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Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by maximalniq, Aug 22, 2015.
What's a flooded "maket"?
That is basically what we see here. A flooded market caused by everyone and their brother, sister, aunt, uncle deciding they want to make games to make some money combined with many different game dev tools being available allowing people with relatively low to non-existent skills to be able to make those games combined with markets that are open for a tiny fee. No real barrier to entry because the tools have stripped the barriers away and the markets don't require anything like the fees of consoles.
Driven by very unrealistic expectations because people are so focused on what happened before. Normally I'd be the first to say the best way to predict the future is to look at the past. However, you really have to look at the differences... massive differences... in the markets between even just a few years ago and now.
Of course, there will always be some Indy hit. If for no other reason than there being so many Indies flooding the market with games. At least one will stick, get seen by the right people at the right time and another legend will be created. Then more people will come in excited about the "overnight" success of Whack-a-Cat or whatever.
The expectations people have are way out of proportion. I agree with @Schneider21 that coming into game development with no prior experience and expecting to make $5 per day is just not realistic. So what is realistic now in 2015 for a new Indie Game Developer? I dunno... maybe 50 cents per day would be a good goal after spending 6 months making games.
That is why I said don't expect to make anything. No matter what you are doing in life you need to pay your dues. Yes I know some people hate that kind of talk. They think anyone saying it is just trying to knock people down and keep people out.
That is not the case. It is just my way of trying to help. Pay your dues. Make a lot of games with no expectation of making money. Expect only that you will become better at making games. Make that your goal and you will likely succeed at it. That is the process of paying your dues. It just means putting in the time and effort to develop and improve your skills and gain experience.
Then after you have made a bunch of games you will be in a much better position to try to make games for a living (or extra money).
The main thing to keep in mind is not that all of these modern game dev kits made it possible so you can come in and make games. Although that is true the thing to remember is these tools also made it possible so every other person can come in and make games.
It is now a buyers market. It is the gamers market. It is like in real estate. When there are few houses available the builders and sellers have the upper hand and prices go up. When there are a lot of houses on the market builders have way less work and the houses are worth much less.
The game market is like that now. Every day games become worth a little less because more and more people keep pumping them out. And more and more people keep coming in building more games.
To make money from it now requires way more skill and experience than it did just a few years ago. Next year it will be a little harder. And the year after that and so forth. Until finally this bubble bursts.
It's also important to remember that a lot of the tools that make it easier for indies and amateurs also make it easier for the professionals to further widen the gap between us. Substance Designer is a great example. While you can spend just a few minutes and slap together something that looks halfway decent, I usually spend an hour or more tweaking the textures into something that matches my overall theme and looks artistic. That saves me a ton of time over what I would have spent in GIMP to get the same result, but I would never have spent the number of hours in GIMP that would have been required to get that result. More capable artists than me are going to do the same. The quality of their work is going to go up right alongside everyone else because they are now more productive than they otherwise could have been.
Companies who choose to use Unreal or Unity or whatever, save a ton of man hours over developing their own engines that they can then reinvest into making their final product better than it otherwise would have been. I don't necessarily mean AAA studios here, but any actual professional that does this thing for a living. So while the barrier to entry is being lowered, the bar for quality is rising, as you said. Sometimes the flooded market makes that hard to see, but you can't simply look at whatever crap people are throwing on Steam these days to judge what you need to bring as a developer to make money. You have to look at the products that actually sell. You may be able to make something that, 5 years ago, would look great pretty easily with modern tools, but those same tools have raised the top bar (or at least the middle bar) just as much as they have the lower bar so you are in the same net place.
Of course, all of that ignores the fact that some people simply don't have the talent to make good games. No tool is going to make a game with crappy mechanics and poorly thought out level design fun. So even in the above equations, the notion that the bar has lowered to the point that anyone can do it is crazy talk. At least on the professional level. You still need to develop skills and talent to operate on that level and that's the part of the equation that gets left out in discussions of how easy these tools make things and people naively assume that baby's first video game is worth of Steam. Sadly, Steam no longer corrects them on that issue. Which doesn't do them any favors. Someone telling you, "No, you aren't good enough yet" is the best thing that can happen when you are trying to develop a skill set.
Will it ever burst? The flood of cheap games has a large portion of its roots in teenagers still living at home. Until something else comes along to distract them, games will continue to be flooded. New groups of teenagers pop up all the time.
