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How to think when balancing a game economy

Child making a Jenga Tower
Image by Michał Parzuchowski.
Battle Legion by Trap Light has one of the pretties implementations of the Trophy Road.

General guidelines

Collecting trophies

Making assumptions

Distributing tiers

A chart with additional trophy requirements
Chart of additional trophy count needed to reach a particular tier.
Chart of cumulative trophy count needed to reach a particular tier.

Distributing rewards

Variety of rewards in Zooba Trophy Road
  • Juicy prime rewards,
  • Filler rewards.
A screenshot of a Trophy Road in Brawl Stars
Prime rewards on display in Trophy Road in Brawl Stars.

Conclusions

Key Takeaways

  • When balancing for long term retention, think about the time
  • Try to predict where a player will be after a certain amount of time, days, weeks, months
  • Make assumptions about player behavior
  • Derive a couple of scenarios including at least two realistic ones and one only theoretically possible
  • Use the theoretical upper limits as an ultimate sanity check
  • Reward engagement rather than skill
  • Progression along the curve is more fun than linear progression
  • Create variety of rewards
  • Place most interesting rewards in regular intervals
  • Use the other rewards as fillers
  • Establish correspondence between each reward currency and play time

Links

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Analysis and opinion from game industry leaders

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Stanislav Stankovic

Creative Director at Northern Stars studio in Helsinki. Ex-EA, Ex-Rovio.