7 Questions to Ask a Video Game Marketing Agency or Publisher
A video game marketing professional, I get asked these questions. A LOT. When to work with a marketing agency? What about full-service shop – all things video game publishing? Especially by indie game developers. Both by actual paying clients, and by prospects. To someone new to making video games, these topics are easily misunderstood. Esoteric.
To tell the truth, I have lost count. A former brand director with an AAA video game developer-publisher and head of marketing for an early social game developer, I have been pitched a LOT. As in dozens of times each year.
Developing and marketing a video game? AND to have it become a chart-topping hit on the App Store, Steam Store, or Google Play Store?
It is a lot like being in the boxing ring with a Manny Pacquiao, Sugar Ray Leonard, Mike Tyson, or Muhammed Ali…in his prime. The odds are against you. No ifs, ands, and buts about it. Do not forget that for one single second. But if you ask a strapping young lad named Cassius Clay in 1964? At least you are going into the ring with a shot at immortality.
Two possible outcomes really.
Get them right? And your game has the rightful chance at GREATNESS. Be the next Super Mario, Angry Birds, Halo, or Assasins Creed.
Get them wrong? And your game will die on the vine. Like a concept aircraft, that never ever lifts off the runway.
Holy tamale. As a video game marketing professional, I keep tabs on a lot of games. What am I after? The consumer insights and business intelligence. In short, the data. Why? So I can better help my own clients optimize mobile marketing. Literally optimize brand pillars, ASO, advertising strategy, etc. RTS, RPG, FPS, MOBA, Connect-3, or otherwise…
Why Rise of Kingdoms? For starters, the game is well over 2 years old. Its revenue? SensorTower estimates the game racked up 1.2 million downloads and $24 million in revenue in September, across the world.
Put aside what the agencies say for a minute. Mobile Game and App Marketing CAN be understood and mastered – even by first-time mobile game and app founder-entrepreneurs. Allow me to explain. While not a precise science, that averages $2 revenue per same-period install. Very very respectable.
To nail Mobile Game and App Marketing, I break things down to the basic building blocks: the Brand Pillars, the Organic (App Store Optimization or ASO) and the Paid Activation (Ads & Paid Promotions)
Let us explore each one in detail. What are the Brand Pillars, you ask? These are the high-level positioning statements for the mobile game or app. Take Rise of Kingdoms as an example. These are the headers from the Full Description on its Google Play Store.
Seamless World Map
Eleven Unique Civilizations
Exploration & Investigation
Unrestricted Troop Movements
Conquer the Kingdom
Translation? Real-Time Strategy (RTS) Meets Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) Meets Builder
Can we say Clash of Clans meets World of Warcraft mets Age of Empires? As a marketer I typically do not recommend marketing or publishing a mobile game that crosses more than two genres. Why? Think of the gamers and consumers.
And what about the lack of a branded IP? How does this game have a.legitimate chance against huge IPs like Star Wars and Madden? Yes, it’s true this game is lacking a true mass market IP. But keep reading, and you’ll come to appreciate its content genius.
Rise of Kingdoms Played Up Military Legends, National Pride. Be the Gamer Japanese, Chinese, British, Italian, or otherwise.
Think for a minute of the Role Playing Commanders. To men and women familiar with Western civilization? What does the name Julius Caesar convey? Military genius. Golden Age of the Roman Empire.
What about Cao Cao? In Eastern Chinese civilization, Cao Cao was the military genius of his age. A notorious general who required no introductions. Branded? No. Trademarked or trade-named entity? Hardly. Known entity and taps into awareness amongst fans of Chinese military history? ABSOLUTELY.
Again the marketing genius is apparent. At least to THIS video game marketer. If you’re a fan of Strategy games (RTS) like Clash of Clans, you’ll love Rise of Kingdoms. Love Civilization Builder games like Age of Empires? Rise of Kingdoms is a Can Not Miss. Love WOW? Gotta check out Rise of Kingdoms.
Of course Lilith Games, when making video games, did an awesome job of gathering market feedback and consumer insights. And let’s not forget. It’s no easy feat to deliver gameplay invoking Clash of Clans. Nor straightforward to deliver a civilization builder experience like Age of Empires. And few devs have replicated the MMORPG experience that is WOW. To deliver all 3? In one game? Magic.
For ASO Rise of Kingdoms Clearly Set Its Aspirational Targets in its App Store Descriptions and Keywords.
And what about its organic activation? Great question. Let’s take a look. Lilith did a wonderful job of ASO. It knows its Apple and Google Play search algorithms very well. Just take a quick look at its set of target keywords (courtesy AppTweak)
Note Rise of Kingdoms and its use of owned branded keywords. Think “rise of kingdoms juego” “rise of civilization game.” Both in English and foreign languages like Chinese, Spanish, etc.
Now compare that against Clash of Clans. Note COC’s focus almost exclusively on its owned key phrases “Clash of Clans”, “Clan games.” Add to that its use of (presumably) the same key phrases in Arabic and Chinese.
Using AppTweak, You Can Readily See the Game’s Mobile Advertising Creative Strategy Execution, Down to the Individual Creative and Message
Want to know Lilith Games’s paid activation strategy? Mobile analytics tool AppTweak makes it easy to see ad evolution over time, and the current running ad creative. Take a look below and see for yourself.
