Why You’re Having A Hard Time Committing To A Game Idea (And How To Pick A Winner Immediately)

Can’t Decide Which Game Idea To Commit To? Here’s What To Do…

You have many game ideas. Some have value and potential. And some don’t. Which do you pick? What’s the actual process to help you decide which idea is worth pursuing?

Well, you’re about about to learn how to avoid wasting 6 months or more pursuing game ideas that lead to nowhere.

And you’re going to to get a step by step action plan to help you find a winning idea — RIGHT NOW.

So don’t be that game dev that spends months or years working on game ideas that never get finished… don’t be that game dev that hops from one idea to another… if you want to find a winning game idea that you will commit to and won’t quit because another idea comes along, then here’s what you need to know and what you need to do:

What Do You Want Out Of This Game Dev Journey?

Before I give you techniques and step-by-step action plans, I need to ask you an important question:

At the end of your game dev journey, what RESULT do you want?

So let’s say all this was all true:

  • You found the perfect game idea
  • You’re willing to commit everything you got into this project
  • You’re OK with spending the next 6 months or more into this
  • And you have ZERO doubts

Say all that is ture… what RESULT do you want when you finish your game?

To help you answer this questions here’s some direction to get you thinking…

Three MAIN Results Most Game Devs Want

After talking to many game devs, I’ve boiled it down to THREE main results devs want out of a game project:

Result #1: Is this an art project? Is this a project that gives you 100% creative control? At the end of this game project, the result you want is basically having an outlet for your creativity. And you just want to say you finished a game! This is basically a game YOU wanted to make.

Result #2: Is this a project for acclaim? Do you want other game devs to recognize your game dev and design talents? You’re doing this to build your portfolio so that you get the attention of big AAA game studios. And at the end of this game project, the result you want is acclaim and validation from other game devs and critics you look up to. You know you’re a talented game dev and designer, and you want others to recognize that. So you’re doing this mostly for other game devs.

Result #3: Is this a business venture? Are you treating your game like a product — a product that people want to buy. And at the end of this project, the result you want is to make an income so that your game studio grows. You still want to lean on your strengths and interests… but you also know how to balance what you want with what the market wants. So you’re doing this to make a product that players will love and pay you money for.

So basically these THREE reasons…

  1. Creative outlet and passion project (game made just for you)
  2. Validation for your game dev skills (game made for your portfolio and other game devs)
  3. Income to grow you game studio (game made for marketability and for players)

…these three reasons are very important to figure out RIGHT NOW. By knowing what you want, will help you decide which game project to pursue.

“BUT !!! I Want All Three Results!”

You might be saying that you’re making a game for ALL of those reasons:

You’re making a game YOU want to make. You also want the attention of other game devs and game studios to recognize your talent. And you want players to love your game and pay you for your efforts.

Of course having all three results would be amazing — who wouldn’t want all that!?

But THIS is the problem why game devs can’t commit. They’re not sure what they want exactly. And by going after all three results they end up nowhere. They don’t focus on precisely what they want.

So, let’s keep going. I’ll show you more insights to get out of this rut. Then we’ll get into the techniques and action plans…

“The Person Who Chases Two Rabbits Catches Neither”

Ok, so remember how I talked about three results game devs go after when making a game:

  1. Creative outlet and passion project (what YOU want)
  2. Validation for your game dev skills (what other game devs want)
  3. Income to grow you game studio (what players want)

Often what YOU want, what other game devs want, and what players want are NOT the same thing.

Why?

Because these three wants are in conflict with each other.

For example, say you made a game that you wanted to play. It was a creative outlet for you. It let you express your needs and wants. Well this game would look VERY different than a commercial game where you have to do market research and find out what players want and need. Because often what you want and need is not what players want and need.

Or say you wanted to make a game that shows off your talents, and impresses other game devs or game studios. Well this game would look VERY different than a personal passion project made just for you. A game made to show off your skills would look very different than a passion project where you didn’t care what other people thought.

Or (and this is where game devs get in trouble)…

We often think we can do it all. We think we can meet OUR needs PLUS get recognized by our peers for our talents PLUS make a game that players want and sell a lot of copies.

But when you chase every opportunity you see, that’s when you get in trouble. By chasing multiple opportunities, you’ll catch neither. Because remember: all three results are in conflict with each other. By going for all three, you alienate everybody: you, game devs and studios, and players.

But by narrowing your focus, by knowing what you want, this will help you decide which game idea is worth pursuing.