Well, there's three different types of people saturating the market. The teenagers that you mentioned are one of them. As are hobbyists who really care about games, but don't necessarily care about earning a living from them. The bubble can't burst for those people. But the third type is the get-rich-quick scheme people who hopped on the bandwagon when they heard money could be made. These are your asset flippers, or your re-skinners. Eventually, those people will realize that the money pit has dried up and will move on to whatever the next scheme is until they ruin that one too. I have no idea what the split is between the three types of people, so I don't know what effect that loss of the latter will have on the market.
By "a ton" you mean 5? (or 2 as Blizzard)
And they were all pretty successful.
Zero point comparing the old PC gaming market to the current smart phone market.
He's probably talking about the fact that Blizzard (originally founded as Synapse or whatever it was) didn't just make their first game and it was a hit. That is the main point here. Those 3 to 4 guys all had experience from porting games from one system to another. I am sure they also played around making their own games in their spare time for fun.
The thing we are trying to get across to people is the overnight first game success people think happens (and fairly often) is not reality. These people have worked on game development many times before their first success People seem to always look for the exceptions and try to make it seem like they are the rule. They are not.
Even now the modern Indie successes... how many games did they make or at least work on before they got their first $ success?. 10, 25, 50?
If a person is serious about making money from this make a lot of games. With 20 to 30 under their belt they have a hell of a lot greater chance of $ success than the person making their first 1 to 5 games.
In my experience, making a game takes a couple of years, so I can't imagine someone having 20 to 30 games under their belt and still not have any financial success
The OP made and released 3 games in 4 months. Their last game seems to have taken less than 2 weeks.
Ludum Dare developers knock them out in a weekend. All of these are your basic mobile level of games.
My point is, that the lack of effort is the problem and not that it's his first game or whatever.
He made a clone of a not-so-successful game. His best case scenario was a quick short lived cash grab. In a market flooded with silly clones, this didn't have a lot of chances to succeed, and I don't think it mattered if he had 1 or a billion games under his belt.
Everyone has touched on the aspects of trying to make money with Unity so I'm going to touch on another aspect of your original post. This particular section stood out for me. You decided to get into game development ahead of your course, learned the engine and scripting, and released three games.
At the very least you set goals for yourself and achieved them. You've already succeeded far more than those who show up and apparently cannot find any tutorials themselves despite the stickied threads, the word "Learn" right next to the link that takes you to the forums, and well-known search engines.
I missed that point. Thats actually worth celebrating. Getting a game made on your own without a ton of support requests is worth celebrating.
The flood will stop when people will stop posting their success stories.
It could be but how do we know it was lack of effort?
From what I have seen popularity of games has little to do with the amount of effort and time spent at least as far as the scope of the game, quality of graphics and so forth.
People often say things like "the game is too simple" or "the graphics need to be better". I think people think these things because it seems logical. Like they think if a game is "bigger" then it is better. Or if one game has graphics that are much better than another game's graphics then surely the one with better graphics will have more downloads / sales.
Going beyond speculation I have spent a good amount of time looking into this stuff because I wanted to see the actual evidence of that stuff. I know a lot of people believe it to be true. Seems like it would be easy to see proof of it. Yet I never found it.
And just now I went to the Showcase forum and looked at threads posted in late May and early June. I skipped around just doing a random sampling of games and this is what I found:
Dorf Golfing 1,000 to 5,000 downloads
Fly Kitty Fly 10 - 50 downloads
Patient Zero: Day One 100 to 500 downloads
Impossible Leap: 100 to 500 downloads
Major Rocks: Mines & Asteroids 100 to 500 downloads
Ayy Lmao 1,000 to 5,000 downloads
Zombie Ops Online Free 100,000 to 500,000 downloads
Brain It On! 100,000 to 500,000 downloads
Good point here.
When people are browsing the app stores, the visuals of your game have to entice them into downloading it.
It all starts off with a great app icon and game name to get initial interest, then when they tap on your game icon, your screenshots have another 5-8 seconds to entice them further into tapping the all important download button. If you have a video, make sure its amazing and to the point, no longer than 30 seconds.
Perhaps find 3 or 4 similar games to yours in the stores, take a screenshot of their store page, i.e icon and screenshots etc, and compare it to yours. Then ask yourself which game would you download?
As one of the people who say "the graphics need to be better," I should clarify that I do not mean they need to be bombastic, awesomely detailed, crazy AAA style graphics. What I mean when I say it is artistic design. Those games you posted pictures of, some of them have super simple graphics, and they still look great. Why? Because they have a strong sense of design.
