When you get started in game design and dive right in, it can be a really fun and rewarding experience. You are setting out to create and share your visions with the world on a platform that you are extremely passionate about. Sure, working in a field that has created the games you have come to know and love over the years can seem surreal at first and you will be incredibly eager to get into the thick of the action to finally create your game, but one thing that should linger in the back of your mind (as long as you are looking at this as a potential career) is how to make money off of your hard work.
If you have the time and the spare money in your life and want to make games for the fun of it because it’s something you enjoy and want to experience then go for it. However, the majority of people who SERIOUSLY set out to create a video game will be massively disappointed when that game does not yield some kind of ROI (Return on Investment). So with that in your head now, instead of diving into the development side of things right off the bat, I would suggest to do a bit of Market Research before making the leap. You will be better prepared to make a game that you know people will want to play.
Professional vs Amateur
Constant effort is needed to keep up with market research. To be professional in the market, you need to have a way to interact with your fans and build a following so that word of your game travels. You need to be on top of your social media outlets and set up strategic partnerships (publishers, other development studios, etc…) to keep you on track to success. Listen to your community because if you don’t, your game has no reasonable expectation of success- unfortunately that is the harsh reality of the industry. A lot of developers look at their games as art pieces, or a way to show off their skills and experience, which is all fine and dandy but if that results in your finished work being something that the community doesn’t want or like then what was all your work for?
Is your game really for your players?
Lately I have observed a few developers that view their game as an extension of themselves and they use the game to present THEIR vision of something and not anyone else’s while at the same time calling out for fans of a particular style or genera to support that vision because it may be “new” or a “different take on an old classic.”
Those players have absolutely no obligation to do anything for you. If they take a look at your work and decide that it’s not for them then there is nothing you can do. You should have researched your market and reached out to the community for input into what THEY want to see. Your first step NEEDS to be to define the playerbase you want to target before reaching out to them. You are working for the players, they do not work for you.
Market Research needs to be FIRST!
Without market research you are essentially flying blind when it comes to the development of your game and you should be prepared for when your game does not sell at the numbers you want. There is a ton of information out there to help you out with market research and you can even get some help by looking at what others have done. Backup all your theories with data from the community and reach out to your strategic partners for some more information as to what they may know and keep continuing to research research RESEARCH while creating every aspect of your game. Research – Create the mechanics/prototype. Research – Decide on your art style. Research – Create your characters. Research – Start developing your story, etc…
At the end of the day if you do not do the research to make sure that your game is what the community wants from you then you have absolutely no reasonable expectation of success. Use the communities feedback to shape the game around your own vision. Don’t look at the community input as a way to detach your own game from yourself, look at it as a way to enhance your ideas while also letting the community decide some aspects to make the game more appealing to consume. They are paying you to play your game- they want something they get enjoyment out of. Would you play a game that doesn’t appeal to you in any way? You cannot assume your target players will play your game without some assurances they you are giving them what they want. Keep the research going constantly and use the data to your advantage to make a game your community will love and embrace (and in some cases feel they are a part of) because without the players, what have you spent all your time on?
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