You can readily see the A/B tests that Lilith is running. Want to drill down on ROK’s ad strategy in France? Note its A/B/C tests between showing one photorealistic image of one military legend Boudica. Now see the one of Boudica presented alongside Joan of Arc and Pelagius of Spain. And how about the spider diagram to appeal to the heavily analytical strategic player? Brilliant!
Want to know even more about Lilith Games’s advertising strategy? In other words, really REALLY know how they’re advertising. Are they using dynamic creative optimization? And what is the split between static Image banners and Videos?
Few Mobile Breakout Hits Are Successful by Accident. With Hard Work and the Right Tools, You Too Can Optimize the Brand Pillars, Organic Activation, and Paid Activation. Without the $$$ Agency.
As you can see, the above is not black magic. First start by creating a short list of your game’s target features and feature sets. By studying the target keywords and App Store descriptions and assets of competitors, you can formulate a solid set of Brand Pillars to fit your ASO strategy and ad strategy.
Stay up to speed on the latest store requirements for the App Store and Google Play Store separately. And of course, A/B test, test, and test some more.
Invest in a powerful mobile analytics tool like an AppTweak. Readily understand how YOUR competitors are targeting THEIR competitors via keywords. Understand how THEY are spending their Ad budgets. And learn from THEIR A/B tests, past and present. How do THEY maximize discoverability?
With hard work, and a bit of luck, you too can publish your own version of a Rise of Kingdoms. New to the industry? Want to learn the ropes? Better yet, just starting to explore video game careers? Check this out. Got more questions? How can I help?
Blurring the Vision: Black Myth Wukong: Indie to Best the AAA’s?
Game Science. Chinese indie game developer. Age-old tale based on the classical 16th century myth of the Monkey King. Sun Wu Kong. Within the video game industry? We are quick to categorize. EA Sports? AAA. Star Wars? AAA. Assasins Creed? Same. Franchises and titles we would say, with our heads held high as the team responsible for making video games or publishing such household titles.
Flappy Bird? Definitely indie game. Translation: low budget, low- to mid production value. Graphics and storyline? Similarly lightweight and sub-AAA. By a mile or more…
For starters. It let the gameplay do the talking. Just look at the stunning gameplay shot. Check out the amazing graphics to ooh and ahhh anyone. Indie game or not, this game is beautiful.
On the r/games subreddit, Reddit user xg4m3CYT said, “The game came out of nowhere, is made by an indie studio, and completely swiped the floor with most of the announced AAA games.”
Black Myth: Wukong – Stunning Graphic. Beautiful Fun Gameplay. And a Familiar Back Story.
In a 13-minute long trailer, what exactly did they show? In short the trailer showed FOUR hard, thunderous punches.
BACK STORY – It Told the Story through a Sage Narrator, not unlike the opening of the Lord of the Rings
CONSOLE GRAPHICS – Stunning graphics made possible through the Unreal Engine. Arguably one of, if not THE video game engine to beat.
ACTION-PACKED COMBAT – Incredible combat and cinematic fight scenes, to rival the best AAA gameplay we’ve seen in recent years.
ROLE-PLAYING VERSATILITY – Shape-shifting abilities. True RPG style, this lets the player transform from the combative monkey king into an unassuming cicadas, to avoid detection by foes.
On the record, I have never marketed or published a game so beautiful, regardless of Indie or AAA, Unreal or otherwise.
If this gameplay trailer is any indication, this indie game is breathtaking. That this is PRE-Alpha gameplay? I can only imagine. As in just how beautiful and stunning the Beta or GA version will be.
Oh, let’s not forget the amazing combat. For a guy who marketed and published titles like Dragon Age and Ultima, this game took my breath away.
Mind you, my games were not shabby. But this game? On another level of breathtaking photo- and video-realistic AAA graphics and real-time action combat altogether.
Since the game doesn’t come out for a while, I have no real-world first-hand experience. While not MY personal video game greatest of all time, this game has definite disruptive potential.
Did the Game Science team do ample consumer insights and market tests in Asia? From the reception that the gameplay trailer had received on IGN and Youtube? This game is well-received, well tested, if it were tested.
Wukong’s gameplay looks to be a single-player Action RPG. But could it be turned into a team-based co-op Action RPG instead?
Or maybe the Game Science guys are even thinking eSports multiplayer combat down the road? If not this game, perhaps another awesome MMO Action RPG waiting in the wing?
This surely begs the question. What defines an AAA game studio? Is it the team size? Is it the size of the budget spent making video games? Or is it the quality of the video game content, UGC or otherwise, that’s presented to the players?
I have no idea what the video game pricing may be, whether it be a $59.99 premium price like we are accustomed to. Or if it were a special collector’s edition premium price game like the NBA2K21 Black Mamba Edition.
One thing is for sure. Whatever its price, I want it. AAA or indie, I want it. What say you?