A good artistic designer can take three straight lines and make it look awesome, whereas a bad one can take a million polygons and still have something that looks like crap. Even something as simple as font kerning needs a person who understands the style and flow of typeface design. Give the same font and game title to two people and one could make something that looks great, the other something that looks super amateurish.
The trouble is a lot of (most?) programmers are not skilled in artistic design. They don't have an eye to truly know what looks right or looks wrong. Even if they get graphics from a skilled artist, unless those graphics are used carefully and with an eye towards design, the result will still be lackluster.
So yeah, when I say someone needs better graphics, I'm not so much talking about the graphics themselves as I am the way they are used. Design.
After reworking much of game's graphics, I feel like I'm finally beginning to develop a vague sense of how to design something that actually looks good. My question is, how can I further improve my skills in this area? Is it really only experience and repetition that allows one to perfect his sense of design or are there other ways? Are there any good books on the topic you'd recommend?
Edit: Just saw that other thread, going to pick a couple of those books up!
I have to agree, look at most of the successful indie games, rarely are they just a good game (AAA Titles will have marketing budgets that would crush any Indies), they are usually something incredibly unique, innovative, or have a very nice art style to them (Not hyper realistic, the AAA titles have that down )
A lot of successful indie games have their marketing pretty much done for the from the fans, because It's such a creative game they want other people to know about
Two recent examples of simple but very effective design with basic meshes, colors and lightning (and a lot of "polishing/juicing" to enhance the game overall feeling):
A greenlight submission:
Mike Bithell ("Thomas Was Alone") last game:
Thanks for sharing.
@Ony I definitely agree the games look great to me too. I wasn't selecting any as examples of bad graphics or good graphics. Just selecting a batch of different games from the same week or two and noting the number of downloads each has.
It was more just to illustrate the huge amount of variance in downloads between the different games. There doesn't seem to be any impact on downloads as far as the art style being used.
I did think people were saying the OP's graphics were bad and yet to me they look just as good as a few of the games I found and shared stats for. To me the OP appears to be using a very similar simple visual design.
Certainly they are minimalist. However from my non-artist's perspective (and I imagine there are a ton of gamers who are also not artists) they look just as fine as this:
Maybe those look vastly different to an artist. I am not sure.
Probably I should try to find some games with poor graphics and do a comparison. I have done that before and did not see any difference in popularity or not based on graphics. That is all I was getting at.
I will have another look around and try to find games that have graphic design very much like that used by the OP's games. Basically, I am just trying to get some discussion going with real world examples of the art / graphic design thing. Because it sounds like there are people who are saying just because the OP's games look the way they do they will always have low downloads. I just think there is way more to it than simply how they look.
I totally agree. While the first game is definitely flashier and looks "better" to me, I don't have an issue with the style or quality of the imagery for the others.
The problem I have with them is that, as far as screenshots go, they don't really tell me anything about how the game plays. Looking at them again, the description for Shredd is better than Frisky Sparrow. Frisky description below, with fluff words grayed out:
So the first two sentences are mostly rubbish. The first time I saw it, I think I even stopped reading halfway through the second sentence, so I didn't have a clue what the game was about. I'm no writer, but I believe it's much more important to convey the point of your game early on, which actually happens in the last sentence here.
I'm not totally against fluff, but here it all seems unnecessary. Do you have to tell people it's fun, addicting, and challenging? Or can they figure that out themselves? Or that the point is to keep you entertained?
The first is o.k. Blue is one of humanity's places of solace and refuge.
The other two games you used light gray... the color of "I don't care." Business color. The color of prison walls. The color of "this texture didn't load".
Even an ugly color is better than plain boring gray.
The soft particles also scream "I didn't do much with these". It looks like it wasn't put together with much care.
This is not me saying you don't care. I am translating your graphics into a human language.
The last image looks a solarized color scheme that has been saturated up with nice icons, some well placed gradients, clean type face, and a well structured visual layout.
That word, minimalism... that doesn't mean color theory and other elements of design don't apply. Minimalism isn't the easy way out. In fact, minimalist design often is an expert designer's shtick... it is him saying "I can make this look good with three lines." And we just shut up an marvel, because we don't know how they do it. Visuals are quite literally an art form.
When you say "looks just as fine as this" that tells me you need to a) hire an artist from now on or b) start with graphic design 101.
