6 Ways to Stand Out in a Crowded Application Market

Original author: Harry Holmwood
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Since we announced our MarvDev development program a few months ago, we’ve been fortunate enough to chat with several hundred developers looking for partners to publish their games.

We signed the first games to participate in the program and got the opportunity to watch all kinds of games - both from talented teams and from individual developers from around the world.

But more than 100 applications are released per day, and to stand out from them, in fact, is a big task.

Having examined so many games in such a short period of time - and thinking about them from a commercial point of view - we have gained invaluable experience and think that it would be useful to make a list of common features in the games that we liked.

1. Be different

It is wonderful to be inspired by other games, but if your game does not add anything new, does not give users any reason to play, then most likely it will not succeed.

Most success stories in recent years have been based on the fact that games gave players something they did not have before. That's why even in a huge competitive market, they were able to break through and succeed.

Take a close look at what has worked in recent years - but most importantly, you should understand: what worked in the past year is not what you should do in this.

Hits such as Minecraft, CSR Racing, Infinity Blade, and Draw Something, all drew inspiration from early products, but each brought something completely new to the games.

2. Choose a business model as early as possible

Premium games (pay per download) are completely different from free games. And it's hard to switch from one model to another.
In particular, many arcade games are not very suitable for the freemium model - user return is a problem, and monetization can be very difficult - only a few users will want to pay for power-ups or access to additional content.

One and freemium is not the only option - if your game is not suitable for the freemium model, do not be afraid to use premium. Games like The Room, The Walking Dead and Super Hexagon were both paid and with huge audiences.

3. Make payment a part of entertainment

The best games make payment a positive rather than negative experience - there is a subtle but important difference between paying what makes the game “less disappointing” and what makes the game “more entertaining."

Energy mechanics, time - as a rule, this falls into the first category, which makes it harder and harder for a player to put up with. Gathering, educating, creating, communicating, getting a chance is all a positive experience that players are happy to pay for.

As a kid, I was an avid buyer of Panini football stickers - even though I was not interested in football. It was interesting to buy a sealed package of cards and have fun finding rare stickers or leading players for your album, sharing with friends and slowly filling out your album.

If the game consisted in buying any card that I wanted, and putting it in an album, or just in getting an album already filled with stickers, all the joy would have evaporated.

Think about the freemium model in this vein and you will understand how spending in the game can become part of the entertainment without harming it.

4. Build for devices

If you, like me, came from consoles, then you are probably experiencing difficulties due to a paradigm shift, but this must be experienced.

First, think about how best to use the touchscreen - the tactile interface is incredible and you want to touch the best games. Think about how to avoid console control emulation and you will do half the work.

Second half? Think about when people play - mobile games should fit in a very meek period of time, and nevertheless give the player a meaningful experience.

Super Hexagon is the most polished game in this respect - when you start, you know that the game will last no longer than a couple of seconds. Bejewelled Blitz has a maximum game duration of one minute. Walking Dead breaks this rule with auto-save, which will not let the game disappear if you have to exit.

This is evidence of the quality of the game, which, despite returning to already completed levels, catches so that you want to go through all the episodes over the weekend.

5. Do not confuse the player

The player’s concentration of attention lasts a very short period of time. There are, literally, a million other applications that you can use, billions of web pages that you can read. In the moment of confusion or discontent, the player will leave.

Try to play your game from the perspective of someone who had never played it before. Better yet, try to look at how others will play.

Do not give in to blame them for doing something wrong - any confusion is a potential end to the game for your application, and this needs to be fixed. Take a look at Clash of Clans or any Zynga game to see how to make games that everyone can understand.

6. Be excellent

Among other things, you have to make a great game.

There are already so many games in the App Store that if everyone stops making them today, then for another 300 years you can play a new game every day. The competition is great!

But, despite the huge number of games on the market, now is the most exciting moment to be game developers - millions of new people are getting involved in games on all platforms in all countries of the globe.

I hope I could help, but you may not follow the rules outlined above. The best game rewrites the rules and does something so amazing that it delights and amaze gamers.

What do games with which we have an agreement have in common? Very little - that they made us smile, standing out from the crowd in any way, and that we wanted to play them again, and again ... and maybe one more time.

Harry Holmwood is CEO at MAQL Europe, a company owned by Japanese publisher and developer Marvelous AQL.

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