There are two primary ways to build a sustainable business making games. The conventional model starts with creating a product and then finding the right audience; you build it and they will come. The second model is a somewhat more unconventional and involves finding the customers first and then determining what products they need. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages. With the first model, you can immediately begin to sell your product and generate revenue. Furthermore, it’s one of the best ways to introduce entirely novel ideas. For example, most people back before automobiles were invented wouldn’t have thought to ask for a car and instead would have asked for a faster horse. However, your game might not be a good fit for the market and you may have a difficult time generating interest or sales. Additionally, there might be thousands of other games just like yours on the market, making it difficult for the consumer to distinguish between you and your competitors.
The consumer-centric model is solution-oriented. If you already have a customer base, then you should already know how to create a product that will fit their interests/needs. If you don’t know what their problems are, don’t shy away from asking about what they would like to see. The only drawback of this feature is that building an audience takes time and effort. It can be 3–6 months before you find out what their problems are and how to solve them, and even longer before you can bring a product to market. Neither model is really objectively better than the other. I think that building a consumer-centric model is more in line with the current economic era. Listening and then building the game is safer than building and hoping your consumers like your product, but frequently, your customer base might be excessively short sighted. That being said, it’s always good to understand your market and the customers you plan to sell to, even if you’ve decided to adopt a more traditional approach.
Using a more general and not necessarily game development related example, in order to determine who might be interested in a product or service you might have to offer, narrow down your niche and then begin marketing towards them. For the gaming niche, one way to do this is to create a group on a social media platform such as Facebook or LinkedIn. This allows you to specifically target groups of people. If you’re making a roguelike game, it’s wise for you to create roguelike communities. Also, since passion breeds purpose, make sure that you’re sufficiently passionate about your work — you will communicate more effectively with your chosen audience if you actually care about the work that you’re doing.
Try narrowing things down further by seeing what appeals to people in various geographic locations or various subgroups. There are a wide range of tools, such as analytics packages and targeted advertisements, which can help you with this task. These tools could be used to help build an audience which is interested in your game. The biggest mistake you can make is to build an audience that has little interest in spending money or if you waste time and money targeting an apathetic consumer-base. While every customer has unique needs and desires, they can be broadly categorized by their interests and behaviors. There are certain categories of consumers that entrepreneurs should pay close attention to when designing their games, with several important ones listed below.
The first important category is the tactile audience. This type of audience wants to see and feel their product. These are the types of people who buy the latest technologies or closely follow the latest trends in consumer goods such as cars, fashion, or more recently virtual reality. They also frequently enjoy athletic activities such as hiking or swimming, or participate in hobbies such as model building. In order to target this style of audience, you’ll probably need to let them play a demo of your game.
The next important category is the informational audience. This audience is focused on gaining knowledge and learning new skills. This audience focuses on products such as books, ebooks, online courses, webinars and more. However, these consumers are not just interested in instructional or informational material; some might prefer a higher level of interactivity, such as in the form of a game. When targeting this audience, make sure to include as much information as possible to let them know that they’re in good hands with your game.
The last important category is the software-centric audience: There has never been more software available for more purposes than today but there may not be an app for your particular niche. Think of people who rely heavily on technology, people who rely on software to get through their day to day lives. This audience will usually be core gamers, and a good way to target them is to make sure that your game has sufficient replayability.
Take some time to really research your audience and their demographics. Internet ranking pages like Alexa are a great tool for narrowing down your niche based on demographics. The product you develop and content you will develop for marketing will be determined by the age, economic status and personal needs of your consumer base. For example, It would be pointless to market a game based on a children’s show to young adults without families. One thing you can do to better understand your customer base is to create buyer personas to help you get the big picture. By that, I mean, pretend to be a customer in your field and try to get into their mindset. Talk to other customers as if you were a customer yourself and try to understand their desires and concerns.
Important Takeaways: There are two ways to build a successful product or service: developing your project then letting the consumers themselves sort themselves out for future reference, or doing your market research beforehand and developing your project with a specific demographic in mind. Both methods have their pros and cons, and neither is necessarily “better” than the other. Regardless of which method you use, however, it’s a good idea to figure out who will be interested in your product or service once it’s out in the market. One way to find this out is to selectively market to different and distinctive groups of people.
There are many ways to do this, such as using social media, but the end result will be the same. Once you have a general idea, try narrowing down your search even more until you have a perfect idea of which people are interested in your project and why. As a general rule, there are three broad categories of consumers. The tactile audience which wants to see and feel a product, the informational audience is interested in gaining knowledge and new skills, and the software-centric audience which looks for apps or other types of software to assist them in everyday life. If you’re having trouble narrowing down your search, try getting into the head of a potential customer as much as possible, and keep iterating on the process.