Portals affraid of something new?

Discussion in 'Indie Business' started by Dyno Kid, Sep 20, 2007.

  1. Dyno Kid

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    I've just had an interesting conversation with a well known portal and was a little shocked.

    Reading between the lines it seems that certain portals are affraid to try out new game mechanics so unless you make a time management or find the hidden object your going to be up against it from the off.

    Match 3 is no longer popular (no surprise to me)

    So even with great graphics, sound and a fantastic story unless its find the object or time management your going to struggle to get your game to the masses.

    What are your thoughts?

    Darren.
     
  2. Adrian Cummings

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    This is common throughout the industry tho is it not - nobody wants to take a risk with their own money if it's so new an idea perhaps.

    A little bit Chicken and Egg? - you don't always know until you try yourself I always say in this life.

    Surely nobody wants any more match 3, zuma clones or jewel quests - or do they? :)

    Personally I think the Cake Mania, bandwagon has passed by too... everybody always clones the best ones - but what does that say for originality - nothing! - copying ideas is much easier to do is it not?, but a bit lame really IMHO.
     
  3. Pallav Nawani

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    It is not surprising. A game that does not sell makes the portal loose sales, because they could have sold a Diner Dash clone instead and made more money. Which is why portals would not be keen to take a game with a new mechanic.

    There are some portals which release 4-5 games a week. You will have some trouble there.

    There are others like Reflexive which release 7 games a week. You may be able to get them to take their game.

    If you want to make games with new & innovative ideas, that is the price you have to pay. Unless, of course, your game is a hit on Reflexive, and then those other portals might take it too.
     
  4. Emmanuel

    Moderator Original Member

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    Looking at our top 10 today, we have a genetic breeding sim (Plant Tycoon), a real estate sim (Build-a-lot), two adventure-puzzle games (Safecracker and Azada), and a adventure/HO hybrid (Dream chronicles). Back when BFG was only our publisher, we already respected them giving a chance to a lot of original titles, and not second-guessing customers (Fish Tycoon for instance.. biggest sleeper hit of 2005! Heck, they even took Garden War, which holds an unbroken record of non-sales on Bigfish but ultimately led to us working together :)) We never know which developer is going to come up with the next huge hit.

    Best regards,
    Emmanuel
     
  5. jcottier

    jcottier New Member

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    I doubt about this. If you have a fantastic game with mass market appeal, they will take it. People should stop thinking that portals are being manage by stupid idiots. If it was the case they would not have reach their current status.

    The quality bar as raised massively. So, if your are not producing very high quality game (proper artwork, massive amount of polish), you are going to have some difficulties getting much positive response from portals or publishers.

    JC
     
    #5 jcottier, Sep 20, 2007
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2007
  6. Sakura Games

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    What game are you talking about? great graphic/sound, fantastic story? seems interesting, I'd like to see it.
     
  7. barrygamer

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    Although the top ten on BigFish contains very similar games, it looks to me that the releases over the last 30 days are still pretty varied.
    The lack of variety in the top ten is a bit concerning. [Edit: I'm talking about the large number of hidden object games, of course].
     
    #7 barrygamer, Sep 20, 2007
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2007
  8. Bmc

    Bmc New Member

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    No disrespect but ... I think it may be a case of them being polite.

    I've seen and played your past games.

    The graphics aren't near the level of quality they need to be at, even the new stuff for the Mole game.

    If you are using the same system as your previous games, then the game play is not polished enough either.

    With that ... I don't believe they are afraid of change, but they need to be able to play your game and get into it. It has to have some "casual magic" which to me it means it needs to be very user-friendly.

    An excellent book on user-friendly design is called "The Design of Everyday Things". Check it out, or read this quickie article which applies the principles found in this book to games http://trac.bookofhook.com/bookofhook/trac.cgi/wiki/DoeTAppliedToGameDesign
     
  9. soniCron

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    Its successor, Emotional Design, is an oft overlooked companion to The Design of Everyday Things. Definitely a great read from the opposite perspective. (Aesthetics.)
     
  10. Pkonst

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    jcottier is right. Portals need good quality games. True is, that you can creat decent match-3 clone from scratch in less then 2 months. Now state the real value of such efforts?
    Great casual game - is real masterpiece of balanced gamedesign. If you are using settled genre - try to inhale fresh air into them.
     
