How To Find A Game Market That Has High Revenue Potential

Ask these 3 Simple Questions…

If you’re a game dev market researching a new game project, then here’s what you’ll get after reading this article:

  • How to identify a market opportunity in your genre that has high revenue potential
  • How to avoid entering a market that has too much competition and no demand
  • How to avoid spending years on a game that has no marketability
  • Get a template you can easily follow to help you market research your game idea faster 
  • And get a step-by-step action plan showing you exactly what to do, so that in five days you’ll be confident that your game idea has potential (or not)

And you’ll learn how to do all of this by just asking three simple questions… and following a step-by-step action plan. And like I said, in 5 days you’ll know if your new game idea has market potential — or not.

So, go grab your favorite drink. Put on your favorite game soundtrack. And here’s what you need to know about market researching your new game idea so that you find a profitable market…

First… What NOT To Do

First, I want to explain that you are not trying to pander to the market. You’re not trying to look for popular, trendy games, and then go…

“oh!!!! that’s it… that’s the winner… lots of players want to play this game, so I gotta make one like that too!”

What you’re trying to do here is to discover a hidden market opportunity that aligns with your own interests… with what you’re good at… and what you want to make.  

In other words, you’re trying to match a game that you want to make with what the market wants. You’re not trying to see what the market is doing, and then just do that.

Ok, let’s get into the three questions, and then I’ll give you the action steps and show you how to use the game market research template to help you find a profitable game market…

Question 1: What Are 5 Subgenres Within Your Main Genre?

If you want to successfully identify a market that has high-income potential, then you need to narrow your market.

For example, say you picked the Roguelike genre. Ok simple enough. But if you want to find hidden opportunities in your genre, you need to dig a bit deeper and narrow your market.

To look deeper into your main genre and understand how it works, your first step is to break down your genre into smaller subgenres.  

Here, let me show you my example. The Roguelike genre can be broken down into 5 or 6 specific subgenres. Like so:

  • Turn-Based Strategy: eg. Into the Breach, Faster Than Light (FTL)
  • Action, Real-Time Combat: eg. The Binding of Isaac, Risk of Rain
  • Casual: eg. Vampire Survivors, Desktop Dungeon
  • Persistent Progression (or “rogue-lite): eg. Dead Cells, Hades
  • Deck Building: eg. Slay the Spire, Monster Train
  • Survival: eg. Don’t Starve, The Flame in the Flood

Why is this important?

Well, let’s do a thought experiment.

Say you’re in the grocery store, and you really want some apple fritter donuts. So you go to the bakery department, and see a white box with black lettering that says “Donuts” on it. The box is packed up so you can’t open and see.

People don’t buy generic items… they are always looking for specifics…

Would you buy it?

Nope.

But say there was a box that said “Apple Fritter Donuts” on it, and had a little window so you could see. Would you grab a box? 

Yep. 

Well, it turns out that we humans don’t like generic things. And before we buy something, we usually have a specific need or want. And we like to know specifically what it is that we’re buying.

And rarely do we just go buy stuff on a whim or impulse. Of course, impulse buying is real. But for the most part, we need to justify our purchases somehow.

And this brings me back to my point:

When players see “Roguelike”, it’s like seeing that white box with black lettering saying “Donuts”. It’s not very motivating. Being generic doesn’t grab attention.

It’s the same with games… players don’t want “generic” genre games…

However, if a player sees “Turn-Based Strategy Roguelike”, it’s going to motivate them because they know what it is, and “what’s in it for me”.

This is why it’s very important to break down your main genre into 5 different subgenres.  

Players have a very specific preference in what type of game they play. And they don’t want to play a generic Roguelike, for example. They need to know what type of Roguelike.

And the reason why you’re doing this is because if you want to find a hidden opportunity in your market, you need to understand how that market works. And to understand how your potential market works, you need to look a bit deeper.

So, this is the very first, fundamental step in researching your market. Take the main genre you’re interested in, and then break it down into 5 subgenres.

