42. Mindblown Mayan by Jonathan Lopez
What would the Mayans themselves think about the world ending tomorrow? Probably this.
16/365 Abraham Lincoln
Modeled after JFK’s posthumous presidential portrait. Both lives were ended much too soon.
View time lapse - within the hour
360º view - tomorrow
Dedicated to the victims of the Japan tragedy.
Tears for Japan
by Jonathan Lopez
Dedicated to the tsunami victims in Japan.
“Don’t listen for the sound of triggers being pulled as much as the sound of mouses being clicked.”
by Ben Lopez
Jason Calacanis recently interviewed Neil Young, founder of NGMoco Games, and the man behind massively popular iPhone titles such as We Rule, Godfinger, and Eliminate. Maybe you’re one to scoff at iPhone games, and consider developers like NGMoco to be minor league, but that’s hardly the case, as the App Store marketplace is a particularly lucrative venue to distribute games. I was stunned when I heard some of the figures people were spending on in-game items using real money: how does $10,000 within a month sound to you? You read that right: TEN GRAND. There are folks that don’t earn that in a year, yet the geniuses at NGMoco have convinced folks to spend that much to grow magic cauliflowers. So how do they manage to empty your wallet at such an alarming rate? Micro transactions and compulsion loops.
Micro transactions, such as a .99 purchase in the app store is a “why the hell not?” impulse buy. These unplanned purchases can add up quickly, of course, and that’s what more and more companies are banking on. Expect to see this sort of add-on/in-game pricing become much more widespread.
Compulsion loops are nothing new. They’ve been around for decades, long before the original Nintendo Entertainment System in the 1980s in the form of PC role playing titles. Some of the earliest compulsion loops consisted of the same model you see within numerous titles today, allowing a player to “level up” and become stronger, acquire new abilities, and access to new content within the game as a result of putting in time and/or skill. This is an especially enticing model for players, and is by far the most widely used for good reason. Let’s say you just put in another 2 hours on a role playing game, and despite playing through several battles, you don’t make any progress in the storyline. You’ll still feel as if you’ve accomplished something because your character has gotten stronger, or perhaps you found a valuable new item while exploring. In other words, you never feel like your play time is wasted. Other incentives to continue playing include leaderboards, public award badges for completing specific tasks, or real/virtual prize money for placing in events. So in a shooting game, maybe you’ll earn an award on your profile page letting other players know that you played through a match without a single death. It may sound petty, but given the large investment of time involved, people begin to pride themselves on these honours. Eidos recently offered a real money prize for a stunt contest in their open-world game Just Cause 2. This was an innovative spin on the cookie cutter “highest score” or “quickest time” challenges, even if the contest itself was marketed rather poorly! Social obligation is another huge factor, something any Farmville player should know; if someone helps you tend your crops, you probably feel obligated to return the favour.
You’ll also notice that NGMoco has a range of difficulty in their games; some you can make progress in by simply putting in time, and others are more hard fought skill-based titles, such as the first-person shooter Eliminate. They are effectively covering all the bases for differing potential audiences, and it’s certainly paid off for them.
Chances are, the majority of the D2D readers aren’t game developers. But that’s not to say you can’t develop compulsion loops for your area of business. Reward loyal customers, find smaller bite-sized payment methods that are easier to swallow, and give your top contributors recognition for their work. Get creative! If NGMoco can earn millions off of a model developed decades ago, just think of what you might accomplish with new, innovating compulsion loops.
I should probably begin by advising my readers not to take the same route you have by beginning a spam campaign. Spammers are blacklisted, and the conversion rate is easily under .01%. Such shameful methods for a modest return are not worth your time, nor the sacrifice of your reputation.
With that out of the way, this piece of spam brings about a topic worth talking about: automated tools or paid services to gain subscribers. While you’ll probably note some short-term success if you decide to use either of these, the problem is that you’re not going to retain the vast majority of those people. Worse yet, once your blog or website is labeled a spam trap…it sticks. And because you don’t want to have your (real) name attached to any campaign like that, you are building absolutely zero personal brand equity. The advantage of gaining readers organically is that you build relationships, and therefore loyalty, along the way. Commenting on blogs that you are genuinely interested in, adding helpful tips to related forums, taking the initiative on Q&A sites, these are all ways to organically meet people with similar interests and gain new readers, while at the same time solidifying your public reputation. The best part of this method? Because you’re doing things honestly and not paying someone to send out spam for you, you’ll actually enjoy doing it.
Thanks for your question!
Thanks for writing, it’s always a pleasure to hear from D2D readers! A concert venue is a good choice for Michigan with the Detroit and Grand Rapids areas, among others, being very dense hubs for visual and musical artists alike. Plenty of hot spots to choose from.
Well, I think right now the first decision you’ll want to make is not where to look for investors, but what career path you ultimately want to take. Do you still have interest in becoming a PA? Do you have another unrelated job in the meantime? Will there be lost grants, or looming student loans that will be piled on if you take a semester hiatus to get a feel for the music biz? Can you see yourself happily running a concert venue 10 or 20 years from now? These are questions that may be tough, but need to be answered, as this in itself may be a turning point in your life. Think long and hard about this decision before moving forward.
Now, assuming you’re a little further down the road and you’ve made that tough decision, you’ll need to learn the business inside and out before you begin seeking investors. Never underestimate the intuition of investors, remember that these guys hear pitches all the time and they’ll be able to sense immediately whether or not you’re fluent in your field. I’m assuming with your passion for music you attend concerts yourself. Make it a point to befriend the folks that make these concerts happen, get a feel for the process. Hit up local cafes with free open mic night, talk with the performers and listen to their stories, you never know what wisdom and encouragement you may glean from them. Heck, if you’re having trouble making connections with people, target smaller venues and offer to do a blog entry or interview with the owners. Take them out to lunch if you have to, a smart businessman is unlikely to turn down a free lunch and good press. If there’s one thing I’ve ultimately learned in the business world, it’s that you’d be amazed what you can accomplish by just asking. As Dale Carnegie would affirm, people love to talk about themselves, so sometimes just asking the right questions and being a good listener can be incredibly beneficial. Don’t expect immediate results, but persistence will eventually pay off big time. Also, as I mentioned earlier, one thing you’ll want to scout as early as possible is location. You’ll want to have a clear vision of what type of crowd you’d be attracting, (realistic) capacity, and if it makes logical sense for the musical niche you’ll be filling. Study the number of concerts and calibre of bands playing in a given area, and keep in mind that relocating may be in the cards.
In any case, get back in touch with me once once you’ve taken a few steps on this, and we’ll determine the possibilities from there. I wish you the best no matter what you decide to do.