virtual currency


Highlights from “Social Gaming: a model to follow” conference at La Cantine


This is a guest post from Garrett Goodman, a new media consultant currently working with Citizenside, a French start-up that specialises in increasing audience engagement with its UGC hub solution, the Reporter Kit. This solution uses a proprietory system that integrates badges, grades and points to add a social gaming layer to news gathering.

The event was organized by Social Media Club France and moderated by Benoît Raphaël, cofounder of, blogger at La Social Newsroom, who took the opportunity to pose some important questions to the presenters about real figures and hard facts. Unsurprisingly, the speakers were sometimes less than forthcoming…regardless, there was a lot covered worth sharing with you all.

First up here are the speakers:


Thibault Viort of Weka Entertainment

Thomas Jestin of KRDS

Erwan Guiriec of Click&Game Entertainment and

Dimitri Ducourtieux from IFeelGoods

What’s so exciting about Social Gaming?

During Benoît’s intro, he pointed out that Zynga has 200 million users per month, an impressive figure by anybody’s standards, and although one might be inclined to focus on their virtual goods and the crazy amount of virtual currency changing hands, Benoît highlighted that the real value here was in the database, and all the data that can be mined from each user.

Thibault Viort started off the presentations with a talk on the changes social gaming is causing. He underlined an interesting development: these social games give players the ability to have casual encounters or « daily adventures » with friends they might not see that often, or ever, in real life. They are changing people’s daily routines, and altering with whom and how people socialize on a fundamental level.

3 reasons you have to launch a social game with Facebook

Thomas Jestin, who was perhaps the most animated of the speakers, waxed lyrical about the force of Facebook in the social gaming ecosystem. He was adamant that social games must be on Facebook as an app or on a Facebook connected site. Here’s his reasoning :

3 questions to pose before launching that game

1. How to get members? His answer: buy them with cross-platform promotion and advertising

2. How to get them to come back? His answer: email marketing and regular Facebook news feed updates

3. How to get users to invite their friends? His answer: be awesomely creative, eye catching, and original

Next step: monetizing addiction (see below)

1. Barriers to entry are lower than ever for new users. No more sign-up forms that send emails with special links and all those tiring steps. Just one click, and boom, connected and broadcasting across your social graph. which leads to his next point.

2. Sharing is easier than ever. Last I saw the average Facebook user has 130 friends, meaning every action completed in a game is broadcast to all those people. Huge visibility. Huge potential to attract new members. It’s free advertising via social recommendation, an idea that is core to our operation here at Citizenside.

3. One click pay is on the horizon. With EA’s recent announcement that they make Facebook credits their official payment method for their social games, plus Zynga’s patent application for virtual currency, Thomas was vehement that this is the next big shift in gaming online.

Built-in Constraints and Monetizing Addiction

Next up was Erwan Guiriec, who touched on the importance of constraints in game dynamics. He explained that one simple way to create opportunities for monetization in gameplay is to place obstacles in the way of a player and give them the possibility to pay some small fee to have them removed.

Here’s an example: say you wanted to beef up your character in some fighting game by taking him to the gym. If you have to wait 3 minutes to complete this action for free, many people will be happy to switch tabs and browse around for the waiting period, but enough people would rather just pay 3 Facebook credits and achieve the results immediately. It’s playing on people’s inherent aversion to delayed gratification, and Erwan says it works.

Thomas added here that is was essential not to utilize these constraints to early, players must already be immersed in the world and want to continue enough to endure the delays or pay the fee, otherwise you’re just deterring players.

Virtual Currency worth cold hard cash

WalMart and Best Buy now selling Facebook creditsWalMart and Best Buy now selling Facebook credits

Last up was a presentation about micro-incentives and virtual credits in online marketing and advertising by Dimitri Ducourtieux. He showed how basic concepts like rebates and coupons can be taken to the next level with virtual currency, making e-commerce a more social experience that can have much more impact. Big commercial outfits like Best Buy and WalMart are even selling Facebook credits on their shelves in the form of « credit » cards, making virtual currency not so virtual. Sure these credits are limited in their usage now, pretty much exclusively for games running in Facebook like the uber-famous Farmville, but the future is ripe with opportunities for all kinds of innovation in this space.

We at Citizenside have been interested in game dynamics and adding a « social gaming layer » to news gathering for some time now. We’ve released our own beta points and badges system on and have tailor-made solutions available as plug-ins for our Reporter Kit clients too.

To check out how social gaming can be used for news sites, use the Facebook connect on and get started in no time! See you there.