If you’re having trouble with this step, email me at help -at- howtostartagamecompany.com, and in the subject put “market research”. Tell me exactly where you’re having trouble market researching your game, and I’ll be glad to give you some free tips.

Ok, once you got your 5 subgenres, let’s move on to the next question:

Question 2: Out Of Each Of The Five Subgenres, Which Market Has The Most PASSION Behind It?

If there’s a lot of passion in a subgenre, then there’s going to be a market. It’s that simple:

Passion = Demand

So what do I mean by “passion”? And how do you find out if there’s “passion” in your potential market?

Well, the best way to find out how much passion is in each of your subgenres, is to do this…

Remember how I came up with 6 different subgenres within the Roguelike genre? Here they are again:

  1. Turn-Based Strategy Roguelike
  2. Action, Real-Time Combat Roguelike
  3. Casual Roguelike
  4. Persistent Progression (or “rogue-lite) Roguelike
  5. Deck Building Roguelike
  6. Survival Roguelike

Ok, to figure out how much “passion” or “desire” is behind each of these subgenres, there is a very simple method you can do. 

Quick note: In the “Action Step” below, I’ll give you more details on how to do all this, and you get a template so that you can do this research in 10 – 15 minutes. So I’m going to quickly go through this… but just know that I’ll show you step by step how all this works…

Ok, let’s keep going…

What you’ll do is a “tag” search for your subgenre. 

So in my case, I want to research the “Turn-Based Strategy Roguelike” genre. So then I would do a “tag” search using the following terms:

  • Roguelike
  • Turn-Based
  • Turn-Based Strategy
  • Strategy
  • Indie

Here’s what mine looks like:

Ok, here is how easy it is to figure out if there’s passion for this subgenre. Randomly pick out 10 games. But here’s the important thing to watch out for:

Pick out games you’ve never heard of before, or are not very familiar with.  

Then once you’ve picked out 10 games, then go to the game’s Steam page and see how many reviews they got.

Here’s an example:

I have never heard of this game before and looking at its reviews, it has a lot of people talking about this game.

And that’s what I want you to look out for. When you go through your search results, pick out games that you’ve never heard of before, and see how many reviews they got.

If you’ve looked at 10 games that you’ve never heard of before, and they’re all getting over 500 reviews, then that’s a key indication that there is a lot of “passion” for games like this.

In other words, don’t just look at the most popular games. These games will of course have a lot of reviews. Popular games by their very nature have a lot of passion behind them.

So instead, what you want to look for are the smaller games, lesser-known games… and see how many reviews they’re getting.

And reviews are a good metric because they indicate they “quantify” passion. And if you’re passionate about something, you’ll talk about it and share your experience. So players who will go out of their way to leave a review, are often passionate about this game. 

So again, reviews are a good way to quantify “passion”. And yeah sure, some reviews are fudged. Sometimes a game dev will get their friends and family to leave reviews. But for the most part, if a very small game has over 100 reviews, it’s a good indicator of passion.

And don’t worry, I’ll show you how to organize all your research in the “Action Plan” section below, and walk you through the entire process, step-by-step.  

But for now, let’s move on to…

Question 3: Do My Players Have Options?

Ok, the very first factor in finding a market that has high revenue potential is seeing how much “passion” and “desire” are in that market.  

Again, passion = demand.  

And to find out how much passion is behind a game’s subgenre, a good indicator is how many reviews a game got in that subgenre — especially games you’ve never heard of.

However, there’s one BIG problem if you stop right here.

Again, reviews are a good way to quantify “passion”.

However, there’s a problem:

Because passion equals demand…. demand also attracts competition. And too much competition oversaturates the market. And if the market is oversaturated, it’s really hard for game devs to get any visibility. Even if you have millions to spend on marketing, it’s still hard to penetrate a market that has a lot of games in it.

For example, In Oct 2022, Vampire Survivors was released. By January 2023 the game became a huge, mass market hit. So if you were one of the lucky devs who were also releasing an Action Roguelike Casual Bullet Hell game in early 2023, then you would have been one of the few games that would have benefited from all the attention Vampire Survivors brought to the genre.

