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Why do my games suck?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by GWUnity, Feb 1, 2021.

  1. GWUnity

    GWUnity

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    I've been experimenting with Unity for a few years now and have created a couple of games. I thought they were unique and entertaining, but apparently they have missed the mark. So I'm trying to figure out what I missed. What do these games lack? Are they too boring and not engaging enough? Are they too difficult, annoying, or too simplistic? Can games succeed without a substantial social media presence these days? (Growing a social media presence seems to be far more difficult and time consuming than developing the games.) Where do you focus? How important is feedback from social media during the development stage?

    I would welcome any feedback (constructive, if possible) from developers. How have you achieved success, no matter how small?

    My games are on Google play:
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.goldwave.mazepic
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.goldwave.ThreeBlindMice

    Chris
     
  2. Amon

    Amon

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    Brother, both those games look cool, especially MazeEpic. In fact MazeEpic stands out more than the other game for me because I've not seen anything similar before.

    I apologize for not playing both games before posting this but, I'm confident that you have the technical prowess to achieve success with games and I would recommend that you keep at it. Build a catalogue of games and be patient. It's not like it was a decade ago where success on stores like GooglePlay and iOS would make you millions.

    Marketing is most probably where you have fallen down because as I see it now there's nothing wrong with those games. I definitely think MazeEpic though has potential to grow and become extra special.
     
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  3. Antypodish

    Antypodish

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    If you observe other developers and mobile market in general, you would realize, that mobile market is saturated since very long time now. And you among thousands of devs like yourself, trying to bite same pie.
     
  4. kdgalla

    kdgalla

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    Is that your own opinion, or is that based on feedback you've received from others?
     
  5. aer0ace

    aer0ace

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    Your games look pretty solid. I haven't played them, but I'm judging by screenshots. You should actually be happy with 2 titles that look decent graphically, and fairly feature complete (again, judging by screens only).

    I think a lot of your questions can be answered by your community. Try to interact with anyone who has given reviews for your products. Engage in social media. I know, it's a pain, but how else are you going to get people to know about your products? Your customers know what they like and don't like, but they have to know about the product to begin with.

    I am not your customer, but maybe, I will try it out some time, or at least look at video.
     
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  6. koirat

    koirat

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    Maz looks actually quite interesting. The other one less interesting.
     
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  7. Meltdown

    Meltdown

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    Are you running analytics against your games? You should be collecting player data, and seeing how far player's get before leaving, how long session times are etc, difficulty drop offs etc. Working to improve your games without looking at this data can make things very difficult.

    Also.. have you asked people who have played the games for feedback?
    Ask them what they like/don't like, get as much feedback as possible.

    I don't know about the development timeline of each, but are you making a game, releasing it, then moving onto the next one?

    If so, this is not a good approach, see a game as something that should evolve as you get feedback from players and look at player data, and keep improving upon the game until it gets to a point where its showing good metrics, i.e good Day 1, Day 7 and Day 30 retention. Of course, if you keep making improvements, and the data still shows poor metrics, then certainly, move onto the next title. But make sure you give each title a fighting chance.
     
  8. Antony-Blackett

    Antony-Blackett

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    This. ^

    it doesn’t matter how good your game is anymore, if you don’t have a good business model designed into it and have good retention of players then you cannot invest in user acquisition.

    the only way to succeed on the app store these days is one of two ways:

    1) make something sooo good that google and apple feature you. This is hard as you need google and apple to take notice, they are bombarded with thousands of apps to review for features and so usually will default to games they have heard of and have hype behind them already. I only got my apps featured because i met the google play rep in person... had i not our game never would have got off the ground.

    2) user acquisition. Spend money to make money. But you need money first. Bummer. You also need a really good business model because other games are competing for these users as well, driving up advertising expenses.


    I have 3 successful games on the store but i too am struggling to get my latest one noticed. I know there’s a bunch wrong with it but it’s still better than 10 downloads a day, but I can’t get it above the noise to a point where the store algorithms will help keep it there. And the business model isn’t good enough for me to throw money at it yet.