Did we mention the gameplay narrative is 100% in Chinese with English captions and subtitles? Didn’t seem to stop gamers on Youtube and Reddit, gushing over how much they want to play this…
Per what the IGN reporter mentioned, Black Myth Wukong has approximately 15 hours of gameplay. Given the game is pre-alpha, I imagine there will be much more content and gameplay by the time it launches.
While not exactly a branded IP franchise, the Journey West is a tale familiar to many across Asia. For my $.02. This one has legs. Two thumbs up. All the way.
The Roblox Digital Civility Curriculum And How Children Can Stay Safe And Learn Online.
As the Covid-19 pandemic hit hard, the world went into hibernation. With everything closed down and lockdowns imposed around almost all major countries, people were stuck at home. One question lingers on everyone’s mind. Amongst the parents of young kids, we ask ourselves. What to do? Can all screen time be considered “wasted”? Or can screen time, perhaps with education technology or gamification, actually helpkids learn?
Children who should be in school learning and developing life skills are instead in physical and social isolation. How so? With parents and kids homebound, classes shifted from physical to virtual. This presented a whole new challenge. The challenge centers around balance. Is there something that can be done to protect children on the internet? And helps them learn at the same time?
When it comes to addressing the digital citizenship, safety, and educational well being of its users, Roblox is the pioneer. Roblox, as in the leader in sandbox games for kids 12 and under.
What is Roblox?
Roblox is an online game platform and game creation system. Released in 2006, the platform gives young minds an outlet to try out making video games. Just like consumer insights in video game careers, Roblox lets other online users to test out a creator’s game and provide feedback.
Like Instagram for Millennials, or Tiktok for Generation Z, Roblox enables social creation and sharing with friends and strangers, with arguably better built in monetization for everyday creators.
Founded in 2006, Roblox gained much rocket-propelled popularity after 2010. How exactly? When young gamers realized Roblox’s ease of use, allowing them to start making video games and share them with friends and strangers. Roblox currently hosts about 150 million monthly active users and is growing exponentially. In my humble opinion, Roblox is so much more than a game. It is the user generated content and self expression platform of the future.
Like Other Emerging Easy to Use Game Engines like Manticore, Roblox Does So with Young Gamers and Creators.
Roblox is known for its user-friendly interface. Rather than code-based, the Roblox Studio applications is a simple drag and drop running on the programming language called “Lua.” This language is an equalizer. Lua allows people with great game ideas but little programming skills to bring their games to life. Some have even described the Roblox studio app as a more accessible and friendly version of Unity, the famous game developing software. Think game development for newbies.
Roblox Gives Kids Exposure to Video Game Development in a Digestible Safe Environment
Roblox is a great way to get started if you are someone who is considering pursuing a video game career. It is a stepping stone of realizing what you need to create a good concept and executing it on a platform where people can play and review your games.
Roblox tends to attract users who are very young, mainly kids 9-15. It is a great platform to introduce new ways of learning to a generation who has seen the most pervasive, visible form of human hibernation in recent history. Roblox is an excellent way for kids to play open-ended games and even create them as they learn, opening up a new path for a video game career. Recently Roblox introduced digital civility curriculum, allowing kids anywhere to learn through creation and play.
Roblox Digital Civility Curriculum
Its audience? Positively snowballing. Roblox’s response? It ideated a Digital Civility Curriculum for its users. Its objectives? Two prongs really. First, to foster safe, positive, and productive online experiences for young users. Second, to encourage healthy discussion among students to find an optimal solution to answer the above question. Simply, how precisely can the Internet become a more suitable and safe place for all users and developers?
The curriculum follows a design style that allows students to develop their skills regarding the fields of animation, 3-D modeling, and coding. The course will integrate learning and development with kids and teens who will be going back to online learning this fall.
The course comprises six online lessons spanning from 45-60 minutes, will also include a game created in Roblox studio called Digital Safety Scavenger Hunt. It is mainly used to teach kids the difference between reliable and unreliable information available online these days. This is something a lot of adults of today can also use.
Roblox is becoming an integral part of education technology today, which will not only teach kids to explore their creative side but is a great way to introduce and develop STEM-based learning at an early age.
1. Intro to Roblox
The beginning of the course allows children to learn digital safety tips when online. The next part required every student to create an obstacle course in Roblox Studio, which can be played by other students.
The objectives of this lesson:
Highlight differences between personal and private information.
How to identify unreliable information if presented in a game.
Altering 3-D parts to create an obstacle course (an intro to making video games.)
A 5 minutes introduction to let the students know what they will be learning through the course.
A 10 minutes intro to digital safety guided tutorial introducing concepts like protection of privacy and finding reliable information online.
A 15 minutes play of the obstacle course helping identify unreliable and reliable information online.
A 25 minutes introduction to Roblox studio, teaching the basics, and helping students create a simple one on their own.
A 5 minutes recap of what was learned in the lesson.
2. Being a Digital Citizen
Learn how to contribute to online communities and confront cyberbullying positively. Then, work on the obstacle course and get feedback from peers.
This lesson is something that is very important for all young minds that are on the internet today. For kids who want to make use of education technology and learn from their peers and from observation, the lesson will teach them how they can positively contribute to online communities.
A critical factor of the lesson is also how to confront cyberbullying. The latter part of the lesson will focus on working on the obstacle course and getting feedback from peers.
