The business of gaming is complex and unpredictable. From the rise and fall of Zynga, overnight success of Draw Something, controversy driven success of Flappy Bird and the recent announcement of Candy Crush maker King’s IPO, is there a winning formula emerging?
Gaming still remains one of the most risky segments. Back in 2011 Angry Bird created same kind of sensation and made mobile games as one of the hottest thing to be in. But remember there are 1000 failure behind one success story in gaming. So let’s talk about why there are so many failures.
I will break this into two parts.
First I will talk about what most gaming companies doing today?
Second I will talk about how they can ensure not to make some of these mistakes.
So one question I tried to focus on was how founders started into gaming; with what philosophy, with what objective, with what vision?
I have observed two most common scenarios.
1) They started with one single game idea.
2) They started because they had multiple game ideas (but these ideas had no relevance with each other).
Now there are pros and cons in both the strategies
Let’s talk about the first scenario when the founders started with a single game idea. Now this single idea can be(it has to be) a potential multimillion dollar idea like ‘clash of clans’ but that requires some particular things to make it a multimillion hit game:
- Needs a high investment on day 1 to start the project to hire at least 10 people team and required resources
- high expertise in game design and tech
- a solid rock-hard team to execute the idea perfectly
Supercell had everything to execute clash of clans. They had handsome investment on day 1 (because the team was credible, worked on multiple games before, had good exposure of working in gaming industry for 10+ years). They were game design expert as they designed multiple games before founding Supercell, learned what works what not.
See this info from their website itself:
Supercell was founded by a team of industry veterans with a solid track record of creating hit games and successful IPs. Each and every one of us has 10+ years of development history and together we have shipped more than 165 games on 12 different platforms including Facebook, XBOX360, XBLA, iPhone (and several other mobile platforms), PC and Mac.
So obviously most of the gaming ventures don’t have all these things when they start out. Hence most of the time with this scenario either the product doesn't even make it to the market or it is not mature enough when it goes into market. Supercell pulled out Battle Buddies from market due to poor monetization, despite getting positive reviews from critics.
So after this immature product don’t do well in market, venture gets into major money crisis as there was already a lot of investment in terms of money and time with no result.
Now coming to the second strategy:
This is most of the time hit and miss game. The team has multiple interesting ideas in their mind and they start developing them in the hope that one of them would turned out to be a temple run or subway surfer. In this case most of the time either the team loses its motivation after a couple of unsuccessful release or they run out of cash to work on further ideas. The biggest disadvantage in this model is that there is no carry forward benefit in the next game except the technical learning. So each game turned out to be a new startup and as running one single startup is already damn tough so you get the idea how this strategy turns out. But obviously it’s not all that negative, sometime things happen for good and you actually come up with a temple run/angry birds. And the good thing about games is that with one single successful game you can build a multimillion dollar company as the scale here is too big (in 10’s of millions). But it might take a lot of time and patience as your first few titles might fail.
Afterall Rovio took 51 title before coming out with Angry Birds.
Now what is the best strategy to go for if you want to maximize your chances in gaming (obviously nothing can be ensured for 100%)?
Find your niche | build on a particular philosophy or game style.
What I mean by finding your niche is try to focus on one particular type of game style which you can repeat for multiple game ideas later. For example Rolocule is a Pune based gaming company in India. They have released successful titles based on tennis, badminton and squash. They were featured by Apple on iTunes. What they did smartly was to create a particular niche for themselves. They just tried to stick to sports category that too only for the racket games like tennis, squash, badminton.
You see how easier it would be to develop a tennis game or a squash game after you have developed a badminton game. You can improve your next game tremendously from the learning of your previous game. Rolocule also selected their niche smartly by finding that there was no badminton game in the market at that point of time. So by selecting the right niche then going with the right model they made it to one of the successful gaming companies from India. Even if you try to observe King’s games you will see how beautiful there model is. Each of their games follows almost same kind of model in terms of game design, monetization and acquiring users. And the result is they are filling for an US IPO because they can repeat all the things they did in Candy Crush Saga.
In conclusion I would say while there are reasons for failure, there are reasons for success too. What’s important is start thinking about the venture and not just the game. Because it’s the game which fails not the venture until you quit. The question that needs to be asked is: how your venture is going to grow? What if your first game doesn't work? What is your niche? Why this particular game would work?
At PaxPlay we are developing turn based group games where 2-10 players can play in the same game together. We have published one experimental IP called Hungry Hamster(It has nothing to do with group gaming). The game is available only on Android till now. Do let me know your feedback on it. Whether this game can make it to a multimillion hit?
Rohit Goyal is the Founder, CEO at PaxPlay and continuously looking to exchange ideas and knowledge on gaming. Interested people can reach out via Twitter.