Recipe for a best-selling videogame

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After a psychological study conducted on two similar games, Angry Birds and Crush the Castle, understanding why one was exceedingly popular over the other, this essay aims to understand if it can create a set of guidelines that would adhere to any game.
By understanding player’s mindset, we aim to make a recipe that can create a successful multiplatform best seller.

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Recipe for a best-selling videogame

  1. 1. Module: Psychology of Design Assignment 3: Recipe for a best-selling game M.Des 1.1 Name: Harshal Desai Lecturer: Filip Fransen Date of Submission 20/12/2011 Word Count: 1318
  2. 2. Table of Contents EXECUTIVE SUMMARY .................................................................................................. 2 INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................................. 3 RECIPE FOR A BEST SELLER GAME............................................................................... 4 FOCUS ON THE USER INTERFACE ............................................................................. 4 A STORYLINE THAT CONNECTS ................................................................................ 4 KEEP THE PLAYERS ON THEIR TOES .......................................................................... 5 CREATIVE MARKETING, BEING EVERYWHERE ........................................................ 5 KEEPING IT AFFORDABLE .......................................................................................... 6 PRIORITY ON THE PLAYERS ....................................................................................... 6 CONCLUSION................................................................................................................ 7 WORKS CITED ................................................................................................................ 7
  3. 3. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY After a psychological study conducted on two similar games, Angry Birds and Crush the Castle, understanding why one was exceedingly popular over the other, this essay aims to understand if it can create a set of guidelines that would adhere to any game. By understanding player’s mindset, we aim to make a recipe that can create a successful multiplatform best seller.
  4. 4. INTRODUCTION Angry Birds is without a doubt, one of the most popular games available today, comparable to classics like Mario Brothers. While the game rose to its success due to hype and advertising is debatable, however one cannot ignore the various lessons game designers can learn by understanding the mechanics behind the gameplay of Angry Birds. One has to remember that it was not a random success for the creators, Rovio. Angry Birds was their 52nd game and Rovio was on the verge of bankruptcy. There was an urgency to survive and create a prizewinning game. After 51 attempts, the developers successfully analysed their previous games and eventually came across with the multi-platform bestseller. (Peterson, 2011) From a psychological point, it was their unique reward system, based on operand conditioning, which clinched their popularity and attracted millions of players worldwide. However, there were several other considerations to keep in mind too 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. The user interface Simplistic storyline Intuitive controls Increasing difficulty Marketing appeal Potential for growth etc Based on the research, it is possible to create a guideline for essential points required for a game to become a best seller.
  5. 5. RECIPE FOR A BEST SELLER GAME While Angry Birds may be a casual physics based game, there are some lessons that could be learned by designers and developers that can be applied to all genres and platforms. To create a best-selling game, one need to ensure the following criteria are fulfilled. FOCUS ON THE USER INTERFACE Building an amazing user experience certainly has its merits. It is not just the colorful graphics that come into play; it is the right type of music, level selection screens, recognizable background noises etc. Vibrant colors definitely helps keep players more alert and active, a constant subtle background noise immerses their senses within the game, generating curiosity on what might happen next. A STORYLINE THAT CONNECTS Never underestimate the power of a good storyline. Picking up something that is recent in the news and adding a satirical twist to it would definitely boost public interest. Since swine flu was being talked about in the media everywhere, there was a subconscious hatred towards pigs to begin with. Rovio capitalized on that by adding another element where the pigs were considered thieves who stole the birds’ eggs…their children. Having such strong emotional attachments would immediately make players connect with the game. It is essential to have that connection. For instance, other current news would include the financial crisis worldwide, several natural disasters that affect Philippines, Japan etc. These are stories that influence us on a global level, whereas if one were to focus on something like Taliban Vs United States, it isn’t something that would appeal to the entire world. Creating a backstory isn’t too difficult once you identify a public interest. For instance, to create a game focused on the financial crisis a possible storyline might include a player understanding and fixing his money stream through a series of possible leaks. It would be similar to classic pipeline games where ones rearranges the pipes to control the flow of water. By using the
