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Time to market: when a worse game is better - Mattia Traverso - Codemotion Milan 2016

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The experimental Kinect game FRU was released on July 13 on the Xbox One Store. The Verge called it a "killer app". Engadget an "incredible game", whereas Destructoid gave it a 9.5/10. It's the highest rated camera-based game ever and yet, it sold less than ten thousand copies. At first glance, the issue might seem obvious: "It's a Kinect game". However, the Kinect 2 peripheral has a respectable install base between 3 and 4 million units, so only the 0,0025 % of the potential target bought the game. What we can learn from this experience?

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Time to market: when a worse game is better - Mattia Traverso - Codemotion Milan 2016

  1. 1. Time to market When a worse game is better. Mattia Traverso MILAN 25-26 NOVEMBER 2016
  2. 2. About Me
  3. 3. About Me This is me when it’s 3 am and I am working on a presentation for Codemotion
  4. 4. About Me One and One Story – 2011
  5. 5. About Me One and One Story – 2011 Here’s work I have conflicted feelings about
  6. 6. About Me FRU – 2016
  7. 7. About Me ? - ?
  8. 8. What is this presentation about? It’s not about game design.
  9. 9. What is this presentation about? It’s not about business
  10. 10. What is this presentation about? It’s not about marketing
  11. 11. What is this presentation about? It’s about FRU
  12. 12. So, what is FRU?
  13. 13. So, what is FRU?
  14. 14. So, what is FRU?
  15. 15. So, what is FRU? game development is serious stuff
  16. 16. So, what is FRU?
  17. 17. So, what is FRU? The original prototype
  18. 18. So, what is FRU?
  19. 19. So, what is FRU?
  20. 20. So, what is FRU?
  21. 21. So, what is FRU?
  22. 22. So, are we rich yet? Well… As of today, FRU has sold less than 10.000 copies. 0,0025% Of the potential audience. Why is that?
  23. 23. Well. 1. Maybe it’s a bad game?
  24. 24. It’s a bad game.
  25. 25. It’s a bad game.
  26. 26. It’s a bad game.
  27. 27. Well. 1. Maybe it’s a bad game? 2. Maybe players do not like it?
  28. 28. Players don’t like it.
  29. 29. Well. 1. Maybe it’s a bad game? 2. Maybe players do not like it? 3. Maybe the marketing was bad?
  30. 30. Well.
  31. 31. It’s a bad game.
  32. 32. It’s a bad game.
  33. 33. Well. 1. Maybe it’s a bad game? 2. Maybe players do not like it? 3. Maybe the marketing was bad? 4. Well, it is a Kinect game.
  34. 34. It’s a Kinect game. What did you expect?
  35. 35. Well.
  36. 36. Well.
  37. 37. Well. There’s an estimated 4 million Kinect V2 out there. Even if the amount that were sold back, thrown away, lit on fire is 50%... 10.000 / 2.000.000 is still quite low. And in a market with basically no competitors!
  38. 38. Well. Don’t let your subjective perception of a market fool you. Do your research!
  39. 39. Well. 1. Maybe it’s a bad game? 2. Maybe players do not like it? 3. Maybe the marketing was bad? 4. Well, it is a Kinect game.
  40. 40. So what the heck went wrong?
  41. 41. We were too late.
  42. 42. Is the market saturated? https://medium.com/steam-spy/on-indiepocalypse-what-is-really-killing-indie-games-3da3c3a1ea76#.uvfh83i9h
  43. 43. Is the market saturated?
  44. 44. Is the market saturated?
  45. 45. Is the market saturated?
  46. 46. Is the market saturated?
  47. 47. Is the market saturated?
  48. 48. If Super Meat Boy were to be released Today… It would NOT sell as much.
  49. 49. If Super Meat Boy were to be released Today… It would NOT sell as much. Because Super Meat Boy was already made.
  50. 50. Super Meat Boy: The Trend
  51. 51. Super Meat Boy: The Trend
  52. 52. Super Meat Boy: The Trend
  53. 53. Super Meat Boy: The Trend
  54. 54. Super Meat Boy: The Trend
  55. 55. Super Meat Boy: The Trend
  56. 56. Super Meat Boy: The Trend