A 5 minutes introduction of the project and lesson structure.
A 15 minutes discussion on ways to be a positive member of the online community and how to address cyberbullying.
10 minutes to adjust the layout or look of the obstacle course.
10 minutes to play a peers’ obstacle course and give feedback while setting a goal to change things from the feedback received on their own obstacle course.
5 minutes recap of the lesson and concepts learned.
3. Lights and Polish
This lesson is all about personalizing your obstacle course using special effects (Lights) and effectively implementing improvements through feedback(Polish).
5 minutes introduction to project and lesson structure.
15 minutes for implementing changes based on the feedback received.
5 minutes to use post-processing effects to demonstrate the importance of how special effects can drastically change the look of a game.
30 minutes to work on the obstacle course, from changing layouts to further improving previously made changes and applying special effects.
5-minute recap of the lesson.
4. Coding Fundamentals
If you’ve had a child who has shown interest in knowing more about video game jobs, this lesson especially will be something that will boost their confidence in terms of learning how to code and program a simple game.
The lesson will explore the basic fundamentals of coding concepts such as loops, functions, if/or/then statements. It will also include mini-projects that can be added to games such as color-changing consoles/platforms and traps.
5 minutes to introduce what is to be learned in the lesson.
20 minutes to learn how to work with properties and modifying color properties of parts using scripts.
35 minutes to teach how to code a trap using if/or/then statements.
5 minutes for lesson recap.
5. Character Animation
This lesson will teach the students how to animate a 3-D figure into a unique walk animation. This will allow them to personalize the game further by adding a unique touch of their own into the overall look and feel.
5 minutes to introduce the lesson.
5 minutes to brainstorm and plan a simple animation.
25 minutes to learn how to use the animation editor to create a simple animation.
10 minutes to learn how to use scripts to add the new animation walk in the obstacle course.
15 minutes to receive feedback from a peer to improve the animation.
6. Finishing Projects and Share
This is the final lesson where students will be allowed to make final preparations and add touches to the game, which will then be showcased and shared among peers and others to play. For young creators gaming enthusiasts? This is the end goal.
Not only can young creators share their finished or even still in-development games with others, there is another sweetener. Those 13 and over can sell in-game items for Roblox’s virtual currency Robux. Add that to Roblox’s discoverability by over 100 million players? Now you’ve got an user-generated platform that allows expression – and market testing – by kids! Without traditional offline consumer insights and market research.
5 minutes introduction to the project and lesson structure.
45 minutes to make all final changes to the game.
10 minutes to wrap and recap the week and showcase student projects.
A brilliant idea, Roblox’s Digital Civility Curriculum lets young people learn digital citizenship, online safety, data integrity and creating learning opportunities for others.
So what’s the verdict? Two thumbs up. The Digital Civility Curriculum is an excellent way for kids to learn:
Online Safety – What it means to be a digital citizen who knows how to protect themselves against unreliable information
STEM Fundamentals – Basics of programming
Sharing Digital Citizenship – Using the information they gather here to create other learning opportunities, benefit others.
Roblox Is No “Learn Once, Over and Done”
The simple obstacle course design featured here is something that can be molded into different areas of study for young people, and a different obstacle course or a game can be created for various subjects for kids to continue learning and creating.
Roblox Provides Meaningful Learning through Fun: Education + Entertainment
For parents who are always worried about their children not learning much from their constant connection to online games, Roblox can be a massive change in the way online gaming is perceived.
Teachers, with the help of students, can design their own curriculums for classrooms on Roblox
It can be a fun and interactive way for kids to learn new things and new concepts. For kids who want to learn about making video games, Roblox presents a fantastic opportunity to provide a stepping stone that can help them get the essential information they need to enter a world where they can create and share freely. Whether that game environment is a futuristic Sci-Fi world, or a retro throwback reboot of something like ET or Avatar, only the creator’s imagination can decide.
Below are just a few examples of the most popular games on Roblox. Yes, created by gamers and creators on the platform.
Roblox has provided a considerable service in the field of education technology and is going to further improve the way STEM studies are evolving these days. If your child has shown an interest in STEM or making video games, the Digital Civility Curriculum by Roblox is a fantastic way to set them on the right path. Kudos Roblox. And here’s to the future of the video game industry. Bravo.
Video game marketing, at least retro video games, is a lot like rebooting an old movie. This much I’ve found to be true. How exactly? Segmentation-Targeting-Positioning still matters. In fact, a LOT. Let’s take a close look how. Let us use Wreck It Ralph as an example. The 2012 Disney hit racked up $497 million at the box office worldwide and another $130 million in domestic DVD sales. The budget? All of $165 million per Wikipedia. What does my math say? 3.8X ROI. Even before international DVD sales and rentals! Personally I love this movie. Both for its “life lessons” teaching moments for us parents. And for the healthy nostalgia to bring back fond gaming memories… And not to mention inspiring a new generation of Generation Z and Generation Alphas to the gaming world.
What did Wreck It Ralph Do Right to Reach Its Audience? Let’s Find Out
First and foremost, who is (ARE) Wreck It Ralph’s target audience(s)? First there are the gamer dads and moms.
