Data-driven development in PC games

DATA-DRIVEN DEVELOPMENT IN PC GAMES

When aiming for data-driven development in PC games, things start to get a little tricky. Especially if you're making a premium game, which players purchase to get playing.

For premium games, you need to start doing the data-driven development before releasing the game. 

YOU HAVE JUST AN IDEA

At first, you have a vision and idea of a great PC game. In the beginning, it's just an idea. You don't have any proof, that players would actually be interested in your game. That's why you need to get the first playable version of your game ready as soon as possible and start getting early testers for it. 

The sooner you do this, the sooner you're able to identify does your game idea have a future. 

FEEDBACK

Give the players easy tools to share feedback and thoughts about the game and let that feedback direct your development. The sooner you get into this, the sooner you're working on the right track with your game. 

PROMOTIONAL MATERIALS

When working with your promotion materials, you need to have some type of "call to action" for every promotion you do. Here is a couple of examples:

  • Guide players to wishlist your game on Steam
  • Guide players to join your newsletter 
  • Guide players to pre-order your game
  • Guide players to follow you on social media
  • Guide your players to join the early tester group

This may sound obvious to someone, but still, it seems that it's easy to forget how important these are. Since you don't have your game available to purchase yet, you need to have ways to recognize is your game interesting during the development phase. For every step you take during the development, needs to be into making the game more interesting for "early adopters". 

If you keep on doing this, you should be seeing increasing movement within the wishlists and other metrics. If you're not, you are either looking at the wrong metrics or working with the wrong type of a game. The interest for your game won't suddenly "boom" after the official release. If you can't get the interest during the development, why should you get it at the launch?

This may sound harsh, but I think it's harsher to work with a game for months (or years) and see it fail during the first week of the official launch. It's much less painful to make bigger changes for your game during the development (or even change the whole project) rather than going forward blindly without any indicator showing that you're doing an interesting game.

If you still end up releasing your game without any metrics showing that you should, it's of course still possible that it gains a good amount of exposure at launch, it's just very unlikely. 

CONCLUSION

Like mentioned in our previous post: "Data-driven development in mobile games" Always aim to get analytics and/or other metrics to prove that you're working with something, that (even some) players find interesting. Also, aim to get this data rolling as soon as possible when starting to work with your game. This helps you to see a longer period of data and maybe even help you understand what type of "announcements" or promotional tricks got you more visibility, than others.

Also, the data which you gather is the best possible stuff to show for possible publishers and/or investors which you may be looking for your game. Without the data, you're just making predictions, assumptions and wild guesses.

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