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This month we are discussing market research. You have a great game idea in your head, but what if nobody is interested in it? There are two possible choices:

a) You go ahead and implement your game idea. If lots of people want to buy your game, thatís an added bonus. If nobody buys your game, itís OK. Youíve created a great game that you and your team members will play over and over.

b) You try to create something that has the potential to sell.

 

Iíll target the b) people in this article. Now donít get me wrong, itís perfectly OK to create any game, as long as you donít necessarily expect to get some money for it. On the other hand, if you want to earn money by selling your game, you need to take some things into consideration.

 

1) First of all, you need to create something that people will want to buy. Now how can we know that in advance?

 

a) Visit the major game portals and see what theyíre selling like hot cakes; those games will usually be on their main pages. What are some of these major game portals, I hear you asking? Hereís a quick, and yet comprehensive list Iíve compiled especially for you:

 

- MSN Games

- RealArcade

- Yahoo Games

- Big Fish Games

- Alawar Games

- Trygames

 

Now go to these websites and see whatís hot there Ė this will give you some pointers. Hereís a list with some of the most played games today, the 23rd of October 2009.

 

- Bejeweled 2

 

aum88_bejeweled2

 

- Mah Jong

 

aum88_mahjongtiles

- Jigsaw

 

aum88_jigsaw

 

- TextTwist

 

aum88_texttwist

 

- Scrabble Blast

 

aum88_scrabbleblast

 

- Bookworm

 

aum88_bookworm

 

- Spades

 

aum88_spades

 

- Bubble Town

 

aum88_bubbletown

 

- Campfire Legends

 

aum88_campfire

 

- Zumaís Revenge

 

aum88_zuma

 

- Cake Mania

 

aum88_cakemania

 

As you can guess, the list could be much bigger; here are the needed links, so that you can do your own research:

 

MSN Games

http://zone.msn.com/en-us/home

 

RealArcade

http://www.realarcade.com/topgames

 

Yahoo Games

http://games.yahoo.com/

 

Big Fish Games

http://www.bigfishgames.com/download-games/top-100-game-downloads.html

 

Alawar Games

http://www.alawar.com/top50/

 

Trygames

http://www.trygames.com/

 

Itís obvious that you can easily create any of these games using GameStudio, but most of us are busy creating the next generation MMO while others are cashing in, right? Donít forget to visit the major game portals in order to see whatís selling.

 

b) If you are a lazier person, you might want to check out the websites that assemble some of the sales stats for you. Iíve mentioned GameProducerís website before, and itís an excellent resource. Another good website is http://www.casualcharts.com/

 

c) Read famous game-related magazines such as PC Gamer, etc. See what games they review Ė itís usually what most of the magazine readers will buy.

 

d) Visit big retail stores like Wal-Mart, etc. Check out what games they have in stock; if you notice that theyíve got 100 NFS copies, youíll know that NFS is a hit.

 

e) Ask your friends, colleagues, etc what games theyíre playing. Ask them why they like those games.

 

And there you have it; now, armed with these statistics, you know what game genre is successful today. Is there any room for innovation in a specific area? Maybe you can come up with a match-3 twist such as Puzzle Hero, in which your matching-3 abilities help you attack the monsters in a more efficient manner.

 

aum88_puzzlehero

 

Think hard! This is THE MOST IMPORTANT MOMENT (and you know that I hate caps) in the game design process. If you start with a poor idea, you will implement it and nobody will want to buy your game. And if you arenít really excited about your game idea, donít expect to see other people being too enthusiastic about it.

 

You could try and come up with a very innovative game concept, but this approach might not serve you too well. Iíd say that it is much wiser to go with the flow and add a twist to a best seller. In fact, even tough Iím not a match-3 fan, I wish I would have come up with an idea like the one used in Puzzle Hero myself :)

 

2) Itís time to check out the competition. Who else is developing games like yours and are they successful at doing it? If you are trying to compete with BFG but the graphics that are used for your game arenít as good as theirs, youíd better do something about it. Try to put yourself in your customersí shoes; ask yourself this question: why would George buy my game instead of buying XYZ's game? What are my gameís unique selling points? If you plan to simply clone a BFG product, youíd better dump the idea right away Ė it wonít sell well.

 

3) Youíve got the game idea nailed? Then itís time to create a quick game prototype and see how it is received by the others. Give the demo to your friends or (even better) upload it at the forum and get as much feedback as possible. Donít get mad if the forum users donít like your game Ė itís a sign that you wouldnít get too many customers in the real world, so better stop what you're doing and refine the concept or pursue another idea. Oh, and donít get too excited if your girlfriend tells you that youíve got a great game Ė her opinion isnít too relevant.

 

4) Donít forget that nobody can guarantee that your game will make a profit, even if you have the best concept, the best programmers, artists, and so on. Nevertheless, if you sprinkle enough innovation in the mix and follow other peopleís recipe for success you'll minimize the chances to lose. In the end, do your best to create a great game no matter what; the others will notice that for sure.