🎮 The Gaming Playbook for Growth
What non-gaming industries can learn from gaming
The gaming industry is huge.
Back in 2001, the gaming world was virtually on par with the music and film sectors. But since then, its growth has been staggering.
Today, it's more than five times the size of Hollywood:
You've likely been caught in the whirlwind of success stories surrounding games like Fortnite, earning over $6B per year. Or Diablo 4, surpassing $666 million in revenue in just five days.
It's not just about impressive graphics or captivating storylines… It's about revenue figures that rival the GDP of small countries.
Having worked on Fortnite, many of you ask me: what can I take away from the gaming industry?
It's clear there's something magical happening in the gaming world that's not just about joystick skills.
Consider the infectious rise of a new game. It's introduced, and in a matter of days, it can hit 10 million players.
What magic potion are these gaming firms sipping on that leads to such widespread popularity?
And can this formula be adopted in sectors outside of gaming?
3 Key Categories of Takeaways
Yes, of course.
To help put it all together, I’ve been playing a bunch of games to go deep on gaming concepts for non-gaming companies growth.
And I’m finally ready to share - in three main categories:
Social: How to Implement Gaming Social Mechanics
Achievements Unlocked: How Gaming “Gamifies” Progression
Monetization: The Gaming Mechanics for Money
To understand each category, we'll go through 5 gaming examples. This should provide you with actionable inspiration and in-depth knowledge to apply gaming concepts to your non-gaming growth.
For gamers, it should be fun to relive and connect back to non-gaming growth concepts. For non-gamers, it should be a good introduction to the biggest games 🚀
Section 1: The Power of Social Features in Gaming Giants
In the gaming world, giants like Roblox, Minecraft, Fortnite, Super Smash Bros, and Call of Duty heavily owe their explosive growth to social features. These games each tap into socially differently.
Let's explore these 5 games and their key social features, so we can come back and see how other industries can apply similar strategies:
1. Roblox: The Metaverse of User-Generated Content
Sometime folks don’t realize just how big Roblox is. It’s a gaming giant with 66M daily active users:
Roblox's rise can be credited in large part to its robust social ecosystem centered around user-generated content. Players create their own games and virtual items, driving word-of-mouth growth as they share their creations with others.
Roblox's success lies in its creation of a digital universe where players become the architects of their own imaginative worlds. All these games were created by people other than Roblox:
Roblox has lined up the economics to make this enticing for game creators: 35% revenue share. It’s not quite YouTube’s 55%, but nevertheless it’s generous enough that many of these games are made by agencies whose entire business is on Roblox.
By providing a platform for studios to make games, Robox has done something many software companies do: create a platform. It’s like the Salesforce App Exchange, but in games.
Roblox takes that user generated content to another level entirely though. The game's intuitive tools and simple interface allow players of all ages to design and build games, avatars, and virtual items. As more players contribute to the metaverse, it attracts new users curious to explore the variety of experiences on offer. This virtuous cycle of content creation, sharing, and discovery has led to Roblox's meteoric rise.
Roblox has fostered a sense of ownership and creativity among its player community. This social aspect encourages players to share their creations with friends, who, in turn, invite others to join the ever-expanding metaverse.
Applicable Lessons: Embrace user-generated content to empower your community and fuel organic growth. Cultivate a sense of ownership and creativity to drive word-of-mouth and viral sharing.
Many modern PLG companies like Notion have taken this exact approach, because it works. It doesn’t have to just be in gaming.
2. Minecraft: Collaborative Building and Adventure
Minecraft is the second biggest player in the Metaverse gaming race.
Commonly, kids will graduate from spending all their time in Roblox to Minecraft.
For a paid game to achieve 238 million copies - and continue to grow 13 years after release - is quite a feat:
Minecraft thrives on cooperative gameplay, where players build together, embark on quests, and conquer challenges. This fosters a sense of camaraderie and engagement.
Minecraft's social prowess is rooted in its emphasis on collaboration and shared experiences. Players can team up to build intricate structures, explore vast landscapes, and face formidable enemies together. This cooperative nature encourages players to invite friends and family, expanding the game's player base through social networks.
Minecraft's open-ended gameplay allows players to unleash their creativity in a sandbox environment. Building magnificent structures, crafting tools, and engaging in daring adventures offer a sense of achievement and camaraderie.
Players proudly showcase their creations, inspiring others to join in the fun and be part of the Minecraft community. Videos and even books like this are a dime a dozen:
Applicable Lessons: Encourage collaboration and shared experiences to create a network effect that drives growth. Empower players to express their creativity, fostering a passionate and engaged community.
Apps like SoFi, where you publish your portfolio for all to watch, are a perfect example of taking this approach out of gaming. The key is to create a canvas for users to promote their creations and bring others along.
3. Fortnite: Battle Royale, Party Up!
This is the game I worked on! So what do I think it nails in social?
Fortnite's squad-based gameplay encourages real-time communication and teamwork, enhancing the social experience for players of all ages.
Fortnite's social appeal lies in its team-focus, where players group together and compete in the fast-paced battle royale mode. The game's voice chat and emote features foster real-time communication, allowing teammates to strategize and bond during intense battles.
