The online gaming industry was worth $100 billion last year, and it’s constantly expanding. As domestic hardware and network infrastructures improve, there are fewer logistical issues preventing people from playing on portable devices. The mature desktop and console game markets have been joined by a burgeoning mobile sector worth over $36 billion, ranging from augmented reality titles to classic platform and puzzle games.
There are numerous attributes that help online games to succeed in today’s ultra-competitive marketplace, where new titles can easily be lost amid congested app stores. Here, we consider ten of these factors, and how to achieve them:
#1. Study the market.
Before developing a new game, investigate rival offerings to determine whether there’s a clear demand for your own. Identify how other companies have branded and marketed their products, and what techniques the gameplay incorporates to boost addictiveness and enjoyment. Try to find areas where a new title could be superior, such as responsive AI, terrain editors or better sound.
#2. Consider a freemium approach.
Some apps recoup revenue with an upfront fee, but this relies on audiences being willing to invest without knowing what they’re getting. Advertising can be intrusive, and in-game purchases aren’t always popular. A freemium model entices the widest audience, encouraging players to invest once they’ve developed an affinity with the game.
#3. Provide a reliable infrastructure.
Unless a title is incredibly strong, audiences will drift away quickly if web hosting services are unavailable or if latency hampers playability. If your own server infrastructure isn’t dependable enough, 100TB offers web hosting services ideal for games developers. Military-grade server hubs on every continent offer 99.9% SLAs, with sufficient bandwidth for almost any content.
#4. Prioritize entertainment value.
Games that appeal to a mainstream market are more likely to succeed than those reliant on fringe audiences. Certain genres have become enduring favorites, including puzzle, racing and sports simulations. Few players will care about physics engines or multiple render layers – playability and fun are far more important.
#5. Offer something new or innovative.
Last year’s mobile gaming market was revolutionized by Pokémon Go’s innovative take on augmented reality. It’s surprisingly easy to incorporate new ideas into established genres, or develop non-linear storylines. A popular technique among strategy game makers is to ensure when players make decisions, they materially affect progress and the game’s outcome. The ability to customize is another favored technique, from characters to challenges.
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#6. Adopt intuitive controls.
Some 1990s games relied on players memorizing lengthy movement patterns to perform a particular action. This is anathema to modern audiences, so ensure any instructions or movements are intuitive to whichever device is being used. Minimize typing requirements, and try to ensure a first-time player can launch into the game without much instruction or backstory.
#7. Incorporate a linear difficulty curve.
Any gamer will be able to name titles where the difficulty increased exponentially. That’s bad enough when software has been bought outright, but it’ll condemn freemium or advertising-funded titles to failure. Addictiveness often stems from marginal failure – the sense that next time will be better, or revised decisions might make a difference to the outcome.
#8. Capitalize on modern technology.
While MMORPGs are hugely popular on desktop devices, even the finest web hosting services will struggle to provide a latency-free experience across a 3G connection. Host user data on a remote server, ensuring most of the gameplay can be processed by the increasingly powerful internal hardware of today’s smartphones and tablets.
#9. Encourage healthy competition.
People love competing against each other, or trying to beat the clock. Attributes like online leaderboards, multiplayer modes and real-time battles will inspire players to hone their skills and make progress. This can be the most effective way to drive the repeat visits that generate in-game purchase revenue, or underpin advertising-funded finance models.
#10. Play test extensively.
Beta testing provides the best opportunity to develop a polished program, long before graphics are coded or story arcs finalized. Encourage people to experiment on as many different devices as possible, identifying issues or server problems that might relate to machine-specific settings. This should confirm whether web hosting services are dependable, and eliminate obvious gremlins prior to launch.