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每個游戲公司都需要達到的兩個目標:產品成功&公司成功

發布時間:2021-08-23 15:51:34 Tags:,,

每個游戲公司都需要達到的兩個目標:產品成功&公司成功

原作者:Josh Bycer 譯者:Willow Wu

我最近一直在研究游戲的成敗,試圖弄清楚是什么促使游戲公司收獲成功,而有些之前成功過的公司為什么會遭遇失敗。我意識到開發者的成功是沒有固定標準的,每個公司都不一樣。有的公司可能在Steam上賣出100份游戲就是成功了,而有的公司至少要賣出2萬份。隨著深入思考,我認為游戲開發者的成功可以歸結為兩點——許多獨立開發者往往無法區分這兩點,我會講講為什么這種思維會帶來很大隱患。

談到制作成本,游戲開發跟其它娛樂產品是有很大不同的。不同游戲的設計、公司運營和制作流程都很不一樣。此外,一位參與過多個項目的資深開發者 vs.一個剛起步的新手對游戲開發過程的影響也是截然不同的。這意味著站在外部視角,想要評估一款游戲是否在收益上實現成功幾乎是不可能的。

Hearthstone(from gamesindustry.biz)

Hearthstone(from gamesindustry.biz)

有粉絲可能會說如果一個單價2美元游戲賣出了50萬份,那開發者不就成了百萬富翁了嗎——他們從來不考慮開發成本、投入其中的人力和營銷成本。作為一個游戲開發者,你的首要目標就是讓自己的游戲能夠賺錢。如果你的收入是多于開銷的,那么你現在的方向就是對的。然而,現在很多開發者會止步于這個標準,看不到下一階段的成功指標。

財務上的成功對短期來說是非常關鍵的,但如果你想讓公司保持增長,為員工提供完善的工作保障,你得理解什么是工作室的成功。在市場中獲得成功意味著你已經有了一定的粉絲基礎,他們愿意為你提供支持,你可以保證至少有X人會關注你的下一個作品。財務上的成功往往會跟工作室成功掛鉤,但這兩者并不是一回事!我見過很多獨立開發者因為游戲掙錢了,或者有1000人寫了評測就在推特上鼓吹自己。

在游戲行業,持續性的成功并不是大多數人所想的那樣。我見過許多曾經創造出爆款游戲的工作室在發行一兩款產品之后就倒閉了。如果你的游戲和工作室沒有市場,你的公司就無法發展,更糟糕的是,你不清楚人們對你的游戲會有什么樣的反應。有些開發者拒絕傾聽任何批評聲,因為他們只關注游戲收入的成功,而不是工作室的成功。這些開發者往往會陷入“回音室效應”,認為自己所做的一切都是完美的,因為他們的粉絲小群體從來不會說任何不好的話。

我接下來要說的話可能是你作為獨立開發者聽到的最打擊人的話之一,但我必須指出來:我不管你的游戲掙了多少錢,在如今的市場中,如果你想要實現工作室的成功,你的游戲最少要有5000條評價,而且總體評價要是積極的。說實話,我說的這個門檻應該算是比較低的了,就如今的環境來說,10000條應該會比較合理。

為什么是5000條?

要判斷開發工作室是曇花一現還是會可持續地發展下去,關鍵在于他們是否能夠吸引、留住用戶,并壯大忠實的粉絲數量??倳幸恍├獾挠螒驎哌\,但優秀的工作室知道確保質量和增加粉絲基礎的重要性。

5000條評價意味著至少有5000人在意你的游戲,愿意給你提供反饋。還有就是,這意味著購買和玩游戲的人是這個數字的好幾倍(大多數人玩完游戲后是不會寫評價的,不管他們的感覺如何),這對收益很重要。對于你的下一個項目來說,5000個潛在粉絲也是一個比較令人安心的數字。這也證明了那些購買了你的游戲的人愿意支持你的工作室,而不是某個單獨的游戲概念。正如我在上文所說的,財務上的成功只是工作室成功的一部分。最終,如果你想要實現長期的成功,你就得思考如何才能讓公司繼續增長。

