Build A Video Game Company That Improves A Player’s Life

What’s does a game company do?

Is it a creative outlet for you and a way to make money doing what you’re passionate about?

Is it a way to make a living fulfilling your childhood dreams of making games, and telling your story?

Is it when a bunch of people with different skills all work together to make a cool, unique game?

Is it to find investors or publishers so that they give you money and you don’t have to have a day job and you can spend all day working on what you’re passionate about?

Well, Let Me Explain What A Game Company Really Does…

Let’s break down what a business does in very simple terms…

A business creates value. And people exchange their time and money for that value.

For example, you use Unreal or Unity to help you create your game. You are exchanging your time and money because you can finish your game faster and easier. And the reason you want to finish your game is probably two reasons:

  • Have as many people play your game and enjoy your creation as possible
  • Make money so that you can support your life

You see, the value a game engine offers you is worth more than what you’re paying them.

In other words, you’re NOT buying the software. You are buying the OUTCOME you’ll get from using that software.

Let me explain…

A game engine has features that makes it easy for you to finish your game faster and easier. (I’m not saying it’s easy to learn and use an game engine… but it is a LOT easier than if you were to make an engine from scratch.)

Anyway, my point is, you’re not paying for a game engine because they have cool features. You’re not paying because it’s more convenient than if you had to create your own game engine. You’re paying for a game engine because that software will give you a tangible outcome.

What’s a tangible outcome?

Well it’s not a feeling you get. Something tangible is something you can count or reach out and grab.

So for example… you’ve made a game people can buy, download and play. That in turn has given you an income. You can count how many games you sold and how much money you’ve made. And with that income you can now pay rent, buy food, pay for gas — tangible things you can reach out and grab.

Let me give you another example…

You probably use Twitter, TikTok, and Reddit to promote your game. The value in those platforms is NOT their features. The value is not because you can easily reach a lot of people fast. The value isn’t because you have access to a huge audience with a click of a button.

The value of Twitter or TikTok or Reddit is the TANGIBLE outcome you will get that will improve your life.

So for example, you post on Twitter or Reddit. You are making connections with other people who may help you finish your game. You’re making friends digitally or in IRL. And you’re increasing your chances of somebody discovering and buying your game. You can tangibly count how many people follow you. You can count the people you’ve met IRL because of social media. And you can count how many of your followers go buy your game. All of these reasons have improved your life socially and financially.

Or another example…

Look at Coca-Cola. On the surface you might think people buy it because it tastes good, or because their advertising and branding influence you. These are all true. But the real reason people buy Coke is because of the tangible outcome they get. Coke has caffeine and sugar that physically changes your focus and mood. People use Coke to help them get things done. There is a tangible outcome people get.

What A Business Really Does Is Give People Tangible Results That Improves Their Lives IRL

My point here is that people will exchange their time and money with a business only if they get a tangible result IRL, that is concrete, is “here and now”, that they can count, or that they can actually use.

This is important and why I keep repeating myself…

You’re not buying a game engine… you’re buying financial freedom. One day you want your game to sell enough copies so that you can pay rent, or buy a home, or pay for your kids education.

You’re not posting on social media… you’re building a community of friends that you can’t find IRL. You’re building a following so that they eventually go buy your game.

You’re not drinking Coke… you’re using a food-like substitute that physically changes your mood so don’t feel crappy and can get on with your day. And it gives a burst of focus so you can have energy doing whatever you’re doing. Yeah, the food is junk and unhealthy… but that doesn’t matter as long it feels like it’s improving a persons life.

So you see… you’re exchanging your time and money with a businesses because you want a tangible outcome. You’re getting something concrete, tangible, and “here and now” that will improve your social or financial life.

So what does this have to do with you and your game company?

Players Don’t Buy Video Games, They Buy Tangible Outcomes That Improve Their Social And Financial Lives

So remember how I asked you what does a business do? It is a group of people who come together and makes games? Is it creative outlet for you and a way to make money from your passions?

Well now you know what a business does has less to do with you and more to do with what the person gets.

You now know a business creates value… and people exchange their time and money to get that value.

And that value does NOT come from the product itself. People don’t care about the features, or how it’s made, or if it’s fun to use. People only care about what a business will get them IRL. They only care about tangible results.

Just remember my examples:

  • Game engine = make a game, buy a home
  • Reddit = make friends you can’t IRL, build a community that will buy your game
  • Coke = sugar and caffeine rush so that you’re not just sitting in bed all day and you have some energy to do stuff

And it’s the same with video games.

On the surface, it may seem that the value in video games is that they offer players certain feelings or experiences.

And it seems that successful game companies make games that have cool features, or cool looking visuals and art, an engaging story, fun gameplay, and a way to play with friends.

But now you know that value does NOT come from the game itself, but what it DOES for the player IRL.

So here’s a list of tangible benefits why players buy and play games:

  • Popularity (i.e. posting memes on r/gaming and so they can count their “internet points”)
  • Be up-to-date / Be first in things (i.e. play the current most popular game then dropping it once a new game comes out)
  • Get praise from others (i.e. tell your friends you platinumed a game)
  • Be recognized as an authority (i.e. speed runners)
  • Have influence over others (i.e. becoming a reviewer or game’s journalist)
  • Avoid life’s difficulties (i.e. block out fighting parents)
  • Creative outlet (i.e. make a YouTube channel talking about your favorite games or genres)
  • Make a living (i.e. become a streamer, YouTuber, games journalist, game dev)
  • Personal achievement (i.e. caring about Steam achievement even though you don’t care if anybody sees them or not)
  • Stress relief from work (i.e. crappy job, but that’s ok, you can come home and game)
  • Make friends (i.e. playing multiplayer games)

People don’t play games in isolation. They don’t play games because it gives them certain feelings. They don’t play games because it offers them different experiences.

People play games because it gives them a tangible result that you can see in real life. They play games because they improve their life either socially, emotionally, or financially.

Socially, a game offers player’s a way to make more friends. Or have influence over other people. Or be recognized. Or avoid life’s problems.

Financially, a game offers a player a way to make a living. They can make their own game. They can become a YouTuber. Or they can become a journalist.

Emotionally, games give players a way to physically escape life’s difficulties and stresses.

Each of these reasons why gamers play games is because games improve their lives in certain ways. And I’m not talking about making them feel good. I’m talking about improving their lives in tangible ways like having more friends or making more money or feeling less stressed so they can keep going to a job they hate.

Game Companies That Seek More Value Than They Offer Will Fail

I help game devs market their game. And I often see the biggest reason why they fail at growing their game company is because they try to get MORE out of a player then they offer a player.

For example, I always ask game devs why are they making a game. And the number one reason is because they wanted to make a game they want to play.

And there is noting wrong fulfilling your own desires. If this is a passion project, great!

But if we make games that only fulfil our own desires… if we only make games because we need a creative outlet… if we only make games that impress investors and publishers, then we’re not adding any value to the player at all.

And people don’t exchange their time and money unless they think it will add value and improve their social, emotional, and financial life.

So remember, players don’t buy video games. They buy social status, more friends, a way to make a living, a way to express themselves creatively, a way to get recognition, a way to avoid life’s problems…. etc.

So ask yourself…

What value does your game offer to a player?

Stop thinking about your what you get. And ask what a player will get, and you’ll build a game company that makes games of value that everybody will want.

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Thanks! And looking forward to helping you find players!


Dariusz Konrad
Port Stanley, Ontario