Thursday, March 25, 2010

Targeting hardcore gamers – Part 1

A screen from one of my never-completed game project on the Amiga (1990)

When starting a new game project, and before to jump into game design, a first question could be: who will play my game? In other words: I need to choose a genre and a target audience, and this choice can be roughly seen as: “Casual or hardcore gamers?”

So I jumped on the net, reading forums and taking advices here and there. I’ve found some really interesting point of views from very smart people. But all I gathered was external answers, and as I said in my previous post: creating games is what lies inside me. So how can I seriously reach the answer to the “who will play my game” question with Firefox? The answer is more likely in the dozens of drawing sheets that I’ve made during the past years: they show many game mechanics and design, some look good, some do not, but all of them shown premises of games that I want to play. By this time, I didn’t envision to start converting them to real games, so they are very good candidates now in my quest for the most authentic answer.

My point is: if I claim to be an Indie, my game cannot be only motivated by a Business Plan or anything that shows a stairway to a money spring. In France, where Cycling is a religion, we often hear that the ones who get the money are not the ones who race for money. And I believe in that. I believe that success cannot be the consequence of any cold calculation, but the consequence of something authentic. I cannot dissociate the word authenticity from the word indie, definitely. If I am wrong, being indie would be equivalent to: get the same job as anywhere else + have the luxury to keep your pajamas all the day long.
Back to my old drawings, what are they telling me? They tell me an authentic and internal reason to choose hardcore gamers as an audience, simply because I am a hardcore gamer.

This leads me to the internal reason why I’ve chosen to target hardcore gamers: that's what I love to play, and if I build something I enjoy, there are great chances that it can be appealing to others.

If I had an iPhone and played 3 hours a day with that cool Poker game, I would have followed another path. But that’s not my reality. My reality is: connect to Steam, buy and play indie games, turn off the PC, play those rarely action games on the Wii, turn off the Wii, reinvent everything that mankind has ever known about Greek mythology with this awesome 1080p God of War 3, etc. I think you get the picture.

Well, although I play unbrained games, I think I still have a brain. And, as I said above, there are tons of good advices to get on the web, and especially on the Indiegamer Forums where, luckily, many smart people have chosen to share their experiences. I’ve read their posts during years, and understanding them all and taking all their point of view into account was an unprecedented challenge precisely for my brain. Thanks to them, I have now a better view on the market and, luckily, there is a vast land to explore for hardcore game makers.

In part 2, I will put words on the external reasons to target hardcore gamers.

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