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每个游戏公司都需要达到的两个目标:产品成功&公司成功

发布时间:2021-08-23 15:51:34 Tags:,,

每个游戏公司都需要达到的两个目标:产品成功&公司成功

原作者:Josh Bycer 译者:Willow Wu

我最近一直在研究游戏的成败,试图弄清楚是什么促使游戏公司收获成功,而有些之前成功过的公司为什么会遭遇失败。我意识到开发者的成功是没有固定标准的,每个公司都不一样。有的公司可能在Steam上卖出100份游戏就是成功了,而有的公司至少要卖出2万份。随着深入思考,我认为游戏开发者的成功可以归结为两点——许多独立开发者往往无法区分这两点,我会讲讲为什么这种思维会带来很大隐患。

谈到制作成本,游戏开发跟其它娱乐产品是有很大不同的。不同游戏的设计、公司运营和制作流程都很不一样。此外,一位参与过多个项目的资深开发者 vs.一个刚起步的新手对游戏开发过程的影响也是截然不同的。这意味着站在外部视角,想要评估一款游戏是否在收益上实现成功几乎是不可能的。

Hearthstone(from gamesindustry.biz)

Hearthstone(from gamesindustry.biz)

有粉丝可能会说如果一个单价2美元游戏卖出了50万份,那开发者不就成了百万富翁了吗——他们从来不考虑开发成本、投入其中的人力和营销成本。作为一个游戏开发者,你的首要目标就是让自己的游戏能够赚钱。如果你的收入是多于开销的,那么你现在的方向就是对的。然而,现在很多开发者会止步于这个标准,看不到下一阶段的成功指标。

财务上的成功对短期来说是非常关键的,但如果你想让公司保持增长,为员工提供完善的工作保障,你得理解什么是工作室的成功。在市场中获得成功意味着你已经有了一定的粉丝基础,他们愿意为你提供支持,你可以保证至少有X人会关注你的下一个作品。财务上的成功往往会跟工作室成功挂钩,但这两者并不是一回事!我见过很多独立开发者因为游戏挣钱了,或者有1000人写了评测就在推特上鼓吹自己。

在游戏行业,持续性的成功并不是大多数人所想的那样。我见过许多曾经创造出爆款游戏的工作室在发行一两款产品之后就倒闭了。如果你的游戏和工作室没有市场,你的公司就无法发展,更糟糕的是,你不清楚人们对你的游戏会有什么样的反应。有些开发者拒绝倾听任何批评声,因为他们只关注游戏收入的成功,而不是工作室的成功。这些开发者往往会陷入“回音室效应”,认为自己所做的一切都是完美的,因为他们的粉丝小群体从来不会说任何不好的话。

我接下来要说的话可能是你作为独立开发者听到的最打击人的话之一,但我必须指出来:我不管你的游戏挣了多少钱,在如今的市场中,如果你想要实现工作室的成功,你的游戏最少要有5000条评价,而且总体评价要是积极的。说实话,我说的这个门槛应该算是比较低的了,就如今的环境来说,10000条应该会比较合理。

为什么是5000条?

要判断开发工作室是昙花一现还是会可持续地发展下去,关键在于他们是否能够吸引、留住用户,并壮大忠实的粉丝数量。总会有一些例外的游戏会走运,但优秀的工作室知道确保质量和增加粉丝基础的重要性。

5000条评价意味着至少有5000人在意你的游戏,愿意给你提供反馈。还有就是,这意味着购买和玩游戏的人是这个数字的好几倍(大多数人玩完游戏后是不会写评价的,不管他们的感觉如何),这对收益很重要。对于你的下一个项目来说,5000个潜在粉丝也是一个比较令人安心的数字。这也证明了那些购买了你的游戏的人愿意支持你的工作室,而不是某个单独的游戏概念。正如我在上文所说的,财务上的成功只是工作室成功的一部分。最终,如果你想要实现长期的成功,你就得思考如何才能让公司继续增长。

