I suppose that’s a question we could ask about any form of entertainment. Why do people watch films, read books, listen to music – heck, why do people build model railroads?
It’s pretty simple: to escape reality.
Video games are no different. After a long day of working and being in reality, we enjoy taking a few moments out of our day to forget about it and get sucked into another form of entertainment. Video games are especially great at this, because unlike other forms of entertainment, video games force you to actually become part of another reality.
That’s pretty powerful stuff.
It’s a straightforward question with a pretty simple answer, but there’s more to it than that: especially as an indie developer. You need to ask yourself this question and find the answer as it relates to your audience. Why does your audience play games – specifically, why do they play your games? Do you know why your demographic would want to play your games? If not, find the answer via the following questions:
“What makes my games fun?”
The best way to truly find the answer to this question is to play some of your games with an open mind. What concepts and strategies make your games fun to play? Is it the difficulty of the game? The addictive pick-up-and-play nature that makes mobile games so addictive? Do they speak to a certain demographic that loves the types of games that you produce?
Find the answer and notice the redeeming qualities of your indie game(s). From there, you can have a great idea regarding what makes your games tick.
“What makes my games stand out from the rest?”
All of the best marketing in the world won’t mean a thing if your indie game doesn’t have some sort of hook that makes players stand up and pay attention. Think about it: if your indie game looks and plays like other indie games, why would anyone want to play it?
Let’s use Angry Birds as an example. The gameplay of Angry Birds isn’t very original – in fact, it was inspired by the 2009 Flash game Crush the Castle. Instead of flinging birds, you control a trebuchet that flings different types of rocks, and instead of eliminating pigs, you have to eliminate royal members of different castles. It also has a more generic, realistic feel to it rather than the cartoonish style of Angry Birds.
It doesn’t matter which game came first: the world clearly prefers Angry Birds over Crush the Castle. That isn’t a knock on Crush the Castle by any means (it’s actually a very fun game): it’s just that Angry Birds is more eye-catching and has a greater appeal.
In a time in which mobile games were still in their infancy, Angry Birds stood above the rest with its unique sound effects, visuals, theme, and simple-yet-addictive gameplay.
Thus, ask yourself once again: how does my game stand above the rest?
Have any questions/comments about these blunt yet necessary questions? Let us know in the comments below!