We regularly speak with groups at companies about how brands can leverage both games and game mechanics in their marketing and mobile strategies. In those discussions, the question about what makes a great game will often arise. While there is no single magic bullet design mechanic to guarantee virality and heavy interaction, there are several styles that can be found repeatedly across popular games.
This is the first entry in a five part series where we will take a closer look at some of these popular mechanics: Social Competition
Social Competition is an excellent way of giving players an additional objective in the game that will keep them coming back. Usually implemented through things like Facebook Connect or iOS game center, social competition mechanics are most commonly executed by simply showing the game progression of your friends, in what is traditionally a single player campaign. Games like Candy Crush and Two Dots have seen tremendous success using the power of social competition.
In the Two Dots example (pictured), the game shows what levels you have completed on the map, as well as the scores from your friends for each level. This seemingly simple mechanic often drives players to try and pass their friends, or stay ahead of them, generating replay value to every level as you compete for the high score within your social circle.
At Dragon Army, I tend to brag about when I’ve topped someone’s score, which is immediately followed by that person loading up the game, and trying to reclaim their top spot. It’s also fun to post those scores to social networks, to prove you’re on top. This leads to great exposure for the game, as well as a challenge to friends to come back to the game to beat you or to pick it up for the first time.