Series Info...Perspectives #4:


by Sam Liu


"How do games perpetuate?" is a big question asked by game theorists on the net. Of course, a unique game with advanced search engine ranking skills can use search engines for spreading the word. Other games use topsites, an effective solution in some ways. But most games spread through a certain neighborhood or community via simple word of mouth.

This poses a problem for many games. Of course most know that many game developers are "anti-social freaks" - not all, just...some, or rather: a majority. I mean, who would go and say "Today I will create a game for the heck of it" without being crazy? There has to be a REASON for a game's creation.

The Point

The topic is perpetuation. The problem is that not enough people spread their game beyond their immediate community. Therefore, to spread a game is a hard matter and the basis of the column today.

Anyone can develop a game. Not everyone can make it popular. And therefore though the number of developers increases daily, there will only be a set number of popular games. After all, google only has 10 spaces on its first search return page normally.

But wait!

If you would care to notice, there are more than just 10 popular online games. I mean, even in each genre--MMORPG, MMOG, MUD, etc etc--there are more than just 10 games with thousands of players apiece!

Most developers seek to create a game with just a few thousand players. "PLEASE GRANT ME AN AUDIENCE OF A COUPLE THOUSAND PLAYERS! PLEASE!" would be the prayer of a creator. And obviously Google isn't the only way a game gets popular. Thus, the root of the perpetuation must lie elsewhere.

The Mystery

Q: Ok, so if Google isn't the way to get popular, what is?

A: You want a flat out answer? There is none.

You see, games highly ranked on Google are sure to get the eyeballs and are sure to have a lot of players and crap. But I mean, how did the site get there in the first place? Even with payment, Google is not exactly biased. If a site has many reference links from other sites, it gets more highly ranked. If not, it doesn't. So in essence, the root of perpetuation is most definately a real life issue and not a web related one.

I Want Answers

I'm no expert when it comes to making a very popular game. I've experienced making the game, and knowing it to be good, and knowing that it is pleasing to the eye as well as to play. Friends who played ApocNation got hooked. But few outside of my immediate friends actually got into playing the game. And I believe this to be true for most small startup games. So if you came here looking for answers, I'll give you some hints.

You see, though you may say I'm no expert at gaining players, I've figured something out in the past few months. It just so happens that checking my statistics, I get over 10,000 unique hits a day. However, only fewer than 500 actually click the register link, and out of that number, only about 50 or less will actually register. Then further down, maybe 1 or 2 will play if any.

So I have ranking in Google, and I have ads on some sites out there. What am I doing wrong?

The key lies in the number of people who stay to play. 50 a day is a lot of people. 10 days would mean 500 players. However, getting page views isn't hard; getting players is.

Because ApocNation is on hiatus, I won't have time to put this idea into practice just yet but some of you creators out there might.

The 50 who actually register dont play, because the site is confusing or looks too complex.

I know personally I got turned off by The Five Pillars because it was so complex looking! My game, I know, looked very complex too.

1) Layout. Simple if your game is prose. Graphical if your game is 3d. It should never be complex.

Look at games like Swirve's successful Utopia, or Earth 2025. They are successful because they have very simple layouts and very simple navigation. Come on: frames are so last decade! But they have tens of thousands of loyal players, myself included!

The other end of this is the highly cool-looking layout. I do not intend going this direction because this is the harder end. If a game is a 3d MMORPG, it would require a highly graphical layout to appeal to its audience. For example, GuildWars and EVE Online both have extremely eye pleasing layouts that make you want to play!

The layout of the site is key. It must reflect what the player seeks in a game. People seem to love the homey feeling bb-board style feel of the utopia webgame, myself included. People love the thrill of animated warriors in 3d games. What is your audience supposed to be attracted to?

2) Community. Your game has to already have players.

New creators: playtest requests are a great place to start. Get starting players. If your game is really good, they should get hooked and play when you come out of beta. Spread to your friends (if you have any). Just kidding. People like company. Get it?

3) Have a game that is actually fun to play. That's a given.

That is it. That is it. It's that simple. Have an attractive face, (layout and feel), have some sort of community, and have a game. If your game is good, it will get players some time or another.

And that is today's perspective, on Perpetuation of a good game, and what is required.

People, please dont think I'm only repeating this catcall. I realise that most of these articles speak the same way.

But that's all there is to it. So do it.

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