Chart of the Week

Shape of the Week: Upturn your funnel into a pyramid

Focus on core gameplay not mass user acquisition

Shape of the Week: Upturn your funnel into a pyramid
Everyone in the free-to-play business knows all about the funnel.

You cram as many users as possible into the top and then attempt to move the largest fraction of them down through the retention and monetisation stages.

But is this the shape we should be using?

Consultant Nicholas Lovell reckons we should turn our funnels on their head.

"The pyramid is a design model that benefits the funnel, but it challenges developers to move away from 'whale hunting' and towards delighting super-fans," he explains.

"It's a simple idea, but it has the power to subtly transform the way that free-to-play games are designed."

The Great Pyramid of $

In terms of what the pyramid actually means, Lovell argues you need a wide core audience who will enjoy playing your core gameplay loop.

You won't monetise them, but they are your gaming audience.

The next step up the pyramid is retention features, which are the ways by which you get gamers to return regularly to your game. Again, there's no monetisation at this point, but some highly engaged players.

Finally, we reach the pinnacle, the point of the free-to-play model, which is the super-fan game.

Super fans will spend money in your game, but you need a great core and retention structure before you will be able to monetise a large number of players.

In this way, he argues, the pyramid provides developer with a holistic approach more suited to building an entire community, rather than the funnel's reductive focus on generating a small number of payers to the exclusion of all each.

(Incidentally, I came up with a similar concept - the free-layer-cake - albeit nothing like as coherently, back in January 2012.)

You can check out the Pyramid and the Funnel here

Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.