There almost 2,000 games in the Action Roguelike Bullet hell subgenre… it’s now oversaturated

But if you were to start developing an Action Roguelike Casual Bullet Hell game today, in 2024, it’s too late. Your success wouldn’t be the same as if you were to release back in early 2023.

And of course, this is painfully obvious: being there early when the market is just exploding is a good thing.  

But what’s not so obvious is, HOW do you get in early when a market is about to explode?

Well let me tell you:

When players have passion AND there are a lot of options, then the market is oversaturated. For example, there’s a lot of passion for Action Roguelike Casual Bullet Hell games… but also… players have a lot of options… a lot of games have been released in this subgenre.

However, when there is a lot of passion but the player has NO options… or not a lot of games have been released in this subgenre, then BINGO, there is your hidden opportunity.

Here’s the formula:

Passion + A Lot Of Options = Market Oversaturation

Passion + Few Options = Market Opportunity 

So what I mean is, say you find a subgenre that has a lot of passion behind it, but if devs are making games already for this group… if a lot of games are being released in this subgenre… then this genre is oversaturated and too competitive.  

You do NOT want to enter this market. 

This is how you avoid entering a market that has too much competition. This is how you save yourself years of game dev and making a game the market doesn’t want or need.

Again, if there’s a lot of demand for a genre AND where the player has a lot of options, then it’ll be really hard to break into that market. You would have to spend a lot of money on marketing — and even that isn’t guaranteed. 

Also, even when game devs know they’re entering a market that has high demand in it, they think they can “penetrate” the market by making a “better” or “higher-quality” game.  

But this is a mistake because having a “better” game or “higher-quality” game isn’t enough to get attention in a high-demand market. Players have too much choice. And when the competition is this high, almost all these games are “better” or “higher quality” in some way. So what happened is “better” or “high-quality” isn’t an advantage anymore.

This is what I mean by not “pandering to the market”. And this is what I mean when I say, “discover a hidden opportunity”.  

Instead of making a “better” or “higher-quality” game in an oversaturated market, a better strategy is to find a genre that has a lot of passion and where the player has no options, or very few options.

This way you’re not competing. You’re actually leading.

So how do you find this out? How do you find a market that has a lot of demand in it, but there’s not a lot of competition in it?

Let me walk you through the entire process, step by step. And I’ll give you a game marketing template you can easily follow.  

Ready? Let’s do that right now…

Step By Step Action Plan: How To Discover A Market That Has High Revenue Potential

Don’t fall into the “learning vortex” where you just keep learning… and in 4 years you’re no further than when you started.  

It’s like a game dev: you can watch all the tutorials on a game engine. You can do this for four years, and feel like you’re learning. But real learning starts when you’re working IN the game engine and trying to figure things out. 

So let’s take action right now. And best of all, what you’re about to learn will only take you 15 minutes. I’ll guide you through, step by step. And I’ve made you a spreadsheet template that is easy to follow.  

And I promise that once you take this step right now, you’ll learn an insight that will get you closer to finding a market for your new game idea that has high revenue potential.

And remember, if you ever get stuck trying to market research your niche indie game idea, then you can always email me at help -at- howtostartagamecompany.com. In the subject line put, “market research” so that way I know it’s you and I’ll get to you faster. And explain to me exactly what your problem is. And I’ll reply back with free tips.

Ok, ready?! Here’s what to do:

Step 1: Open The Template And Save It

To help you discover a hidden opportunity in your genre that has high revenue potential, I’ve created a spreadsheet template you can easily follow.  

So do this right now, and open the template. Here’s the link:  Game Market Research Template

Then go File -> Download. And pick your file format. Once you’ve picked your file format, open the file on your PC.

Ok, good. Now that you have your own copy of the “Game Market Research Template”, let’s go onto…

Step 2: Open Steam In Your Internet Browser (logged out or in Private / Incognito mode)

I recommend opening Steam using your internet browser because you don’t want to be logged in. And if you’re logged in on your browser, open Steam in a private window.

Why? Because when researching, you don’t want Steam to give you results tailored to you and your playing habits. You want a “clean” Steam, where the results you get won’t be filtered through an algorithm that is skewed to your preferences. 

