Genres — The Second Step to Platform/Genre Fit
by Alan O’Dea
The aim of any lean game startup is to achieve Platform/Genre Fit.
Game startups should always be seeking to achieve platform/genre fit. The second step in this process is to choose what genre your players use and understand the characteristics that define success for this type of game.
Platform/genre fit should lead to a game that appeals to the maximum number of players that can be addressed with 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 and target gamers at scale on that platform.
Platforms are Choppy
I have noted before the platforms available to play games change much more frequently than game genres. This more than any other trend forces game developers to constantly adapt to new platforms. Indeed many new game startups form just to chase the opportunity presented by a new platform e.g. Zynga on Social Networks, Supercell on Smartphone. In many instances these platform shifts bring with them radical technological changes, business model innovation, new gameplay methodology and distinctive platform features that can be incorporated into your games.
The major platform categories available to reach platform/genre fit are
At a top level only two fundamental considerations are important for determining the right platform to launch your game. When evaluating your target platform to determine the opportunity cost, finances, risks, effort, time and other resources needed to make your game you have to define what success and failure will look like if you do or do not reach fit.
The most important consideration when evaluating a platform is defining what failure looks like. Defining failure allows you to determine the effort and customer learning you need to achieve to make the decision 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 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 startups and is one of the best outcomes of adopting the lean game 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 a chosen 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 succeed.
Tool — Platform Evaluation Map
So if platforms are so important to the success of a game we need some form of technique or tool to evaluate a platform and determine if it is a suitable place for our game to live. The following is the first tool in the Lean Startup Toolkit and provides a relatively simple tool to evaluate a platform.