Monday, May 20, 2013
How to Start Your Own Virtual Pet Site
Study Virtual Pet Sites
Nearly a decade ago, my eldest daughter discovered the joy of playing virtual pet games. She would spend hours each week feeding, caring for, and taking her virtual pets through role playing games. She also saw virtual pet sites come and go. Some grew larger, and some of the virtual pet sites crumbled from internal fighting.
Listening to her talk about the fun and troubles of playing on these sites made me take a closer look at virtual pet games to see how the good ones survived and how some seemingly great ones fell under the pressure of maintaining an interactive website.
Before you decide to start your own virtual pet site, do your own research into the sites available. Play each one. Make notes about what you like and don't like about each site. What are the good ideas on each site. What annoys you. Read the forums and see what other game players are saying. Pay attention to their complaints.
Virtual Pet Site PHP Script
To start a virtual pet site, you will need a basic script, or layout, for the game. Phplug.com has a Virtual Pet Game for sale. At this time, the script is inexpensive - under $100. You customize the look and feel of the virtual pet game. You design your own pets, enemies, foods, choose attacks and defenses. The script includes an adoption center, a penny store, message board, post office, items shop, clubs, auction center, health center, and more.
Choosing a Domain Name
When choosing the name of your pet site, you will need to take domain name availability into account. You will want to get a .com domain name because most people are accustomed to typing in .com as opposed to the other domain name extensions.
Is your domain name available? Do a domain name search to see if your chosen pet site name is available. If it is, great! If not, you will need to spend time choosing a new name for your site.
Choose an Overall Look and Theme
One of the hardest parts of creating an original virtual pet site is finding a unique look. You will want to follow an overall look for your site. Start broad - will the pets be cute, weird, pretty, or scary? Could they be flower pets, vampire pets, fuzzy pets, 3-eyed pets, or pets from mythology?
You will also want to create a backstory for your pets. Do they come from a distant planet? Are they endangered fur babies, hiding from a pack of hungry monsters? Why do they need people to adopt them?
What do the pets eat? What is each pet's strength and weakness? How will the pet do battle? How will it defend itself?
A lot of planning goes into creating the plot and look of your site. It is one of the most crucial steps in creating a virtual pet site because it is the first thing that will draw users to your website.
Making Money from Virtual Pet Sites
When you first open up your game for business, you will want to make everything free for a limited time to draw in users. You could also give credits to new users accounts so that the users can get accustomed to the game and buying items in the stores.
After the initial giveaway, the website will earn an income from users buying items in the store. Many of these types of websites allow users to fund their virtual pet account with money from PayPal.com.
Other source of income can include advertising banners on the website. If you carefully created your characters, you can develop a marketing plan that includes real life toys of the pets. There's also the possibility of selling t-shirts related to the virtual pet site or allowing people to put their pets on mugs and other items and having them buy items featuring the pets the users adopted.
Avoid the Pitfalls
From observation, one of the biggest problems with poorly run virtual pet sites is infighting.If you are planning on starting a virtual pet site you must know how to react to other people's criticisms and verbal attacks in an adult and nonjudgemental fashion. Arguments carried on in forums is a major turnoff for many users. People play these sites for relaxation, not to read flamewars.
Another problem area is money. Some virtual pet sites charge way too much for the items sold in stores. Many children and teenagers play these games and it is their parents who will occasionally allow the kids to put a few dollars into the virtual pet account. If the pet items cost too much, parent's won't fund their kids online gaming and your pet site will lose users.
Finally, there is a constant need for fresh content. Users want new items for their pets and new pet designs all the time. Successful pet sites put out special seasonal items for their users. They also created limited edition items and pets and holiday items. Be prepared to create new items all the time to hold user interest.