Ok, now open both Steam and your spreadsheet and align each window so it’s a split-screen. This will help you do your research faster when you’re entering data.

To make it easier for you, split Steam window on the left, and your spreadsheet window on the right…

Oh, and I know there are ways you can automate this process and scrape the data from Steam and put it into a spreadsheet.

And I also know that there are websites that you can get this info from, too. 

But by automating the process or using other websites to help you, you won’t gain the deep insights you would if you do this “manually”, all by yourself. So it’s important that you “dig in and get your hand dirty”. Plus it’ll only take you 15 minutes to do this.

Ok, let’s keep going onto…

Step 3: Do A “Tag” Search For One Of Your Subgenres

Remember how in question 1, I had you figure out 5 subgenres within your main genre? So for my example, I picked out Roguelike as my main genre. And then I found 6 subgenres within this genre. Here, let me show you again:

  1. Turn-Based Strategy Roguelike
  2. Action, Real-Time Combat Roguelike
  3. Casual Roguelike
  4. Persistent Progression (or “rogue-lite) Roguelike
  5. Deck Building Roguelike
  6. Survival Roguelike

So, now… pick one of your subgenres. In my case, I’m picking “Turn-Based Strategy Roguelike”. 

Go yours? Ok good… now let’s go deeper into that subgenre and see if there’s any demand for this subgenre… and see if players have a lot of options or if they don’t. 

Because remember, if there’s a lot of demand or passion for a subgenre AND a player has a lot of game options, then the market is oversaturated.

But if there is a lot of passion or demand in that genre and players do not have a lot of game options, then you, my friend, may have found a hidden opportunity.

So, let’s do that right now…

Go to your Steam window (remember, you have a split screen with Steam on one side, and your spreadsheet on the other side). And on the front page of Steam, you’ll see a search bar. If you click the little magnifying glass icon, then you’ll be taken to Steam’s search page where you can narrow your search.

On Steam’s front page, you’ll see a search bar with a magnifying glass …click that!

Ok, good. Now on the right side, you’ll see “Narrow by tag” and a search bar. So what you’ll do is, you know how you identified and picked out a subgenre? Well, now you’ll specifically look for games in that subgenre by doing a “tag” search.

So for example, I picked “Turn-Based Strategy Roguelike”. So I’m going to do a “tag” search for the following terms:

  • Roguelike
  • Turn-Based
  • Turn-Based Strategy
  • Strategy
  • Indie

To do this, in the “search for more tags” bar, I would type in “Roguelike”:

Enter your tag, click the checkmark, delete your search, and enter your next tag.. repeat..

Then click the box to add a checkmark to it:

No delete your search (don’t worry, your checkmark will stay) and enter your next tag. So in my example, I would enter “Turn-Based”. 

So do the same with all your tags that describe your subgenre. Again, enter your rag to search, click the chick box, delete your search, and enter your next tag. 

So here’s what mine looks like:

It’s very important that you narrow your search like this because you want to get a deeper understanding of how your genre works, and what players want and don’t want in a particular genre.

Oh, two more little adjustments:

Adjustment One:

See how in my example, it shows in yellow text, “227 results match your search, 1 titles have been excluded”?

Well, click on the filter icon, and a dialog box will pop up.

Click the “View unfiltered search results” button. That way no games will be excluded. In my case, 1 game being excluded isn’t a big deal. But in your search you might see more than just 1 game beign excluded.

Adjustment Two:

See “Sort by”? By default, it’s sorted by Relevance. Change that to “Release date”. You want to research what is currently happening in your market. So your result must show the most recent games that have been released.

Ok, good. Now here’s how to figure out if there is passion or demand in your subgenre… and then later we’ll figure out if players have options or not to see how oversaturated that market is.

Step 4: Pick 10 Games You’ve Never Heard Of (or aren’t familiar with)

So now let’s go deep into your genre, and figure out how much passion or demand players have in this market.

To do this, randomly pick 10 games from our search results that you’ve never heard of, or aren’t too familiar with.