Let’s keep going, and this will make more sense…

Decide What You Want Right Now…

I’m asking you this very important question because of course we want all three results, right!? But in reality, you can’t chase all three.

So it’s very important to have a core vision…

“Do I want to make a game that expresses my creativity?”

“Do I want to make a game that shows off my dev and design talents and gets praise from game devs and game studios?”

“Do I want to make a game that is marketable and is a financial success so it grows my game studio?”

Answering this question will help you pick which game idea you should pursue.

Why Does This Work?

This works because when you match your wants and needs to a game idea, then you’re less likely to change your course when another idea comes up.

And knowing what you want out of your game dev project will help you keep motivated because when you don’t have a clear vision of what you want, you’re more likely to flake out.

For example…

Maybe you have an idea of a story you just NEED to tell. Finishing this game will fulfill your need to express your creativity. So even if you might not make any money, you’re not going to change your course because having a creative outlet is most important to you.

Or…

Maybe you have some innovative design ideas that you know game devs or game studios will appreciate. So you make a demo, and add it to your portfolio or website. Then you email game devs and studios directly and ask for their feedback. To you, developing your skills and talents as a game dev and designer are MORE important than game sales or pursing a passion project. So you’re willing to stick it out because the process of getting better — and getting recognized for it — is most important to you.

Or…

Maybe you’ve done your market research, and you found a gap in your genre that no other game is filling. And you think you have a very marketable game idea. Then you create a demo and test it out on players to see if there’s interest. The interest shows you that your game idea can be profitable. So you’re willing to give up a bit of your own selfish needs and wants, and you’re OK with making a game that players want and need. You’re not going to change course because it’s not fulfilling your needs. You’re willing to stick it out because the income potential is most important to you.

So what’s most important to your RIGHT NOW?

  1. Expressing who you are
  2. Getting attention from other game devs or game studios
  3. Publishing a commercial game to grow your game studio

You need to know your core vision because this will help you decide which of your game ideas are worth pursuing.

Pick one because this will stop you pursing opportunities that lead to nowhere. If you try to chase all three at the same time, you’ll get neither.

So, let me show you exactly how to do all this, in this simple step-by-step system:

Avoid Wasting Time On Game Ideas That Go Nowhere — A Step-By-Step System

It’s hard to commit to our ideas because NEW opportunities make us insecure. A new idea is often “better” and makes our old ideas feel out-dated and like we’re doing something wrong.

So we quit. And try the new opportunity. Then another NEW opportunity comes a long… and the cycle continues.

Like I said, if you try to chase every opportunity, then you’ll end up with nothing in the end.

So, to help you decide on a game idea so you won’t be tempted to “jump ship” when a new, shiny opportunity comes along, then here exactly what to do…

Step #1: Stop Trying To Be Everything To Everyone

There is nothing wrong making a game that allows you to express who you are as an artist and as story teller.

There is nothing wrong making a game that shows off your talents and will impress other game devs or game studios.

There is nothing wrong making a commercial game aimed to make you income.

But there is a danger when you try to blend those three into one single game.

You have to pick your target market:

  1. You
  2. Game devs or game studios
  3. Players

If you try to pick all three, you’re going to alienate all three. OK sure, if you’re Hideo Kojima you can do all three. But right now, when nobody knows you, nobody has heard of you… your very fist step is you need to focus and choose one target market.

Focusing on who your target market is will help you decide which game idea you should pursue. So WHO is important to you RIGHT NOW?

  1. You (make a game you want to make, express who you are, it’s a creative outlet for you)
  2. Game devs and game studios (you want to build your portfolio, you want to show off your game dev talents, you want acclaim from fellow game devs and game studios)
  3. Players (research a genre, find a gap, find what players want and don’t want, and make a marketable game that will make you income)

So which one of these is most important to you? And don’t worry if you’re not sure yet. We’ll get to that soon.

OK, next…

Step #2: Open Google Sheets And List All Your Game Ideas

Open a Google Sheet. In the first Column, write down: Game Ideas. Like this…

And then start writing down your game ideas. Use very short descriptions for each game idea. If you have a game name already, add that too. But try to keep the description short.

The idea is to go fast and let your brain flow with ideas.

It doesn’t have to be in any order.

Old ideas will come up too that you forgot about.

And don’t worry if it’s a “bad” idea or a “good” idea. On paper Super Mario sounds like a bad idea: the “hero” is a plumber, and you have to jump on mushrooms, and save a mushroom princess from a big turtle.

That doesn’t sound fun on paper. So don’t worry about that now. So under Column A, Games Ideas, list all your game ideas.

