The aim of any games startup is to achieve Platform – Genre fit. The first step in this process is to choose what platform your players use and understand the key performance indicators (KPI) that define success for this platform.
Game companies should always be seeking to achieve Platform – Genre Fit. Platform – Genre fit should lead to a game that appeals to the maximum number of players that can be addressed within a particular genre on a target platform. I have already talked about my belief that “Platform Type Influences Everything a Game Company Does”. Platforms are where your target players hang out and play games. Understanding the dynamics of your target platform offers the first and highest level insight into how to design your game to achieve Platform-Genre fit that will target gamers at scale on those platforms.
More and more, games are coming to dominate the time and money spent on the various platforms and devices players use to access the internet, content, media and apps around the world. However as I have noted before the platforms available to play games change much more frequently than game genres. This more than any one trend forces game developers to constantly adapt to new platforms. In many instances these new platform shifts bring with them radical new technological changes, business model innovation, gameplay methodology and distinctive platform features that can be incorporated into your games.
The major platform categories available to reach Platform/Genre Fit
As defined by Gamasutra
Platform Genre Fit
A games company has a few choices when it comes to achieving Platform – Genre fit they can
bring an existing genre into an existing platform.
bring an existing genre into a new platform.
bring an existing genre into an existing or new platform and trying to
re-segment the platform as a new business model entrant (freemium, subscription) or
re-segment that platform as a niche entrant (casual, mid-core or hard-core, male, female, kids etc.)
- clone an existing genre thats successful on another platform
The first step to achieving Platform – Genre Fit is to evaluate your target platform to determine the opportunity cost in terms of the effort, time and other resources needed to make your game and what success and failure for your game will look like if you do or do not reach fit. At a top level only two fundamental considerations are important for determining the right platform to launch, test and operate your game.
The most important consideration you need to ask about any platform you are attempting to reach fit for is what does failure look like on that platform?
Defining failure allows you to determine the baseline levels by which you decided to kill a game and move on to other games that have a better chance of obtaining fit on your target platform. Lean games is all about launching games that reach Platform – Genre fit therefore getting played by the maximum number of players of that genre on that platform. It is extremely important to define a set of failure points for your game. If your game does not improve upon these failure points then you should kill the game and focus your efforts on a game that has a better chance of reaching platform fit.
These failure points could simply be a set period of time in testing on the target platform attempting to tune your target KPI’s e.g. engagement, retention, monitisation etc. or a set number of target customers or growth rate. If you do not reach or surpass these targets and KPI’s you should kill your game and focus on another. I would argue killing sub optimal fit games quickly is of utmost important to a lean games company and is one of the best outcomes of adopting the lean stack and pubops as part of your publishing process.
It is equally important to define your level of success on your target platform. You obviously want to build the most played game in your genre on the target platform. You need to determine how large this game can be, can the platform support that growth, how much that game will cost to build, test and operate and what revenue will you game generate if it succeeds.
Platform Evaluation Stack
I like simplistic one page tools that contain strategic, tactical and operational consideration together in the mold of the Lean Business Canvas when making these top level decisions and the first dedicated game tool I propose as part of the Lean Games stack is the Platform Evaluation Stack.
The Platform Evaluation Stack offers a method of evaluating all the important elements of a platform to determine it’s suitability for Platform Genre Fit. The Platform Evaluation Stack aims to synthesize all of the major considerations needed to evaluate a platform into one tool. It is intended to be used as a guide to present all the essential elements user, technology, approval processes, KPI’s you should consider to evaluate success and failure for any product for fit on any platform. For games that are intended for multiple platform these stacks can be placed side by side.
The Platform Evaluation Stack – Version 0.1