Business Informative & Scope Innovation

The Right Keys

by Nisha K

Are successful games created overnight through sheer creativity or does science play a larger role in game development? Find out what are the ingredients for a game’s success that make them so addictive.

The gaming industry represents one of the leading entertainment industries in the world, if not the best at generating income. The industry, reportedly, had a 10.9 per cent increase from 2017 that billed its worth to USD134.9 billion in 2018. Thanks to technological advances, it has grown in leaps and bounds since 1970s – the decade that marked its significant commercial facet that makes online gaming big business. A big part of its popularity is built on a vast ecosystem which networks various sectors of the community that thrives on the gaming experience.

The hugely popular online video game, Fortnite is a massive hit among fans alike. The first-person shooter developed by Epic Games has various gameplay for the three distinct game modes. The Battle Royale, which is free to play and the Save the World mode with Standard and Deluxe editions are priced at USD39.99 and USD59.99 respectively. With its addictive gameplay it features various scenarios such as fighting off zombie-like creatures, last man standing and defending objects with fortifications in one giant map.

Released in 2017 and available on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Mac, Fortnite has sold over 5 million copies in the first three months since its launch. The numbers have been impressive for Epic Games who revealed last year that there were 78.3 million active Fortnite players last August, marking the highest monthly usage in the history of the game.

The highest record number of Fornite players was a staggering 8.3 million when the game was launched in South Korea. In March 2019, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney disclosed that the total number of Fortnite players to be hovering at 250 million as documented on Venture Beat.

Why is Fortnite So Successful?
The shooting-survival game and also the one where you can build stuff can be said to be Call of Duty meets Minecraft or at least that is what Mark Milian from Bloomberg had to say in his review last year. Why is it so successful? Part of it includes the free-to-play business model, one of the most essential ingredients to Fortnite’s success. ‘We’re going to figure it out,’ said Tanya Watson, Fortnite’s producer. But she already knew they had something special. ‘This is not just a game for people who like shooters or RPGs, it’s a game for everybody’, added Tanya.

Creativity vs Science
As Bloomberg’s Mark reiterated, Epic Games have been tinkering with Fortnite for years with the original concept which was dark and hyper-realistic. It was not till 2012, where the game got its traction and settled on the visual style we see today. The creators of Fornite spent years perfecting the game and it’s not just creativity and appeal where the game combines popular classics like Minecraft and its very own Unreal Tournament.

Epic Games had a platform to work on with the Unreal Tournament and on top of creating a unique gaming experience, the company studied trends and user experience data to come up with a game that appeals to many. Hence, science also played an all-important role in game development and in Fortnite’s case, data science and its analysis were key in figuring out the best recipe.

Gameplay Storytelling
An integral part of game development is its storytelling and how the plot can entice users to try the game or even make a purchase which is a win for developers. The creative writers have to come up with something really unique which will not only appeal to the local market but also instill values which reflects on cultures that is impartial to gender biasness.

Part of the success of a game doing well in the market is its storytelling and creativity has an early impact on the game which can influence its overall fate or shelf-life following its world-wide release. Classic titles such as Grand Theft Auto, The Witcher 3, Dragon Age and even Assassin’s Creed still possess the pull factor long after their release because of their impeccable creative writing and the effort or research and development.

Data Driven Industry
Data is king when it comes to the gaming industry. There is so much data flow involved that it is paramount to have a team analysing and crunching the numbers to pull information that goes into creating the perfect game. But the science of doing so and focusing too much on the metrics can impact the design element and the success of the game. The science that goes into each game is universal but creativity is very personal and trying to appeal to the masses might not work in your favour in the long run.

However, in some cases the use of big data to improve or develop a new game has been quite fruitful. Take the case of Halo 3, a newly built  gameplay mode which was built on the back of improvements and feedback from its predecessor, Halo 2. Despite having blown audiences away with its smooth and fun multiplayer matches it lacked depth and a scenario in its gameplay was unbalanced, leaving players unhappy with the outcome, which is getting killed.

Data Science Graduate highlighted the case of Halo 2 not living up to its top billing and reported that Bungie, one of its game developers and Microsoft, the creators of the Halo version on the Xbox console was unhappy. They found that part of the dissatisfaction among its gamers was the unbalanced map which allowed an unfair advantage to the other party. A few adjustments later and the problem was solved. Halo 3 went on to become the bestselling video game of 2007 in the United States.

Balance of Both Worlds
Although a fine balance between science and creativity is needed during the game development, developers along with data scientists and creative teams should have equal amount of input for a game to be deemed successful. In the billion-dollar gaming industry with more than 2.3 billion active paying players, reaching 1 billion downloads on Google Play does define the game to be globally successful and appealing.

Top 10 Most Popular Online Games in 2019

  1. PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds
  2. Fortnite Battle Royale
  3. League of legends (LOL)
  4. Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO)
  5. HearthStone
  6. MineCraft
  7. DOTA 2
  8. Apex Legends
  9. The Division 2
  10. Splatoon 2
    Source: Sports Show


Main photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

28 May 2019
Last modified: 29 May 2019
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