To easily do that, simply right-click on a game’s capsule art, then choose the option “Open Link in New Tab”.

Right-click and open ten game Steam pages in a new tab…

So do that ten times. And you should have 10 new tabs opened with 10 Steam pages.

Ok, next…

Step 5: Enter The Following Data Into Your “Game Market Research Template”

Right now you have 10 tabs open in your browser. Each tab has a Steam page of a game you’ve never heard of (or aren’t too familiar with). Good. Now go to each tab, and enter the following data into the spreadsheet:

Main Game Genre

Enter “Main Game Genre” in your spreadsheet

Simply enter the main genre that you’re exploring and trying to figure out if there’s potential or not. In my example, I’m exploring the “Roguelike” genre.

But now let’s go a bit deeper. The better you understand your genre, the more insights you’ll get out of your research. And the more insights you have, the better chance of discovering a hidden opportunity that has high revenue potential.

Ok, next…

Your Subgenre Tags

Enter the tags that describe your subgenre

Remember how in Step 3 you did a Steam tag search? Well, where it says “Enter your tag here”, type in each of the tags you searched for.

It’s important to keep this data and track your methods because later when you analyze your data, it’ll help you discover new insights. If you don’t track your methods, then you might not understand what your data means — and might not get any insights out of it.

Ok, next…

Number of Steam Results

When you do your Steam search in Step 3, you’ll also get how many games match your criteria. 

This is a very important number to know. It’s important because if your search comes up with 5,000 games… then you know right away this market is oversaturated. 

There is no way your new game idea will cut through the noise, and get any attention because there are so many games in this market. Even if you make a “better” or “higher-quality” game in this market, you’ll still have a hard time cutting through the noise and getting visibility. And again, that’s because there’s so much competition, and there will be a lot of games that are “better” and “higher quality”. Simply, players will have too many options, and this means most games won’t be seen — no matter how much better or higher quality they are.

So what you want to watch out for is a low game count. You want to see how many options a player has in this subgenre. If your search results come up with say 50 to 200 games in your subgenre, then there’s potential in your market.  

Again, the question is: do my players have options? If players have a lot of options in your subgenre, then the market is overcrowded.

But if players don’t have options, and there’s a lot of passion in the subgenre, then your market has potential.

Ok, let’s keep going…

Game Name

Enter game name into your spreadsheet

Simply highlight the game name from their Steam page, and paste it into your spreadsheet where it says “Game Name”.

Again, you’re doing this manually because I want you to gain insights about your market and discover a hidden opportunity. By knowing what games are in your genre, what they do, and what type of game they are, then you’ll start understanding what players want and don’t want. And this is important, because if you can discover what players want, and not a lot of games are offering what players want, then it can be YOU that gives them what they want.

Let’s keep going, and let’s fill out:

All Reviews

Enter “All Reviews” from this game into your spreadsheet

Copy and paste All Reviews from the Steam page into your spreadsheet where it says, “All Reviews”.

This is a key metric. Because if a small game that you’ve never heard of has over 500 reviews (or 5,000), then you know you’re onto something. Then you know there’s a lot of passion for this type of game.

Remember, the number of reviews is a good way to quantify “passion”.  

Release Date

Enter date published

Again, copy and paste this from their Steam page into your spreadsheet where it says “Release Date”.

The release date is important because you don’t want old data. For example, in 2013, FTL was popular. But are Strategy Rogulelikes like FTL popular today? I dunno. That’s what I’m trying to find out. So it’s important to be up-to-date, and make sure you’ve filtered your search by release date.  

Self-Published?

Enter if game is self-published or not

Now determine if the game was self-published, or not. To find this out, just look at the Developer and Publisher on their Steam page:

If both are the same, then the game is self-published.

Why is it important to know if a game is self-published or not? 

Well, let’s say you found a small game you’ve never heard of. And they’re self-published. And they’ve gotten over 2,000 reviews. That little stat will tell you that this game, on its own without help from a publisher, managed to sell a lot of copies. And this insight tells you that if a small game can “sell itself” without publisher help, then you know there’s a lot of demand for this type of game.

