Five things startups should not skimp on March 31, 2008Posted by jeremyliew in start-up, startup, startups.
The WSJ recently noted something that developers have known for a long time, that bigger monitors increase productivity:
Researchers at the University of Utah tested how quickly people performed tasks such as editing a document and copying numbers between spreadsheets while using different computer configurations: one with an 18-inch monitor, one with a 24-inch monitor and one with two 20-inch monitors. Their finding: People using the 24-inch screen completed the tasks 52% faster than people who used the 18-inch monitor; people who used the two 20-inch monitors were 44% faster than those with the 18-inch screens.
This got me thinking about other areas where buying “cheap” can be a false economy:
1. Large monitors. As noted above.
2. Comfortable ergonomic chairs. Your team spends most of their working time sitting in these chairs. If they are not comfortable, they won’t be in those chairs, and thus they won’t be working!
3. High Quality Speaker Phones. Conference calls are a part of doing business. If the people on the other end of the line can’t hear all the speakers in the room, you risk losing the nuances of the communication.
4. Experienced Law Firms The big silicon valley law firms are constantly involved with negotiating financings, venture debt, acquisitions and other legal matters on behalf of startups. They know which terms are “market” and not worth fighting over, and which are out of the ordinary. Firms that don’t have the same volume of deal flow often want to fight every point. While their zeal on your behalf is commendable, in the end they usually end up with “market” terms but take longer to get there. That results in higher legal bills for all parties, and greater conflict between partners where it wasn’t necessary.
5. Administrative Assistance. At some point making entries into Quickbooks, figuring out which insurance plan to sign up for and finding the cheapest airfare to LA for that conference become a poor use of founder’s time.
What are some other areas that readers think startups should not skimp on?
Managing Virtual Economies March 28, 2008Posted by jeremyliew in economics, game design, game mechanics, mmorpg, virtual goods, virtual worlds.
1 comment so far
The article discusses the approaches of EVE Online, Entropia Universe and Second Life in trying to keep their virtual economies balanced. Getting the balance of crafting, economics and other such features right can drive behavior like specialization/division of labor, guilding etc, as Eyjólfur Guðmundsson, EVE Online’s economist, notes:
The new player who isn’t able to succeed roams around space trying to make ISK[s]. He tries to be a player-versus-player pilot and loses in battle. He needs help to succeed in the community. Players themselves have found ways to deal with this by creating corporations and alliances. It’s not just economics, but also socioeconomics in general.
For new game designers, keeping virtual economies in check is a non obvious but extremely important element of game design. While most designers spend a lot of time thinking about how to add money into a system and how to price virtual goods, some do not spend enough time thinking about how to balance these two elements. If you allow users to transfer virtual currency between each other, trade in virtual items will emerge. If the economies are unbalanced, you run the risk of side effects such as inflation in pricing of virtual goods or too many “high power” items in the wild. Both of these can make it hard for a new player to join the game after it has been ongoing for a while as they are either too poor or too weak to be able to do anything fun. While these things can be managed after they become problems, it is better to have spent some time thinking through the issues before launch.
Nick to spend $100m on 600 games March 18, 2008Posted by jeremyliew in advertising, casual games, games, games 2.0, gaming.
The NY Times has a story on Nickelodeon planing to spend $100m on 600 exclusive casual web games over the next two years. They certainly have a huge audience of people playing casual games across a network of sites:
With a series of customized sites for different age groups (preschoolers, tweens, teenage boys, moms), Nickelodeon calls itself the “biggest gaming network in the country.” Movie studios, video game publishers, and toy makers are among the top marketers on the sites. In the online games market, its stiffest competition comes from Yahoo Games, which had 15.5 million unique visitors in February according to the measurement firm comScore…
The N, Nickelodeon’s teenage network, has dozens of games for children aged 12 to 17. Slightly younger players are directed to Nick.com, which drew an average of 2.1 million visitors in February and is expected to add 185 games this year. The youngest players of all are welcome on the sites of Nick Jr. and Noggin, where games are meant to be played by children “on the laps of their moms,” Ms. Zarghami said.
The company also owns Neopets, a virtual pet Web site. The investment will add scores of new games to each site in the coming year…
MTV Networks acquired three sites to strengthen its gaming brand in 2005 and 2006. Of the three, Addicting Games is by far the most popular, averaging 9.4 million unique visitors in February, a 50 percent increase over the same month last year, according to comScore.
paidContent.org has more details:
Among the initiatives included in the investment :
— the launch, planned for September, of ad-free subscription service myNoggin, being offered with cable companies Charter, Cox and Insight and through direct subscription online.
— The transition of Neopets to NeoStudios, which will focus on creating new virtual worlds and further developing existing ones. The first new launch is slated for the end of 2008 with “a goal” of launching a new one every other year.
— The branding of Shockwave as “the” games destination for families. Somehow that includes new opportunities for “prominent integrated advertising.”
— AddictingGames is getting into the casual MMOG business with AddictingWorlds.
— The planned early 2008 launch of The-Ngames.com, dubbed “the first major casual gaming site to focus solely on teen girls.”
— A subscription product for Nickelodeon called the Nick Gaming Club, “a safe gaming environment.”
— 3D Slimeball. Now there’s the Nick we all know and love. Actually, it’s one of the multiplayer games for Nick.com. Nictropolis also gets multiplayer games.
The idea seems to be grab them as young as possible and keep them moving to various age-appropriate options.
From the sounds of the article, Nickelodeon primarily plans to primarily monetize through both subscription and advertising. Given their existing advertiser relationships and their huge reach, they should be able to help establish some standard advertising units in the casual games industry. That will be great for the industry. New forms of advertising are hard, and standard ad units lift all boats.