Examples of bad game design business decisions

You have a hunger meter that’s constantly counting down so you have to look for food to eat. You have a thirst meter that’s constantly counting down so you have to drink. You have a gem meter that’s constantly counting down so you have to kill enemies to get gems to power your lantern. Then once you get to level 3 there’s a cold meter so you constantly have to find fires. Oh, by the way, the fires die after a little while so you have to constantly find NEW fires. Oh, don’t get hit either because you’ll start bleeding and you have to find bandaids otherwise you’ll bleed out.

This is from a review of Below, a new game. Right off the bat, I’m wondering if the developers have been around, walking in cities and reading about what’s going on in the world. People are struggling, y’all. Everywhere. In every class besides the 0.1%.

Let me rephrase this: PEOPLE ARE ALREADY ANXIOUS AND YOU WANT THEM TO RELAX BY BEING UTTERLY ANXIOUS FOR FUN? AFTER A FEW YEARS OF WAVES OF SUCH GAMES??? I don’t understand how you can validate a game design that is so deeply anchored in anxiety with the world we’re living in. In this economy?

I hate seeing this because I’d love the game to be successful –it’s highly polished, great audio- so that its developers continue to make more. And such a mistake –going super hardcore- was easily avoidable. People need one of two super hardcore game, not plenty. There are already hundreds of those rogue-like games. Capy the developer didn’t adjust to what people would enjoy in 2018/2019. Not many people want to pay to taste pain and punishment. We get that for free in real life, all day everyday.

And there goes the not very convincing argument: “but they made the game that they wanted to play” and I’m like “this is a business, get real. if a game takes 6 years to make and you NEED to sell it, you’d better do some market research if you don’t want to die”.

Example two: Gris. Gorgeous world. Thin gameplay. Despite good word of  mouth, it’s not doing that well. Because the representation is, at least that’s how it feels to me, very very white. Had the protagonist and whole aesthetic aim to a more ambiguous crowd, it would be more attractive to many more people. Hell, make Gris: Black Edition, make the heroin a voluptuous black woman and that game would have an order of magnitude more players playing right now. That shit would go on Ellen and Oprah, gifs all over Tumblr, selling like pumpkin-spice beverages in October.

“That would be a dirty marketing trick!” No it’s not if you  listen and do it right. Once again, look around and listen. It’s about connecting with people. Expand your vision.

The players who can sustain your dev madness are out there. They’re hungry. Reach out by changing your game design or theme/setting accordingly. It’s not complicated.

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