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  • 06/26/19 10:36 PM

    A Guide to DIY Market Research for Indie Game Devs

    Business and Law

    Level Up Translation

    A Guide to Market Research for Indie Game Devs

     

    Ah, market research. Just seeing those words probably sent shivers down your spine. Market research for indie game devs is often your worst nightmare. But it doesn’t have to be!

    There are plenty of free resources available online for indie studios that can’t afford to hire a professional market research team and need some DIY guidance. Follow the guide!

     

    Article outline

    1. The role of market research
    2. What market research tells you about your localization needs
    3. DIY market research strategies
    4. Free resources for video game market research

     

    The crucial role of market research for indie game developers

    If you’re still unsure of what defines market research, it can be summed up as a compilation of data about games, trends, player interests, and forecasts for the industry. It’s basically everything you need to ensure you’re making the right game for the right people at the right time.

    As an indie game developer, your best route to success in this increasingly saturated market is to find a niche audience and then leverage this niche.

    It’s no longer good enough to make a great game that just anyone will like and then launch it in the hope that it will make waves.

    releaseTheKracken.gif

     

    Does a market opportunity currently exist for the game you want to make? And how can you leverage this opportunity? If an opportunity does indeed exist, you need to know the size of your potential audience and understand what they’re interested in.

    That’s what market research is for.

    Doing market research mitigates the risk that’s often associated with indie game development and allows you to identify the needs of your audience - so that you can deliver the kickass game that they crave.

    It takes the guesswork out of figuring out the unique selling point of your game.

    Plus, if you’re looking for funding, as Robert DellaFave explains in his guide to funding indie games, you’ll most likely need a market analysis just to be considered.

    But most importantly, market research is the most reliable source of insight for your localization needs. And when starting a new indie game project, you should always have localization in mind.

     

    What market research tells you about your localization needs

    Your game’s localization should be carefully planned - don’t just localize in a certain language because you feel like it’s a good idea!

    First off, market research will help you figure out where in the world your audience is located. Do the players from these areas prioritize localization in the games they play?

    For instance, Brazilian players list localization as the 4th most important criteria when shopping for their next game. This means that if your key audience is in Brazil, you’ll probably need to localize for Brazilian Portuguese.

    purchasing_games.png

    Source: Pesquisa Game Brasil 2016

     

     

    Secondly, you need to know the English level of your players. If this level is low, they probably won’t buy your game unless it’s localized in their language. And if they do end up buying your game, this could result in negative reviews.

    You should also note that not all languages have the same localization costs. Let’s take Scandinavian languages as an example - they’re quite expensive to localize, which means you should be 100% sure you have a large audience in these countries before planning to localize.

    This is especially important when you consider that the Scandinavian market is relatively small and that English proficiency is generally excellent.

    Global ranking of English language proficiency by country and region

    Source: English Proficiency Index 2018

     

    As another example, consider the Japanese market, which is much bigger than the Scandinavian market.

    Even considering the relatively low English proficiency and huge audience available in Japan, the language is relatively expensive for localization, so your market research should help you work out whether your game meets the Japanese gamers’ preferences or not.

    By figuring out all these key facts, you’ll know which languages you should include in your localization plan. Proper market research helps you plan out localization in advance and establish an accurate budget.

     

    Market research strategies for indie game developers

    Now that we’re pretty clear on the importance of market research, how do we get started?

    Here’s what we’ve found to be the most helpful for indie devs.

     

    1. Find out where your community hangs out online

    Most gaming niches have vibrant online communities. Do some research and find out where your chosen community hangs out.

    Reddit is a good resource for this. With endless sub-reddit forums available for discussion, there are all sorts of nooks and crannies to help interact with your potential community.

    Reddit's different communities can help to find your audience

     

    Once you’ve found out where this community hangs out, get to know them! Spend some time reading through forum comments and get to know their style. What features do they like in a game? What don’t they like?

    Often, you’ll see passionate community members discussing the drawbacks of certain features of a game they would otherwise enjoy. These discussions provide you with valuable insights into what your market does - and doesn't - want.

     

    2. Poke the forums

    Of course, you won’t necessarily be able to find out everything you need to know by reading what’s already on the forums.

    Asking open-ended questions on these forums will help you gain a sense of your community’s opinion(s).

    For instance, you could ask them what they would improve in their favorite game, or what localization options they feel are missing from other games in this niche.

     

    3. Read through the Community Hub on Steam

    The forums found in the Community Hub section for Steam games are an excellent source of market data - especially considering those forums are chock-full of early access games! This means you can look through Steam to find games that share some points in common with yours, and browse through the community discussions to view feedback quite early on in the development process.

    Steam's communities can be a good place to research similar games

     

    Most online forums harbor discussions surrounding games that have already been released. This is what sets apart the Community Hub on Steam.