我曾在之前的文章(https://gamerboom.com/archives/97011)中探究过了,作为一个开发者,你希望有足够多的粉丝去关注你的游戏,只需要其中一小部分人去购买游戏你就能获得成功。对于那些没有市场的开发者,他们得需要这几百个粉丝(甚至需要几千个)全部都买游戏才能实现成功。除此之外,想要通过一个更大的项目获得成功几乎是不可能的,我会在下一节中展开讲。

因此,我在评估工作室的成功时会查看他们的所有产品,而不是只有热门的。考虑到独立开发领域的成熟程度以及游戏价格和质量的提升,我认为成功的衡量标准至少应该是10000条评价。现在,你们中的一些人大概正准备怒气冲冲地给我留言——“这有什么大不了的?游戏都挣钱了我为什么还要去在乎粉丝有多少?”

任何生意成功的关键就在于知道自己哪些事情做对了,哪些事情做错了,汲取经验教训继续往前走。我在之前的文章“The Power of Game Design Analysis”中讨论过开发商制造出了优秀游戏但仍遭遇失败的常见原因。拥有一个庞大的粉丝基础和市场能够帮助你更好地开发下一个项目。基数越大越好,因为这最终能确保你的游戏设计是在往正确的方向发展。

许多开发者虽然创造出了成功的游戏,但仍未吸引到大量粉丝,他们一般不会去思考自己做错了什么。结果就是在第一个成功游戏发行之后,他们开始大量流失粉丝。如果他们尝试着去超越自己的第一款游戏,结果收获的粉丝和反馈还更少,这通常就是财务陷入困境的开始。他们不是在想如何改进、如何更好地发展,而是认为只要能赚钱就不存在什么问题。伴随着新游戏的发行,你的粉丝数量应该是持续上升的,这才是你的真正目标,而不是走下坡路。Kitfox Games就是一个很好的例子,在过去10年里,他们凭借自己所创造的游戏和影响力不断发展壮大。

当我观察那些成功的游戏及其后续作品时,我发现了同样的趋势—他们的第一款游戏意外走红,然而续作的玩家基数大幅下降并且无法挽回。这其中的共同原因就是开发商没有认真思考如何改进,只是尝试修改一下,做一个跟前作差不多的游戏,或者在缺乏粉丝支持的情况下加大投入,创造规模更大的游戏。

如果你不信我的话,以下是我的第四本书Game Design Deep Dive horror中收集到的一些关于恐怖游戏系列的数据:

· 《失忆症:黑暗后裔》是第一个因无战斗特色而出名的独立恐怖游戏,在Steam上已有1.4万人写评测了。当该系列的第三款游戏《失忆症:重生》发行时,评测数量已经降至4100左右。
· 从流行文化的角度来说,《玩具熊的五夜后宫》可以说是最成功的独立游戏之一,初代游戏有2万多则评测。然而之后发行的游戏数据都在大幅减少,现在平均只有4000~6000则评测。
· 《逃生》也是个非常出名的独立恐怖游戏,评测有4.5万条,但续作《逃生2》还不到它的一半。

粉丝们常常把游戏的成功混为一谈。在大概一个月之前,YouTube主播们都在热议的一个游戏是At Dead of Night,很多游戏红人都玩过这个游戏。你或许会想这样的宣传效果肯定会让游戏产生惊人的影响力,但到现在为止,它的Steam评测数量还不到1000。对于拥有长寿IP或多款游戏的工作室来说,你肯定不希望看到自己的粉丝基数(和关注度)随着每款新游戏下降。