Also, your thinking that all people share your perspective is flawed. Not only artists appreciate art, not only musicians like music, not only wine crafters enjoy wine, etc. People know what looks good and what looks bad, instinctively. The rules of visual design aren't made up, they come from studying perceptions... it's a language all its own.
All this gets you is a maybe a click, a tap. A second look. To not be as quickly passed over. It won't make a game popular all on its own. But in a market where everybody is trying so hard, you can't afford not to employ everything you can think of.
I remember the really early Electronic Arts games in the mid-80s back when Electronic Arts actually lived up to its name (long ago). The games came in folders that looked like record albums, with lavish artwork and a big manual. Their stated goal (which they have now completely abandoned) was to turn computer games into an art form like movies or novels. Most of their early games were unique, and some of them practically invented an entire genre - "Adventure Construction Set" initiated make-your-own-game software; "Seven Cities of Gold" virtually created the historical game; "M.U.L.E." created the economic-based game, etc. Today, Electronic Arts grinds out generic schlock, as do 95% of the big companies. Most of the companies I've tried to sell my games to have told me bluntly that they only want clones, mostly Match-3 "games". So I've now decided to try to take my new game, Aeronautica, to the masses and get pre-release funding directly from players (which hasn't worked yet, but it's probably better than trying to compete in the dreary clone market).
(WARNING: Shameless plug coming) If anyone's interested in "Aeronautica" (a Victorian-themed steampunk airship exploration / combat / empire-building game), you can see information about it at: http://starving-indie-developer.com/aeronautica.html
None of these are my work. If it was mine it would not look nearly as clean and good.
I don't think all or even most people share my perspective on graphics design. I just know that many people truly don't care how a game looks. It is easy to see by finding games that look very amateur yet people still like them. When I say don't care that is poorly worded. I mean of course "better" is a good thing. I mean don't care as in having poor visuals will not stop all people from playing a game.
The main thing I am trying to investigate is people's belief of how important graphic design is. Video games are a visual medium so of course graphics are important. It is the degree of importance regarding design and quality that is the question.
I showed examples of games made in Unity and released on mobile (Android specifically) and yet we see a huge variance of downloads. I think graphic design had very little if anything to do with the different amount of downloads.
If people are saying they think all of those games had good graphic design and yet we see a huge variation in downloads then graphic design cannot be the source of the difference in popularity. If that is the case then the difference was caused by something else. Different marketing tactics or level of marketing effort. Luck. Genre. Or something else.
They were all posted around the same time so had basically the same amount of time to get downloads. So the key here is what is the difference that caused the huge differences in downloads? Or do the games with the highest number of downloads have the best graphic appeal?
I know me personally I've been using Unity for like I don't know maybe 2 years now?
Haven't made a dollar from my games yet, but most of that is from stopping and to a new idea. It's the best way for me to learn things. However, I've more than paid my dues in the game dev world, I've been modding games for nearly 2 decades now. So now I'm finally making my own game, putting my passion into it, but here's the thing, money isn't the only reason I'm wanting to do this, money doesn't come first, my name does, people need to know I can make good games and eventually it will happen. However it's still not gonna stop me from releasing an Xbox One game for free either. I deserve something, but I'm not making this out to get rich, if it happens it happens, however that's not my goal with this, it's a hope yeah, but not what my driving force is to make this game. I just simply want to make my game.
Yes, they absolutely do. And that's exactly what I was talking about.
There is a reason why companies with a product to sell don't just have little cousin Jimmy grab a box of crayons to design the logos and packaging. A lot of thought and time and money goes into the look of a product. Games are no different.
It's like asking what makes one celebrity more famous than another... we don't know. But what I do know is that you CAN make games for a reason other than the pursuit of fame and glory and downloads, by investing in the craft of what you do. At least you can do it well, or die trying.
Games are an audio/visual/tactile medium. You look, listen and touch. So at minimum, you want decent graphics, sound and controls... I mean, that is the literal minimum.
The actual game itself then needs to be engaging, and as far as I can tell Gigiwoo has been an evangelist about this aspect for so long that I'm not even going to bother. That's what makes your game fun/addicting.
Now... what is the extra factor? The viral component? The secret sauce? I think... personally imho.. it is cult of personality. Every time I hear of a super successful indie game, I also hear about its creator. We know their story. They're interesting.
And of course none of this matters unless you finish and release games with regularity.
Also have you tried the biscuits and gravy?
Okay. This definitely shows I don't have an artful eye. They basically look the same to me and none look interesting to me. Just not my kind of games.