    Be sure to check out game reviews as well - they can tell you a lot about what elements of a game work or don’t work for a particular set of players.

     

    4. Send surveys

    What better way to find out specific information than to send surveys?

    There are plenty of free tools available, like SurveyMonkey and Google Forms. Surveys can provide you with both qualitative and quantitative data to help you analyze your market.

     

    5. Get out there - go to conventions

    Let’s exit the online world for a second and talk about conventions.

    hands.png

     

    Gaming conventions and other industry gatherings are the largest live gatherings of the gaming community. No doubt many of your target players will be found hanging out at such meeting places.

    Spend some time at these conventions and try to meet potential fans of your game. Take this opportunity not just to spread awareness about your company, but also to ask questions and find out the needs of your target players.

     

    6. Build buyer personas

    To gain a fuller understanding of what your ideal player looks like, spend some time building buyer personas.

    SociallyCompetitiveSamantha.png

    Source: Indie Game Girl

     

    Buyer personas are detailed representations of who your target player is as a person - they detail age, occupation, playing habits, the types of games they purchase, what influences their purchasing decisions, their common frustrations with games, and so on.

    You can build these personas based on your research - it’s also a good idea to interview those people who fit the description of your persona to validate the facts you’ve gathered.

    By building a buyer persona, you’re essentially creating a list of factors you, as a developer, need to consider if you want your game to be a success.

     

    Free online resources for indie market research

    SteamSpy

    This resource extrapolates data from Steam users and presents it in easily digestible formats.

    Although it isn’t free per se, it’s quite cheap - and you can become a patron via Patreon and get access to their complete database.

    You should note, though, that SteamSpy isn’t 100% accurate anymore since Valve changed their privacy policy. Nonetheless, it does provide a good starting point for player stats!

    SuperData

    SuperData has loads of data and reports that are available for free!

    For instance, you can get their 2018 Year in Review or sign up for a free live webinar.

    This gives you solid insight into the current overall trends in the industry.


    Indie Game Girl

    Emmy Jonassen provides plenty of free information on her blog, “Indie Game Girl.”

    She also has downloadable resources, like her buyer persona template and a bunch of other buyer persona-related blog posts.

     

    Newzoo

    Newzoo is an awesome hub of valuable info!

    Their blog provides free and up-to-date trends about the games market.

    But their free info goes way beyond blog posts - they also have white papers, trend reports, rankings infographics, key numbers for market estimates and forecasts, and videos.

    Newzoo can be a helpful source of information

     

    Wrapping it up

    Market research doesn’t have to be that dreadful task or onerous service you’re making it out to be.

    For indie game devs who are willing to roll up their sleeves and get digging, there are plenty of free resources available to save you loads of time for your research.

    And seeing as appropriate market research can make the difference between a successful game and a flop, you should definitely take advantage of these resources!

     

    Figured out which localization options you need for your game? Get in touch and tell us about your game!

     

    ---

    Level Up Translation offers specialized video game localization services. Our small team of seasoned game translators delivers kickass localized versions of your indie or AAA games in 20+ languages.

    Website | Twitter

     

    Note: This article was originally posted on the Level Up Translation blog, and is republished here with the kind permission of the author.



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      ---
      Akupara Games is an indie game studio based in Los Angeles, California. Composed of veterans of the game industry, Akupara Games focuses their energy and resources as an "indie for indies" studio by providing premier support to other indie studios through development, publishing, porting, and advising. Their mission statement ensures that each project receives a unique experience and personalized support.
      Website | Discord
       
      Note: This article was originally posted on the Akupara Games website, and is reproduced here with the kind permission of the author.
       
       
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      Preparing Questions
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      Which conventions do you go to? Do you cover the cost of the travel, hotel, booth, and swag for conventions? Who will be showcasing at conventions – the publisher, developer, or both? Translation & Porting
      Do you support multi-platform releases? Who handles porting to other platforms? Which languages will you support for our title?  
      Specialties 
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      Nightdive Studios has built up a reputation for themselves for bringing back lost games that are no longer available by acquiring the rights to re-release, remaster, and update them for modern platforms. Their audiences can expect to see older games like those of the System Shock series of the 1990’s, which have greatly influenced the horror and first-person shooter genre.
       
      Other Games Released
      Being able to look at their catalog of other games, you will have a good sign of what their successes are like Their other games will individually have their own following of players, so this is something that can used to your advantage Similar to genre, publishers should have dedicated efforts to creating a community among their player base that will allow for a good starting point in releasing a new title
      A great contribution to Overcooked’s exposure was at E3 2016 when publisher Team17 placed the game’s booth next to their most anticipated title of the convention – Yooka-Laylee. Everyone came to see the game everyone knew about, but were easily pulled in to see the game no one knew about.
       
