Competitive players – your most engaged players – are always looking for ways to keep one step ahead of their rivals by smartly upgrading their in-game characters, vehicles, and other features. Those players deserve a game economy that’s working as hard as they are.
Every play session, they actively balance the decision of when to save and when to spend their winnings, but there is something that unlocks a clear way to guarantee great value as well as the competitive edge: VIP programs.
VIP programs allow players to speed up progression, boost in-game monetary awards, and most of all, be rewarded for loyalty. A well-run VIP program doesn’t just offer the feeling of exclusivity, but delivers real in-game benefits for active engagement. It also provides a social boost within the community. VIP players are respected allies and feared opponents.
Getting Ready for VIPs
As with any in-game economy feature, make sure you know what your game feels like from your player’s viewpoint. When you understand the aspirations and frustrations from the player’s side, you will know what they value most and what will be the most compelling offer for them.
Components of a VIP Program
In simple terms, you have three main components: VIP points, benefits, and timers. The benefits – things like extra fuel capacity or shortened cooldown periods – are in tiered packages and are bought using VIP points. The timers for these benefits also come in tiered packages.
VIP points can be earned, bought, or given as a reward for things such as a daily sign-in. As players accumulate points, they move up in a tiered system and qualify for increasingly larger benefits. Make sure players can see all of the benefits available not only in their current tier, but also all upper tiers.
Next, deliver an easy-to-see invite for activating the benefits as well as a how long to use them, such as right in the tutorial, and be sure to keep messaging focused. Always offer a link to the in-game shop, allowing a player buy more points and upgrade to a higher tier. Also offer bundle deals that give real value to players, such as an in-game currency and VIP points pack with bonus amounts.
Finally, make the timer for packages absolutely clear so players can choose for themselves the best value, offer multiple options between a low-end eight hours and and maximum-benefit thirty days.
The obvious benefit is an uplift in revenue by engaging loyal players with a value-filled layer of consumable content that enhances all in-app purchasable content.
VIP programs drive retention, too, via timers that encourage players to make the most of these exclusive opportunities. Their investments – time, money, or both – are rewarded, which is turn increases the likelihood of loyal play.
However, while you want to reward players in VIP programs, you need to be cautious about offering benefits that throw the entire game out of balance or invalidate non-VIP purchasable content. Players that have not yet decided to invest could see an aggressively weighed VIP program as a cynical pay-to-win strategy. The aim of a VIP program is not to give players a way to purchase dominance, but to assist progression and reward dedicated players.
Make sure that you have built in server-side tools that will allow you to dynamically change VIP program perks and offers during soft launch as well as global launch so you are always treating your players right.
Where to Surface VIP Programs
The in-game shop should have a link to VIP benefits front-and-center. Always have the VIP rank visible in the menus or user interface along with all the other scores/metrics the player has earned. If you have an “offers” tab in your main menu, always surface VIP program offers there.
Included VIP programs in rewards you give away for daily sign-ins or for connecting the game to social networks. In places where players activate consumable items that are also affected by VIP programs, remind the player they can maximize effectiveness by participating in the VIP program if they aren’t already.
Time VIP program sales to coincide with time-limited content sales. If a player is looking at a limited-time offer, suggest adding specially discounted VIP package to maximize the purchase they are considering. Also, don’t forget to remind players to renew VIP perks when they are about to expire. And don’t be afraid to use that opportunity to offer a special deal. One idea: build in a “direct debit” that automatically transfers premium currency into the offered VIP account and add a bonus for completing the transfer, not unlike a utility company.
There is definitely some work involved in setting up and maintaining a VIP program, but trust that it’s worth it. Well-managed VIP programs benefit both you and the player by offering real values that reward loyal players as well as give new players aspirational goals from the get-go. You can never afford to not be actively thinking of how you can reward your players, they are king!