  11. MerscomMan

    MerscomMan New Member

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    I think you hit on an interesting point. The releases have been varied but the customers are gravitating to one or two types of games. It's not that unique games aren't being given a chance, unfortunately not that many people are buying them. It's consistent with a couple of conversation I had with a major aggregator and large portal back in Seattle at CGA, when they each said their biggest surprise from 2006 was that their efforts to introduce new genres and unique products was a huge failure, the games had the lowest conversion rates among their titles. For a portal, that is the biggest concern because they look at the bandwidth costs as their second largest expense after marketing and low conversion rates cost them a lot of money. For better or worse, it is clones of hidden object and click management games that were doing well. I won't blame the portals, it's the end users (i.e. the market) who are driving this.
     
  12. Dyno Kid

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    Yeah sooner or later the paying public will have enough of the find the object type game and want something new, it might even come round in a big circle and match 3s will be popular once again ( I hope not..)

    Yep the portals are getting fussy about quality art , music and story. Makes me wonder how many games are submitted and what the yes/no ratio is like?

    If i was to take a guess i would say they take 1 in 10 games.

    The bar has been raised.

    Darren.
     
  13. Adrian Cummings

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    It's much the same state of affairs regards mobile phone games - even then if they do take it (mobile games that is) your lucky if you get paid at all! - so many cheaters out there - I've effectively fired 9 this year alone regards that very subject!
     
  14. princec

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    I really don't believe bandwidth costs are that relevant. Bandwidth these days is like air. Any seriously sized company can get their own dedicated pipes and servers and have bandwidth totally on tap.

    The "problem" is that it's ... not a problem. If you want to compete in the portal ecosystem then you need to understand that the kinds of customers the portals attract are only interested in a very narrow set of criteria. The portals pretty much understand this too. If you want to write other sorts of games then one really needs to stop moaning about portals.

    <edit>And you know what, I'm glad they're sticking to their narrow set of criteria because otherwise they'd be in competition with me. Right now, they aren't, because my kinds of gamers are not numerous enough.

    Cas :)
     
  15. Bmc

    Bmc New Member

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    I would say less than that.

    Most submissions are half-finished games, or weak clones with poor art. Then there are the games that are good in their own way, but just "not right" for the targeted audience.

    I wouldn't really agree that the bar just been raised.
    Art, music and story have all been fairly important for at least the last few years.


    Develop a user-friendly game with an accessible theme. A good idea is to see what type of settings are popular in movies and tv. Such as doctors, fashion designers, Survivor type shows.

    try to innovate at least little (think from MCF to Forgotten Riddles)

    hire a decent artist if can't do gfx yourself

    license some decent music

    try your best to put together a decent narrative, doesn't need to be great, a good book I'd recommend to help you with story is Save the Cat, it's directed towards screenwriters but I think it would fit nicely for those writing game narrative as well.

    get people like your mom, wife, kids etc/ to play your games. Don't ask them questions, watch them play and take notes. Fix any issues you discover.

    Lastly, have some passion for what you are developing, if you don't love it, how can you expect others to.

    Do all these things and you should have a good chance in the casual game industry.
     
  16. princec

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    That's the bit where most will fail. Most of us just simply don't like the kinds of games you find on portals, pure and simple.

    Cas :)
     
  17. soniCron

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    That's news to me. Almost every portal I've talked to subtracts the bandwidth cost from your cut.
     
  18. princec

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    Well, they're just bullshitting nickel-and-dimers then, because for about $10 they can get 2000GB of bandwidth.

    Cas :)
     
  19. Adrian Cummings

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    Yeah bandwidth is hardly an expense anymore these days (well compared to what it used to be anyway).
     
  20. jcottier

    jcottier New Member

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    Fashion Designer!!! Yeaa, I hope you are right, my soon to come(ish) game is using this exact setting.

    http://forums.indiegamer.com/showthread.php?t=11623

    We really want this game to be successfull on portal so we are doing what you are describing:

    * We took a genre that people (and us) like to play.
    * We pick up a setting who attrack girls mainly. I hope we will not scare too much males...
    * We made the game mechanics as polish as every other top tittle in the genre.
    * We made a lot of good twists and improvement of the genre.
    * Hopefully, the Art will really stand out as it is beautifull and unique.
    * we are putting a lot of love in the title.

    We made this game in our spare time (we are both professional game dev with many years of experience). To finish it, I decided to go full time.

    To give you some indication about what it cost to make a very polished game:

    Main game mechanics == 20% of the time
    Polish/Polish/Polish == 80% of the time.

    Now, I don't know if this game is going to be succesfull but what I can tell you is that it takes a lot of time to bring a game to a high standard of polish.

    JC
     

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