Pocketgamer.biz | Live Mobile!: Why developers should never remake their favourite games
Game Insight is the top Russian mobile publisher and its chief producer Leonid Sirotin is not a man to mince his words.
"No other company can produce as much money as Game Insight," he claimed via translation in a characteristic talk at Live Mobile! 2013 about the seven (or eight) steps to making a successful mobile game.
Indeed, given Game Insight has over 800 developers spread across 17 studios, he's very keen on scale too, also suggesting that indie developers would be better off applying for jobs at that company.
"We have 40 titles live and we have games generating more than $1 million every month," he said.
"There are no romantic feeling. We care about the bottomline. We want to make money."
As for the meat of Sirotin's talk, he started off with a pre-stage step, before detailing what he considered the seven steps for success.
Step 0: Think before you start
What does the market want? Who are the market leaders? You need to know this before you start. Of course, as well as this you need an idea. Ideas are the most difficult stage of development. Without a good idea, none of the following steps are any use.
Step 1: Don't clone
Cloning successful games can be very dangerous. You can not clone success, although you can clone your own successful games (as Game Insight does) but it's hard.
Step 2: Choosing the genre
Genre can be over-emphasised, especially by journalists. But genre is important if only for your team to know the broad sweep of what they are doing. It provides vision.
Step 3: Choosing the setting
The more complex the setting (i.e. the less realistic), the smaller your audience will be. Developers tend to like the most exotic settings such as steampunk. This is why you need to stop your developers remaking their favourite game. It's always steampunk.
Step 4: Choose the game mechanic
People like simple mechanics. Hybridisation are hard to pull off, but can work really well i.e. shooter+farming=Minecraft
Step 5: Technical aspects: cross-platform, single player, PVP...
How much do you know about servers? You need to know a lot, especially for the Russian market. For example, Russians are most hardcore when it comes to PVP. In this area, programmers should never dominate game design.
Step 6: Monetisation
No other company can produce as much money from a game as Game Insight. It's easy to predict what gamers will do. You also need to quantify your audience in monetary terms.
Step 7: Marketing and PR
You don't need to worry so much about this at launch, but if your game is successful you will have to focus exclusively on it. But the market is becoming extremely expensive.