在设计和发行一款游戏时,我们需要考虑诸多因素。考虑到过去十年独立游戏空间的增长,现在的独立游戏工作室想要扩大规模并获得对应的收益并非是不可行的,他们是有潜力有机会的。这也意味着独立开发者们不再被视为“弱势群体”。如果你想成功,就做出符合人们质量预期的产品。他们也希望你能发展起来。作为游戏开发者,你的目标不仅是提高设计&制作游戏的技能,同时也要增加你的粉丝基础,不然的话就没有多少人会支持你那些更大、更有抱负的点子。此外,更多的粉丝意味着会有更多人买你的游戏,让工作室能够更轻松地度过各种金融风暴。

尽管取得了任何成功,仍然有一些开发人员只是做一些大同小异的游戏,而且对于没有增长感到很意外。能够坐下来好好分析你做对、做错了什么是一项非常重要的技能。没有多少人可以对自己说“这件事我做错了,我需要加以纠正才能发展得更好。”

去年我谈到了Bioware对《圣歌》这个游戏的烦恼,以及为什么没有品牌魔法之类的东西。任天堂、Valve和暴雪等公司的游戏设计质量一直以来备受赞誉是有原因的,而不是因为有什么魔力。这些公司不断在游戏设计中尝试新元素,而不仅仅是用更好的画面重新制作老配方游戏。他们明白哪些设计是有用的,哪些是无用的,从而更好的进行迭代。

我想谈谈这对于那些忠实粉丝数量不多的开发者来说意味着什么。在本文的开头,我就说过主要目标是获得足够的资金促使你能够继续开发游戏。如果你能做到这一点,那实际上你已经比大多数开发者要优秀了。我指的是理解并完善自己的设计,获得足够的支持,这样你就拥有了作为游戏开发者的安全网。像Klei Entertainment,他们的游戏《饥荒》和《缺氧》都获得了巨大成功,还有反响相对一般的《隐形公司》《炽热熔岩》。工作室实现成功,他们才有更好的条件进行试验,他们明白一款失败或低于平均表现的游戏并不等于是工作室的终结。我再强调一下,你没有必要纠结我说的话是真是假,你自己看看有多少曾经创造出“神作”的独立开发者在过去十年里因为某个游戏失败,或者因为缺乏支持而无法走下去,最终失业或者是淡出了人们的视线。

最后,我还是想缓和一下这种令人沮丧的氛围。如果你的第一个、第二个甚至第十个游戏都没有获得5000条评测,不要因此放弃。5000则测评是一个长期的目标,而不是说你的处女作就应该达到这个标准。就好比YouTube主播尝试达到1万订阅者,我的频道很长时间才增长到1000名关注者,再后来就是5000,现在我离1万这个目标很近了——每个阶段都是有个漫长的过程,这些里程碑不是马上就能达到的。如果你的每款新游戏都能吸引到比前一作更多的粉丝,那么你就可以肯定自己是往正确的方向发展。就像我经常说的那样,在游戏开发中没有任何标准或保证,但你得竭尽全力确保实现游戏和工作室两个层面的成功,很多开发者到最后才领悟这个道理。

本文由游戏邦编译,转载请注明来源,或咨询微信zhengjintiao

As I’ve been analyzing videogame successes and failures as of late, I’ve been trying to figure out a way to understand what leads to game companies succeeding and why others fail regardless of past success. What I’ve come to realize is that “success” as a developer has no set standard: every studio is different. One company would kill for 100 sales on Steam; someone else may need at least 20K for their game to be called a success. As I thought about it more, success as a game developer can be boiled down to two points, and where many indie developers tend to fail to differentiate the two and why this is a dangerous mindset.

Reviewing Revenue

Game development is not like other mediums when it comes to the cost of production. Every game’s design, company, and process tends to be different. Not only that but having a veteran developer of multiple projects vs. someone just starting out can have a huge impact on the development pipeline. What that means is trying to figure out if a game financially succeeded from the outside is next to impossible.

There are fans who will say that if a game sold 500,000 copies at $2 apiece, then those developers are now millionaires; never considering the development costs, labor, and marketing that went into it. Your goal as a game developer first and foremost is to be able to earn a profit on the game you’re making. If you are bringing in more money than you’re losing, you are doing something right. However, there are a lot of developers who stop at that metric and fail to see beyond it for what is the next measure of success.

