Saljack Enterprises

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Rims Room 38 Why Did My Game Fail

Designing a game can take months and even years of effort. So it can be disheartening to finally publish it, only to realize that it’s not very successful. It can be even more frustrating when you see seemingly simple games that suddenly go viral overnight, even though they’re nowhere near as polished or complex as your own. So–why do good games fail?

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#1 Not enough publicity

Most game developers wear quite a few hats, but “stellar marketer” isn’t always one of them. Unfortunately, one of the most essential parts of turning a great game into a monetarily successful game is making sure that people actually know about it. Indie developers have it rough–they spend so much time and effort improving and perfecting the mechanics, so much so that by the time it’s ready for release, they don’t have any energy left for writing a press release, sharing it with a large audience, promoting it, etc.

As horrible as it might sound, publicity plays a prominent role in helping your game get into the hands of players. Everyone needs to play a hand in getting the word out to friends and family–granted, not so overwhelmingly constant that you start sounding like an MLM salesman, but not radio silent either.


#2 Timing

Small games released by indie game developers that are released at the wrong time are sometimes buried by the releases of more massive triple-A games–those with the budget and the power to pull in massive amounts of attention. No matter how brilliant a game is, it can quickly be overshadowed (unfortunately) by its bigger cousins, turning it into a diamond buried in the rough–really, really buried.


#3 You listened too much

Listening to the fans and haters who give you suggestions for what to include for your game is fantastic, but it can get to be too much–like that Aesop’s Fable about the boy, his uncle, and their donkey. We can’t please everyone in the world.

Trying to please everyone can turn your game into a messy amalgamation of unnecessary features and bloated gameplay. Ultimately, it’s better to have a precise vision and chase it instead of pouring money into features that a single person suggested.  Of course, that doesn’t mean don’t accept any tips or requests at all–just sift them out more and focus on the ones that really work with your vision for the game.


#4 It wasn’t ready

Games are so fun to play, but they also take so… much… time… to… develop. A person can have the most awesome idea for a game, but it needs to transition from an idea to a real game. That takes money, art, development, code–a great idea with terrible execution often fails miserably because it presents unrealistic expectations and just disappoints its players. (Cough, cough–we all know one game guilty of this).


#5 Graphics

The graphics aren’t polished. They don’t have to be overwhelmingly clean or amazing, but good graphics does go a long way. And if your graphics aren’t the best, don’t sweat it–just make sure they’re decent. A lot of people focus on the visual aspect of the game, and it can be harder to promote a game with poor graphics.


#6 Poor project management

A game that doesn’t follow steps in its planning quickly grows heavy and bloated. You don’t have to do everything in a few months. It’s better to break tasks into smaller steps and set small goals that, when combined, translate into clear goals. Having a clear vision and destination can also improve your team’s morale. Take breaks and take time to build your team, too. Games start to slow down when everything becomes a chore, so recognize the grind days and help push each other forwards. You won’t have the same amount of progress each day, but at least you’ll keep moving forward.


#7 It hasn’t connected with the audience

Pitches that are done by developers sometimes just aren’t appealing, and as a result of all the work they’ve done, they can’t realize that people don’t actually want it. It’s easy to feel so connected to the ideas you’ve thought up, but unfortunately, there is usually a difference between how much cool stuff you want and how much cool stuff your players want. Your work should build conversation, but in a good way–it should make people talk. Players want to enjoy the music, characters, and gameplay–games can flop because they haven’t made the player feel anything at all.

bottom_tech_border. Presented by Saljack Enterprises. Gaming. Animation. Media. Entertainment.

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DISCLAIMER: THE VIEWS AND OPINIONS EXPRESSED IN THIS POST ARE SOLELY THOSE OF THE AUTHOR. THESE VIEWS AND OPINIONS DO NOT NECESSARILY REPRESENT THOSE OF SALJACK ENTERPRISES, AND IT’S STAFF, AND ANY/ALL CONTRIBUTORS TO THE SALJACK ENTERPRISES WEBSITES. SALJACK ENTERPRISES MAKES NO WARRANTY OR REPRESENTATION REGARDING, DOES NOT ENDORSE, IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH AND IS NOT IN ANY WAY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE LINKED WEBSITES OR ANY CONTENT THAT APPEARS ON IT. IF YOU DECIDE TO VISIT ANY LINKED WEBSITE, YOU DO SO AT YOUR OWN RISK, AND IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO REVIEW THE TERMS OF USE OF THE RELEVANT LINKED WEBSITE.

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12 thoughts on “Rin’s Room #38: Why Did My Super Awesome Game Fail?

  1. Failure is part of life. Everyone fails and it is better to experience it because it will make you grow and stronger. Even the smartest and richest people experience it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I believe in number 4 and 6. Basically poor project management springs forth the game not being ready. Both 4 and 6 are related to each other. I believe that good project management is essential to a good game release!

    Like

  3. Rachel the Crafter says:

    I wanted to design a simple game but I need to learn more and what kind of software should I use. I have a good idea but I’m not sure if I can design the graphics and the content well. But this review helps.

    Like

  4. Even the best laid plans can fail. Even the best prepared ones. However, preparation boost the chance of any sucess.

    Like

  5. micorobin says:

    TIMING yes. THis is why companies do studies etc to know TRENDS. In short, STRIKE WHILE THE IRON IS HOT.

    Like

  6. Mau says:

    Agree with #1– not enough publicity. Unfortunately, even if your game is the best in the market, you shouldn’t rely on the audience to “accidentally” stumble upon it. Sure, there might be games with no publicity which suddenly rose to the top, but this is an outlier, not the norm.

    Like

  7. rage87 says:

    All of these reasons are all very true. I agree that games fail because of lack of publicity. Even if you have a very good game but no one knows it, still its useless. Another thing is the graphics side of the game, it should have at least acceptable graphics for users to enjoy it more.

    Like

  8. I know, persistence to what you do will let you succeed somehow. Just don’t quit and work harder for your game to hit the market.

    Like

  9. Really good article on why some games don’t make it. I am glad that some indie games did make it to the big leagues and get published like Shantae and Shovel Knight.

    Like

  10. kulengs says:

    I agree that if you don’t fail then you won’t succeed. With that, you just have to take note where you failed and avoid committing it again. Try again.

    Like

  11. mchesk16 says:

    All very good advice, but I think it’s also important to remember that not every game is going to be a success and to stay motivated even if your game didn’t receive that much reception. Learning from your mistakes will help a lot in future endeavors.

    Like

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