Then what you’ll do next is…

Step #3: Match Each Game Idea With Who The Game Is Targeted To

Ok, you got your game ideas down in Column A. Now in Column B, write down who this game is for.

Remember, there’s 3 targets:

  1. You
  2. Game devs or game studios
  3. Players

Match each game idea to who the game is made for. Here’s my example now…

The idea here is to prioritize all your game ideas according to what’s most important to you.

For example, if I wanted to make a game that express my creativity, I’d focus the next 6 months on “Dreamscape Odyssey”. This game is for me. It’s a creative outlet. I’m fulfilling my own needs and wants.

But if I wanted to show off a cool, innovative mechanic, I’d make a demo of “Parallel Pals”. And reach out to game devs and game studios, and get their feedback. I’d add it to my website and portfolio. Would it be a fun game for players? Probably not. But it would be a great exercise in developing my skills.

But if I wanted to make a game that would SELL then I’d focus my energies on “Motorbike Mayhem”. I’d make a mock screenshots in Photoshop with tag lines like: “Motocross meets Super Meat Boy”. Then I’d reach out to platformer fans and motorbike fans, and ask their feedback. I’d see if there’s an interested FIRST before I would even make a simple demo.

Your Wants And Needs Will Determine Which Game Idea Is Top Priority

The idea here is to match your wants and needs to your game ideas. This will determine if it’s worth spending 6 months or more on a game project.

If you’re OK with spending 6 months on a game that expresses your creativity but it doesn’t sell, then the time and energy WILL be worth it.

If you’re exploring a new mechanic, and want gain attention from other game devs but players won’t care, then spending 6 months or more WILL be worth the time and energy.

If you want to make a game that players will buy, then spending 6 months testing and doing market research WILL be worth it.

But if you try to chase every opportunity that comes to you, then you’ll keep pursuing ideas that lead to nowhere.

What If You Can’t Decide What Is Most Important To You?

I talk to a lot of game devs. And let me sum up their experience (maybe you can relate, too):

“It was very rewarding making a game that is a piece of art. And it’s an expression of what I and my team value most. And the game has been appreciated by a large majority of people. The reception has been validating. But it’s hard to reconcile all that because the lack of financial success. Although we made a game we wanted to make, and it got a good reception, the lack of sales makes it a mixed bag of emotions.”

My point here is that focus on financial success FIRST. Success begets success. If you can develop a game that players buy, then the other two needs (a game YOU want to make, and getting acclaim) will follow.

Again, there’s nothing wrong making a passion project that meets your needs and wants. There’s nothing wrong making a game that impresses other game devs and shows off your dev and design skills.

But you’re going to put a lot of time, energy, and money into this project. And if you’re OK with using game dev as a creative outlet or a way to get others to recognize your portfolio — even if it’s not a financial success — then the investment is worth it.

But if you’re unsure, then focus on financial success. Focus on making a game that meets the needs and wants of PLAYERS. I’m not saying pander, and make a game you hate. And I’m not saying make a game full of micro-transactions and other dubious strategies game studios do to extract as much money out of you as they can. I’m saying instead of putting the focus on YOUR needs and wants, put more of the focus on the wants and needs of the players. You can still make a game that interests you and leans on your strengths PLUS is made to meet players wants and needs.

Your Action Step Right Now To Get Immediate Results

Just because a teacher tells you something doesn’t mean we’ve learned anything. We learn by doing.

So do this right now…

Open a Google Sheet. In the first Column, write down your “Game Ideas”. In the second Column, write down who this game idea is made for, who is your “Target”.

Again, here’s a summary of who the target is:

You = game you want to make, an expression of who you are, and you don’t care if players buy it, you just want to get a game done

Dev = want to show off your dev and design skills, you want your talent to grow, you want other devs to recognize your talents, and want to build your portfolio

Player = you understand the needs and wants of your players, you found a gap in your genre, you’re going to make a game that leans on your strengths but is totally focused on the needs and wants of players for the sole purpose to make an income

Out of those three, what is the most important to you? Match each one to your game ideas. Doing this will help you decide which of your many game ideas is worth spending the next 6 months or more on.

And remember, the reason you keep hoping from idea to idea is because NEW opportunities make us feel insecure. We judge our old ideas as bad because something “new” often feels like there will be even a BIGGER opportunity than the old idea. But there will always be “new” opportunities… new ideas… and jumping from idea to idea will lead you to nowhere.

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Thanks! And looking forward to helping you find players!

Later,

Dariusz Konrad
Port Stanley, Ontario
Canada