我曾在之前的文章(http://www.577454.com/archives/97011)中探究過了,作為一個開發者,你希望有足夠多的粉絲去關注你的游戲,只需要其中一小部分人去購買游戲你就能獲得成功。對于那些沒有市場的開發者,他們得需要這幾百個粉絲(甚至需要幾千個)全部都買游戲才能實現成功。除此之外,想要通過一個更大的項目獲得成功幾乎是不可能的,我會在下一節中展開講。

因此,我在評估工作室的成功時會查看他們的所有產品,而不是只有熱門的??紤]到獨立開發領域的成熟程度以及游戲價格和質量的提升,我認為成功的衡量標準至少應該是10000條評價?,F在,你們中的一些人大概正準備怒氣沖沖地給我留言——“這有什么大不了的?游戲都掙錢了我為什么還要去在乎粉絲有多少?”

任何生意成功的關鍵就在于知道自己哪些事情做對了,哪些事情做錯了,汲取經驗教訓繼續往前走。我在之前的文章“The Power of Game Design Analysis”中討論過開發商制造出了優秀游戲但仍遭遇失敗的常見原因。擁有一個龐大的粉絲基礎和市場能夠幫助你更好地開發下一個項目?;鶖翟酱笤胶?,因為這最終能確保你的游戲設計是在往正確的方向發展。

許多開發者雖然創造出了成功的游戲,但仍未吸引到大量粉絲,他們一般不會去思考自己做錯了什么。結果就是在第一個成功游戲發行之后,他們開始大量流失粉絲。如果他們嘗試著去超越自己的第一款游戲,結果收獲的粉絲和反饋還更少,這通常就是財務陷入困境的開始。他們不是在想如何改進、如何更好地發展,而是認為只要能賺錢就不存在什么問題。伴隨著新游戲的發行,你的粉絲數量應該是持續上升的,這才是你的真正目標,而不是走下坡路。Kitfox Games就是一個很好的例子,在過去10年里,他們憑借自己所創造的游戲和影響力不斷發展壯大。

當我觀察那些成功的游戲及其后續作品時,我發現了同樣的趨勢—他們的第一款游戲意外走紅,然而續作的玩家基數大幅下降并且無法挽回。這其中的共同原因就是開發商沒有認真思考如何改進,只是嘗試修改一下,做一個跟前作差不多的游戲,或者在缺乏粉絲支持的情況下加大投入,創造規模更大的游戲。

如果你不信我的話,以下是我的第四本書Game Design Deep Dive horror中收集到的一些關于恐怖游戲系列的數據:

· 《失憶癥:黑暗后裔》是第一個因無戰斗特色而出名的獨立恐怖游戲,在Steam上已有1.4萬人寫評測了。當該系列的第三款游戲《失憶癥:重生》發行時,評測數量已經降至4100左右。
· 從流行文化的角度來說,《玩具熊的五夜后宮》可以說是最成功的獨立游戲之一,初代游戲有2萬多則評測。然而之后發行的游戲數據都在大幅減少,現在平均只有4000~6000則評測。
· 《逃生》也是個非常出名的獨立恐怖游戲,評測有4.5萬條,但續作《逃生2》還不到它的一半。

粉絲們常常把游戲的成功混為一談。在大概一個月之前,YouTube主播們都在熱議的一個游戲是At Dead of Night,很多游戲紅人都玩過這個游戲。你或許會想這樣的宣傳效果肯定會讓游戲產生驚人的影響力,但到現在為止,它的Steam評測數量還不到1000。對于擁有長壽IP或多款游戲的工作室來說,你肯定不希望看到自己的粉絲基數(和關注度)隨著每款新游戲下降。