Growing a Studio

Financial success is very important for the short term, but if you want your company to continue growing and afford you job security, you need to understand studio success. Being successful in the market means that you have built up a fanbase who are willing to support you; guaranteeing X number of eyes on whatever you have next. While financial success is often tied to studio success, THEY ARE NOT ALWAYS ONE IN THE SAME. I have seen many indie developers on Twitter who puff themselves up because their game earned them money, or that it managed to hit 1,000 reviews.

Continued success in the game industry is not something a lot of people like to talk about. I have personally seen many studios who have had major successes – critically amazing games – go out of business one to two games later. Without a market for your games and your studio, you are unfortunately not growing as a company, and worse: you’re not understanding how people respond to your game. There are developers who once again refuse to listen to any criticism because they only look at the revenue success of their game, not the studio. These are often the developers who get stuck in the echo chamber effect thinking that everything they do is perfect because their small fanbase never says anything bad.

What I’m about to type may be one of the most depressing things you will hear as an indie developer, but it needs to be said. I don’t care how much money your game has made, in today’s market, if you want your game to be considered a studio success, and as a goal for your company, you want a game to have a minimum of 5,000 reviews and rated positive. And honestly, that’s me on the generous side, as I feel that number should be boosted to 10K reviews now.

Why 5K?

What often separates a developer from being a one-time success to those that become a long-running company is being able to bring in, retain, and grow a loyal fanbase. Now, there are always going to be outliers and games that got lucky, but the studios that do things right and continue to succeed know the importance of quality and having a healthy fanbase.

With 5,000 reviews, that means that there are at least 5,000 people who care enough about your game to leave a review to support you. As another point, this means that several times more people bought and played your game (most people who buy a game will not leave a review regardless of how they felt), which is important for revenue. Five thousand is a healthy number of potential fans for your next project regardless of what that may be. This also proves that the people who bought your game are willing to support you as a studio, as opposed to just that single game concept. As I said earlier, financial success is a part of studio success, but at the end of the day, if you want to succeed long-term, you need to think about the growth of your company.

The reason comes from an earlier post I wrote about successful games. As a developer, you want as huge of a pool of fans that you can have looking at your game, and only needing a fraction of them to buy it to succeed. For developers who don’t have a market for themselves, they’ll need every one of those few hundred (or even few thousand) fans to buy their game in order for it to be a success, and there’s little chance that trying to go big with a project will work out for them; I’ll explain why in the next section.

Therefore when I examine the success of a studio, I see how every one of their games has done, not only their breakout hit. Considering how established indie development is and how the price and quality of games have gone up, therefore I think going forward the metric of success should be at least 10K reviews. Right now, some of you are getting ready to leave me angry comments asking, “what’s the big deal? Why should I care about having a huge fanbase if I’m earning a profit?”

Going Downhill

Part of any successful business is understanding what you did right and wrong and learning from those points going forward. In another piece I spoke about game design analysis, and I discussed the common reasons developers still fail despite having a great game. Having a huge fanbase and market for your game gives you a leg up on whatever your next project is. The higher the better, as that means you ultimately did something right with your game design.

For many developers who do have one title that blows up for them, but still doesn’t attract a huge fanbase, they often don’t think about what they did wrong. What ends up happening is that from that first big success, they start hemorrhaging fans. If they try to go beyond their first game and end up with fewer fans and support, that usually is the start of financial problems for that company. They’re not thinking about ways to improve or grow but think that as long as they’re earning money that there’s nothing wrong. The true goal is that each game made by your company should be increasing the number of fans, not decreasing it. A good example would be Kitfox Games who have grown in terms of the games they’ve made and their reach over the last decade.