    Man, i sound jaded. Haha.

    there is a third option, 3) get lucky. But look at the odds:

    (number of devs * number of apps per dev) / random hit games = odds of success from luck.
     
  9. micahneveu

    micahneveu

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    Keep going! Rovio made 51 games before Angry Birds... If you enjoy it, it is worthy. :)
     
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  10. MadeFromPolygons

    MadeFromPolygons

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    I think its better to pour your time into PC + Console than mobile in 2021. OP can clearly make some great puzzle + maze games, there is always a good market for casual games on the PC market.

    Compared to mobile, even if your game isnt that good you will make at least some money.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2021
  11. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

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    This! With 10k downloads each (assuming they're legitimate) there's plenty of opportunity to get data from your players. Hopefully you're still getting some downloads to start taking that opportunity now. If not, make sure you do it in your next game.

    Another thing is to compare your game with successful games targeting similar audiences. How do they present themselves? There's a lot you can learn about what works just by looking at other successful products and seeing how yours compares.

    But that aside, in what way did they "miss the mark"? Are people telling you that? Are they not making money? Do you dislike them yourself? An internet rando said harsh things? Your stats show no repeat plays? We need to know the problem before we can suggest solutions.

    It could be that the games are ok and you need better monetisation. It could be that you're not getting them to the right audience. It could be that you have indeed missed the mark of what that audience wants. It could be unrealistic expectations. It could be the store pages need improvement. Or something else. You need data or experimentation to find out.

    Mobile devs, is 10k downloads with 2 and no reviews normal? One thing I would suggest is encouraging (happy) users to rate and/ or review the game. People are more likely to try something out if it already looks popular.
     
  12. Arowx

    Arowx

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    Critical creative feedback (take with a pinch of salt, good work, just not great).

    MazEpic:
    • Looks very bland (colour scheme palleted, reflections, shine)
    • Boring background.
    • Character has no character just a step removed from Pacman without any animation.
    • Will be compared to endless runners.
    • Half the games screen seems to be lost due to falling blocks mechanic.
    • Voice over is dull and refers to the main character in second person as just a cat.
    • No juice e.g. Animation, FX, Camera shake, Sound FX.
    Will be compared with top endless runners/mazers please check a few and see the difference (below).



    Or an amazing retro circular puzzle game to compare your game to:



    Note the platforming jumping and moving through the tower mechanics.

    Three Blind Mice
    • Bland looking again.
    • Again character just head no animation.
    • No use of song.
    • No threat e.g. "Farmers Wife with Carving Knife" loss of tails (no tails).
    • A bit more juice in FX but kind of lame, small and slow.
    Maybe replacing the wall blocks with kitchen furnishings with time penalties for some and blocks for others and cheese not gems. The maze could be simpler as well considering the targeted age group. Limits to times or moves available.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2021
  13. Arowx

    Arowx

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    On juicing up a game please watch this...
     
  14. GWUnity

    GWUnity

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    Thanks for the excellent and encouraging feedback everyone!

    The games have performed well below my expectations in terms of retention and feedback (monetization is non-existent). That makes it difficult to figure out why the games are not performing well. Adding more data collection is definitely something I should have done earlier, but the data only goes so far without direct player feedback. Perhaps the games are too challenging? Do you find that most players prefer easy games?

    Most of the downloads were gained from advertising through Google Adwords. My experience is that Adwords does not lead to quality downloads (they appear to be mostly fake/bots?) and retention is very low. If you set up advertising without any country filters, then 80% of the downloads occur in India and a couple of other countries. Adding country filters to target specific countries increases the cost per download by 5 to 10 times as much, making it too costly. The number of reviews and rating also seems disproportionately low compared to other similar games.

    Building a community on Facebook was also a misstep. I naively thought that advertising to build "likes" would be helpful, but realized too late that most "likes" from advertising are also low quality/fake and you have to be very careful about targeting and conversions. My understanding now is that it takes months (years) of posting to build a real community and even then Facebook controls your access to your own community.

    Any tips for building a community without it being a full time job?

