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Whats the potential market size for your game?

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I’ve noticed a lot of people on these forums, especially beginner’s, talk about making fully blown RTS games or FPS’s or MMORPG’s, and was wondering about their validity as a shareware product. It seems that these large and complex games aren’t that well suited to being sold on the internet and that most buyers who purchase shareware online prefer simpler puzzle games or top-down shooters. Now I know people should develop a game that they consider fun and interesting, but I wonder if any developers here have thought about the real market potential of their games before they started coding? And I mean really thought about it by doing some basic research and calculations, not just saying, “yeah, my game is going to be friggin wicked, everybody is gonna buy it” I for one am actually changing my TBS to be more aligned as a puzzle/board game simply because even though I think my game will be friggin wicked, the major audience of shareware portals don’t want to play this sort of game. I don’t really want to spend years working on a complex piece of software only to have 3 people buy it, it’s not worth it, so I’m making it simpler so as to appeal to the masses. What’s your thoughts on this?

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A good point to consider, Number 6. I'm presently working through my design at the moment and it will help to think about my possible audience as I do so.

However, I guess it comes down to why you are building the game. Are you doing it primarily for the money, or are you doing it for fun? In my case, my project is really both a learning exercise and a hobby. I'll consider making it shareware but if I manage to make money (or fame) off of it at the end of the day then that's a bonus; I'll be satisfied if it just works and some people like it. Of course, the "some people like it" part ties back in to thinking about popularity again...

My philosophy is that a game made by a team that loves what they are doing will in general be better than one made by one working purely for the money. However, you still have to consider what other people want in a game so you aren't just developing for yourselves. And of course, if you are a small group, just trying to ape what the big companies are doing is a recipe for commercial failure. So I guess some sense of what the market will buy is useful.

Ah, I'm rambling now; maybe I'll be thinking clearer if I stop staring at a monitor for a while!

Edit: Hey, 6, since you've been looking into this, what sort of games do well these days as shareware?

[Edited by - Trapper Zoid on July 28, 2005 12:00:21 AM]

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Actually, in my opinion, the best selling games and therefore the most profitable are simple 2D point and click games that don’t appeal to any one particular group of people. What I mean is that they aren’t designed to be played by guys aged between 18 & 30 or middle aged women, but rather appeal to both sexes and of all ages.

Although game play is obviously the most important aspect of a game, to induce large numbers of downloads you need attractive screenshots of your game. Here I’ve noticed that all these successful games use large cartoony graphics that aren’t gender specific. These games don’t include tanks and guns and blood, because that alienates the females and equally doesn’t include flowers, kittens and makeup utensils because, (most), guys don’t want to play with those sort of things. Themes such as food, wealth, (Diamonds, Gold, Money), and the manipulation of geometric shapes, (Tetris, Breakout, Cards etc), seem to be the most popular.

Diner Dash, as was recently reported, has sold 50,000+ copies of the game to date. This is basically an updated version of several other “match the food to the customer” type games like Wild West Wendy, Betty’s Beer Bar and Pizza Frenzy.

These themes don’t sound inspiring to me and I’m sure they don’t to anyone else reading this, but go have a look at the download numbers on CNET for your favourite genre of game. Then match it against the total downloads for Snood in the Puzzle section, (which incidentally is almost 3 Million dl’s !!).

So, if you are writing your shareware game in the hope to make a profit, it might pay to have a look at how popular you game will really be before finishing it.

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I think about the people (in terms of demographics profile) whom I feel the game would appeal to, obtain estimates of those people in thousands of prospects, and calculate market penetration and cost of sales and retention costs from there.

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Quote:
Original post by 6
Actually, in my opinion, the best selling games and therefore the most profitable are simple 2D point and click games that don’t appeal to any one particular group of people. What I mean is that they aren’t designed to be played by guys aged between 18 & 30 or middle aged women, but rather appeal to both sexes and of all ages.


That's what I was thinking too. I'm presently designing a fantasy-themed Sim-style game, but with a little bit of tweaking I can probably aim for a more mass appeal audience, although the graphics might be a bit out of my reach.

Quote:

So, if you are writing your shareware game in the hope to make a profit, it might pay to have a look at how popular you game will really be before finishing it.


I've had a look at some of the download figures on CNET (is there a place where you can see the purchase rates rather than the dowload rates?). I'm wondering: is there a web-page or other resource that has a summary of basic market research for what types of games different demographics like or hate? I've read a lot of stuff where people write things like "People with characteristics X and of age Y like games that contain elements of Z", but most of these seem to be from common wisdom rather than actual research.

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