Mobile Games Research & Development Outsource

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Game Research and Development Outsource

R&D or Research and Development is a process of making games by studying the target audience’s preferences and existing game market. It is needed because publishers want to be sure that the game meets market demand and not serves the developer’s thirst to make games.

game marketplace sketch

Let’s see what may happen if you’d jump straight into developing with no R&D, how to make research and how we do it for our clients.

Why do developers needs to research the game market

There are two ways of making a game concept: to copy something existing or to take a risk and invent a new setting, game mechanics and even genre. 

concept game ideas

AAA-studios and indie devs often choose a second path. Indie have imagination and talent to create original ideas, big studios have money to hire people with creative minds.

Majority of mobile game developers choose the path of copy paste. They take the game mechanics of a successful game and just add a new artstyle. This method is used only by big companies like Gameloft.

Copy pasting is a normal practice in the mobile game market. But you can’t just take a popular game and clone it. Not because it is illegal or wrong, but because you don’t know the market. Maybe the game has set a short trend and nobody will play it in a few weeks? Maybe the demand of the particular genre is fully satisfied? Maybe the players will still prefer the original game? You won’t have answers until the research result.

mobile game research

What happens with games with no R&D made

The typical outcome of game development with no research will lead to commercial failure, unless you aren’t making a very simple hyper casual game with little budget.

Why is it a failure? Because you can’t predict how many players the game will have and how much money you’ll earn. For example, Ubisoft has developed a battle royale game called Hyper Scape. The game is not bad, but the battle royale demand is already satisfied with PUBG, Fortnite and Apex. We are sure that Ubisoft has made research showing that people are playing BR games, but hasn’t noted how many players are willing to try something new: setting, artstyle and game mechanics.

hyperscape is bad

On the other hand, why did Apex become a successful game with Fortnite and PUBG as competitors? Because the Apex devs gave the players first person perspective, verticality and unique characters with useful abilities. Also, Apex developers learnt that there is an audience who don’t like the building necessity in Fortnite and the slow gameplay tempo of PUBG. They made the product to satisfy auidience’s demands and succeed.

Same thing works with mobile game development. If there is a new popular game on PC and consoles, the mobile game devs may copy the gameplay and make the same game available on Android and iOS. Still, they may want to do mobile game research: find how many people search for “Mobile battle royale” or “Among Us android”. It’s quite a simple and effective way of research.

When the game developer skips the game market research part, he risks to develop a product with no actual demand. For example, who may want to play a game where you have to dress a Terminator like a baby doll?

terminator game fail

Or who would pay for a $15 Angry BIrds ripoff while the original game is free? These are obvious, but game developers do often make not so obvious mistakes and lose money. Don’t lose money — do the research!

How to do a game market research

First step of research is to set a game budget. It’s impossible to compete with giants like Tencent or Gameloft and try to overthrow their franchises. Even if you have the most talented people working with you, you’ll lose the marketing competition. If you don’t have money to hire a few dozens of artists, you won’t make a 20 hour long singleplayer AAA game. Then you can choose the game genre based on available budget.

Second step is to analyze the competitors — the most popular games of chosen genre. The interesting parts are audience number, game mechanics, marketing strategy, number of games in such genre, revenue of the most successful ones and some other details depending on genre. This is pure work with data. This step may take up to a few days, especially if you want to launch the game on several platforms and research all game stores.

steam research and statistics

Third step is to do a qualitative analysis of competitors. This is needed to understand the audience’s preferences, how the successful games met those preferences and what they did wrong. We usually look for these key points:

  • ugly games with great revenue. The art style of these games looks unfinished and it’s clear that devs gave little effort to it. This means developers created good gameplay — and we got to find out what they did and how we can repeat that;
  • games with great visuals and small earnings. The developers failed to make exciting gameplay and missed some features. We want to study that game to not repeat those mistakes;
  • successful games made by small teams or a solo developer. Those games can give us a scope of how much resources we need to make an even better game;
  • good game with no press attention. We want to know how did they marketed the game and use it in future;
  • games with typical artstyle — sci-fi with spaceships, fantasy with orcs and elves. We want to know how the audience reacts to typical artstyle that needs little effort in creating an original game setting, art and story;
  • games with original artstyle and setting — orks in space, black and white art style, hyper realistic graphics in casual games. If the players want common game mechanics in a unique setting, we might use this.

