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Finding a gaming niche worth it to develop for

10-08-2014, 08:56 AM
#1
Senior Member [Original Poster]
Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 122
Finding a gaming niche worth it to develop for

Dear all,

as the mobile market gets saturated more and more and it gets harder for us indies to get even noticed with our games (heck I even don't talk about making money, but even free games get rarely more than a few hundred downloads nowadays!) I just want to discuss strategies and ideas how to enter niches and how to find them.

Personally I have now 7 games in the stores (Google Play, App Store, Windows Phone Market Place) so maybe I should just start sharing my experiences.

So my initial thought was to create something unique. I did this with my first game, even though not completely new but very unique and well received from those who accidently downloaded it.
The problem: Doing something unique makes it hard for the gamers to find as most games are found via the search function (not speaking about the top 20 charts which you simply can't enter). So how could a gamer find something he even doesn't know about and never would search for?

My second approach was to just look into the top charts and doing something similar. Mainly the way that copying something that works well should create some success. Look at games like Candy Crush and so on. Up to now I haven't done that because this casual market is totally saturated, even if you make a really nice clone there are already thousands of them.

What finally worked for me best was to look for localized niches. My best working game so far is a card game (called Mau Mau) which is almost only known in German speaking countries. The competition is very small there so people looking for it would immediately stumble across it. I did another one which is a battle ship clone. This worked excepionally well especially in the local German markets. The same international version has only 20% downloads of the german one. The competition is just much larger there.

I'd be interested how you would spot niches which are worth making games for?

Cheers!

My dev blog - including app sales reports!
Silent Depth - a submarine game
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10-08-2014, 09:08 AM
#2
Joined: Jan 2011
Location: England
Posts: 10,656
Being a huge fan of retro games i'm stunned some of the earlier 'idea's havent been cloned.

Over the years in the 80s and 90s theres been some great looking platformers or shooters. Eg 'Sabre Wulf' was a huge game in the 80's, you basically explore a large jungle to get pieces of an amulet. Have a weapon to kill any baddies, a game of exploration etc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJ_0KixP1ds

Its not a platformer, its more a 'maze' style game.

Everyone goes on and on about wanting a 'metroid-vania' type game but there havent been many huge successes. Again could be an idea.

Platformers are great but instead of small levels again make it a huge vast single level you can explore (look at that Gems n Tombstones game recently which was well received).

I wish devs wouldnt copy recent stuff like the dire Candy Crush or Flappy Birds, but get inspiration/homages/thoughts from the 10000's of great games in the 80s/90s which were great then and great 30 years later (thats why we still play those). There were games out there before Candy Crush/Flappy Birds you know

10-08-2014, 09:12 AM
#3
Senior Member [Original Poster]
Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 122
Hehe I know, and yes that's a good suggestion. My first computer was a C64 and there were quite a lot of nice games there! I can remember my favourites were Cannon Fodder, River Raid and Paradroid.

My dev blog - including app sales reports!
Silent Depth - a submarine game
Facebook
10-11-2014, 08:58 PM
#4
Block Arcade

I think niches are great if you have a reputation, a great marketing strategy, a following, something etc. Without that though you're really pressing your luck. But I figured I would share my story of a game I made called "Block Arcade." It's a twitch-based color matching game. In case you wanna see it here's the link :

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/block-arcade/id839892531?ls=1&mt=8

I tried to do something a little different with Block Arcade. I didn't set out to copy anything and really just wanted to do something random and fun. It's nothing groundbreaking but I do think it's a solid game for what I set out to do.

Anyhow, during launch it got about 700 downloads the first day. 500 the second day etc... by the end of the 1st week it got about 3,000 downloads and then dropped into obscurity. It was my worst launch to date. But I didn't post on Touch Arcade, nor did I even release a press release or contact the media. I made Block Arcade for fun and just wanted to see how it would do

I then released an Android version of Block Arcade onto Google Play. The iPhone version was averaging 0-1 downloads a day for a month straight at this point. And Google Play launched and I was averaging about 3-5 downloads a day. I just kinda shrugged it off and continued to work on my latest game (Lion Pig (unreleased)).