Demographically Precision Targeted at Dads and Moms 35-55
First, gamers aged 8 to 18 between about 1980 and 1999 would today be as young as 30 and as old as 58. What are those games we loved? This “Golden Age of Video Games” gave us such fan favorites as Qbert, Asteroids, Pac Man, Donkey Dug, Tapper and more in the 80s. As well as early PvP competitive games, whether FPS shooters like Quake, Doom, Duke Nukem (like I love as my personal video game GOAT greatest of all time) as well as 1v1 PvP combat action titles like Streetfighter and Mortal Kombat.
A fan and student of the video game industry? Then you would recognize many instances of crossovers. Retro video games crossing over and being made into a new animated or live action movies. As well as examples of video game reboot of an older movie or TV IP, being reimagined on a game platform.
Understandably the games we played, like the music we listened to, bring us back to simpler days and memories. I’d venture to say the Disney studio team did a thorough job of market research and consumer insights. Wonder why? First, to pinpoint which retro video games had the highest “awareness” and positive “favorability” among the target Dads and Moms. Second to laser focus on the precisemessages and creatives, to best activate our deep-rooted emotions of nostalgia and euphoria. Don’t believe me? Keep reading.
A Healthy Dose of Visual “Memory Lane” Nostalgia for Aging Dads
Even during the “Wreck It Ralph” trailer debuted September 2012, this much was clear. Anyone who grew up with the arcades of the 80s and 90s recognizes the video game icons of the day.
Visual associations of Donkey Kong, Pac Man, Qbert, Streetfighter, and More Stimulate the “Gamer Dad” Brains in under 150 seconds
If you paid close attention to the movie’s launch trainer, you’ll notice it included a barrage of visual associations:
“Hero’s Duty” the title of which reminds us first-person shooter fans of “Call of Duty”
Gameplay of Fix It Felix (from the 2D retro pixelated layout, to the large oversized monster – aka Ralph – wrecking and destroying a red brick building that must be fixed – reminds us of “Donkey Kong”
Visuals of Pac Man and Miss Pac Man
Street Fighter good and bad guys from Bison and Zangief to martial artists Ken and Ryu
Cute and lovable Qbert and simple mindless fun of Tapper
One can defensibly argue the awareness and discovery and emotional appeal to the gamer dads and moms is sufficient to ensure both pent-up demand, viewing intent at the box office. One that translated even after the game was released to DVD and rentals, into significant DVD sales and rental revenue again.
But what about new consumers? What about Millennials or Gen-Z who did NOT grow up with these games from the Golden Era?
Exploring New Worlds and Meeting New Friends? Associations of life stage changes, encouraging Gamer Dads (and Moms) to Introduce the Movie to Their Kids.
Here Disney does something really clever. Needless to say, the Disney brand convinces the aging gamer dads and moms that the movie is safe and appeals to families with kids. More importantly, what do dads and moms want more than anything in the whole wide world?
He’s Got One Chance to Play the Hero. Emotional Appeal to Gamer Dads to Be the Hero to Their Kids
The next message really hits home for parents. Wreck It Ralph was said to be nine feet tall. Vannelope von Schweetz was all of three feet six inches tall. The sheer size difference and the humorous exchanges between them? Something that reminds many dads, gamers or not, of the relationships between ourselves and our kids. This emotional appeal to dads truly pulled at the heartstrings.
In clear large captions, Dads and Moms are reminded this was a Story for Everyone.
When watching this trailer for the first time, a lot of dads felt inspired – that this was a “Must See” with the family and kids. Whatever the nature of that relationship may be, Dads and Moms were seeing themselves in the shoes of Wreck It Ralph, to fill in the blank of how the story directly appeals to them (think personalization and user-generated content.) Of course we had to see how the story ultimately unfolds. Just in case, any doubts remained?
But how would it appeal to the kids? No retro video game or movie reboot would be complete, if it didn’t successfully create appeal to multiple demographics. Right?
What about the “Kid” and “Generation Alpha” appeal? Here the Disney studio team went a completely different direction. Retro and Reboots mean nothing to someone who was never exposed to the intellectual property (IP) the first time.
The kids are instead treated to “Retro Is the New Cool” in the movie. Just as the little girl with glasses was playing with Hero’s Duty and accidentally saw the clearly out-of-place, from-another-bygone-era Wreck It Ralph in the game, the kids of Gamer Dads can expect to see:
Visual 3D Rendered Colors and both Environment and Character Art Popularized by Pixar, with a Speed of Storytelling that Generation Alphas Find Familiar and Expect
Beautiful 3D Models and Animated Characters with fully rendered and vibrant colors.
Unconvinced? Look at the prominent shading in vibrant colors on the face of Sergeant Calhoun. As well as the vivid rendering using millions of colors.
Another Legal Drug that Kids Absolutely Adore – Sugar and Sweets
While Generation Alphas knew little to nothing about retro video games, there’s one thing they CAN and DO love. When asked if he or she loves candy and sweets, the exception are those kids who say NO. The subliminal message here? Do you love candy and sweets? If Yes, you will want to watch the visual eye-candy that IS this movie.
