Good product is not enough
Our latest title Hypersensitive Bob was released two weeks ago and we’ve got decent amount of people playing the game so far. Most of the feedback has been positive regarding to the game flow, mechanics and especially graphics. Which is great! Still the amount of people who knows about the game, is pretty low. This of course is problem with many devs out there, and we’re certainly not alone with this issue. Because of the current positive feedback, I guess we can say that we do have a good product in our hands.
The problem is that good product is not enough nowadays. Hypersensitive Bob is a game, which gives great gaming experience for the “dungeon crawler / roguelite” genre lovers. But because of this, we are competing with games like Enter the Gungeon, Binding of isaac, Spelunky and so on. When thinking of press sites, streamers and youtubers for example which happen to have biggest influence to the players. They obviously entertain their customers with reviews of games which are either published by well known company, or a game which has the largest scale of polished features or something really unique in that particular genre. Which is totally normal, since they are doing business as well and forgetting to play/rate a popular game, would leave them out from the hype.
So how do you stand out from the crowd? That is a question I think none of us have the proper answer. My thoughts would be that it is better to think carefully who you are competing with. When you have gathered a list of games which are similar to yours, look at them and see if you have anything really unique compared to them. Something which would divide the players to buy your game instead of the “biggest” one on the market. Be realistic here. If you are a game developer without name and you don’t have that much of cash to fund the development, you most likely can not achieve the same results as the company who has it all. (publisher + funding = visibility and time)
Another way is to create something totally unique, something which doesn’t have a competitor. This in the other hand is pretty risky, since you have to design the whole game from scratch and you don’t have that much of reference to look at. This could end up having too confusing game for the players and it would scare them away. I guess that’s why they’re called “experimental games” since you do not know the outcome until you have the first versions of the product in your hands.
In the end, once you have the needed skills to start developing a game, your biggest problem is time. When running a company for example, time is money, literally. What you have to do is to think, how much time(money) you have left and what can you create within that time limit. If your calculations say that you have six months to do a game, it is pretty risky to start competing with games which have been under development for years already. I’m not saying that you should not do it, I’m saying that you should think do you really have a chance to stand out and why? If you are not running a company and you do game development on your spare time, I guess your biggest problem is to keep yourself motivated during the whole development time. Once you have worked with a game a year for example, it’s a challenge to keep on pushing and see the final product as an ultimate reward.
Conclusion? Do research before you start developing your game and do it good. It’s worth the time. On some cases it’s better to dump the whole idea of a game, if you find out during the research that the competition is too strong and you don’t have the power to stand out.