Sign in to follow this  

David and Goliath, how do you compete with a game giant.

This topic is 1767 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

I typically see this as trying to find niches that game giants or other popular games do not cover.  

Like don't build an RTS that has only a subset of features as Starcraft, but instead focus it around things they don't have, such as underwater, and underground uses, or long range rockets, or AI based robot attacks, where you set a mission, but then lose control of the robot until it completes its task and returns.  

 

But the general idea is to make sure that you'll be able to market your game by focusing on these differences, instead of advertising things that someone else already does.  

 

That is my take on it, what else is there?  As a David, what are your concerns with Goliath game giants as competition?  How do you deal with that?  

 

Thanks

 

I guess this could be more generalized as suggestions on how to make a David Survive and Thrive?

Edited by Dan Violet Sagmiller

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But the general idea is to make sure that you'll be able to market your game by focusing on these differences, instead of advertising things that someone else already does.

 

This is cruel and painfull reality of game making business. You are supposed to have at least one unique feature in your game, no matter how small. If you don't have something like this your game will fall in generic pile of games. In my oppinion today you don't really have much space to maneuver and make something unique, but you should.

 

Sure you can buy goliath's game-engine to get you started but, unique feature problem remains. Sometimes it is enough to make your game fun in some way to distinguish your self from the others.

 

In case of StarCraft 2 marketing, where you could see only CGI trailers and no actual gameplay, that shows something unique. There isn't much originallity in the game but it is fun to play anyway.

 

As long as your game appears fun people will buy it and play it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You can do this for example by setting your game in a particular village or making the game about a particular hobby or niche group activity

 

This is a good point, and I could see it working.  I also skimmed your blog, and saw this:

Tell  that group about the game on their forums, their niche news sites, and  their hideouts. Just to make this clear - these are NOT gaming groups or  game genre groups. These are just niche hobby or niche interest groups -  because remember pretty much everybody is a gamer now.

 

While I think thats a great idea, I don't think its very effective for fictional basis that has little or no real world related hobby.  For instance, Dragon based RTS.  How would I market that?  Well, Perhaps the dragons are Steam Punk Dragons, and then I can discuss on steam punk forums.  Even get people involved early by asking them for ideas about what they would want to see in a game.  Or feature/character related things that can have real life comparison discussions, like costume/appearance of characters.

 

Perhaps it can be really effective.  But lets pick a current/popular game like Star Craft, and here, how would I have associated this with real life hobbies?

 

While I remain unconvinced that this is the key to being a successful indie, I do think it is a very valuable idea, and certainly a good one to consider.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But lets pick a current/popular game like Star Craft, and here, how would I have associated this with real life hobbies?

You wouldn't. Blizzard is a Goliath, and doesn't have any need to play to niche audiences (more niche than "competitive RTS", at any rate).

Edited by swiftcoder

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But lets pick a current/popular game like Star Craft, and here, how would I have associated this with real life hobbies?

You wouldn't. Blizzard is a Goliath, and doesn't have any need to play to niche audiences (more niche than "competitive RTS", at any rate).

Touche'!  And then we compete in the Genre, but find a niche'.  It occurs to me that my latest game falls in this.  Where it is not relying on previous popular tropes; the ideas really are not to far from real life hobby areas and could be modified slightly to cater to that area better.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To extend the 'David vs Goliath' analogy: You are beneath the enemy's notice, using weapons he doesn't care about and isn't defended against, and you are unencumbered by armor allowing you to move faster.

 

So: niches, innovation, rapid exploitation of new markets or changing interests seem to be the indie modus-operandi. Not always all three, but any combination of one or more seem the mark most indie games (apart from the clones).

 

@DaveTroyer: Might be significantly less than $50 - this article is a few years old, and I don't know if it's accurate or not, but it implies closer to $35 for the developer and publisher. $30k average per employee is probably under-estimating as well. I also hear that the marketing budgets are almost equal to the development costs. sleep.png

 

On the indie side, though, selling a game for $12, Steam is likely to take $3.50 or more, so we'd get $8.50 out of $12, not $10. Steam's take isn't public, and might vary in negotiations, but with most other digital distributors it's a 30/70 cut with the developer getting 70%. Still good for indies though!