Oh, and the fan art like the Deviantart creation of all of the Wreck It Ralph retro video game chararacters, in one place? User Generated Content and celebration of a Disney reboot of not one, but a combination of beloved video game characters and content in one place. Brave, Disney. Can we say, loved by Gen Z and Generation Alpha?
Like movies, like video games. Like I said, when marketing retro video games? There are a LOT of lessons learned from the movies… and vice versa. Deja vu. Reboot!
Interested in a career making video games? Not at all surprising, given the blistering growth and the state of the video game industry. Speed dating, game dev style. When it comes to making video games, picking the right game engine is a HUGE decision. It can mean the difference between making or breaking the video game development experience. Like to work in the video game industry? Perhaps as a game developer? Or a Level designer? What about as a game concept artist? Or even a game scriptwriter? All look like compelling options. Alas you must choose ONE to start with.
When getting started, choosing the engine that will help you develop a specific skill set can go a long way.
Considering all these factors, I have selected three best game engines for beginners. These will, of course, help any beginner learn about game development. Bear in mind the role you want to adopt. The engine you CHOOSE will help you hone your skill on that aspect of the development. As opposed to giving you a simple generalized view of everything. Shallowly spread on a piece of toast, just like creamy peanut butter.
Without further ado, let’s get to it.
Construct 3: Browser-based. Ideal for the Design-focused and the Newbie
Construct 3, as a game engine, is more so focused on designing through visual programming.
And not so much on hardcore, technical coding. Translation: newbie friendly.
It is a multi-platform game engine. With one of the easiest animation editors that you can readily take advantage of as a new developer.
An interesting feature of Construct 3? Well, you don’t actually need a PC to make games.
Running inside a browser, you can start video game development on your tablet, Macintosh, or even Linux for that matter.
What’s the verdict? I would recommend Construct 3 to someone who has a knack for designing. Its simple video game development design makes it ideal for a visual artist. Especially one who does not want to code, and just want to make a simple game. It also works out for scriptwriters or dialogue writers. Any video game writer can use Construct 3 to play out a script in an easy, fun game format.
Another thing, since Construct 3 runs inside a browser, many people might think for a minute… Dare we say, weak? Far from it! What many don’t realize is that Construct 3 is actually one of the most powerful game engines out there.
Specifically built from the ground up for easy of use. So that anyone with a working browser can make games on it. Period.
Construct 3 is constantly updated. Its community of developers? Active and available to help you out if you ever need advice with something. On top of all that, there are a lot of Construct 3 tutorials available online. All to assist you in getting started with the game engine, and make that first game.
But keep in mind that, Construct 3 is a subscription-based; you have to pay $4.89 a month if you want to keep using it on a monthly basis.
Godot is an open source, cross-platform, 2D/3D game engine. More importantly, it is taking everything by storm. Godot is a fairly new game engine. Started out as a fun project between friends, it has since, has seen steady bursts of growth ever so often.
It is a game engine that combines a lot of modern features.
Features such as the scene and node system, which helps to optimize game development. Add to that a built-in script editor, helping you sort through bugs and glitches faster. Both making video game development a whole lot easier than traditional game engines.
Although for Godot, you DO need to learn programming languages like C#, C++, and GD Script, a variant of Python.
That’s the bad news. But fret not. You don’t have to learn all these languages, just the GD script. Godot’s own proprietary language is enough.
If you are just starting out and want to experience video game development first hand, take note.
For future video game careers, especially in level or area design, or to create a complex game design without getting overwhelmed, check out Godot.
Godot’s GD script is easy enough and intuitive enough. Anyone can quickly learn it with a few weeks of dedication.
While it supports 3D video game development, Godot truly shines in 2D games.
Its dedicated 2D engine has pixel coordination, which makes any 2D game a whole lot easier to develop.
And Godot supports extremely powerful animation tools too that can easily give any Indie that professional AAA look, making this free game engine all the more worth it.
Last but certainly not least, we have the Unity game engine. If you ever type game engine in the google search bar, Unity is bound to pop up.
Among the most popular game engines in the industry, Unity can count healthy portfolio of AAA video games made on Unity.
The question remains. Should a Beginner really start their game development journey with Unity?
The answer to that question is, of course, yes. One of the main reasons Unity is on this list is because it has massive community support.
Unity is the game engine that has the most tutorials and online courses that teach you how to make games using this engine.
Unity uses C#, a powerful programming language that teaches skills that, even outside Unity, are readily transferrable.
Making Unity a great Engine for anyone who is ready to invest time and is willing to learn professional video game development right off the bat.
So, this is my list of top three game engines that you can easily learn. As an inspiring new developer, these should be on anyone’s short list. Depending on the video game careers that you want to opt for, and the extent you want to get involved in Video game development, I hope that you have a clearer view of what you want. And can now make an educated decision on which game engine to choose according to your needs.
Please check out my review of the Manticore game creation engine. Especially if you are a fan to multiplayer RPG, which appears to be its sweetspot. Or for that matter, are looking for a game development engine with built-in discovery and video game publishing.
Reviewing Manticore Game’s CORE Engine: Sandbox platform for making video games UGC and video game publishing
More and more young gamers dream about following their passion and working in the video game industry.