How about the others? The screenshots I posted for mobile games created in Unity all posted in the Showcase forum here. Each shows what the games look like and the number of downloads of the game when I checked last night.
Do you see a link between how good the graphic designs are and the number of downloads?
I agree and that is what I am getting at. People so often mention the graphics yet here we see obvious examples of where graphics seem to have made very little difference in how well received the games were.
Just makes me wonder if this is the case then why do people point out the graphics? It just seems like an easy way out without getting into the details of what is really important. Not that graphics are not important. Just that I am sure all of these game developers would have preferred to get 100,000 or more downloads. The graphics did not help them to do that. From that perspective graphics were not very important. Not knocking graphics in general just trying to get past that into the details of these cases.
Funny you should ask. Before scrolling up to look at them again I thought to myself, "I'll bet the balloon one has the least amount." And I was right.
Does that mean graphics determine how many downloads a game gets? Not particularly. But the fact that I instinctively knew which one would be lowest tells me something. It's just not designed as well as the other screens and has the most amateurish quality of the bunch.
And I know someone is laughing right now, thinking "Ony, clearly the black and green 'Ayy LMAO' game looks the most amateurish", and I would highly disagree. It has a solid design style that stays consistent, it is nicely laid out within its space, and it directly conveys the sort of homebrewish "ugly" game aesthetic that has been popular for a while. It's a solid design that works well.
Last night, I showed my wife who is also an artist the shots you posted and asked her what her thoughts were regarding those versus the OPs game. Without even having to think about it she said, "the difference is the design." And she hadn't even seen my post yet saying the same thing.
Graphics aren't everything. If you have a great game and people somehow find that out despite it having bad design, then you're lucky.
I recommend leaving art and design up to the artists and designers. 10 out of 10 successful companies agree.
I see a game like a stool on 3 legs. Visual, audio, and lets just simplify to "gameplay".
The reason it matters is because so often there are multiple games in the same genre that show up side by side in the search, and people are trying to evaluate how to invest their time. The first.... very first... impression is visual impression. That's why.
It's a sticking point. Gameplay is actually a lot more important, but far too many people won't give a game a chance if their perception says "this probably sucks". And then reviews matter. Ratings. And guess what? Visuals a part of people's internal game rating system. Like every game magazine ever... graphics are 2/5 or 4/5. It's how we think. So they say... eh, I rate this a 2. And they move on.
It's like winning over strangers. They don't know you and they don't care to know you. But when some guy looks sharp and has a nice smile... wow instantly he's more popular.
And so it goes, perception is everything.
Great stuff from both of you. I get what you are saying and don't disagree with it. I am just trying to find the real world link of it in the results. That's all. If I believed the graphic design was so important I'd spend at least double or triple the amount of time on those aspects. I just don't see the belief reflected in the end results. I used to think it was there many years ago and as time has passed have seen many games with not so good graphics succeed and games with great graphics being passed by. This made me reevaluate my view on it. And actually I was happy because previously I had always thought only those with strong artistic talent could make a popular game. I just have not seen the proof of that having taken a closer look.
You can go to the Showcase forum and choose a week. Preferrably one several months ago to allow a period of time. Then check out the app pages for each. I stuck with Android only to try to keep things as consistent as possible. Each time I do that I do not see where graphics is making a difference in how well received (how much the graphics played in grabbing people's interest to download the game).
I think it is quite possible the OP could get a lot more downloads by focusing on things other than graphics. It would be a fun experiment for them to try at the least.
A true experiment would require dozens of games, picked at random, from high and low popularity and then having a group of people rate their appearance not knowing the scores and then compare visual ratings to market performance and try to see a correlation.
Which... sounds like a lot of work.
If the OP doesn't improve the visuals and he succeeds he will have actually lost opportunity, because the game will stop climbing at some point. And the question will remain... could it have gone higher if it had a more refined appearance?
Finally, taking a few outliers is not scientific.
Look at all the top games. They all look pretty good. So that must mean good looking games succeed right?
Clearly not. But it's just as irrational as finding the ugliest games with the highest downloads and touting that as evidence that ugly games are what the people want.
Except the "graphics mean good game" irrational conclusion is a widespread misconception... so it can actually exploited. Wheras "bad graphics can still succeed" is a misrepresentation.
Bad graphics most likely will fail but in some rare cases, people have overlooked a game's graphics and found the gameplay fun and the game went viral... that is the truth.
So if bad graphics automatically make you less likely to succeed, irrespective to any other aspect of your game, what rational reason is there to proceed?
