In today's main Gamasutra article, an excerpt from the "21st Century Game Design" book, authors and experienced game designers Chris Bateman and Richard Boon suggest how to make game design relevant to the business side of the game development process.
In this extract from the recently released book, the authors set out their point of view on the matter:
"Why is game design often overlooked as an important factor contributing to game sales? Perhaps because when most people in development companies talk about “good game design,” they mean “game design that produced a game I really like.” This sort of subjective validation of game design is of no use in business, which thrives on repeatable methods based around capturing a target audience—the market. Unable to see the profit resulting from “good design”— especially since many allegedly well-designed games fail commercially— most businessmen ignore design entirely.
Design is not suggested to be the only (or even the primary) factor in the sales of a game. Marketing, for example, is hugely important in making a product visible in a crowded market. Similarly, the sales of a game depend greatly upon the budget for development. A game developed on a budget of $100,000 should not be expected to achieve sales figures equivalent to a game developed on a budget of $5,000,000. However, mechanisms such as word of mouth transmit individual opinions of a product, opinions that will be swayed by the design content of the game.
Therefore, we face a great need to make game design relevant to the business side of the game development process. Once the ragtag market has stabilized, we will have plenty of time to pursue the artistic side of game development, but for the time being, that is a luxury we cannot afford. We would not see inventive filmmakers like the Coen Brothers were it not for commercially motivated film makers like Spielberg and Bruckheimer, because the commercial success of a medium clears the way for artistic expression, not the other way around. "
You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject
, including more information and suggestions on ways to work with different 'clusters' of gamers (no registration required, please feel free to link to the article from external websites).