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8 key factors to make a mobile game succeed (part I)

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[dropcap style=”style1″]S[/dropcap]ince the recent year, we could say that the gaming market has favored mobile platform a lot. With a rocketting speed of expanding, both in quality and quantity – it isn’t exaggerated to say that mobile games could takeover the throne of PC games in the next 5 years. The major reason for this success is that mobile devices are super popular, and mobile gaming is much more friendly than old-school gaming on PC/ consoles.

In a race, if there’s a winner, of course there’re also losers – eventhough every game is the essence of a long process of effort and hard-labor . It might be cruel, but the truth is always bitter: effort alone doesn’s always bear fruits. A “good” game doesn’t mean it’s a “successful” one – since in the eyes of the veterans, something could be deemed amazing, but if it couldn’t sell well, then it’s hard to be called “success”.

Here are some factors that make a successful game – and remember, although there’s no fixed formula to succeed, there’s always a guideline to follow.

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Simple gameplay

feat_mob_8games (5)The human society keeps growing, and so does its philosophical ways. Ten years ago, the term “gamer” seems to be unfamiliar to the mass – the world looks at them as someone who really love games and want to play at hardcore level, aiming to be perfect. But of course – those elites are clearly the minority, and since then, the gaming community was quite small and narrow.

Gradually, the next generations couldn’t keep up with these difficult standards – and just as an obvious result, the “gamer” themselves have to change to provide an easier approach to the mass, or they would be destroyed by themselves. That was when the term of “casual gaming” arose, provided much simpler playstyle: playing games to relax, to enjoy the fun together with friends and familys.

They all share a same thing in common: super simple gameplay – you don’t need to have experience, knowledge nor skill to be able to play these games well
Nowadays, those good old games but too hardcore to the mass are losing their ground – since the evolution of gaming world has turned to be more casual. And so, a successful game must have a simple gameplay, to the point that players don’t even need a tutorial to grab the basics.

Take a look at Flappy Bird, Candy Crush Saga, Fruit Ninja… and their overwhelming success. They all share a same thing in common: super simple gameplay – you don’t need to have experience, knowledge nor skill to be able to play these games well.

Unique idea

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No matter how childish or silly an idea might sound at first, as long as you know what to do and use it wisely, there’s no doubt that you would be successful
It’s an undeniable fact that the mobile gaming market has improved with a frightening speed – to the point that it could use a period of 5 years to shorten the distance of over 30 years leading by PC gaming market. And the reason lies within a giant library of mobile games – which are easily made in short time, with acceptable quality.

But there’s also a fact that there aren’t that many unique concepts or ideads to work with, so the similarity between most of mobile games is expectable. In a massive crowd of nearly identical games, to have your game stand higher than the rest isn’t something that could be achived with mere money and effort.

There’s a solid rule in every field of entertainment industry: people always crave for something new, hasn’t yet existed before. As long as it’s new and unheard of, people will notice your game right off the bat, even if it isn’t beautiful or good at all.

Let’s imagine, back then in the age when hardcore games such as Counter Strike, Warcraft or Heroes of Might and Magic, when you ask what a pro-gamer thinks about silly ideas such as Angry Birds – shooting the birds at the pigs, or Flappy Bird – driving a bird through poles? They would obviously laught and call you crazy. No matter how childish or silly an idea might sound at first, as long as you know what to do and use it wisely, there’s no doubt that you would be successful.

Instant-play

feat_mob_8games (8)There’s an infamous saying from some guys in the mobile gaming industry: “A successful mobile game needs 3 touchs to play at most”. This might sound stupid at first, since there’s no way you could play a game after 3 touchs, with all the stuffs like loading screens, menu, options…

Well, too bad, actually that saying is absolutely correct. These days, people live in a fast-paced society, loving fastfood more than homecook, and don’t even want to wait 10 seconds at the traffic lights. There’s a reason for those Alienware gaming gears to be able to sell well, even with those astronomic prices – because people want to play quickly, and don’t want to wait!“3 touchs” is a miracle charm – especially for mobile games. People love mobile games because they’re convenient, being able to play games anywhere, anywhen. That’s why the process to play a mobile game should be quick and direct – nobody wants to wait 5 minutes just to play a game on a bus trip which costs 15 minutes at most.

There’re times that I happened to browse the AppStore or Google Play, seeing great games with awesome graphics. But the download size of over 200MB gave me the jitter – and obviously, I kept looking for other games, even if it means I could accidentally skip some good games.

A successful mobile game needs 3 touchs to play at most
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Simple UI (User Interface)

Remember back then when I was still a student in an art academy, my teacher said something like this: “It’s common to be beautiful in complicated ways, but the one which is simple and still be beautiful is the real deal”. I was hot-headed and impulse at that time, and didn’t really pay attention to the meaning behind that message.

Several years later, working in designing industry, made me realize that it was a solid truth about that message. There’re a lot of rich people, but most of them don’t spend their money wisely. A dress could be pretty if worn by an actress, but not by a fat lady – samething goes for antiques, a few made them preciouse – a dozen made them look like a warehouse.

A good mobile game should have only 3 buttons at most, and would be best to have none at all
feat_mob_8games (2)And so, user interface is also a very important factor to make a good game. It’s unnecessary to place a lot of buttons on the screen just for the sake of convenience. People need to see the scenes when they’re playing the most, not a horde of buttons that would possibly narrow their vision.

Especially for the mobile platform, where the screensize is varied from 4 – 10 inches, and the key element is that you play games on it with fingers. There’s no point in having a lot of explosions or SFXs without deterring what is main and what is background. A good mobile game should have only 3 buttons at most, and would be best to have none at all.