Games outpace every other type of app on the Apple App Store, constituting more than 20% of the nearly 2 million apps available. It’s no surprise, then, to learn that companies are jumping onboard gaming development.
What’s more, even businesses that have had little to do with the gaming market in the past are looking to break into the niche. It’s not just about producing fun games — it’s also about engaging users, attracting new consumers, and driving them to other products.
Yet, standing out in a sea of competitors is enormously difficult. How can you set your game apart? Start with these tips.
1. Be User-Focused
This is the #1 thing to keep in mind when developing any product. But when the app is strictly about maximizing engagement — as games are — it’s absolutely critical.
Before you set about building your app, develop a clear idea of who your target user is. It can be helpful to create personas about the types of people who will gravitate to your game. Additionally, you should perform market research into the wants, likes, and needs of your target audience, so you can build a product that responds to these interests and improve the user experience (UX).
2. Research Trends and Competition
In addition to pinpointing the interests and wants of your target users — that is, the would-be gamers — you’ll need to consider the conditions of the market itself. What ideas are in vogue at the moment? Which types of games have stood the test of time? What are your competitors up to?
You’ll want to research the ins and outs of the gaming industry to better understand the climate and the types of products that tend to succeed, as well as those that were doomed to failure to ensure yours won’t be one of them.
3. Differentiate Your Game
Now that you understand your competitors and your own audience, you’ll also have to identify ways to set your game apart from well-established products and newcomers alike. As you probably know, the gaming market is very large and very crowded, so your vision for your app must offer something your competitors don’t — elements that gamers can’t find anywhere else or a familiar formula with a good twist.
Your game should do something better than your competitors, elevating the user experience or addressing pain points that exist in their products.
4. Have a Hook
Dynamic characters, a special sound, an appealing storyline, a piece of animation — these are all examples of hooks. A hook grabs the audience’s attention from the get-go, bringing them into the fold of your game, drawing them to it, and making them want to stay.
What’s your hook? Every game development team must devise or discover what their specific hook is, the thing that will attract players to the game. Once you’ve identified it, you must capitalize on it, using it to bring newcomers to the app and keeping long-standing consumers engaged.
5. Keep It Simple — at First
When you’re just diving into game development for the first time, make your game straightforward, steering clear of elements that are too intricate. Otherwise, you risk deterring gamers with a confusing product. Remember that the point is to attract users and keep them there. Once you’ve been at it for a while and have established yourself as the producer of a great product, you can experiment with more intricate concepts.
This extends to UX design, too. Menus should be easily navigable, the interface should be intuitive, and the overall look and feel of your app should be simple and smooth. Adding too much clutter or complex elements will confuse and potentially overwhelm your users.
6. Have Different Elements of the Experience in Mind
Games are involved, perhaps more involved than most other types of apps. The experience isn’t static — it’s highly interactive. You must keep all the different elements of the experience in mind, being cognizant of, for example:
- Color scheme
- Your hook
These are just some of the many moving pieces for which you’ll need to account.
7. Assemble a Stellar Team
The backbone of any dynamic, engaging product is the team behind it. Gaming development requires skills beyond those of a standard software developer, although they will play a role in building the app. It also demands the talents of a product manager who will research trends and develop a roadmap for the product, a project manager to coordinate the workflow and keep everyone on track, and a marketing manager to promote the product.
The user experience (UX) designer plays a fundamental role in game development, too. While this professional is important for the success of many projects, games, in particular, require the expertise of someone who understands players and can optimize the appeal of the product. The UX designer adds engaging elements to bring your game to life, playing a pivotal role in the process.
8. Create a Plan
Plans are, of course, critical for successful product development. Gaming is an especially complex process, and it demands carefully thought-out procedures. To manage your plans, you can use a generic project management platform, or you can use one specifically designed for game development oversight.
One example of a game-specific project management tool is Codecks. Designed with game developers in mind, the platform has a trading card layout that essentially gamifies the development project and allows you to see the progress and status of the process at one glance.
9. Test It
Even the smallest, seemingly insignificant bug could derail your entire game. In order to minimize the prevalence of defects, you should thoroughly and rigorously test the game throughout the development cycle and prior to deployment. This is absolutely critical because games are interactive, dynamic products that require attention to detail.
Not only will quality assurance (QA) testers with a high level of expertise be able to identify bugs in your game, but they’ll also find ways to improve other aspects of the product, including usability, performance, functionality, user load accommodation, and many others.
With so much competition in the gaming space, you must create a unique, engaging product to set your business apart. These tips will help you build a solid foundation for your game’s success.