在設計和發行一款游戲時,我們需要考慮諸多因素??紤]到過去十年獨立游戲空間的增長,現在的獨立游戲工作室想要擴大規模并獲得對應的收益并非是不可行的,他們是有潛力有機會的。這也意味著獨立開發者們不再被視為“弱勢群體”。如果你想成功,就做出符合人們質量預期的產品。他們也希望你能發展起來。作為游戲開發者,你的目標不僅是提高設計&制作游戲的技能,同時也要增加你的粉絲基礎,不然的話就沒有多少人會支持你那些更大、更有抱負的點子。此外,更多的粉絲意味著會有更多人買你的游戲,讓工作室能夠更輕松地度過各種金融風暴。

盡管取得了任何成功,仍然有一些開發人員只是做一些大同小異的游戲,而且對于沒有增長感到很意外。能夠坐下來好好分析你做對、做錯了什么是一項非常重要的技能。沒有多少人可以對自己說“這件事我做錯了,我需要加以糾正才能發展得更好?!?/p>

去年我談到了Bioware對《圣歌》這個游戲的煩惱,以及為什么沒有品牌魔法之類的東西。任天堂、Valve和暴雪等公司的游戲設計質量一直以來備受贊譽是有原因的,而不是因為有什么魔力。這些公司不斷在游戲設計中嘗試新元素,而不僅僅是用更好的畫面重新制作老配方游戲。他們明白哪些設計是有用的,哪些是無用的,從而更好的進行迭代。

我想談談這對于那些忠實粉絲數量不多的開發者來說意味著什么。在本文的開頭,我就說過主要目標是獲得足夠的資金促使你能夠繼續開發游戲。如果你能做到這一點,那實際上你已經比大多數開發者要優秀了。我指的是理解并完善自己的設計,獲得足夠的支持,這樣你就擁有了作為游戲開發者的安全網。像Klei Entertainment,他們的游戲《饑荒》和《缺氧》都獲得了巨大成功,還有反響相對一般的《隱形公司》《熾熱熔巖》。工作室實現成功,他們才有更好的條件進行試驗,他們明白一款失敗或低于平均表現的游戲并不等于是工作室的終結。我再強調一下,你沒有必要糾結我說的話是真是假,你自己看看有多少曾經創造出“神作”的獨立開發者在過去十年里因為某個游戲失敗,或者因為缺乏支持而無法走下去,最終失業或者是淡出了人們的視線。

最后,我還是想緩和一下這種令人沮喪的氛圍。如果你的第一個、第二個甚至第十個游戲都沒有獲得5000條評測,不要因此放棄。5000則測評是一個長期的目標,而不是說你的處女作就應該達到這個標準。就好比YouTube主播嘗試達到1萬訂閱者,我的頻道很長時間才增長到1000名關注者,再后來就是5000,現在我離1萬這個目標很近了——每個階段都是有個漫長的過程,這些里程碑不是馬上就能達到的。如果你的每款新游戲都能吸引到比前一作更多的粉絲,那么你就可以肯定自己是往正確的方向發展。就像我經常說的那樣,在游戲開發中沒有任何標準或保證,但你得竭盡全力確保實現游戲和工作室兩個層面的成功,很多開發者到最后才領悟這個道理。

本文由游戲邦編譯,轉載請注明來源,或咨詢微信zhengjintiao

As I’ve been analyzing videogame successes and failures as of late, I’ve been trying to figure out a way to understand what leads to game companies succeeding and why others fail regardless of past success. What I’ve come to realize is that “success” as a developer has no set standard: every studio is different. One company would kill for 100 sales on Steam; someone else may need at least 20K for their game to be called a success. As I thought about it more, success as a game developer can be boiled down to two points, and where many indie developers tend to fail to differentiate the two and why this is a dangerous mindset.

Reviewing Revenue

Game development is not like other mediums when it comes to the cost of production. Every game’s design, company, and process tends to be different. Not only that but having a veteran developer of multiple projects vs. someone just starting out can have a huge impact on the development pipeline. What that means is trying to figure out if a game financially succeeded from the outside is next to impossible.

