DEV-Talk 1.0 – What Makes a Game Successful?

Question: What makes a game successful?

Answer: Who really knows???  This is a really complex question and one that really doesn’t have a concrete answer, but we will attempt to break it down.


The game development industry is a very difficult and challenging industry filled with tons of competition as developers all seek to get you to play their game.  Most games never see the light of day, the dev-team scraps the project, the studio shuts down, or loses funding.  But, for the few games that do see the light of day what really makes them successful?  For some developers, just releasing a game is a success.  For other developers it can be numerous things such as:

  • High Volume of Players
  • High Volume of Concurrent Players
  • High Sales
  • High Replayability
  • Long Life/Support of Game

There are probably more that I can’t think of but, those are generally the top markers in today’s industry.  The hard part, no one knows if their game will be a success.  When Call of Duty first started, they had no idea what their game would grow into, now they are one of the faces of FPS games (even though they should stop making games, but that’s a topic for a different day).  This small PC based historical shooter had a modest crowd until it hit Xbox 360 with the release of CoD 2, then it grew from there.  What really makes a game successful is the tastes and preferences of the players.  What are the players looking for, is it fun? Unique? Fresh? Cost to Play? Developer?  All these things can factor into a player’s decision to purchase/play a game.

BUT!!! It is important for developers to not just build a game that players want to play, but a game they want to make.  Going back to the CoD example, this is no longer a game that players want to play or that their developers want to make.  CoD franchise is all about pure profit now, can we make money?  And over the years their sales have reflected that, they put a lack of effort into the game using recycled graphics, mechanics, animations, but update it and charge players $60 bucks plus DLC.  Therefore sales have decreased and continue to.

Another example of how you can’t predict the success of a game is Fortnite.  Battle Royale is not a new concept, PUBG and H1Z1 lead the market in the genre.  Then this 3rd person, shooter, tower defense game decides to add a fun battle royale game-mode and it becomes one of the most popular games, running neck and neck with PUBG and sending H1Z1 to the dumpster.  Who would have thought in the over saturated BR genre with two games heavily dominating the competition that this small game would emerge the leader?


No one…

Bottom line, when making a game, be passionate about your game, engage with the gaming community, be transparent about development, accept player feedback, and try to bring your own fresh, unique, fun perspective to a genre and leave the rest to the Gaming Gods…


Check back next time for DEV-Talk 1.5 – What can kill your game?

Catch ya’ next time Travelers!


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