How much information do you need?

I recently attempted to sign up for a game, only to find that the registration form for the game in question looked something like this:

Registration Form

Registration Form

When users first look at your game, something has to entice them – and the experience between that initial enticement and actually playing the game is what makes them sign up and play your game, instead of leaving for some other game/site.

A big part of the initial experience here is the registration form – and for most users, registering for your game is one of the last steps before they actually start playing your game – which means it’s one area where you should not be losing any prospective players.

However, no one wants to fill out a survey just so that they can try out a game – they’re registering for a game, not applying for a mortgage! Asking users for more information than is absolutely necessary in order to sign up for your game is a pointless way to increase the barrier of entry for your game, in addition to turning away anyone who feels that they should not have to give you any of their identifying information to sign up to play your game.

A lot of browsergame developers that I have talked to defend this data harvesting as being invaluable for advertisers – because by having more detailed demographic information on your users, you can attract advertiers who are looking to advertise to the demographic that is visiting your site. However, this is a shortsighted stance to take: if your users feel uneasy or frustrated by the amount of information that you require from them, it is easy enough for them to leave. And if they leave, you won’t have any demographic for advertisers – or players.

At the end of the day, I didn’t sign up for the game – and if you’re building a game that requires more information than username, password, e-mail – I won’t sign up for yours, either.

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Luke is the primary editor of Building Browsergames, and has written a large portion of the articles that you read here. He generally has no idea what to say when asked to write about himself in the third person.

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Thursday, December 4th, 2008 design
  • I even have something easier to try:
    http://www.nowhere-else.org

    You will need NOTHING to start to play, as all the registration is done inside the game itself. Try you will see.

  • jannesiera

    That all sounds intresting. But the game I'm making multies can be very damaging and abusive, so though I wouldn't necessarely need their e-mail, I'm still going to ask it.
    There is a very long topic on handeling multies on bbgamezone.
    Luke, maybe you could also write an article on this? That would be awsome!

  • Scion

    I agree that having to fill out a big questionaire just to register is definately a barrier to entry.

    One approach that i think provides a great solution but i havent seen implemented too often is described here http://mobeamer.blogspot.co...

    I would probably try to come up with a way to convert the guest account into a registered account .....so that the guest doenst loose the effort that they put in while as a guest....

    As for not asking for email....it kind of depends... with no email address you have no-way (that im aware of) to verfiy the owner of an account.

  • Scion, you're definitely right about not being able to verify the owner of
    the account - if you aren't using the user's e-mail address, you'd have to
    come up with a different way for them to verify - although I am sure that
    there are other methods out there.
    Guest accounts are a great tool for getting users into your game; there's
    virtually no barrier to entry, and by the time it comes to register they're
    already hooked.

  • I always liked UrbanDead's approach.

    Character Name & Password, that's it.

    www.urbandead.com

    of course, this does lead to a bit of a multi problem -- but who doesn't have that problem?

    Anyone have any suggestions for handling multis?

  • I'm a big fan of the 'just username and password, please' method of
    registrations as well - as long as you don't need their e-mail address, you
    shouldn't be asking for it. I actually wrote a post about this a few months
    back -
    http://buildingbrowsergames...
    .
    From what I hear, UrbanDead uses a few sophisticated algorithms for
    detecting multi-abuse - things like tracking your IP and the IP used for
    other characters in your area. From what I hear, most of the work spent on
    the game these days is actually spent refining those calculations - although
    I've never seen them.

  • jannesiera

    That's true.

  • jannesiera

    But isn't security also important?

  • Security is definitely important, but extra information like your birthday,
    country of origin, or gender isn't related to security at all - and won't do
    anything to help 'protect' your site. It's just data mining.

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Building Browsergames is a blog about browsergames(also known as PBBG's). It's geared towards the beginner to intermediate developer who has an interest in building their own browsergame.

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