There are fans who will say that if a game sold 500,000 copies at $2 apiece, then those developers are now millionaires; never considering the development costs, labor, and marketing that went into it. Your goal as a game developer first and foremost is to be able to earn a profit on the game you’re making. If you are bringing in more money than you’re losing, you are doing something right. However, there are a lot of developers who stop at that metric and fail to see beyond it for what is the next measure of success.

Growing a Studio

Financial success is very important for the short term, but if you want your company to continue growing and afford you job security, you need to understand studio success. Being successful in the market means that you have built up a fanbase who are willing to support you; guaranteeing X number of eyes on whatever you have next. While financial success is often tied to studio success, THEY ARE NOT ALWAYS ONE IN THE SAME. I have seen many indie developers on Twitter who puff themselves up because their game earned them money, or that it managed to hit 1,000 reviews.

Continued success in the game industry is not something a lot of people like to talk about. I have personally seen many studios who have had major successes – critically amazing games – go out of business one to two games later. Without a market for your games and your studio, you are unfortunately not growing as a company, and worse: you’re not understanding how people respond to your game. There are developers who once again refuse to listen to any criticism because they only look at the revenue success of their game, not the studio. These are often the developers who get stuck in the echo chamber effect thinking that everything they do is perfect because their small fanbase never says anything bad.

What I’m about to type may be one of the most depressing things you will hear as an indie developer, but it needs to be said. I don’t care how much money your game has made, in today’s market, if you want your game to be considered a studio success, and as a goal for your company, you want a game to have a minimum of 5,000 reviews and rated positive. And honestly, that’s me on the generous side, as I feel that number should be boosted to 10K reviews now.

Why 5K?

What often separates a developer from being a one-time success to those that become a long-running company is being able to bring in, retain, and grow a loyal fanbase. Now, there are always going to be outliers and games that got lucky, but the studios that do things right and continue to succeed know the importance of quality and having a healthy fanbase.

With 5,000 reviews, that means that there are at least 5,000 people who care enough about your game to leave a review to support you. As another point, this means that several times more people bought and played your game (most people who buy a game will not leave a review regardless of how they felt), which is important for revenue. Five thousand is a healthy number of potential fans for your next project regardless of what that may be. This also proves that the people who bought your game are willing to support you as a studio, as opposed to just that single game concept. As I said earlier, financial success is a part of studio success, but at the end of the day, if you want to succeed long-term, you need to think about the growth of your company.

The reason comes from an earlier post I wrote about successful games. As a developer, you want as huge of a pool of fans that you can have looking at your game, and only needing a fraction of them to buy it to succeed. For developers who don’t have a market for themselves, they’ll need every one of those few hundred (or even few thousand) fans to buy their game in order for it to be a success, and there’s little chance that trying to go big with a project will work out for them; I’ll explain why in the next section.

Therefore when I examine the success of a studio, I see how every one of their games has done, not only their breakout hit. Considering how established indie development is and how the price and quality of games have gone up, therefore I think going forward the metric of success should be at least 10K reviews. Right now, some of you are getting ready to leave me angry comments asking, “what’s the big deal? Why should I care about having a huge fanbase if I’m earning a profit?”

Going Downhill

Part of any successful business is understanding what you did right and wrong and learning from those points going forward. In another piece I spoke about game design analysis, and I discussed the common reasons developers still fail despite having a great game. Having a huge fanbase and market for your game gives you a leg up on whatever your next project is. The higher the better, as that means you ultimately did something right with your game design.

For many developers who do have one title that blows up for them, but still doesn’t attract a huge fanbase, they often don’t think about what they did wrong. What ends up happening is that from that first big success, they start hemorrhaging fans. If they try to go beyond their first game and end up with fewer fans and support, that usually is the start of financial problems for that company. They’re not thinking about ways to improve or grow but think that as long as they’re earning money that there’s nothing wrong. The true goal is that each game made by your company should be increasing the number of fans, not decreasing it. A good example would be Kitfox Games who have grown in terms of the games they’ve made and their reach over the last decade.