      Single vs. Multiplayer
      As with many of the previous points, does the publisher you’d like to work with have the experience to release your game if it’s multiplayer, especially online multiplayer? Multiplayer games require maintaining and engaging with a community of players more frequently and consistently Single player games may have bug fixes and occasional DLC added, but multiplayer games will require live-ops support, long after launch  
      Stream-ability
      Some publishers care about whether a game is consumable for streaming With the increasing presence of online influencers, the success of games are often affected by streaming influencers Does the publisher advise on integration with streaming, and make an effort to have their developers create plugins or extensions that work with Twitch or Mixer?
      In the release of tinyBuild’s game, Punch Club, this publisher capitalized on Twitch and its chat function to give users a task: beat the game before it can be released. Coupled with a concurrent stream to race to the end, Punch Club secured featuring on Twitch.
       
      Development – Their Involvement
      You know best about your game and the team behind it; it’s vital for you to be aware and upfront about what you can and can’t successfully handle on your own in development. If you must outsource development needs to a publisher, you will definitely need to look into publishers who are able to offer you those skills whether through their own team or hiring the right people for you.
       
      Publisher is Hands-On with Development
      This is a great option if you are a small team full of talent, but you may be missing some key elements If this is your first foray into the industry, you may want to consider a publisher who can assist with advising and shaping your game A strong publisher will have a toolbox of knowledge, resources, and contacts to ensure the success of your product A hands-on publisher may work very closely with you along the way in how they see it necessary, offering suggestions or changes Perhaps you are set on the programming of the game, but only have placeholder art assets, and need a visual facelift From art, to programming, to sound, to almost anything in development, the right publisher will be able to fill in the gaps in your team
      In our own case, Akupara Games was responsible for the programming overhaul, addressing existing bugs, porting to mobile devices, and recomposing and recording all of the audio for Keep in Mind: Remastered.
       
      Publisher is Hands-Off with Development
      For a developer that feels comfortable with where their game is at, but just needs the support of a publisher to take the game to market, this is just as practical The publisher will still provide standard support and marketing efforts to get your game’s name out there This allows for the developer to maintain the most creative integrity This is great for those who are very sure of their creation and would not want external influence  
      Approach
      Not every publisher works the same way. Just like how not every developer needs the same things from a publisher. Consider what methods a publisher may use in your campaign to help inform your decision.
      Custom Campaigns
      One-of-a-kind campaign that is unique and tailored to what makes your game stand out You can expect efforts to pay back in dividends as publishers may offer up some out-of-the-box ideas that will have people talking about your game The downside is these often take chances, which may not always pan out Standard Campaigns
      Looking through a publisher’s portfolio of titles and their associated campaigns, you may feel that nothing seems like it deviated from one another However, this may be a useful indication of what you can exactly expect with your campaign You’ll be hard-pressed to find a developer who goes out of their way to seek out a publisher who will only do a standard campaign. However, as the developer, this is something you will need to weigh the importance of.
       
      Long-Term Relationship
      This section is really case-by-case for you developers out there. You will need to ask yourself if you’re looking for a publisher that is strictly business, or one which you can see developing a good long-term relationship in the future that may extend outside of just business and work. Do you want your publisher to see you as just a client, or do you want something that goes the extra mile? Perhaps if you’re lucky, you will find that special publisher that you will keep coming back to, project after project. Let’s talk about how to build a strong relationship.

      Publisher Raw Fury has built up a working partnership and relationship with the developer Noio since 2015 to release three games in the Kingdom series together.
       
      People
      Start off by finding a publisher who has a team of people that you get along with During initial conversations, examine what it feels like when you talk with each other Consider if you would feel comfortable candidly bringing up any concerns you may have Personality Traits
      Do your personality traits complement one another? Think about your communication styles Finding a publisher is like dating. Both parties must be willing to communicate and work together to raise the baby that is the game Offer a problem you may have and see if you agree with their response  
      Financing
      At last, we’ve arrived at one of the final things you’ll need to consider while you’re talking to your potential publishers. Money. This can be the game changer or even deal breaker. What is the role that money will be playing in the production of your game? Do you need it? If so, where is it coming from? Here are some things to think about in terms of financing in talks with a publisher.

       
      Provision
      Will the publisher offer financing? Financing can alleviate a lot of developer concerns, and help developers devote more full-time work to the game If you feel a publisher is a good fit and they don’t provide financing, but you still require it, consider other routes outside of a publisher for financing If they won’t be providing any financing, it is a fair question to ask them for any advice on how to acquire what you need In fact, while a publisher may not provide financing, they may be able to provide the resources and services you need to acquire them Should You Accept?
      Consider the downside of accepting financing A publisher requires a larger revenue, often with a recoup up front If you need a little more information on this topic, definitely take the time to check out my first article in the series, where it outlines and expands on financing.
       
