One of the finest examples of games going viral are Pokemon Go or Flappy Bird. As for the latter, it received horrible critics and was accused of copying graphics from Super Mario. Even so, this game managed to pull in a huge amount each day just from ads!
The game was finally taken down on the account of guilt felt by the developer. He felt people were playing his game instead of enjoying their lives. Hard to believe isn’t it? Well, it is said that he earned so much money that he was afraid for his own safety.
So how did all of this even happen? How can one game with old graphics and simple gameplay earn that much money? Most people would say a bit of luck and a bit of addictive gameplay. Yes, that is true, but there are some other ingredients that make one game go viral.
Game Ingredient 1 – 5 Tablespoon Simplicity
In my opinion, simplicity is the first thing that you should consider if you want to make a game go viral. Most people expect quick gratifications from a game. They don’t have time to engage in time-consuming gameplays with complex mechanics. There is, of course, an audience for this type, but it is limited and we are cooking a viral game here. So a viral game should really focus on simple gameplay and simple scoring system.
For example, Flappy Bird or Temple Run don’t have a precise objective to fulfill which you have to complete in order to reach the next level. The gameplay is simple, gather as many points as you can and compete with other people around the world. Let’s be honest, everyone loves to be the best. And what is a better way than to let people compete in a global scoring list of hundreds of thousands of players?
Game Ingredient 2 – 3 Tablespoon Understandibility
Gameplay should also be convenient for anyone – from a five-year-old child to a sixty-year-old adult. That way you will have huge numbers of potential players who will make your game go viral. Also, don’t forget one very important thing, not all people have great phones or PC-s so you should keep the requirements of your game as low as possible – gameplay always beats graphics.
Game Ingredient 3 – 2 Teaspoon Simple Language and 1 Teaspoon Catchy Title
English is a must-have here. Try to use simple English, most of the world knows at least a little bit of English. But not everyone is proficient in this language. Your in-game communications should be short and vocabulary simple for everyone.
Viral games have short and simple titles that are easy to remember or to write. People search games by title and that is precisely why you should use simple English.
Game Ingredient 4 – A Pinch of Smartness
Some gaming companies have their own teams of psychologists. They provide the company with important researches. After deciding upon your target audience (TG), consider reading some articles on gamer’s psychology online and learn what your TG is responding to.
For example – The “Barely missed it.” While playing Angry Birds, if you shoot and barely miss the target you will play that level again. But now you will know how to adjust your aim for the maximum damage. The same thing applies to other games like Flappy Bird or Temple Run and this effect makes people play one game over and over again. Logical, ain’t it?
Game Ingredient 5 – 1 Tablespoon Endless Style (If available)
Most of the games that have gone viral are of the “endless” type. They either have an infinite number of levels or no levels at all. Classic examples are Subway Surfer, Angry Birds, Temple Run, Candy Crush, etc.
Levels in Angry Birds also have a rating system (one to three stars) based on your score. This system ensures that a gamer will spend more time trying to perfect the score for each level. Add this to a global high score list and your users will hardly leave their devices alone trying to get to the top of it. Every MMORPG like World of Warcraft are great examples of this strategy. They also have character progressions. As a user dives deeper into a game he/she will always want their character to be the best in terms of aesthetics and power. Updating your game constantly and adding new content will maximize the effects of this method.
Game Ingredient 6 – Difficulty (As per taste)
It is important that your game is on the edge of difficulty. Interesting, doable yet not easy. It’s boring if the game is too easy and frustrating if it is too hard. You need to achieve the equilibrium. One way to achieve this is by introducing powerups, upgrades, invincibility or extra lives. Just look at Pac Man and Super Mario, they used the same method for more than 30 years. They have managed to balance difficulty which made their games approachable to anyone and popular worldwide.
Seasoning – Game Is Just A Game
Making a viral video game is not difficult. But giving people what they want while balancing different factors is the hard part. Ingredients mentioned above have proved very efficient and they are used by almost every gaming company to cook a viral game.
Gaming industry earns billions of dollars every year. The market is huge as the internet allows everyone to connect globally. Even if you are a young, motivated developer you can grab a slice of the multimillion cake.
Remember that games are created for one purpose i.e. FUN. Give that to your TG and be ready to pull in big bucks.