The “Fire and Forget” formula of game development, which involves engineering a game for two years, putting it on the shelf, and then walking away from it, is rapidly becoming outdated. It makes better financial sense to build a game with the intent of returning to it, adding more, and extending its life for as long as possible. In that vein, here are three good tips for getting the most out of your game.
1. Tie a License to Your Game — By teaming up your game with an appropriate license, you may grab the attention of a whole new audience that wouldn’t otherwise give your title a second glance. A game based around a detective mystery would benefit from a partnership with the USA Network, for example. And Rovio gave Angry Birds a shot in the arm when it paired up its feathery cast with the birds from from Dreamworks’ hit animated movie, Rio.
2. Fill a Market Void By Importing and Re-Imagining an Existing Game — If you don’t have a game to call your own, you can potentially adopt one from the overseas market and re-brand it for a North American audience to do a healthy business. Europe and Japan both produce a number of games that play well, but the story, writing, and characters are built around cultural references and jokes that don’t translate well in North America. A visual make-over built around a solid core concept can do a lot to make an overseas game more accessible to an American audience, thus opening up a whole new player base that wouldn’t have known about the title otherwise.
When Nintendo brought the Japanese Nintendo DS rhythm game Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan to English audiences as Elite Beat Agents, it changed the original game’s “cheerleading” concept (as Japanese cheerleading squads aren’t something most Americans are familiar with) and its music roster, but managed to preserve the original game’s humor and charm. Though Elite Beat Agents didn’t sell as well as Nintendo had hoped, it could have done very well as a lower-priced downloadable game–especially if Nintendo had continually supported the game with downloadable song packs.
3. Bundle Additional Content — Repackaging and reselling a game with all its updates and add-ons has multiple benefits. It’s a good way to keep the title relevant, it helps the game bring in some extra money, it provides a great “jumping-in” point for people who didn’t adopt the game during its first run, and it’s also a decent way to get fans involved. A “Gold” or “Platinum” edition of a game that’s bundled with all its bug fixes, expansions, add-ons, and other updates can extend its life considerably, and will help bring fresh blood into a fanbase.
Moreover, the initial fanbase can be involved with the creation process by offering up user-generated content (say, new levels) distributed via social media, and the best creations can go into the bundle as well. Including high-definition graphical upgrades, creator commentary, and peeks at what goes on behind the scenes are also decent ways to keep fans engaged at minimal cost.