      Conclusion
      We’ve covered the jumping off points for thinking about your game from a business standpoint, so now it’s time for you to start working towards finding the best publisher for you.
      Hopefully after this you’ll be able to identify a list of publishers who could fit your needs!
      In our final article in our game publishing series, we’ll talk about actually pitching your game to publishers in – “What Publishers Look for in Games”.
      If you have any questions after reading this, or feel something is missing, let us know on social media @AkuparaGames on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Discord.
       
      ---
      Akupara Games is an indie game studio based in Los Angeles, California. Composed of veterans of the game industry, Akupara Games focuses their energy and resources as an "indie for indies" studio by providing premier support to other indie studios through development, publishing, porting, and advising. Their mission statement ensures that each project receives a unique experience and personalized support.
      Website | Discord
       
      Note: This article was originally posted on the Akupara Games website, and is reproduced here with the kind permission of the author.
    • By Quin
      Hi there i was just wondering if any of you make games as freelancer on upwork , fiverr etc . For me personally i tried upwork and after sending out 30 prposals i got one reply back and that  was for 80$ only for a whole game after that its been really dry and i have noticed that on these sites people tend to bid really low when it becomes useless to bid on the projects because its not even worth it for the money.So is it something i am doing wrong ? or is it just how game dev freelancing is? Also the only place where i find unity 3D jobs are on upwork and as i said its damn slow.

    • By 4P|Marc
      4Players launches Next-Generation Player Engagement Platform SCILL™:
      SCILL™ Play open beta for Android and iOS now available
       
      Hamburg, 2nd July 2019 - 4Players GmbH, a subsidiary of Marquard Media Group, has launched the open beta test of the SCILL™ Play app for Android and iOS.
      SCILL™ is an innovative second screen engagement platform that allows developers, publishers as well as players to increase the entertainment value of games sustainably and significantly. SCILL™ Play is fully customizable and lets players actively decide which goals they want to achieve next - regardless of the requirements of the existing game design. Successfully completed challenges can be rewarded with experience points, SCILL™ Coins and great prizes.
      SCILL™ Play offers beginners and hardcore players an interactive opportunity to challenge themselves and experience familiar games with new motivation. In addition, the platform offers publishers a real alternative to developing their own challenges or additional content, such as reward systems or battle passes, and thus has a positive effect on the development effort and time requirements. 
      "After an intensive development period and positive feedback during the closed test phase, we are very excited about making SCILL™ Play accessible to a broad audience during our Open Beta," says Marc Berekoven, Head of Business Development and Product Manager of the SCILL™ platform. "SCILL™ Play offers players the opportunity to experience their favorite games in a completely new way. In addition to personal challenges and rewards, the app now also has new community features: Among other things, users can form or join alliances to overcome challenges together with other players. This makes the gaming experience even more collaborative and dynamic. We look forward to the feedback from players, developers and publishers, which will help us to further improve SCILL™ Play and adapt it to the wishes of our users".
       More information and download links are available at https://www.scillgame.com.






      View full story
    • By 4P|Marc
      4Players launches Next-Generation Player Engagement Platform SCILL™:
      SCILL™ Play open beta for Android and iOS now available
       
      Hamburg, 2nd July 2019 - 4Players GmbH, a subsidiary of Marquard Media Group, has launched the open beta test of the SCILL™ Play app for Android and iOS.
      SCILL™ is an innovative second screen engagement platform that allows developers, publishers as well as players to increase the entertainment value of games sustainably and significantly. SCILL™ Play is fully customizable and lets players actively decide which goals they want to achieve next - regardless of the requirements of the existing game design. Successfully completed challenges can be rewarded with experience points, SCILL™ Coins and great prizes.
      SCILL™ Play offers beginners and hardcore players an interactive opportunity to challenge themselves and experience familiar games with new motivation. In addition, the platform offers publishers a real alternative to developing their own challenges or additional content, such as reward systems or battle passes, and thus has a positive effect on the development effort and time requirements. 
      "After an intensive development period and positive feedback during the closed test phase, we are very excited about making SCILL™ Play accessible to a broad audience during our Open Beta," says Marc Berekoven, Head of Business Development and Product Manager of the SCILL™ platform. "SCILL™ Play offers players the opportunity to experience their favorite games in a completely new way. In addition to personal challenges and rewards, the app now also has new community features: Among other things, users can form or join alliances to overcome challenges together with other players. This makes the gaming experience even more collaborative and dynamic. We look forward to the feedback from players, developers and publishers, which will help us to further improve SCILL™ Play and adapt it to the wishes of our users".
       More information and download links are available at https://www.scillgame.com.





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