Lessons From PAX Dev: Know your Target Audience

Posted on by Chris Lessard

I was lucky enough to take part in PAX Dev this year and learned a multitude of great information. Since it is considered a “Black Box” event, meaning no pictures, tweets, or posts about the talks I am unable to use any direct resources (outside of what was verbally given the OK). However, after this great educational experience, I feel I can personally dole out some advice to Indie Developers.

  1. Know your target audience
  2. Polish
  3. Don’t forget to Market

Know your target audience

During all of PAX, this seemed to be the running theme. A quote I heard was, “If you make a game for everybody, everybody will find something wrong with it.” I feel with mobile developers specifically I hear, “We are in mobile because everyone has a phone!” While that is true, its not REALLY a target audience.

Every developer must know exactly who will play this game. Marketing and advertising to non-users is not going to reap the same returns as marketing to your target audience. Lets take AAA titles for example—most AAA titles are first person shooters. This is because a lot of those companies understand that the majority of console users are specifically interested in this style of game. They are able to create and market these games to an audience they already know is interested.

So what is a target audience? That is for you to decide, because your audience will be your consumer, marketer and voice for your game.

blog-your-way-to-gaming-success

Polish

This was one of the subjects that got me thinking. Something that I like, particularly about indie games, is almost that lack of polish. But after scouring the floor I realized polish is a requirement for creating a great game. Every indie game I saw, regardless of the style of graphics, had polish. I realized polish is not just about looks, it’s about gameplay as well.

A well-polished game won’t have a hard time teaching its user how to play; and best case scenario, will teach you through the actual gameplay. Polished gameplay also involves a good control scheme. If there is one thing that will push someone away from your game, it’s bad controls. It can look pretty and sound pretty, but if it doesn’t play pretty…that is bad news.

Polish is an idea encompassing all aspects of the game. If it isn’t polished visually, aurally, and gameplay wise, your game is not reaching the potential it can.

Marketing

During the keynote, a revealing statistic noted that when you market your game, regardless if it is good or bad, it will make more money. But no marketing can truly overcome a sub-par game. Games that turn a profit are CLOSELY related to their average review score.

Best case scenario: you have figured out your target audience, you have a nice polished game, and your game is fun. If you reach all three of those milestones, your community will do a lot of marketing for you. Marketing is integral in the success of a game, don’t forget it!

The most important bit of advice? Just remember, we are all in this industry because we love games. THAT is why we should all be here.

Chris Lessard
A former preschool teacher, current marketer and forever gamer, Chris works at Bolder Games in Colorado.

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