  57. 57. Trends affect your game It’s not about the saturation of the market, it’s about the saturation of a trend.
  58. 58. Those games are wildy different! But wait.
  59. 59. Those games are wildy different! But wait.
  60. 60. But wait. While it’s true that games belonging to the same genre can be completely different from one another, the public will always catalogue them in genres, binders and labels. We are interested in the public’s perception of the game’s high level concept, not the game itself. Video games critics are not your audience ;)
  61. 61. Trends affect your game Quality * Marketing * Audience Size
  62. 62. Trends affect your game Quality * Marketing * Audience Size * Trend Receptiveness
  63. 63. Trend examples The 2014 survival craze
  64. 64. Trend examples 2013 and linear, narrative focussed experiences
  65. 65. Other trends 2012 and Minimalist Mobile Puzzle Games
  66. 66. To get back to FRU… “FRU is my original creation and does not follow any trend.” A foolish man, 2016
  67. 67. To get back to FRU… Just like your audience follows trends, you subconsciouslly do as a creator.
  68. 68. To get back to FRU… Which genres or trends can we associate this game with?
  69. 69. To get back to FRU… Puzzle Platformers Party game Kinect games Indie games
  70. 70. To get back to FRU… Puzzle Platformers Party game Kinect games Indie games
  71. 71. Puzzle platformers
  72. 72. Puzzle platformers
  73. 73. Puzzle platformers
  74. 74. Puzzle platformers
  75. 75. Puzzle platformers
  76. 76. Puzzle platformers
  77. 77. http://steamspy.com/tag/Puzzle-Platformer A sobering exercise. Follow this link, then sort by release date.
  78. 78. To get back to FRU… Puzzle Platformers Party game Kinect games ”Indie games”
  79. 79. Kinect Games
  80. 80. Kinect Games Give the hate around it, it might not seem that Kinect games were ever a trend. Yet that would be a mistake: you’d be judging the peripheral from YOUR point of view, rather than its audience.
  81. 81. To get back to FRU… Puzzle Platformers Party game Kinect games “Indie games”
  82. 82. Indie games
  83. 83. To get back to FRU… Puzzle Platformers Party game Kinect games “Indie games”
  84. 84. Party Games
  85. 85. To get back to FRU… Puzzle Platformers Party game Kinect games “Indie games”
  86. 86. Big question #1 So, should I make a game based on a current Trend?
  87. 87. Big question #1 So, should I make a game based on a current Trend? absolutely not!
  88. 88. So, should I make a game based on a current Trend? First of all, you’d be already late. Second, this is how creativity dies.
  89. 89. Takeaway #1 Do not follow trends. But watch them closely.
  90. 90. Big question #1 What you are doing might be original NOW, but will it be once the game is out? This is obviously a question for the start of your project, but there a couple things you can do if you realise this too late.
  91. 91. Big question #1 1. Clever Product Placement
  92. 92. Big question #1 2. Make a shorter game
  93. 93. Big question #2 If I make my game shorter, won’t that ruin my vision?
  94. 94. Big question #2
  95. 95. Takeaway #2 Don’t make a shorter version of your game. Make a new game that follows your vision but happens to be shorter!
  96. 96. But what if there’s no shorter version of my game? What if I don’t care about sales? What if I have a vision and I want to express it?
  97. 97. In conclusion • Your game’s quality matters, but so does the timing of your release • Look at where the market is now, and where it will be when the game is out • Can you make a shorter version of your game? If so, that’s always the best alternative. • Use SteamSpy, read Gamesindustry.biz, look at what the big publishers are pushing right now • Don’t make a Kinect game
  98. 98. Thank you Let’s chat! - @MattiaNotFound

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