The emotes in particular are the secret sauce. Fortnite players love to dance. It’s like TikTok for gamers:
Dancing gives players the chance to experience a much wider range of emotions, while in an intense shooter game. The sense of camaraderie and shared objectives create lasting connections among players.
Fortnite is more than just a game. It's a social platform for players to come together and celebrate shared experiences. The game hosts live events, concerts, and special collaborations that unite the community.
I worked on the Travis Scott Concert. 28M attended it:
We had to cap attendance because we pushed AWS/ gaming to the limit. No one had ever done in a simultaneous event that was interactive like that in the history of humankind until that point.
These gigantic events generate buzz and excitement, leading to increased player engagement and retention.
Implement real-time communication features and gamify social engagement for better user retention. Just like all the collaborative tools like Miro are crushing it, the more you can build multiplayer into your products, the sticker they will be.
Organize vibrant social events to strengthen community bonds and foster a sense of belonging. For instance, Salesforce’s Dreamforce conference or Apple’s WWDC have surpassed mere events and have become essentials on the cultural calendar for techies. It’s totally possible in non-gaming contexts.
With 4,800 words and 30 pictures, this post was too long for e-mail. You may want to continue in your browser:
4. Super Smash Bros: The Ultimate Crossover Celebration
Super Smash Bros unites gaming history with character crossovers, sparking excitement and conversations among players.
The latest edition solve over 30 million copies:
Super Smash Bros' social magnetism lies in its ability to bring together iconic characters from different gaming franchises. This crossover celebration resonates with players who grew up with beloved gaming heroes.
The game's character roster becomes a topic of conversation and speculation, generating excitement and buzz among players. Those infamous S-tier pyramids everyone loves to create? They became popular because of Super Smash Bros:
In addition, Super Smash Bros fosters a lively and competitive community where players engage in friendly battles and tournaments. The game's local multiplayer mode allows friends to gather and compete on the same screen, creating memorable shared experiences.
It’s hard to build a product that’s entertaining for 8 to play simultaneously. But Super Smash Bros has done it. This canvas for social gatherings strengthens friendships and encourage players to invite others to join the fun.
Embrace crossover experiences to unite diverse audiences and foster a passionate community. Think about something like the Adobe Photoshop - Microsoft Teams collaboration. No matter whether you’re B2C or B2B, there’s a crossover play where others see competition.
Provide avenues for players to engage in friendly competition and celebrate shared passions. Think of how LinkedIn hosts its 'Top Voices' awards yearly. It’s not about rivalry; it’s about recognizing, encouraging, and thereby amplifying excellence within a community. Harness that sentiment in your products or services.
5. Call of Duty: Brotherhood on the Virtual Battlefield
Call of Duty is the third best-selling video game franchise of all time. It’s like Marvel for gaming - it doesn’t stop pumping out hits.
Call of Duty prioritizes teamwork and communication, building strong connections among players.
Call of Duty's social appeal is rooted in its focus on teamwork and camaraderie on the virtual battlefield. In Warzone for example, you infamously ‘drop’ with your squad:
The massively multiplayer gameplay modes are by far the most popular, because coordinating strategies and supporting each other to achieve victory. The game's team-based objectives promote collaboration and create a sense of belonging among squadmates.
Call of Duty also encourages players to form clans and join like-minded communities. For instance, here’s Clan Wars on COD: Mobile:
These clans provide a platform for players to bond over shared interests and achievements. The mutual support and encouragement within clans foster long-term player engagement and loyalty.
Applicable Lessons: Cultivate a sense of belonging and encourage community-driven engagement. Build communities around shared goals and interests to enhance player retention and loyalty.
Companies like Midjourney have leveraged the power of Discord to drive community for non-gaming products. Any software product can find their own implementation.
The EPIC Framework for Non-Gaming PMs
How can we tie all these diverse lessons together? In a way that’s fitting for gaming - EPIC:
E - Empowerment: Put tools in the hands of users.
Gaming Parallel: Roblox, where gamers can shape their universe.
Implementation: Design with the user in mind. Offer customization and self-expression.
P - Partnership: Forge communities, not just user bases.
Gaming Parallel: Fortnite and Call of Duty's community emphasis.
Implementation: Integrate collaborative features to transform passive users into active community members.
I - Intervals of Excitement: Regular "wow" moments keep users engaged.
Gaming Parallel: Super Smash Bros' character reveals.
Implementation: Schedule standout events, features, or updates that drive buzz and discussions.
C - Chronicles: Weave a narrative that keeps users returning.
Gaming Parallel: The Legend of Zelda's story-driven gameplay.
Implementation: Build your product's narrative, making every update a new chapter users eagerly await.
When you’re struggling to think about how to implement gaming social features in your app, think EPIC.
Section 2: Achievements and Rewards: Keeping Players Engaged
Gamification, like achievements and rewards, has proven to be incredibly effective in retaining users.
Let’s go through another slate of gaming giants to see how they harness these techniques to maintain high engagement levels 👇
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Product Growth to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.