The traditional path to making video games? Extremely hard. It is a career with unclear, complex career paths. Convoluted at best. Manticore realizes the difficulty of making video games. Its response? A sandbox environment that makes making video games and publishing video games intuitive and user-friendly. Like others, it has designed a game engine that simplifies the creation process. More importantly Manticore provides a digital playground where you can publish your own games made on the CORE engine. Your concept, your user-generated content or UGC, published when YOU are ready to get player feedback. Think of it as UGC and content creation plus video game publishing in ONE platform.
Core is a game engine built on top of the Unreal Engine.
The premise is to make an all-in-one platform where one can create, publish, and play their games and UGC in the simplest way possible.
Manticore wants to take away the intricacies of game development and let everyone focus on the design elements of the development, rather than having to deal with complex configuration problems.
Engine design and Game creation: Core offers a simple drag-and-drop interface, and also richer coding via Lua.
On top of being built on the Unreal Engine Core also uses Lua for scripting. Lua lets users dig deep and manipulate the source code of their games. Other than that, the creation process is quite straightforward.
Users can just drag and drop objects from Core’s stock library or design their own unique world on top of the frameworks provided by Manticore in the game engine. Like Roblox, this strategy of letting players create UGC to test and engage other gamers is not new. But to revolutionize video game creation and publishing as a category? Ambitious. And amazing.
There DO exist some limitations. For example you can’t import your models or customized materials that you made somewhere else to CORE. Rather you are stuck with the building blocks Manticore gives you in the game engine. Not to despair however. To counter limitations of this self-contained environment, CORE gives you many tools out of the box. These include a huge selection of in-game content that creators can easily take advantage of.
The end results? One can start his or her journey making video games, minus a steep learning curve.
The Core here provides the users with all the barebones stuff with more than just a few gimmicks.
Anything and everything that you can do in a game engine can easily be done here visually
The creation process is intuitive. And provides a positive experience especially for the newbie game developer.What about documentation? Or help getting started? Manticore has provided a comprehensive manual. You can easily access the documentation on Manticore’s website through the Core engine. They have covered everything from Basic Tutorials to the Core API in detail.
They literally give you anything that you need to know about—especially if this is someone’s first time making a game. Consider it an easy transition. One can be a working Joe by day. And a game creator by night. On CORE.
Publishing Games: Built-in Discovery and Publishing in the CORE Engine
You can publish the games created in Core on their platform. Here other players on the engine can hop on in your game and try it out. Think of it as simple quick-and-dirty beta. Including multiplayer on their platform.
Automatic Multiplayer Support
Out of the box, any game published on Core is multiplayer compatible. Why does this matter? A LOT if you are making a battle royale stage or just an FPS shootout Arena. Even without the technical knowledge about backend mechanics, having multiplayer support shortcuts design and testing.
Any player can just easily enter that game. Or you can just invite your friends for a private Showdown. Think built-in discoverability. And limited closed beta. Rather than investing time and energy in traditional market research and consumer insights, Core lets creators TEST the concept for fun, playability and gather feedback with real players. The only question is how many, how broadly, based on the readiness of the game.
Like Game Central Station in Wreck It Ralph, Core lets you play your characters in different games on the Engine
What happens if you get bored with one game? Take a deep breath. The portal devices in the published games lets you play your character from one game and keep playing inside another game. It’s like your own personal avatar and character. One that you can continue playing through different creations with your friends or teammates.
Think of it as an interconnected multiverse of video games. You can just hop into different worlds through these portals and just have a fun gaming experience. JUST like Game Central Station in Wreck It Ralph!
Solo game design:
Or, if you just want to make a narrative-driven game experience, you can also make that on Core.
Manticore has added a whole lot of diversity to its game engine and even more so to its publishing platform. You basically have everything that you might ever want as a game developer. Even after you have designed and published a game, there is replay and repurpose value. In short you can make any design changes that you want quickly and without destroying the game balance.
Learning a new game engine usually takes weeks or months. With its simple drag and drop, Core gives you an Express ticket. To make the game development experience simpler and a whole lot less painful. Not to mention quickly beta testing and monetizing an entire game of your own creation. Your UGC, developed and published your way.
Final Thoughts: Great promise and potential, even in Alpha
Core is a great game engine for video game development and making and publishing UGC. It does have a few drawbacks. Video games developed on Core, for now, can only be published in the Core’s own game library. You cannot take them out, or publish them on any game store for now.
Manticore did said on their website that they are working on making these games available on mobile and steam. But right now, you are committing to developing and publishing exclusively on CORE.
The other big limitation is that, you can’t import any foreign object in the engine that you made somewhere else. So, you are basically stuck within their toolbox and only limited by the tools they provide you with. But overall, for an Alpha version, Manticore has really outdone themselves. And delivered on making a great engine with a surprisingly huge selection of built-in content.
Even the programming model is extremely polished. Some people may be challenged getting used to the built-in code editor. For now, Core is an excellent platform for first-tie game developers. Especially those who just want to create a good game and have fun later on playing on it with their friends.
