Why gamers make a poor audience
All right, it is been over a month since my last post and I’m sorry for that.
But I really had my own school with getting a job, moving to another city and, well you know, somehow getting used to work.
But now to the topic at hand.
I believe gamers make a pretty bad audience for games.
Why you ask? Well gamers know all kinds of stuff about games, like what you can do, and what you cannot do. For them gaming is not just a hobby it’s part of their everyday life. So if you are making a game for that audience you always have to consider their knowledge about games.
Whenever a gamer starts up a new game he always sees mechanics that have been used in other games before. Also most are used to the retail model of buying games as a whole. That’s why there has been such an uproar when the first DLCs schowed up.
But there is another reasons why gamers are not the best target audience for games:
Generally gamers are broken, complain a lot about changes in the beloved gaming series, and about rusty old mechanics they’ve seen before, always want something new, and something special, and something that has never been seen before. I guess you can see how that target audience is pretty hard to satisfy.
In my opinion that’s the reason why so many social- and browser-games have been showing up lately. They target an altogether different audience: non-gamers.
But why is it that games are starting to target other people than the average gamer? Well first non-gamers don’t complain about anything, they are happy if they can just play a game. And another reason is, probably,that those people are actually ready to pay for micro-transactions.
As I have been digging my way through many browser games, I came to realize that most of this games are pretty simple. They require almost no skills, and they reward you for everything you do.
They also prompt you to spend money for pretty, shiny, cute, and all kinds of other features. And many non-gamers are actually ready to pay for those features.
The basic version of most browser-games is completely free so many people can try it out. Browser games are not aiming to get 50 bucks from yo, they are happy with little amounts of money and instantly give you the boost/item/skill/or whatever it was you bought. Some of them have no pvp aspects at all. Nobody can attack you or destroy what you created, but you can compete indirectly by who has the higher score. Some don’t even have scores and feel just like multi-player tamagochi.
But all of those games you can see on Facebook or when you google browser-games have one thing in common: They make enough money to fill the stomaches of the guys who made them (most of the time). They generate more Money than you would think at first. And they do something else. They convert normal people into gamers. Even though they won’t call them selfs gamers, they play a game, often every day of the week. And that is what I’d call a gamer.
The only thing that worries me right now is this: What will happen if all those browser-gamers out there are suddenly fed up and want to play something more… sophisticated. They’d probably go and play FTP-MMOs. Some of them might go play EvE, some might pick up WoW. And then we’d have to teach tons of noobs what real gaming is… MOORPG are not really known for having super-helpful communities or being very nice when asked questions by newbies… well we all went through it once.
Browser-games generate tons of revenue with really simple designs. They are more about being easy to learn then about being deep and challenging. They don’t want you to smack your keyboard through your monitor in frustration (dark souls will finally come out for pc!), they just want you to lean back and click around a bit.
Also they don’t require special hardware or installations. Most of them can be directly accessed via browser and don’t even have a loading screen. They might feel like child’s play to a seasoned gamer, but titles like Travian and other monsters out there can easily hook you to spend many an hour on a browser-game.
So lets sum why non-gamers a better better audience than gamers:
Gamers hate everything new, while wanting something new all the time.
Gamers are cheapskates.
Gamers can easily flood forums with bad comments about your game.
Gamers hate DLC/Microtransactions, basically anything that costs extra money.
Players hate new features while complaining about old features.
Players will notice every tiny little mistake you made, and will complain (again).
Gamers would have made that game a hundred times better than you.
Non-gamers on the other hand…
Don’t know much about games and will experience many of your features as “new”.
Are often ready to spent money for stuff gamers would never even consider giving you one cent for.
Have more money than gamers (because they don’t buy 50 buck retail games)
Don’t complain about stupid features, because many of them don’t know that it could be done better/different
Don’t notice mistakes you made in the design
Are just happy they can play your game
Now, if asked for which of those groups you would want to design if you had a fixed budget and timeframe, which would it be?
Unlike a few months ago I no longer think browser-games are evil and will kill everything in gaming I like. Now I feel they are an opportunity for the gaming industry to convert more people into dedicated gamers. Also they are interesting to monitor, there are no retail games out there we have nearly that much numbers and fancy graphs on. You can learn a great deal from analyzing browser games and I guess everybody should at least take a look at them from time to time, since some of them seem to draw closer and closer to real games, with real challenges and, most important, the kind of “fun” gamers want to have while playing.
Well that’s it for now. I hope I will fall back to my old pace of posting again, but I really got my hands full with work and almost had to force myself to write this right now.(source:blogspot)