[Gaming] Research Gaming Communities Before Building your Next Title
Why Gaming Communities Matter
Far from being the typically solo affair it once was, today’s gaming has become deeply intertwined with its social elements. I’m not just referring to multiplayer titles either – even single-player games have highly active communities on Steam, online forums, social networks and more. In other words, it doesn’t matter the scope, size or genre of your game – there’s a community out there for it.
Gaming communities are your one-stop resource for pre-development research into your target audience. Better still, it costs nothing to explore the forums on Steam, the chat messages on Discord, the threads on Reddit or website communities belonging to the developers themselves. By trawling through these forums, you can garner invaluable insights into your target audience.
Exploring online gaming communities helps you avoid the mistakes of other developers. After all, there’s no shortage of toxic communities out there which are a direct result of things like poor management or terrible gameplay elements that leave players angered and feeling the urge to troll the forums. When researching, look at what people are criticizing as well as what they’re praising.
Building Your Own Community
It’s important to start building your own community as soon as you start working on your next title – or even before. This will help you maintain control over the direction of your community, which is especially important at a time when players expectmore developer involvement both during and after the release of the game. You’ll also demonstrate to your target audience that you’re genuinely interested in their feedback and involvement. Better still, you’ll have an invaluable resource for research right at your fingertips.
Building your own community, as well as being actively involved in established ones, gives you a hands-on approach to market research. Post polls to get a better idea of what people want and a general view of the sentiment when it comes to certain genres, gameplay styles and other factors. Aside from exploring the most relevant statistics, you may ask questions and brainstorm based on people’s feedback, such as what they long to see in upcoming titles.
Looking for a Void in the Marketplace
Genres come and go, and once-thriving gaming communities disappear while others quickly rise in their wake.
For example, the last few years have seen an unprecedented boom in the open-world survival genre with new titles flooding pre-release channels like Steam Early Access. Unfortunately, many such titles have been released too early because of rampant profiteering with little or no attention to quality, playability and all the other things that gamers actually want.
Launching a game in such an active marketplace can be very risky, unless you know exactly what you’re doing. A better option is to spend time carefully dissecting the gaming forums and other communities to look for voids in the marketplace.
Consider, for example, the constant craving a relatively small but very active community has for real-time strategy games of old. That’s why the recent launch of Shiro Games’ Northgard RTS proved a major success among its target audience, who had barely seen the sort of game they wanted since the RTS boom of the early 2000s.
In conclusion, it’s about finding opportunities by taking an in-depth look into the gaming community, rather than just trying to do what everyone else is doing.