“Why-oh-why are playing leaving my game?!?”
Have you found yourself asking this very question? Then it is time that you realize the very reason why your players are leaving your game. Nathan Lovato over at GameAnalytics Blog wrote a fantastic piece earlier this week that aims to answer this very question – in fact, Nathan provides a whopping 16 reasons why players may be leaving your game! Now, I’m not going to go through every reason – I urge you to read his post, bookmark it, and refer to it whenever you’re stumped – but I am going to point out a few of (what I believe to be) his best reasons as to why players leave games.
Keep reading to find the answer to the, “why are players leaving my game,” qusetion below; and again, read his awesome post after you are finished!
Wrong target audience/saturated genre
We have set it countless times here at Game Academy, and we are probably going to say it many more times to come: you need to know who your target audiences before you even begin developing your indie game. You may feel that by simply developing a top-quality game that this alone will draw an audience – it will not. You need to have a plan of action to win over a certain audience before you even begin developing your indie game. This will allow you to study the audience (studying their needs, wants, etc.), figuring out what your competition does successfully, and giving you a great idea as to how you can target your game to appeal to them.
Even after accomplishing this, knowing your target audience is only half the battle. You also need to know which genres your target audience is interested in the most – and then you need to figure out which genres are the least saturated. Nathan brings up a good point about match-3 games and 40something women: while it may seem like a great idea to develop a match-3 game that targets this demographic, at the end of the day it’s actually a pretty poor idea. You see, this genre is already saturated – and giant developers such as King have a pretty tight grip on the genre and the targeted demographic. Be realistic: how long do you think most people in this demographic are going to play an unknown match-3 game when Candy Crush is installed on their mobile device? Probably a few minutes at best, and probably not more than once.
Thus, the trick is to find the most fruitful genre that will interest your targeted demographic the most. To say this is easier said than done is an understatement – but when it works? You get Candy Crush.
Boring, non-optional tutorial
I hate to say it, but there have been many games that I have immediately stopped playing because the tutorial was boring and was not optional. This is especially true with mobile games – and the same has probably happened to you. How many times have you wanted to kill a few minutes, downloaded a free-to-play mobile game, only to find that you have to spend an agonizing few moments getting through the tutorial? Probably many times – and I guarantee that most of you exited the game and began playing a game that would allow you to jump straight into the action.
Do not get me wrong: I firmly believe that every game should have some sort of tutorial. Yet, it is up to you as the developer to ensure that the tutorial is actually fun to play and is completely optional. Take it from a guy that does this all the time: if your game forces me to play the tutorial, it is going to keep me from playing at all.
Besides, it makes sense: you only have about a minute to hook your players into continuing to play the game. That means from the moment they open your game to win that one minute mark strikes, you better entertain your players with solid gameplay and keep them wanting to play for another minute.
Two minutes turns into five, five into 10, and before you know it you have hooked the player and there is no way they are going to play this game just one time.
You cannot just be afraid of players uninstalling your game within the first few minutes of play. Rather, you need to be certain that your indie game is well paced. Sure, your players may be having a ball during the first few hours of play. But once they feel that grinding sensation? You are going to lose a lot of players.
I have the perfect example of this. A few months ago, I was playing a game called Dungeon Village on my Android device that was starting to be quite the time sink. The goal of the game is to grow your village, earn profits, and send heroes on quests to get more loot, destroy monsters, that sort of thing. The graphic style reminded me of a game ripped right out of the Sega Genesis, the music was awesome, and I found that it was one of the best ways to relax and waste a few moments.
Unfortunately, the game became such a grind that I eventually lost interest. It isn’t that it was a bad game – far from it – it is just that I was putting a lot of time into the game but I was not being rewarded nearly as often as I should have been. It felt like a chore: gradually I would inch closer and closer to that next reward, and after I obtained said reward the cycle would continue. The grind was too much for me, and unfortunately I have not touched the game in months.
To an extent, all games are a grind – the real trick is to keep that carrot in front of your player at all times and give them something to play for. If stretches of your game fail to do this, do not be surprised when players begin leaving your game.