What successful game developers do differently

What is the best thing that you remember about your childhood? Candy floss, the bicycle, colony park or Pinball, Dave and Mario. Over the past decades, childhood pleasures have evolved from candies to simple games to the complex ones that we play today; the game audience has also evolved from just kids to adults. I remember playing Snakes and Ladders with my grandmother as a kid, but something tells me that my kids would play multiplayer video games with their grandparents.

Game development has definitely evolved to being a hot career today; but apart from being a career it is passion, people are putting in a lot of effort in making the entire experience a pleasant one. The origin of video games dates back to the simulation of chess in 1948 that was never actually implemented on a computer, and we have come quite a long way since then.There is a multitude of developers building thousands of games each day. Indie game developers to big gaming houses, everyone is putting their sweat and money in making the gaming experience better and the industry more competitive. Users, on the other hand, have diversified too, kids are no more the only target audience. People like me are more than happy to dive in that bean bag and go on for hours.

What is your favourite game? FIFA, Need for Speed, Simpsons, Candy Crush or something else? I just love the good old Mario, and if I crave for some graphics then ‘Fallout 4’ is my favorite companion. There are other games too, that grab my attention intermittently but it is worth thinking why there are a few games that take the market by storm and others just stay unnoticed in the deep abyss of different app stores and digital distribution platforms.

What does it take to be the next big game, the next Angry Birds or Candy Crush? Just as in any other business, consumer acceptance is the key to success, the same holds good for game development too. So, it makes sense to study the users and understand what makes a game widely adopted

1. Focus on neuroeconomics or know what the audience wants and if it is feasible:
As it is rightly said, well begun is half done. A good concept is a great start to a good game. But the toughest aspect of game development lies in deciding what to build. To find the answer to this, one has to closely study what the consumers want. Successful game developers apply game neuroeconomics to decide the concept of their game. Game neuroeconomics combines neuroscience and economics to make the prediction of the utility of game design and its elements, easy. The prediction and modification of consumer behavior also get easy when neuro economically augmented and interactive media products are used.

Most of the game developers are hiring very smart people who reverse engineer successful products i.e take an example of previously successful games, find out what makes them successful and copy the formula or improvise upon it. It is a smart idea but mostly unsuccessful, mainly because the right approach is not being followed. The right approach would be to find out what the consumers really want and not what they like in the existing products.

2. Monetize the right elements: Successful game developers understand that a good game will earn them money and they don’t need monetizing measures that in essence, drive the consumers away. Following are some wise things they do to extract some money out of the game:

  • Include some In-app ads but make sure that they don’t intervene with gameplay.
  • Provide interesting additions but make sure they don’t affect gameplay. For ex: Choice of characters, clothing, weapons etc.
  • Never give the idea of paying to win because everyone plays for fun and winning generates a sense of achievement that doesn’t come from paid victory.
  • Ask for donations (Trust us, if they like the game they will donate to make it better.)

3. Effective Branding: Be it for indie developers or game companies, one thing that makes a
successful game is good branding. They may hire marketing pros or take care of the
branding themselves, following are certain things that have been observed from success
stories in terms of branding:

  • Successful game developers are true to the audience, they never portray the company as what it is not. An Indie developer branding their game as a large company release can be a sure formula of failure. The game will itself speak for its quality, a fancy branding that boasts a lie will not go a long way.
  • Advertisements should be centered on what makes the game unique and not the attractions of the genre.
  • Don’t aim at temporary attention by branding using buzzwords.

4. Work beyond the core competency: Your core competency may be programming but that doesn’t rule out the need of good graphic design in the game. Successful game developers make the best out of their skills and take help from other experts to fill in for the areas they are not good at. People across domains are involved in the process of game development viz. designer, artist, programmer, level designer, sound engineer, tester. All these roles are interdependent and it is essential for all of them to work in synchrony in order to achieve desired results.

Every evening when I am playing games after work, my mum would shout and say that I’d hurt my eyes and that she doesn’t understand what pleasure I get out of shooting animated characters. My simple answer is stress relief. In these times of growing stress, all I need is entertainment and I am sure others would agree Entertainment needs lie at the center of the play and purchase of games and hence the sustenance of the game industry. I am more likely to choose entertainment over food and so would be other people like me. Game markets are thus sure to strive and take larger shares in consumer budgets owing to the rise in stress levels across people. It is thus a great idea to take your game development skills a notch higher and to also take care of the other aspects in order to be the next sensation in the gaming world.

About the Author

Smriti Tuteja
Smriti is a content freak who loves anything tech. At HackerEarth, you can find her educating everyone about the latest happenings in the tech industry, sometimes against their will.