When I look at major successes and their follow-ups, with rare exception, I see the same trend—Their first game is a huge, and often a surprising hit, and then the fanbase dips considerably and doesn’t recover. The common reason is that the studio chooses not to improve, and just tries to make the same game with minor differences or doubles down and go bigger without the fanbase to support it.

If you don’t believe me, here are some numbers from successful horror franchises that blew up that I looked at in my fourth book “Game Design Deep Dive Horror.”

Amnesia the Dark Descent was the first indie horror game to become famous for removing combat and has a respectable 14K reviews on steam at this time. By the time the series hit its third major release with Amnesia Rebirth, that number of reviews have dropped to around 4.1K. Five Nights at Freddy’s is arguably one of the biggest indie successes in terms of pop culture reach, and the first game has a great score of around 20K reviews. However, the series has lost a considerable number with each new entry, and now averages around 4–6K reviews. Outlast, another major horror game had an outstanding first outing with 45K reviews, for its sequel, it is now down to 21k.

Fandom will often conflate what success is for a game. About a month ago, the game that YouTubers couldn’t stop talking about was At Dead of Night, which has been played by many large channels. You would think that with all that buzz that the game has an amazing reach, but right now it hasn’t even broken 1K reviews on Steam. For studios with long-running franchises or multiple games, you do not want to see your fanbase (and interest) dip with each new game.

Going Over the Numbers

There are so many elements that go into deciding what to do when designing and releasing a game. With how much the indie space has grown over the past decade, the potential is there for indie studios to go big and be rewarded for it. However, that also means that indies aren’t being viewed as the “scrappy underdog” anymore. If you want to succeed, people expect quality, and they expect you to grow. Your goal as a game developer is to not only grow your design and ability to make games, but your fanbase as well, without it, you’re not going to have a fanbase to support bigger and more ambitious ideas. Moreover, a larger fanbase also means more people will buy your game and allow studios to weather any kind of financial storms easier.

Despite any success, there are still developers who just make the same game with minute differences and are surprised why they’re not growing. Being able to sit down and understand what you did right and wrong is a skill worth its weight in gold. Not many people can say to themselves, “this is what I did wrong, and I need to improve going forward.”

Last year I spoke about the problems that plagued Bioware with Anthem and why there is no such thing as studio magic. There is a reason why companies like Nintendo, Valve, and Blizzard are held in high regard for the quality of their game design, and it’s not because of magical powers. These companies are about trying new things with their game designs and not just remaking the same game with better graphics. They understand what elements work and don’t work about their designs and use that when it comes to iterating.

I want to talk about what this means for developers who have survived on having a small and loyal fanbase. At the beginning of this piece, I said that the main goal is to be bringing in enough money to continue developing games. If you can continue doing that, then you are already better off than most indie developers. What I’m talking about is reaching a point in terms of understanding your design and improving it, and having enough people support you that you have a safety net as a game developer. Companies like Klei Entertainment have had massive successes with Don’t Starve and Oxygen Not Included, and just okay ones with Invisible Inc and Hot Lava. Having those studio successes affords them the ability to experiment and know that one failed or below-average game isn’t a studio ender. Once again, you don’t need to take my word for this, you can see just how many indie developers with great games have gone out of business or quietly disappeared over the last decade either due to one failed project or just not having enough support to keep going.

For my final point, I want to alleviate some of the doom and gloom of this post. If your first, second, or even your tenth game doesn’t break 5,000 reviews, don’t consider that as a reason to give up. The 5,000 reviews is a long-term goal, not something you should expect out of your first game. For me, it’s the same as trying to hit 10,000 subscribers on YouTube. It took me a long time to hit 1,000, and then I went to 5,000, and now I’m on track to hit 10K, but none of that happened immediately. If each game you make brings in more fans than the last, then you know you’re on the right track. As I always say, there is nothing standard or guaranteed when it comes to game development, but what I’ve seen time and time again is that the developers who do last understand that you want to do everything to guarantee the success of your game and the success of your studio.

(source:gamasutra.com )


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