Anyhow, after a couple of months I though to myself maybe it's not getting downloads like my other games because it doesn't have fancy graphics or colorful cute characters or any sort of mass marketing potential for everyone searching for games. So I did a bunch of ASO tests. After a month of ASO tests and checking results I was now averaging about 40 downloads a day on Google Play. As of last week I am averaging 400 downloads a day on Google Play. Now I just proved my theory wrong that you don't need to have cute characters, amazing graphics etc. What you do need is a strategy. In this case, it was ASO. Optimizing for search.

After learning what I have through the dozens of hours researching ASO techniques and lots of trial and error of my own tests, I can say I am planning to revise all my apps based on my results. I guess if you believe that your product can hold it's own then don't give up on it, cause you just never know what will happen if you keep at it, and you will learn a lot in the process.
10-12-2014, 07:47 AM
#5
Joined: Jan 2013
Posts: 157
Not sure that's the way to go. I'd rather look for making an original game rather than a niche one. A niche one doesn't mean there won't be competition. It only means your market will be smaller but tighter and more focused. If it's very empty and for some reason, you feel there's a need, that's a potential for some moderate to high success.
There are some devs who only look for niches after days of search and then decide to make a game based on what they found, and then move on.
They don't even need to like the game they make, just make it good enough.
I'd rather make a game I want to make, being original enough and perhaps stealing a lot, rather than go through a routine of > check if empty; then {make game}. *yawns*
10-20-2014, 07:43 AM
#6
Joined: Jul 2014
Location: Paris
Posts: 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pixelosis View Post
Not sure that's the way to go. I'd rather look for making an original game rather than a niche one. A niche one doesn't mean there won't be competition. It only means your market will be smaller but tighter and more focused.
+1 Do something original, do something clever, do something touching and personal, and if you can, beautiful at the same time.
Like with every other medium, video game creation is opening to the general public. It is now so easy for someone to create a game without even a single line of code.
Like everybody pretends to be a photographer nowadays, because professional cameras are way cheaper and digital technology is by far more easy to use and to consume.
Like everybody pretends to be a musician nowadays, because automated softwares let you create your own music without any knowledge of any instrument.
Evolving technologies have a habbit to universalize things. It is important to accept that. I don't want to be the CEO of a big comb production factory in 10 years vs 3D home printed combs.

So only 3 things can help you:
- your uniqueness or capacity to inovate
- a big amount of luck at the right moment (flappy birds )
- big money to spam ads everywhere (Candy Crap Saga stuff)
10-20-2014, 04:32 PM
#7
Joined: Sep 2013
Location: Auckland
Posts: 114
I don't think that games are really going to break down into different niches all that well. I mean they probably do a bit, like a FPS like call of duty vs a turn based game like civilization. But even then there is probably a lot of people who enjoy playing both of them.
Its not like say sports, where the one sport becomes part of someone's life and this opens up lots of smaller markets that specialise in just that area, say swimming, or running. Where someone can produce products aimed just at these people. The reason is that there are people actively searching in these markets. So runners are looking for running products.
Gamers on the other hand are looking for something fun, and their scope is often too wide for there to become lots of niche markets. This isn't to say that becoming more focused isn't smart, but focus seems to be around rather wide genres, such as RTS or FPS or Puzzle games, not highly specific niche markets.
10-21-2014, 12:52 AM
#8
Joined: Feb 2012
Posts: 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by pated View Post
Evolving technologies have a habbit to universalize things. It is important to accept that. I don't want to be the CEO of a big comb production factory in 10 years vs 3D home printed combs.
+1
10-21-2014, 12:58 AM
#9
Joined: Feb 2012
Posts: 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by OnlyJoe View Post
I don't think that games are really going to break down into different niches all that well. I mean they probably do a bit, like a FPS like call of duty vs a turn based game like civilization. But even then there is probably a lot of people who enjoy playing both of them.
Its not like say sports, where the one sport becomes part of someone's life and this opens up lots of smaller markets that specialise in just that area, say swimming, or running. Where someone can produce products aimed just at these people. The reason is that there are people actively searching in these markets. So runners are looking for running products.
Gamers on the other hand are looking for something fun, and their scope is often too wide for there to become lots of niche markets. This isn't to say that becoming more focused isn't smart, but focus seems to be around rather wide genres, such as RTS or FPS or Puzzle games, not highly specific niche markets.


Completely agree, niche markets are not so delineated in gaming, about the only categorization you could make would be between casual gaming and more involved stuff, but even here someone into the more involved stuff, say something like COD, won't have any issue picking up their iPhone and playing a casual game on the way into work/school.