When I look at major successes and their follow-ups, with rare exception, I see the same trend—Their first game is a huge, and often a surprising hit, and then the fanbase dips considerably and doesn’t recover. The common reason is that the studio chooses not to improve, and just tries to make the same game with minor differences or doubles down and go bigger without the fanbase to support it.

If you don’t believe me, here are some numbers from successful horror franchises that blew up that I looked at in my fourth book “Game Design Deep Dive Horror.”

Amnesia the Dark Descent was the first indie horror game to become famous for removing combat and has a respectable 14K reviews on steam at this time. By the time the series hit its third major release with Amnesia Rebirth, that number of reviews have dropped to around 4.1K. Five Nights at Freddy’s is arguably one of the biggest indie successes in terms of pop culture reach, and the first game has a great score of around 20K reviews. However, the series has lost a considerable number with each new entry, and now averages around 4–6K reviews. Outlast, another major horror game had an outstanding first outing with 45K reviews, for its sequel, it is now down to 21k.

Fandom will often conflate what success is for a game. About a month ago, the game that YouTubers couldn’t stop talking about was At Dead of Night, which has been played by many large channels. You would think that with all that buzz that the game has an amazing reach, but right now it hasn’t even broken 1K reviews on Steam. For studios with long-running franchises or multiple games, you do not want to see your fanbase (and interest) dip with each new game.

Going Over the Numbers

There are so many elements that go into deciding what to do when designing and releasing a game. With how much the indie space has grown over the past decade, the potential is there for indie studios to go big and be rewarded for it. However, that also means that indies aren’t being viewed as the “scrappy underdog” anymore. If you want to succeed, people expect quality, and they expect you to grow. Your goal as a game developer is to not only grow your design and ability to make games, but your fanbase as well, without it, you’re not going to have a fanbase to support bigger and more ambitious ideas. Moreover, a larger fanbase also means more people will buy your game and allow studios to weather any kind of financial storms easier.

Despite any success, there are still developers who just make the same game with minute differences and are surprised why they’re not growing. Being able to sit down and understand what you did right and wrong is a skill worth its weight in gold. Not many people can say to themselves, “this is what I did wrong, and I need to improve going forward.”

Last year I spoke about the problems that plagued Bioware with Anthem and why there is no such thing as studio magic. There is a reason why companies like Nintendo, Valve, and Blizzard are held in high regard for the quality of their game design, and it’s not because of magical powers. These companies are about trying new things with their game designs and not just remaking the same game with better graphics. They understand what elements work and don’t work about their designs and use that when it comes to iterating.

I want to talk about what this means for developers who have survived on having a small and loyal fanbase. At the beginning of this piece, I said that the main goal is to be bringing in enough money to continue developing games. If you can continue doing that, then you are already better off than most indie developers. What I’m talking about is reaching a point in terms of understanding your design and improving it, and having enough people support you that you have a safety net as a game developer. Companies like Klei Entertainment have had massive successes with Don’t Starve and Oxygen Not Included, and just okay ones with Invisible Inc and Hot Lava. Having those studio successes affords them the ability to experiment and know that one failed or below-average game isn’t a studio ender. Once again, you don’t need to take my word for this, you can see just how many indie developers with great games have gone out of business or quietly disappeared over the last decade either due to one failed project or just not having enough support to keep going.

For my final point, I want to alleviate some of the doom and gloom of this post. If your first, second, or even your tenth game doesn’t break 5,000 reviews, don’t consider that as a reason to give up. The 5,000 reviews is a long-term goal, not something you should expect out of your first game. For me, it’s the same as trying to hit 10,000 subscribers on YouTube. It took me a long time to hit 1,000, and then I went to 5,000, and now I’m on track to hit 10K, but none of that happened immediately. If each game you make brings in more fans than the last, then you know you’re on the right track. As I always say, there is nothing standard or guaranteed when it comes to game development, but what I’ve seen time and time again is that the developers who do last understand that you want to do everything to guarantee the success of your game and the success of your studio.

(source:gamasutra.com )


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