Edited by Servant of the Lord

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Servant of the Lord - I know I was flubbing numbers but that's 'cause math-a-magics aren't my strong suit.wink.png (That's also why I draw stuff instead...)

 

I was just trying to give an idea of how a larger developer/publisher throws so much more money around and yet there isn't a significant amount of security or return to the developers themselves along with a much higher operating cost. 

 

But thanks for the link, its a good read and the clarification I think is good.biggrin.png   

Edited by DaveTroyer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wasn't trying to nitpick your numbers, just was saying the number of copies AAA publishers need to sell is even more dramatic that you indicated. I'm not so great at numbers myself. biggrin.png

Some publishers may consider less than a million copies sold to be a failure. Personally, I'd be happy with anything north of 10k sales at my currently state, trying to develop my first release. smile.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I figured you weren't nitpicking; no worries. biggrin.png

 

Isn't crazy though how so much goes into a single 6 hour game experience and yet the big fish are all scrambling and shutting down? We see news of old-house publishers struggle at least once a week and hear about dozens, if not hundreds of developers who love making games just like up getting kicked to the curb because they didn't make millions of dollars for a company. That's some sad stuff to me.

 

The same money that goes into a "AAA" title seems like they could fund dozens of indie games that have just as much; if not more, potential to gain a profit. Lower over-head and more creative freedom for the indies makes it a dream-like place to be in my opinion. Granted, financial failure lands on the shoulders of indies pretty squarely, but that's the risks we take.

 

And that's just one of the reasons that I think being a "David" in a world of "Goliath"s is so much better.

That's not to say the Goliath's don't have some merit in creating some cool games, but when there are now hundreds and thousands of David's running around, eating up profits, the Goliath's will starve because they need just so much more to live.tongue.png

 

Now, when it comes to niche game development, I think indies get to do more unique gameplay mechanics than the big guys because an indie can afford to take a chance that a Goliath can't. Take Starcraft for example. Its not that unique of a game. Its well polished, but they can't add unique and crazy gameplay mechanics without potentially alienating their audiences and losing profit they need.

Edited by DaveTroyer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It seems that most small games and game studios are most successful when they don't try to beat the goliaths at their own game, and when they connect more-personally with their audience. This sometimes means creating smaller, more-niche games for a markedly smaller audience (despite a few "small games" that had break-out success in the mainstream -- like Minecraft).

 

Big publishers and small studios work at opposite ends of the spectrum, really -- Sure, the big boys make these massive, impressive, expensive titles, but at the end of the day they're actually constrained by what they can do, because their games are so expensive to produce that they have to be all things to all people. They can't even just decide to do lots of smaller games, either, because those types of projects don't provide the return that investors and stockholders want to see. The benefit of being a smaller shop is that it becomes perfectly legitimate to decide that you're going to serve one little corner of the market, and to have low enough overhead that doing so doesn't necessarily mean a life of eating Top Ramen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wasn't trying to nitpick your numbers, just was saying the number of copies AAA publishers need to sell is even more dramatic that you indicated. I'm not so great at numbers myself. biggrin.png

Some publishers may consider less than a million copies sold to be a failure. Personally, I'd be happy with anything north of 10k sales at my currently state, trying to develop my first release. smile.png

Remember Homefront? It sold 1 or 2 million copies. Was deemed a failure by it's publisher.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You do not need to buy an Golaith engine. Plenty of very good and free engines out there that can save you like three or four years of work.

 

Ogre and Torque3D are just a few of the fine engines out there. I am told that the free version of Unity should do just fine too. Hey LEGO Star wars is made with Unity smile.png

 

In fact do not even think about competing witht the big players in this industry. I mean they have an army of workers ready to produce and ship their stuff and even an army of hype warriors(marketing) to make people believe that they cannot exist without the newest Mass Effect etc. etc.

 

Be happy, make games smile.png

Edited by Dwarf King

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In case of StarCraft 2 marketing, where you could see only CGI trailers and no actual gameplay, that shows something unique. There isn't much originallity in the game but it is fun to play anyway.

