Like the process of creating a unique-ish game idea wasn’t already a mammoth task! Market saturation of the indie game industry is not going to change any time soon and as great as that is for the gaming community in general (more games) – it can be quite daunting to developers looking to penetrate the market with a successful, marketable title.
When we started working on A.W.I.T.T(Are We In This Together?), it was all about the idea, the mechanics – building a core to start from and we sort of dove right into the process of making it, until I realized : It’s not enough that you have a good idea. You need to see if your game stands up to industry standards, or if its another title that gets lost in the wind after months and months of painstakingly hard production time.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by market research and more so – it’s easy to get demotivated as well because you start to realize what your true competition is and it can be a lot to take in. Here’s the advantage though – you’re going in prepared, you’re asking the important questions early on and that means you’re thinking of solutions to future problems before you design the game. (Note: Market Research should never really “stop” per say, you need to keep up with trends, check what’s popular, be aware of important game news – become a mini game guru, but MOST of your market research should be done before any game department starts production, somewhere in the conceptualization phase!)
Below are several of the questions we asked ourselves and they’re pretty varied, however they gave us a good spring board into ideas that needed more tweaking and thought.
- Which games are similar to ours and why? List.
- How are similar games priced in the market?
- What is the main action element of similar games?
- What is our game’s unique selling points?
- What is the strongest theme in our game?
- How big is our game scope- in terms of content like Characters / Locations?
- Are all elements in the game fully available, or are there unlockable elements?
- What is our games main objective? Will we have several objectives?
- What is the recommended retail price for our game and why?
- Do elements in our game have customization?
- Are we designing this game in a way that allows for future content for some kind? If so, what kind of content would this be?
- How long is an average playthrough of our game?
- List all the physical actions a player can do in our game.
- Based on the questions above – Do we need to look for more artists/ programmers/ designers/ writers etc?
- Which game is the standard we WANT to be compared against, in terms of game quality? Why?
- If the game was critqued badly, are there any elements we can forsee already? If so, what is our gameplan to improve those elements?
- Does our game have a levelling system? If so, how does that effect our current gameplay ideas?
- Do we want to take part in a competition with this title? If so, which category would we contend in?
The list went on like this and delved deeper and deeper into gameplay elements. It’s kind of like playing 20 questions with your title. If your game can’t answer these questions confidently, then chances are you shouldn’t get started on production without staying in conceptualization a little longer!
Here’s the main thing. If you can’t sell your game to your own team – forget about selling it to the gaming community. There will always be a certain amount of unpredictability in the market, however there’s something to be said amount doing your homework, rather than going in blind!
Do your research and do it often.
You owe it to your development team and your game title!
Amina Khalique | Technical Director
Bradley Widner | Game Designer