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Do games really need to appeal to everyone?
Do games really need to appeal to everyone?
October 26, 2012 | By Tom Curtis

October 26, 2012 | By Tom Curtis
More: Console/PC, Indie, Design

"Take just about any big game release and the core concepts of that game [are] something that a ten-year old can enjoy."
- Amnesia: The Dark Descent developer and Frictional Games studio head Thomas Grip reflects on how even the most "mature" games often appeal to players of all ages.

Grip worries that video games might be missing an opportunity to explore more complex and adult-focused themes. After all, there are tons of movies, books, and even albums that only appeal to an older audience, and why should games be any different?

"There is nothing wrong with having games that are ageless. But when just about every game released is like this, I think it is a sign that something is wrong, Grip said.

He added that even his own games like Amnesia and Penumbra are "mainly about hiding from monsters and solving puzzles," which in the grand scheme of things aren't very mature concepts. Rather than making "mature" games that use simple mechanics dressed up in curse words, blood, and gore, Grip wants to see developers explore themes and concepts that are a bit more meaningful.

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Michael Wenk
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There is nothing wrong with a game that doesn't have mass appeal. Except that by not having mass appeal you naturally limit your game. That is not necessarily bad, but it should be disclosed throughout the process. Of course you're less likely to see a big budget niche game, but that has to be expected.

In someways it comes down to what your goals are. If you're goal is to make a game you want to make then you're going to be limited, and quite possibly create a game that will lose money. However to my mind is if you want to do that, and you have investors that this has been disclosed to, then its fine.

However, if you want a really big budget, then you're almost stuck doing a title that has mass appeal.

Justin Sawchuk
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You want to sell more units you got to make it appeal to the widest variety of gamers out there (especially on the app store). Maybe if its a core game you can sell it for $20 and its okay to go niche.

Sorin Sandru
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Making the game you want to make is not limiting the games potential to sell. Large ammounts of marketing will sell close to any game.

Take for instance the best 2 examples to date. BF3 had a massive marketing push and it sold verry good. Now the problem is that the game was not even remotly finished and is still to date one of the worse games available when it comes to quality. The game is a walking disaster of bugs. Also skiping the demo and having a public beta with the promise of all bugs being gone during release pushes people to buy the game even more.

MoH:Warfighter got released this week and i can guaranty that the game has surpased the developing cost with flying colors. Even when moste people know that the game is unfinished and litered with bugs.

So even if a game is a disaster it can still sell for quite a lot as long as the marketing is good enough.

wes bogdan
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Some games like mario work for everyone but giving players a shotgun blast of 4-5 different styles of gameplay means all 5 styles don't get enogh time to be meaningful or push units anywhere but the bargin bin.

Michael O'Hair
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Is the question "Do games really need to appeal to everyone?" or "Do specific type of games really need to appeal to different demographics, in which there is a game for every demographic?"

Purported "mature games" feature things that do cater to players not in the target audience. Mature games feature blood and death and gore, elements that younger gamers might find "interesting" or "cool". Gears of War may have a Mature ESRB rating on the box, but I'd argue that the majority of players who enjoy shooting and chainsawing through subterranean monsters are not in the 18+ age group (although many adults do enjoy the game). The same goes for Amnesia; the mature content may be aimed at a mature audience, but "hiding from monsters and solving puzzles" isn't an age-specific activity. I think what defines a mature-themed game should be less defined by content (harsh language, gore, sexual themes, etc.) and more about what the player is able to do within the game (use harsh language, reduce living things to meaty chunks, engage in sex, etc.)

If "Grip wants to see developers explore themes and concepts that are a bit more meaningful", then he should lead the way in that regard. There should be games for every type of player, not "every game should aim to appeal to everyone" since that is the shortest path to mediocrity.

Kenneth Blaney
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The problem might be boiling down the core mechanics of a game too much. Its possible to do the same for books and movies narrative aspects. "Lord of the Rings", for example, is a coming of age tale at its core and coming of age tales appeal to everyone.

Lex Allen
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It depends. If you're AAA, then yeah, it should appeal to everyone. If you're indie, then you should appeal to large untargeted niches. I wrote a review about this as it has already been addressed in the Indie Developer's Guide to Selling Games.

The adult game market can actually be extremely profitable. This flash game has grossed over 100,000.00, however, most of the money was probably made in Japan. (mild adult content here)

Bottom line: If there is a large niche and nobody is making games for it, then make one! You'll be the leader of the genre, so why not!

wes bogdan
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Well it is sad that while borderlands 2 is a great game something like the unfinished swan,tokyo jungle or even something like journey with more recognition get passed by because well assassin's creed 3 or halo 4 are here and almost here.

I enjoy AAA games but unlike the average gamer i seek out underground,underapriciated or nitch titles.

While the f.p.s is fun if more series stay in doom/quake teritory and don't evolove in directions like resistance,borderlands or mass effect i doubht that's sustainable.

Resistance had secondary fire functions with unique weapons while borderlands let's you mod stuff and mass effect is a sci fi efic rpg though there are others like bioshock's plasmid's or while not a f.p.s ratchet which levels up gun experience unlocking more damage and features with use and also has a character level up system.

Remember we've already been to doom it was a great template for evolving 3d graphics but games must still innovate bringing something new to the expierence otherwise been here done that and no wii u,ps 4 or 720 can fix that.