  6. 6. player’s own fictional cash, it would not only generate their interest but also make them understand the reasons behind the current crisis. Of course, one still needs a lot more to make a successful game, especially in terms of gameplay. KEEP THE PLAYERS ON THEIR TOES If anyone has played Angry Birds for a longer period, they can admit that it is an increasingly frustrating game that can keep a player hooked for hours. While operand conditioning has its own input here, another factor is the varying level difficulty. The level difficulty should increase in a linear fashion at first, then follow a non-linear path in order to retain the player’s interest. Think of it as dating, playing hard to get and making the prize even more alluring than it actually may be. (Anatomy of a Game, 2010) Taking the previous example of a financial crisis game, one can add a timer in a few bonus levels, suddenly making the player more alert. These levels would have higher rewards based on how fast one can complete them successfully. And of course, one must use positive and negative reinforcement to condition the players and try to avoid any punishments. CREATIVE MARKETING, BEING EVERYWHERE One must admit, for many players the reasons behind playing a game is because their friends are playing it. By using creative viral marketing sources like Facebook, Youtube and Twitter, game developers can quickly generate market potential on a global level. Rovio had created a brilliant YouTube video animation of their game; paying homage to Warner Brothers, style of cartoons…their video received over 42 million views (Peterson, 2011) A financial crisis game could follow a similar example by creating an animated infographic that would make players try to understand the money flow. However, just like the trailer that ends in a cliffhanger where the birds catch the pigs stealing the eggs, getting angry and then it fades to black…the infographic animation could end in a cliffhanger, just when the viewer begins to find out what happened to their money. Creating curiosity is essential for any game.
  7. 7. KEEPING IT AFFORDABLE Many players do not appreciate paying high amounts for a videogame. Only platforms such as iPhones, generally any game worth more than $2.00 is often considered pricey. This is why most of those games also have a free version available. A free trial game is effective because it lets the players experience the game first, allowing them to play a few levels and then asking them to pay if they wish to unlock more. Another way around it is to offer ads in the free version; sometimes ads can be such a nuisance that players would pay the full version just to get rid of them. Either of the two tactics could be used for our game. (Oxford, 2011) PRIORITY ON THE PLAYERS Despite every momentum gained by media coverage and advertising, any game is likely to slow down after a while due to repetitive gameplay. Even if the game has varying levels of difficulty, players get tired with the overall theme of the game. It is essential to make sure the moment keeps going by supplying frequent updates to new content, improvements, and newer levels. A game can even spin off into different versions, the original one and a seasonal one. (Anatomy of a Game, 2010) For instance, while the original financial crisis can focus on the money at a global level, there can be other variations that focus on finding where the money goes during holidays…like Christmas shopping. In addition, it is not just the updates, but their feedback too. Listening to what the players have to say is critical since they would be telling you what they want in the game. It may take time and patience to sit and listen, but it is crucial for a successful franchise. (Peterson, 2011)
  8. 8. CONCLUSION There are many factors influencing a game to become a best-selling success. The market has seen few games that have shot to fame with their extreme simplistic gameplay such as Tetris and Bejeweled. Others have a far more complex and demanding gameplay like Farmville, yet they continue have a strong community of players. Overall, there has to be room for being able to adapt quickly to the feedback received from the game. With a little bit of advertising, a lot of focus on the gameplay and interface, pricing strategies and potentials for expansion, a game is ideally determined to reach multiplatform success However, there can be no direct set of rules to create an award-winning game and our recipe, like every other recipe, has to have room to adapt to a creator’s unique taste. Game developers who identify this are bound to create several bestsellers in the near future. WORKS CITED Anatomy of a Game. (2010, November). Retrieved December 19, 2011, from Apsalar.com: http://apsalar.com/blog/2010/11/anatomy-of-a-game/ Oxford, N. (2011, October 14). Lessons Developers can learn from Angry Birds. Retrieved December 18, 2011, from Gametheoryonline.com: http://gametheoryonline.com/2011/10/14/angry-birds-gamesdevelopers-tips/ Peterson, S. (2011, September 26). Angry Birds: 8 Keys to Success. Retrieved December 19, 2011, from Industrygamers.com: http://www.industrygamers.com/news/angry-birds-8-keys-to-success/

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