Few days ago when I finished a mentorship meeting in Costa Coffee at City Mall, I met two other Jordanian game-preneurs who were working at the same cafe, and we had a quick chat about online and mobile social games!
We talked about Facebook Games, Zynga, Angry Birds, Draw Something, etc… and we were discussing the games life-cycle, different strategies to launch a good social game that may actually last for a long time, and how we can learn from other people’s experience.
The guys were really passionate about this and they have really good concepts, but they are perfectionists!!! They wanted to finalize a full featured game, a perfect game, before launching it! They have been working for months on their concepts, but nothing is out there yet!
I can understand and appreciate their passion for creating the next big game, but it just doesn’t come this way, or at least I believe so. I believe that they have to run quick and simple experiments for several reasons. What if people don’t like the full featured game? What if people don’t like the whole concept?! What if another startup comes and launches a similar concept before them? What if they couldn’t distribute or promote the game well? What if, What if, What if?!?!
So I was only suggesting creating a very simple, light and free version of the game, that can be launched in few days and then submit it to the app stores. They will get into marketing, they will get user feedback on the basic concept, they can also run tests on user experience, pivot when needed, build a user base for the next game, get some numbers to analyze, learn more about their target users, etc….
You need this if you want investments. VCs will require data about your ability to attract users, data about your ability to analyze your users’ behavior, a proof that you are able to change and modify your games based on user feedback, a proof that you can retain users, a proof that you can get users addicted to your games, and of course a proof that your games are so good so that few of the users actually paid for it, etc…. All this will encourage VCs to invest with you the amount that you need to create the next big game that needs a bigger team and more resources.
Some are afraid of uncovering the great concept they are working on. But I am sure that people can’t easily drop everything they’re working on just to copy your game concept and do it before you! However, if you are too afraid, why don’t you be innovative and create few simple games around your new concept without uncovering it?! I mean it’s all about innovation!
Anyway, while talking, I suggested a very simple “Test-Game” that I wish to see someone doing and sharing the lessons learned week by week as a practical example. Not for the game itself, but for the learning that we all can get out of it.
So below I am listing preliminary versions/experiments for a game concept that will start very simple and then get more features as we go. Of course this might not be how the game will or should end, because it should be open to change and pivot based on the user feedback. By the way, I am not proposing a new concept, it was (or maybe still) there. It’s just the experiment that I am interested in and the data mentioned above that can be gathered.
I take a photo of my friend using my mobile phone, the photo will appear in a cartoonish style, then I hit or punch the face in that photo to create a funny picture of him/her and post it on Facebook.
We add more cartoon style filters and more tools to punch or add more effects to the face.
We add a social layer to it! I invite other friends to punch that friend photo with me! Then when the picture is added to Facebook, the profile pictures of all gang members will appear next to that funny picture saying that we are the ones who did it.
We add a social competition to it. So we will see who will get more friends to punch the other one’s photo, who is able to get a bigger gang, and who will also get more likes after it.
We add virtual currency to it!! The more friends you get on your side the more tools you unlock, alternatively, you can purchase those tool. Or you can purchase special filters and special funny looks instead of waiting to gather a bigger gang around you!
Then maybe we can add stages that include putting that friend in a funny situation, or maybe we add group playing like gangs against each other, etc…. Again, this should be open for any changes derived from user feedback.
This is just an example.
Now think about your own game concept and how you can simplify it so that you can launch it tomorrow!!
Then learn and develop as you go.