Dear Jesus, Won't You Fund My Video Game Start-up?

First, let me thank you Jesus for hearing my video game company pitch. 

Video Game Company Startup

It wasn't easy getting your Sand Hill Road address but I appreciate you making time for a meeting.

I figure, with you being the Lord and omniscient, you've probably heard about the whole real life as a video game design thing. The idea that we can use video game mechanics to make everything from buying toothpaste to filing your taxes to exercising a part of a big game design that you get points for.

Well, here's my pitch to you Jesus:

World of Churchcraft.

Here on my first powerpoint slide, we can see the addressable market and I think you'll agree between Jews, Christians, Muslims Buddhists, Zoroastrians, it's a darn big opportunity. But currently your market is fragmented. I mean, I don't think even a Presbyterian could tell you how they're different from an Episcopalian. And don't get me started on the whole Shiite-Sunni-Sufi thing. What I'm saying is that this is a market poised for disruption.

And that's where we come in with World of Churchcraft

Now, in this presentation, I'm focusing on the Catholics. But everything I'm talking about can be applied to other segments as well.

Now with Catholicism, let's face it - you've got an acquisition and retention problem with your product. And that's where better game mechanics can make all the difference.

Look at your Clergy class. It is seriously underpowered. You give up a lot of perqs other classes get for free and the talents don't make up for it. I mean, "transubstantiation"? Sure, it looks cool in the skill tree - but when you're raiding on a Satuday night, what does it get you? And it's way over-priced - you gotta plow a LOT of your skill points into it. You need a total re-spec. Sure, a lot of people will cry "nerf" - but they'll get over it. I got proposals for new prestige classes you can only unlock if you level up as a Priest or Nun. And we tailor to appeal to both a Western and Asian market. The Japanese are going to totally dig Robo-Nun.

Okay, I tell you're not totally sold on that one - but we've got a lot other game design ideas. We haven't even talked about achievements and unlockables. Help an old lady across the street, earn a badge. Help 10 old ladies, earn a better badge. Help Mother Teresa across the street (she's a very rare spawn), you earn an unlockable item of clothing that you can use to customize your avatar, er, I mean, yourself.

And on the flip side, if people get an experience point debt from committing sins - they'll complain and whine about it, but it's also going to be a serious disincentive for bad behavior.

Now, let's talk about your viral marketing. The Mormons and Scientologists have some great ideas we can build on. Get a convert and earn points towards going to Heaven or Xenu or whatever. But what we've got to do is let people brag a little. We publish a Leaderboard of who's getting into Heaven based on their current score and it's updated in realtime. That kind of competition is really addictive to gamers. But we want to make sure to break the Leaderboard into Leagues as well, so people can compete with their friends. I mean, you know there's no way you're ever going dislodge MasterPriest47 from the number 1 spot on the global leaderboard - but maybe you can beat your next door neighbor Stan. Every league represents it's own little Heaven - and the people that finish the game at the top of the leaderboard get the best place in their Blue Heaven. You finish in the 50th spot in your league, you're going to spend eternity polishing the Halo of number 1.

Now, speaking of your end game, the whole Afterlife thing. The problem here is that people can't see it when they're low level newbs. It's just too far off and so they drop out and stop playing. You got to minimize that churn. How do we get people to invest in the Afterlife? Simple - we have them start leveling their characters now. Believe me, if I've plowed a few hundred hours into leveling up Afterlife Sean, you can bet I won't want to lose that investment. And I tell you, if we put in a housing mechanism and maybe some customizable pets to maintain, you'll be amazed at the conversion rates we'll get.

So how do we monetize the whole thing? That's the easiest part - the Church had the idea ages ago. We bring back the indulgences. You want to get out of the sin you just committed? You gotta spend your Karma points to buy off the debt. We sell 100 Karma points for $19.95 or 500 for $89.95. If you want, we can try some differential pricing models for the packages - try 10 Karma points for two bucks to get people to try it out. We can let 'em use PayPal or go through Facebook (but that's 30 percent off the top for them - and that's a lot of sin wages, my friend)

Okay, so I'll leave the business plan with you - it's got all the numbers and projections. I don't want to sound too cocky but our valuation in five years should make a game company like Zynga look like, well, a bunch of video game designers who couldn't hack it on a Nintendo DS. 

Now, if you'll excuse me, I gotta run - I have a meet with Sequoia, Kleiner-Perkins, Benchmark, Andreesson-Horowitz, etc. this afternoon. Now, I tell ya - talk about some guys that really think they can walk on water....

- Sean Dugan is a video game designer who really hopes he's not going to H-E-double-hockey sticks for this one....

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1 comment:

  1. To paraphrase "Pascal's Wager": you can't play the endgame unless you level up your character.
    Religions are rather like MMOs already, in that you can only really get away with "leveling up" in just one of the major religions/MMOs (although for different reasons, as one takes up all your time and money and the other... ok, they're pretty similar). Unlike MMOs, religions currently suffer from the drawback that you devote your whole life trying to get to the endgame, but you don't know if the endgame even exists for any of them (nor which one, nor if it's even worth the effort if it exists). I mean, really! You spend your whole life grinding away only to be disappointed by a non-existant or badly designed endgame? That's a serious design flaw that your proposal neatly addresses.