Ha ha. I am not saying people want ugly looking games or beautiful looking games. Just looking for some kind of outcome that indicates how much importance the "look" has.
And like you said... the fact that one can find ugly looking games that are popular and beautiful looking games that are not... to me I interpret that as the look not being a major factor. Others may see it differently. Certainly I think there is a personal safisfaction in making a really great looking game. A person can take some pride in doing so. I am looking beyond that though into how much of a difference it actually makes to the end users.... the gamers.
I think most people try to make their games look good. Some more so than others. Some way more capable of doing so than others. Still how much difference does it make in the final outcome. I think most people are creating these games to get downloads or sales.... ultimately to make money and the downloads and sales drive the revenue. So that is the outcome I am looking at. What were the final results measured in downloads and is there any noticeable link to the graphics style or quality as far as visual design is concerned.
I think I will have another crack at it tonight. Check out Showcase games from January. The ones posted on the 24th or if too few then do 23rd through 25th. And see what I find. To me the information is there. We don't need to run a new experiment because others have been doing it all along. All we need to do is just look at the games and the results as measured by the realworld stats on the app stores.
If the graphics seem to be the key difference maker then I am done and OP should focus on graphics improvement.
If not then I will try to determine what caused the differences. I am guessing marketing or a butterfly stirred up a small air flow.
Well you have to be blind to the outcome as well. So you need a method of random selection of games to prevent bias. Then get graphics ratings, then check downloads and metascores.
Then you will have something
You could select games by letter name from a compiled list of indie titles... but that won't include complete faliures...
I just plan on checking every game posted on the 24th or 23rd through 25th if the 24th only has a few games. Maybe a longer range. Just want a decent sample size. If I look at 12 to 20 games released on the same platform during the same timeframe it should be pretty unbiased. Not throwing out games just looking at the facts. I expect there will be a huge variation between the games for graphics design and downloads but not necessarily linked.
The experiment has already been done, and continues to be done all the time, every day. Walk through a supermarket on any given day and look for the boxes that say "New Look, Same Great Taste!" meaning the company realizes that people respond to packaging when making choices. Do you think big companies spend millions on package and logo redesigns because they just feel like it?
Games are no different. Once someone downloads a game then game play is most important, but you need to get them to download it in the first place.
Of course you know what I think already.
You're talking about making decisions about which games have better or worse graphics yet you've already established and stated that you can not tell the difference between good and bad design. Your experiment is flawed by bias.
You guys should debate a specific game, like "Flappy Bird". Why did that one make millions?
I wasn't planning on judging the graphic design. I just figured either all games would have basically the same number of downloads regardless of how they looked even being a consideration OR there would be a huge difference in the downloads and in those cases maybe it was the graphics. Maybe not. It seems like it would be noticeable if the graphics are much better between one game and another. Not marginally better but much better. I guess I can get another person who is an artist to weigh in. I can send screenshots to the artist I hire out work to and have him rate each on graphic design. But honestly I think graphics are such a personal preference kind of thing that what one person sees as junk another sees as a work of art.
Why did all of the other games exactly like it not make millions?
This isn't rational thought.
It could be lack of effort in marketing, not necessarily lack of effort in game making. Plus luck and randomness play a big role.
You can put zero effort and get lucky and be successful and you can put a ton of effort and be unlucky and bomb.
You roll the dice, and then the effort is a multiplier. If you don't put in any effort you might need a natural 20.
It seems like two issues are being confused. A game with good graphics might sell better than the same game with bad graphics, all other things being equal. That doesn't necessarily mean that a game with good graphics will sell well. There's still a lot of competition out there and if nobody ever sees your game, then its graphics quality doesn't mean a whole lot. Graphics are only one part of the marketing equation. Without controlling for the other variables, or at least knowing them, it's hard to draw any conclusions.
My point was that it's impossible to predict or explain why some games go viral and others don't. "Flappy Bird" probably made it big because it became a fad with pre-teens, but no one will be able to explain why it became a fad. Graphics? Certainly not. Depth of gameplay? It had no depth of gameplay. Original design? The only original thing about it was the sheer lack of originality. It was addictive, granted, but so are most games.
I don't think you can quantify these things
That article pretty much sums up my view that you can't explain why "Flappy Bird" was such a hit. I mentioned it to make that point. Arguing over why games are successful will always hit a brick wall when faced with the randomness of the industry.
Your theory has a hole in it.
There are developers who release hit after hit.