As long as your game appears fun people will buy it and play it.

 

The unique feature of Starcraft 2 is that it is a sequel to Starcraft: if you offer an update of the best RTS ever, bigger and better and with fancy graphics, you don't need originality. In fact you don't want originality: innovations would be perceived as ignorant attempts to fix what isn't broken and presumed to change the game for the worse.

 

Unfortunately you aren't Blizzard, you don't have a reputation of being able to make extremely good "traditional" games, and if you try even matching Starcraft is an unrealistic objective; novel ideas are the only thing you can put on the balance against your game's imperfections.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, in the case of Blizzard. They pretty much made what we consider a "traditional" RTS, a "traditional" MMORPG. So while we see it as "They're making traditional games" they are just doing their stuff, that just happens to be the source of what we consider "traditional" in some genres.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm beginning to see less and less of a David and Goliath issue.   It is getting to the point in the AAA arena that there is only room for one of each genre.
If you release an FPS the same year as a Halo game you fail.

If you release a sports sim the same year as a Maddon or a Fifa you fail.
If you release an RPG the same year as Bethesda you fail.
If you release an MMO you fail (there is already WOW)

The only exception to this seems to be driving games.

So in actual fact it is really just the Goliath vs Goliaths who are having the problems.

Whilst indies are getting on with it and just releasing games that don't need to sell millions to be a success.   I know indies who are making more than the 30k that DaveTroyer estimated just from doing simple match 3 games.  Indies have a much leaner operation and don't need to be guessing where their money is comming from this time next year.   A lot of indies don't even have full time staff so it is quite easy for people to work on day / weekend jobs to earn a living when sales are slow.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was going to say "the best way to win is to not fight at all". That is, to even avoid having to compete with a Goliath.

 

Then, I remembered how Runescape became the 2nd most popular MMORPG with 6 million players (1 million of them paying), even though it is inferior in just about every way to WoW. I have no idea why 1 million people would choose to pay to play Runescape over WoW. It isn't even very much cheaper.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the David vs Goliath metaphor isn't quite accurate, as indie games aren't 'fighting' with AAA games in terms of there can be only one winner. That probably only applies to sales numbers and the total public exposure/appeal.

But most gamers I know play mainstream games along with whatever niche games they're interested in. With things like the Humble Indie Bundle and sites that generally list indie games I've gotten the feeling that lots of my friends have gotten to play more indie games over the years. And that's just PC I'm talking about - I know that, say, the xbox market has a ton of indie games, but i don't own an xbox so i can't comment

 

Do indie games get as much money and popularity as AAA titles? No.

Are indie games a growing market right now? I'd say yes, they have been for a while. 

So, I think things are looking up for indie devs, even if they aren't "winning" when compared with the AAA companies.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do indie games get as much money and popularity as AAA titles? No.



No indie games don't make more than AAA games but indie "developers" earn a much bigger slice of the pie.  Even casual freelance indies can earn double what a pro XBOX or PS3 dev earns.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No indie games don't make more than AAA games but indie "developers" earn a much bigger slice of the pie.  Even casual freelance indies can earn double what a pro XBOX or PS3 dev earns.

I think that comparison is a little disingenuous: every dev in an AAA shop takes home a paycheck at the end of the day, whereas only a small minority of indie devs are making enough to cover their living expenses.

 

It's the difference between having a day job, and gambling for a living. Sure, the gambler has the potential to become rich overnight - but most of the time he's a hell of a lot more broke than the guy with the day job.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think Indies are more like Lilliputians rather than David in comparison to Goliaths.

 

I see no point in fighting against them in their own game. I am working on a web based game that will compete against a eight figure worth company. I know that I can't beat them in their playfield so I am intent on redefining rules instead.

 

I think Indies should rely on forgotten parts of gaming. As competition is getting harsher and getting a return from 'investment' is being harder, Goliaths favor proven methods as stated above.

 

Remember good old days of PC gaming, (or even Commodore 64 gaming), there were many games from various genres. Now most of them are deserted. For example , I believe there is still room for a new Broken Sword. Also, thanks to 'primitivity' of smartphones and tablets, retrogaming is on the rise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this