Locking yourself to a genre as a gamedev?

edited in General
I have a strange question to ask you all.

Lets say that I am a gamedev that makes a couple successful comedy games, obviously you as a gamedev gain notoriety as a comedy game producer and so does your game studio.

After some time instead of making a comedy game you make a serious/emotional game.

How would you manage the expectations of your consumers? as they have associated you and your studio with only comedy games up until now.

Comments

  • You should slow down and first make a few successful comedy games, once that happens you will probably know the answer to your own question. :)
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  • @critic oh yeah I totally understand that :P was just curious to see if anyone else had an experience where they successfully transitioned between genres
  • We are thinking of making a few more serious games in the future (and up till now we've released comedy games). The way we'll do it is start a new company and release under a different name. Doesn't make sense to send our existing players over to play a game they won't enjoy (both because it damages our relationship with existing fans and also because it doesn't benefit the new game).
  • We are thinking of making a few more serious games in the future (and up till now we've released comedy games). The way we'll do it is start a new company and release under a different name. Doesn't make sense to send our existing players over to play a game they won't enjoy (both because it damages our relationship with existing fans and also because it doesn't benefit the new game).
    I want to flag this as very important. When you're producing titles under a brand, there's a certain "promise" of the type of thing you'll get from that brand. The Freelives brand is very much humour, camera shake etc. If they then put out a Firewatch type title under their brand, people who would like Firewatch are unlikely to try it because they know of Freelives as being not what they play, and the people who like Freelives are going to try Firewatch and be unhappy. Everyone loses.

    So, yeah, put some thought and consideration into who your company is and who your audience is and if you need to create multiple brands, do so. Take a look at Unliever. They're a huge company with many products, but they segment who they market each product to in terms of brand groupings.


  • I don't think it's that important to lock into a specific genre and I think developer-centric loyalty is overrated, it's rare for someone to be a fan of a developer rather than a fan of a game.

    It's hard to think of many developers that have released games from wildly differing genres so it's hard to correlate. One which comes to mind is Croteam who did Serious Sam and Talos Principle and I doubt whether TP hurt the Serious Sam brand even though the genres are wildly different. Klei made Shank and Don't Starve.

    I DO think you can get a reputation as a developer that releases quality/interesting games and that's more valuable than risking alienating a small portion of your fans because Game B is not similar enough. If you are saying you'd rather release games as a new company you are saying that reputation is not that important anyway, so what are you gaining?

    Perhaps looking at Devolver's catalogue can be helpful, I don't think the average consumer really distinguishes between developer and publisher anyway. Has the releases of games like Dropsy, Always Sometimes Monsters and Genital Jousting hurt their branding for games like Hotline/Broforce? Or does it make people more likely to think "oh, Devolver published this, it should be interesting in some way"?

    Are there other obvious examples of developers who have released games from different genres that I'm missing ?
  • edited
    @raithza Yeah, you might be right there. I can't bring to mind a developer who released two very different, but both well-received, games where there was much of a backlash. I think Double Fine may have experienced a bit of a drop in reputation due to some of what they've associated with recently. I know that players of Call Of Duty have become very toxic towards their future-themed Call of Dutys (but AAA developers are particularly guilty of bundling disparate games together under a single brand, and the recent Call of Duty definitely received some backlash).

    I think my desire to not spam Broforce fans with posts about Genital Jousting is as much about wanting to avoid negative feedback as much as anything else. (Like I really hate tweeting something out and people telling me they don't like what I'm doing, even if lots of other people are excited). It's also sort of not useful if I'm using my social media channels to gather feedback from (like I wouldn't want to know what fans of Broforce think of a first-person puzzle game I'm working on).

    But I don't think there's much evidence to say that people follow a developer and then cause negative commercial effects when that developer releases a game they don't appreciate (like you say @raithza) (although I think it can be heartbreaking).
  • edited
    We had a bit more of a chat about it...

    In our case, the benefits of displaying all our work as part of our brand, no matter how different the audiences, might outweigh the benefit of cultivating a homogeneous (but passionate) audience.

    We are of course shielded by Devolver publishing our games, so it makes more sense than usual that our own promotional channels be dedicated to promoting ALL of our work.

    Though this is only really true if all the work is of a high quality. It doesn't make as much sense to promote a 4 week developed game with the same language as we promote a 2 year developed game. If the games outwardly attract different audiences then our fans can choose which games to experience based on their tastes, but if the games attract the same audience but are of different standards of quality, then we're undermining the trust we build with our best work.

    I think that makes sense?

    But as a counter argument: It does feel like the developers who have the most passionate followings (like Vlambeer) have done so with pretty homogeneous games... So maybe fearing a backlash isn't the right way to think about this, but rather building a brand is the right way to think about it... And Vlambeer have arguably succeeded there (with relatively homogenous games) while Klei have failed with quite different games (as @raithza pointed out).
  • One thing to remember is you can build a consistent style to unify your entries across various genres. The best example of this is Blizzard. Their most well-known franchises are:

    - Two RTS series
    - An action-RPG series
    - A team-based FPS
    - An MMO
    - A CCG
    - A MOBA

    Quite a diverse range, but they all feel like "Blizzard" games, especially now that they've unified the Diablo art style with their other titles (whether you may think that good or bad).

    Particular art styles, tone, themes and shared worlds/lore can tie together titles as diverse as an RTS, an MMO and a card game.
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  • Supercell, Hipster Whale and .GEARS are my prime examples for studio-centric art styles.
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