One of the most important decisions to be made at the beginning of development is to choose carefully what kind of game you want to make. A wise decision can significantly increase your chances of success, whilst a bad decision can lead to two years of work down the drain.
This is why Eugene Yailenko, Creative Director at ZeptoLab, used his public talk at the F2P Campus in Vitoria-Gasteiz to give a few tips on how to choose what game to make.
In his experience, after designing games like C.A.T.S., King of Thieves and Cut the Rope 2, three things must be taken into account when deciding what game to make:
What the team wants to do
Developing a videogame (especially if it’s ambitious) is a marathon in which you will come across all kinds of obstacles. The team has to be passionate about the project; if not, it’s very possible that the game won’t work.
What the team is good at
If things aren’t going well or the game doesn’t end up working, maybe the problem is that the team isn’t doing what they’re really good at. Maybe the genre, the mechanics, the business model etc. is not right. In these situations, it’s a good idea to change course and try something different.
What the market wants
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, when deciding what game to make you have to think about whether or not it has a place in the market. “A lot of indies start making a game and put all their effort in without really knowing if the market wants a title like that,” Yailenko said in his talk.
For these situations it’s usually helpful to use tools such as Facebook Audience Insights or Steam Spy to check how big the audience of a certain type of game might be.
With the level of saturation in the market today it’s very important that your game is not the same as all the rest; if it has nothing to differentiate it, it won’t easily attract players’ attention. “At ZeptoLab we’re known for making unique games, but we have to be very careful because sometimes a title can be so different that nobody wants to play it. Especially when you mix genres,” he pointed out.
For this reason, it’s really important to learn how to communicate what makes your game special in a single phrase and in a GIF. From there you can make interesting copy and videos.
What else can I do to increase my chances of success?
In addition, during his talk Eugene Yailenko also gave some tips for increasing a game’s chances of success:
- Go cross-platform.
- Try making a paid game. The line between pay-to-play and free-to-play games is increasingly blurred, thanks to big content updates and ‘game as a service’ strategies which aim to encourage word of mouth.
- Create a game that can be played in the long term and is, as Jason Rohrer recommends, an ‘infinite unique situation generator’.