Then we want to read player reviews, talk with reviewers and actual developers to confirm or refute out theories about development and marketing.

Fourth step is to explore Kickstarter and similar platforms. Maybe, there are games in chosen genres or projects similar to ours. Based on Kickstarter projects we can see what features the audiences want and how much they are willing to pay for them.

kickstarter game research

Using market research to write a game design document

From the research we know what kind of game the audience wants and what we can give to them with money we have. We have a list of unique features and artstyle solutions the players do like. Based on this knowledge we can fill up to 50% of game design document creative parts.

For example, we want to make a side-view 2D platformer rouge-like. We like Dead Cells gameplay: run, jump, collect weapons and gadgets, look for red, green and blue orbs to power up the main character. We do not have money to make an exact same game with stylish graphics, weird story and smooth animations. What should we do?

dead cells gameplay gif

At the first step of our research we chose to use simple 2D sprites and as little shaders as possible to cut down the production costs.

At the second step we find that the majority of rogue-like games are top-down, but we want to make a side-scroller. Side-scrollers like Dead Cells and Spelunky are rare and profitable.

At the third step we find that players don’t really care about graphics — they want a big amount of power ups, weapons and skills to use. Also they like when the game forces them to use different strategies on every playthrough: random items, enemies and levels.

At the fourth step we find that there are many 2D games about swords and magic with little amount of money invested, and a few games about zombies which found the investors with ease.

Now we can write game design document in form of one-pager

“Title: Through Zombies

Action-2D platformer with rogue-like elements and random-generated levels

The hero wakes up after a car accident and realizes that everyone has turned into zombies. He hears on radio that there are survivors in town and they will leave within one day. The hero decides to cut his way through zombies and get to the survivors.

Zombies concept art:

zombies concept art

The hero can carry pistol and knife, two-handed firearms or melee weapons and also medkits in his backpack. He can weapons, ammo, armor and different bonuses on his way. Also he can find checkpoints, where he may rest and restore healthbar. But resting makes the time pass: it’s getting darker and more zombies are coming to the streets.

The game is set in several locations: 

  • highway — starting location;
  • corn field with broken tractors, harvesters and trucks;
  • forest with traps and ravines;
  • village with barns, fences and mud;
  • town with buildings, stores and cars.

The artstyle will be cartoonish. It will allow us to sell the game to the larger audience and use funny ideas like zombie-squirrels throwing acorns at the player, zombie-crows stealing shiny ammo from the backpack and zombie-clowns honking whenever the player hits them.”

What to choose: to do research by yourself or to outsource it to professionals

Game outsourcing companies do not only draw art, make 3D models and write code — they also do market research. We, Kreonit outsource studio, have a separate R&D team, who are monitoring the game market, trends, playerbase of the most popular games and financial data of game studios.

We always do our own research before full cycle game developing, choosing game visual style and combining game mechanics. It helps to save money on projects that have no demand on the game market and to take a risk when there are signs of a new trend.

If you have time and patience to search through thousands of games and write a statistic — you can do the research by yourself. Mobile games market research may take up to 5 days to analyze competitors, PC and console game market research — up to 1 week. Also, you’ll need help from experienced game designers, artists and marketers to determine why this particular game is profitable and that game is not.

mobile game market research

Mobile game market research outsource will save you time and money. Also, the data collected by professionals will be more relevant and helpful. Statistics without interpretation may confuse you — so we will help you to make conclusions and decisions out of it. And we can also help you with game design documents based on research.

Kreonit game studios will help you to make a profitable game — it’s our job.

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