    I enjoy making games and have lots of ideas for new ones, but getting just a couple of organic installs per day is discouraging. I'll probably keep at it because I want to experiment with Project Tiny and see what potential might be there.
     
  15. MadeFromPolygons

    MadeFromPolygons

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    So I think the main takeaway from everything you have said is that you should be focusing on releasing a soft launch first that is filled with all the analytics you need to get data from the beginning.

    Then use that to tweak until you are sure that in a T1 country (like US, UK, Canada etc) you will be getting the retention you need. If your numbers during soft launch dont add up, then no point spending on advertising and releasing worldwide.

    If you do that, you can be sure you have a game worth spending money on when you come to full launch it in various territories.

    But doing this after launch, is very difficult to do I am afraid.

    I think you would be better off at this point (especially if you spent money on advertising already) to cut your losses, and take what you made and remake it into a PC game or a fresh mobile offering, and try again.

    If you do a PC game, you can ignore the soft launch side as you will likely charge a flat fee. Otherwise soft launch as a good practise still applies (its the only real way to gather the data you need to make informed choices during the proper launch of your game regarding what to spend on and whether the spend is worthit).

    Ultimately, mobile is a very saturated market at this point and to stand out you really have to get featured or be spectacular at gathering all this data early and then act on it.
     
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  16. GWUnity

    GWUnity

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    Your detailed feedback is much appreciated! Those points make a lot of sense and definitely helps me understand were I need to make improvements.
     
  17. Baste

    Baste

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    Why make mobile games in the first place?

    Your chance of success is way lower, the input method is worse, and the hardware is worse. Nobody wants to pay for games, so you pretty much have to make your game as a advertisement-delivery mechanism first and a video game after.

    You're making a game that's not as good and you're pretty much guaranteed to not make any money unless you've got enough marketing budget to just go live on a pacific island for the rest of your life anyway.

    Things have changed, so even the console market is somewhat saturated, but at least you're targeting players that are interested in paying more than 0$ for the game, and as an additional bonus you don't have to deal with 1000 different screen sizes and hardware that would chug running Warcraft 2.
     
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  18. Antony-Blackett

    Antony-Blackett

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    Building a community it hard. You need to strike a cord with gamers and service a niche that no one else has done. Something entertaining or new and interesting to the point it can’t be ignored. You then need to constantly post dev updates, blogs, video diaries.... I personally don’t have the discipline and to some extent I don’t believe in my own charisma which i think is also required if you want to build an online presence around development. You have to sell yourself as much as your game.

    as for PC vs Mobile. I’d say the platform choices should follow the project you intend to build. Some games fit one better than the other in terms of business model, controls and theme.

    your effort to market your game sounds familiar to me. Google ads are useless, never touch them. I’ve only had success and limited success at that with Facebook ads. You need to be sure people will pay for you IAP first though otherwise even the most loyal users will still be worthless to your wallet.

    without organic downloads you’ll just have to trust your gut and design the game how you see fit. Don’t be ashamed to borrow form other successful games either, all games are derivative and borrow 95% from others games out there. And if your game isn’t currently successful, don’t be worried about making radical changes. Upsetting 10 users now to make the game viable will ultimately allow you to work on it more and add more value for anyone who gets upset with a change you make.

    User feedback is useful but also keep in mind that they’re not game developers. Take any feedback with a grain of salt, usually a user will identify an issue but any proposed solution to that issue is usually not the direction you should go to solve it.

    good luck.
     
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  19. GWUnity

    GWUnity

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    I was thinking the mobile market has more casual players, so simple games would have a better chance. The PC market requires more sophisticated games. Console games seem to have higher barrier to entry.

    I have a lot of experience with Windows development (mostly from the GoldWave audio editor), so I'm familiar with user feedback. I guess it's the lack of feedback (and downloads) that made me wonder what I was doing wrong. I am grateful for all the feedback here. It's been very helpful!
     
  20. Arowx

    Arowx

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    You could try WebGL builds on game sites with links to the Mobile versions.
     
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