Their Tags

Enter their top 4 or 5 tags

In the game’s Steam page, you’ll also see the game’s top 4 or 5 tags. Copy and paste these into your spreadsheet as well.

This is important to know because you’ll get even more insights about your subgenre and understand what players want and don’t want.

What you want to look for are patterns that surprise you.

And by noting down each game’s tags, you’ll see a pattern. And that’s what I mean when I say “discover a hidden opportunity”. If you start seeing tags that you’ve never seen before, then there could be a possible opportunity here. 

For example, say you keep seeing the tag “pirates”. Say 4 out of the 10 games are Roguelike Strategy Pirate games. That little insight tells you maybe players are looking for more “pirate” themed roguelike strategy games.   

Step 6: Analyze Your Data

Ok, good. In about 15 minutes, you’ve done more game market research than most game devs will ever do. And I want you to do this so that you find an insight into your market.. and help you find a hidden opportunity.

And I bet in 15 minutes you’ve found an insight that you’ve never thought of before. You are one step closer to finding a market that has income potential.

Again, you’re not trying to pander and copy what’s popular. You’re trying to find a hidden opportunity… you’re trying to discover an unmet demand… you’re trying to see what players want but are not getting from games.

So when analyzing your data, look out for these five key metrics:

  1. How many games are in your search results? If your search results gave you over 500 games, then it’s probably an oversaturated market
  2. How many reviews did this group of ten games get? You can quickly look at your spreadsheet and determine the “passion” this subgenre has by looking at the number of reviews. For example, if you notice that all 10 games are getting about 25 reviews… then there’s probably not a high demand for this subgenre. However, if the 10 games average over 500 reviews, then there’s a lot of passion
  3. Compare “passion” with the number of games to determine if there’s market potential. So for example, say your search results gave you 61 games AND your batch of 10 games is getting an average of 750 reviews, then you’ve found a hidden opportunity. Remember: passion + few options for the player = opportunity. And: passion + lots of options for the player = an oversaturated market.
  4. Self-published games hold more weight than published games. For example, a self-published game that has 500 reviews has more weight than a published game with 500 reviews. That’s because a publisher has the means and the funds to market a game. And if a self-published game that has fewer resources than a published game, can get over 100 reviews, then there’s a lot of demand for this type of game. 
  5.  Their tags. It’s important to note down a game’s tags because it’ll help you spot patterns that will help you identify hidden opportunities. For example, say you’re researching “shopkeeper RPG ” games. And you keep seeing the tags “cozy” and “cute”. This means that players want more cozy shopkeeper games, and they probably don’t want another fantasy RPG shopkeeper game.

Step 7: Don’t Stop… Keep Going For Even Better Market Research Insights 

I just made you do day one. But don’t stop here because the bigger the sample size you get, the better your research will be.

So take a break today. But tomorrow, come back and research your next subgenre on your list (remember in Step 3 I had you break your main genre down into 5 or 6 subgenres).

So do the same for the next subgenre. It’ll only take you about 15 minutes. Stop. Then the next day, do the same.

And in 5 days, you’ll have reached 50 games. And don’t stop there. Do this for three weeks. The more research you do, the closer you’ll get to finding a genre that has high-income potential.

And it’s better to spend 3 weeks doing research like this and find out that there is no market in your genre than it is to spend 18 months on a game and then find out you’re in the wrong market.

So I highly recommend 3 weeks. 10 minutes a day. 5 days a week. For three weeks. And I’ve made room in the spreadsheet so you can do that.

And by doing all this work, you’ll start seeing patterns. You’ll gain insights that you’d never get if just looked at some website that gives you a bunch of stats.

And you’ll start discovering new ideas. You’ll start seeing where there is passion and where there isn’t. You’ll start identifying which market is overcrowded so that you can avoid it.  

And you’ll eventually find a market where there is high demand but a player doesn’t have many options. And maybe YOU can be that option.

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Thanks! And looking forward to helping you find players!

Later,

Dariusz Konrad
Port Stanley, Ontario
Canada