How do you know whether or not your latest game idea is the one? You know, the one game that is going to make it big. The one game that will make your career in the gaming industry worth it all. I think it's safe to say that we do our best to avoid risk as much as possible. The question is, with the ecosystem of the mobile gaming world changing as fast as a speeding comet, how can you be sure that your great idea will make any kind of an impact? While I don't believe there is any perfect formula to guarantee a blockbuster every time, I do have some suggestions that may help.
Stop looking for the perfect game.
The early stages of game design start with pencil and paper. Coming up with a good idea for a fun game isn’t always easy, trying to find a perfect game idea with zero chance of failure is impossible so stop looking for it. If the only thing you ever do is keep looking until you have found the perfect game to release to the public, chances are, you will never find it.
There is hope though, sometimes we just like to make things more difficult than they need to be. Test early and test often. Create as many sketches, paragraphs and core loop diagrams as you need to. Don’t invest too much time in any one idea. If the game seems boring as a sketch then chances are no matter how you pretty it up the game will still be boring.
While it is great to accumulate a plethora of ideas the process of concepting needs to eventually come to an end. If you don’t have even one solid idea that you are willing to pursue after a reasonable time then perhaps it’s time to look into a different career. Brainstorm, create many ideas, then look through your creative inventory and pick one. Then run with it. It’s bold and it’s risky, but give it a shot. No one ever landed on the moon by just staring at it every night. Take the leap. Make a fun game!
Forget about money.
Making money is, obviously, integral to staying in business. There is definitely a time and place for working out the numbers. It needs to happen, but it needs to happen after the game is fun. Once you have wracked your brain and designed a mechanic that not only works but is fun to play then you can allow yourself to think about the best way to monetize it.
I believe that too many studios are shooting themselves in the foot because they are worried about monetization too early in the process. This is an easy trap to fall into. We need to worry about it, absolutely. First things first though, if the game isn’t fun people won’t play it and you won’t make any money no matter how many opportunities you afford the consumer. Make the game fun.
Virality is not a thing.
This is a hard sell, I know. It would be incredible if we could market our game just right and implement social features that players jump into. No matter what anyone tells you, no one has control over whether or not a game goes viral. You can’t control it and you are wasting your time and resources that should be spent on making your game more fun. The best way to make your game go viral is to stop trying to make your game go viral.
If people like something they want to tell their friends about it. This is a natural instinct that humans have. We want to share in pleasure. If something is making us feel good then we feel compelled to talk about it. If something that we experience inspires or encourages us, we naturally want to share that experience. The best way for people to share these feelings is through social media. You may be able to artificially force a type of that behavior for a little while, but eventually people will grow dull to those tricks and start sharing the things that really get them excited again.
If you really, really want to know the secret to making your game go viral it is this: Make your game an experience so incredible and heartfelt that people can’t help themselves but to talk about it. Make your game fun.
Make it fun.
You probably noticed by now that there is really only one secret to all of this. A game needs to be fun. It really is that simple! This fact should give those of us who design games hope. I get excited about creating a game that other people may find enjoyable. I hope that my next game will be just that! I don’t need to top the charts or become a ba-jillionaire, I just want to make fun games that teach people something. Whether that something is a new way of thinking, or a new way of looking at the real world is irrelevant to me.
In the last few years many games have been released upon the world that have proven that there really is no such thing as a perfect formula that creates success in the gaming industry. A game doesn’t need social integration, level maps, timers, daily rewards or gems in order to be successful.
It only needs to be fun.
Go make a fun game! (:
~ Jeff Dehut