Zynga Poker had been around for a decade when I joined. In addition to live-ops feature work, I explored new ways to increase the emotional impact of the game.
“Grand Entrance” was a feature I designed to increase social drama and reinforce prestige.
The execution was simple. As new players joined the table, they would be heralded with effects corresponding to their League.
Another social feature I championed was a simple emoji picker.
We knew players wanted more in-game social interaction, but the existing chat tools were too heavy for use during a fast-paced game. I explored several versions, more and less thematic, but either way facilitating quick communication at a simple, emotional level.
Another feature I designed was expanding the existing Lucky Bonus slot machine to be a major retention driver.
Initially our push to increase daily retention centered around adding a daily Login Calendar. That's a fine midcore staple, but it doesn't hold up as well in Poker, where we have very few reward types. We already had the under-developed Lucky Bonus slot machine greeting players every day with a drip of free (virtual) cash and a mild retention ramp-up – why not build that out instead?
The idea was simple. Progress through a serious of more and more premium slot machines by logging in consecutively over weeks and months, dropping back if days are missed. The value is evident; with a viscerally exciting variety of skins, this is the crux of slot machines across the world.
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