I’ve mentioned in some previous blog posts that I’m working on a currently unannounced strategy title for PC.
I’m going to be writing a bit more about the nature of the game over the coming weeks on the run up to its announcement, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There are some more fundamental questions to answer first, like “Why is the game on PC in the first place?”
Specifically, the game falls under the management simulation subgenre of strategy. It’s heavily influenced by tycoon games such as Roller Coaster Tycoon and Transport Tycoon, there’s also an element of satire involved which resembles the more recent and very wonderful Prison Architect and Papers Please.
What’s common amongst these games? Well quite simply, they’re all on PC. If that’s where the audience is, or in less managery speak, if that’s where the people who will love my game are, why would I release it anywhere else?
In the interests of fairness I should mention that management simulation titles have their fair share of success on mobile devices, the notable examples being the Kairosoft games like Game Dev Story. However until I see a game called Goat Simulator in the top-thirty best-sellers list of the App Store, I’m going to give PC the edge when it comes to simulation games.
I want to spend time making the game not the monetisation model
Those that are familiar with my previous work will know that my last game, Ionage, was a F2P game. I’ve written about F2P in a number of articles (look back through my blog if you are interested) and I came to the following conclusion late last year:
“F2P is hard”
It’s not evil, it’s not the demise of the games industry, it’s not corporate big wigs ripping off the parents of young kids (well OK it is that last one a little bit – but seriously put a password on!), it’s just hard.
I’m a one-man developer. I do all of the coding and all of the design while I farm out art and sound to contractors. This time round I have a publisher to help with the marketing (I’ll speak more about that and why it’s awesome in another blog post) but it’s still an awful lot to do.
Designing a monetisation model that rewards me financially as well as the player emotionally is very difficult and time-consuming, so I’ve chosen to go premium to save me the hassle. I want to spend time making the game not the monetisation model.
This comes with a gotcha though. Premium on mobile is difficult. To be successful, I believe you need an existing audience or perhaps a license which will get you that audience upon entry. Without that you’re having to compete with so many F2P games which promise enjoyment for the grand sum of zero pence. In other words, mobile is out.
Steam is opening its doors
The final reason is that Steam is a lot easier to gain access to than it used to be. A year and a half ago when I was making Ionage, I was worried about getting access to Steam. I didn’t like the sound of trying to get through Steam Greenlight due to reading countless horror stories about games sitting at the bottom of the list, never to see the light of day. But at the time there didn’t seem to be any other option.
Now you can find examples all over the internet of first-time developers releasing their game on Steam with the help of a publisher, bypassing the Steam Greenlight process altogether.
But there is more to the Steam story than just gaining access. Steam’s loosening access policy is a double-edged sword. Sure it gives a whole new swath of developers access to its audience but it also diverts that audience away from the veteran developers who are already on there.
As this continues the battle for exposure will become more and more like the oversaturated mobile market. Just being on Steam will no longer provide any guarantee of sales and so, like the mobile markets it will become increasingly important to have an existing audience.
Therefore I’m attempting to build my audience now before it’s too late!
There’s no one size fits all really
So that’s why my next game is on PC, but I’d be pretty close-minded if I thought it was the only platform you can be successful on at the moment. Despite the sensationalist title of this post I actually believe it completely depends on the game you’re making.
The true message of this post is not “PC is the best platform” but rather “Developers should think carefully about which platform matches their game best” but if I had chosen that as the title you probably wouldn’t have clicked the link.
PS If I’ve piqued your interest in my next game then do consider signing up to the development newsletter. It comes as a monthly email with a general development update along with links to the latest blog posts.