working the social features first would put the game in the eyes of more potential players that still would be stopped at a paywall if they’re not willing to pay anyway. However, the social features discussed here can be integrated in the game without making it Free to play at all and it could potentially be a good thing anyway.

Asian localization). Then moving these changes to all platforms including the social features, that can be developed for the game to scale once you have data and revenue to support such scaling.

Where do we go from here?

This was a general discussion to a deeper level of how to take an already great game to millions of players through the Free to play model, considering several aspects of the decisions involved.

For more detailed discussions on monetization and Free to play, I recommend to check:

  • The Language of Monetization Design

  • Monetizing an Infinite Runner

  • Part 1)

  • Managing a Free-to-Play Product: a Publisher’s Perspective

To understand all the nuances involved in the design of a Free to play “casual” successful title, Candy Crush Saga:

  • Why Candy Crush Saga is taking over the world

  • Video: Candy Crush Saga uses luck in the right places (GDC 2013)

The controversial decision made by Candy Crush developers of not to use a virtual currency in their game and going with direct purchase of boosts draws special attention. This was a risky and bold decision (albeit a good one given the game’s performance).

Almost everything you need to know to enter mobile game development on 2013.

In summary, 10000000 is a great game, that includes within itself many options to make it a game that allow players themselves to put a better price on the value of the whole experience -a fun, convenient and social experience. When we analyze the tweaks and additions we can make to the game, we must take into consideration the costs and benefits of each improvement and how they can add value to the whole game incrementally. This will change from a finished, bounded product to an ongoing live service dedicated to its community of fans.