Last post, I promised to share my very embarrassing mockups. This is that post!

My idea for the game is pretty straightforward. Over the years of running Stunning, I’ve found that many people start subscription businesses without even knowing what failed payments are. They are so excited that they’ve found people who will pay them that they don’t think about the inevitable payment issues down the road. I want for the game to teach people:

  • That failed payments are a problem which, unchecked can kill your entire business
  • How the failed payment recovery process works
  • How some failed payment recovery methods are more effective than others
  • That some failed payments will never be recoverable (emails bounce, people go on vacation, messages are intentionally ignored, etc)

And I want it to be fun enough that people will learn all of this while being distracted because they’re having a blast!

This is what I sent to Scott, one of the developers of the game:

Hey Scott!

I grabbed some clip art and tried drawing my ideas for the game. Please excuse the terrible writing/drawing. Hopefully you can get the gist.

The enemy in the game is the Churn Beast. He starts off cute and small,  but over time he consumes enough failed payments that he grows bigger and bigger and takes up the whole screen unless you recover them before he can eat them. You can never actually defeat him, but you can keep him small (which is the same in business).

Your weapons are the failed payment communications (generic dunning emails, custom dunning emails, dunning smses and in-app notifications. just like in real life, each one works better than the last, so in the game you’ll shoot/throw the dunning messages at the failed payments, and depending on which one you shoot/throw, you’ll have a better chance of turning it green. Shooting/hitting a failed payment with a notification won’t automatically recover the failed payment, because in some cases customers receive emails/notifications but don’t act. The churn beast can only eat the red (failed) ones. If you successfully turn one green, the main dollar amount goes up and it disappears.

I’m thinking that there will be 5 levels. Each level will last a predetermined amount of time, and there will be a corresponding timeline that moves through 5 years, so we can show that time is passing in the business. Credit cards come in from the top on a conveyor belt or something. Some of them are successful, and the main dollar amount goes up. Some of them fail, get thrown out of the machine and start bouncing around the screen. The churn beast will eat them if you don’t recover them, and he’ll get bigger.

Level 1: We’ll tell the player what the controls are, but then when they try to play it, we tell them that they can’t do anything, because they don’t have any failed payment (dunning) emails in place. They just have to watch the churn beast get bigger and bigger and kill their business.

In each subsequent level, you get more powerful notifications to send your customers, and it’s easier to keep the churn beast small.

Here’s what I sent to Scott:

See? Pretty bad, but the concept is already there.

Scott replied:

This all makes sense. I’m glad to see you’ve thought through your concept so much. I have some specific questions floating around in my head like “By what mechanic do we ‘apply’ the dunning” and “Does the Churn Beast explicitly go after failed payments or just ambulate like a DVD screensaver and it happens ‘coincidentally'”. Stuff like that. But this sounds doable. I love the idea of designing the beast at a few different stages, that sounds fun.

I’d like to have a chat with you at some point soon and hear your thoughts. I’d like to more tightly define what our goals are going to be, so I can better estimate our time and needs and get you a budget and timeline.

I was hoping that it would make sense, so this was great to hear. The next step: definining the features/gameplay, etc so that they could give us a quote. I’ll talk about that next time!

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