Battle Royale games like Fortnite, PUBG and Apex Legends might have been at the top for a very long time. However, many new battle royale games are getting attention in 2020.
Waiting in the wing are many unique and amazing games which are giving us their own takes on the genre.
Few of these games have already been released. Others are still in development. Today, we will take a closer look at the best battle royale games of 2020.
Now, without any further delay, let’s get started!
First up, Spellbreak is going to be one of the biggest Battle Royale games of 2020. The game is being developed by Proletariat. And man, fans all over the world are HYPED up. Not surprisingly, Spellbreak is bringing something completely new to the table. It’s going to be completely different from other battle royales like Fortnite and PUBG. You’ll have to cast different kinds of spells to get the upper-hand on your enemies.
In terms of perspectives? Spellbreak is in the third-person. Its gameplay, you ask? Quite positively diverse. You’ll have to craft certain builds and use different combinations of spells in battle. The game’s artstyle is very vibrant. Naturally its cartoonish graphics fit perfectly with the setting of this game. You can jump in a new game solo… Or try to survive in the hollow lands with your friends.
Long-awaited, this title is going to get released for Windows, PlayStation, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. In my opinion, this game is a 4 out of a 5 and I am very excited to play it.
Drumroll please… Another upcoming battle royale game, Blazing Sails is going to be huge in 2020. Published by Iceberg Interactive and developed by GET UP GAMES, Blazing Sails is going to be a massively multiplayer online game. The objective? You and your friends have to protect a single pirate ship.
Players will create their own pirate avatar and build their own ship to become a part of the battle. The core loop? You will have to navigate through the lands and seas to collect amazing loot, resources and weapons. As you survive at sea, your ship will be upgraded. Once it gets damaged in battle, you will have to fix your ship. Like the other games on this shortlist, Blazing Sails is going to have very vibrant and cartoonish graphics.
Blazing Sails is going to be available exclusively for Microsoft Windows. But what about CONSOLE players? Unfortunately, console players won’t be able to get a taste of the deadly ocean yet.
I would personally give this game a 4 out of a 5. Because it looks extremely intriguing, I am excited to try it out.
What about fans of medieval warfare? Bar none, Valhall is going to be the most REALISTIC battle royale game of 2020. In this game, you will experience the true brutality of the Viking era. Valhall is being developed and published by Blackrose Arts, and gamers all over the world are hyped for this release.
As for the gameplay of Valhall? Extremely complex. With minimal HUD on the screen, the player will get to switch between first-person and third-person perspective. While I am certain this hybrid perspective has been tested with players via consumer insights and playtesting, only time will tell if players like or love this. Or not.
Playing as a Viking, you will have different weapons at your disposal. These include an axe and a long-bow. However, the long-bow will NOT have a crosshair. Why does that matter? Well, newer players are going to have a very hard time and be challenged by a steeper learning curve. Developers at Blackrose Arts have tried to make this game as realistic as possible.
The trailer suggests you will be able to play with your friends. This multiplayer co-op in the battle royale genre is going to take you for an INSANE rollercoaster ride. If you wonder about the graphics of this game, not to worry. They perfectly complement its breathtaking gameplay elements. With lifelike graphics, there will never be a dull moment in Valhall.
Currently it’s being developed exclusively for Windows. For console players, I suspect a PlayStation and Xbox port might get released in the near future.
I am quite excited to try this title out and would give this a 5 out of 5.
To much fanfare, Hyper Scape is the new big battle royale game by Ubisoft. Released recently on July 12th 2020, the game is slowly gaining a lot of attention.
Hyper Scape is extremely fast-paced and does not go easy on new players. Set in the first-person perspective, it has amazing parkour elements. Players can jump from wall to wall and slide to go faster. Because of its fast-paced gameplay, you need an exceptionally good aim to dominate.
Hyper Scape has Fortnite-like graphics, but the gameplay is completely different. For the battle royale fans who like fast action, this game is going to be a very exciting play.
Hyper Scape is currently in beta and is only available on Microsoft Windows. Xbox and PlayStation versions of this game are being worked on as we speak. Let’s just hope that the game also comes with cross-play.
If you ask me, I liked the game. But, I think that the movement needs to be a little swifter, as aiming is too hard in this game. I would give it 3.5 out of 5.
Call of Duty Warzone
Last but definitely not least, let’s talk about one of the most popular games of 2020. Call of Duty Warzone is Call of Duty’s take on the battle royale genre. Not surprisingly it has managed to get a lot of attention. It will remind some of you of PUBG. But this game experience is completely different
While an extension of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, to play this game does NOT require the purchase of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. Call of Duty Warzone has extremely realistic graphics, and the gameplay is very intense. There are tons of weapons to choose from. And perfecting aim takes a lot of practice. 150 players take part in every match of Warzone. You’ll be glad to know, dying doesn’t kick you out of the match. Instead you are given a second chance in the Gulag.
Call of Duty Warzone is available on PlayStation, Xbox and Windows. Personally, I loved this game, but it can be a little harsh for newer players. I’d give it a 4 out a 5.
Roblox and Minecraft are two spectacular sandbox games. Both occupy a segment of the video game industry that is targeted at young kids aged 7 to 12. Both loved by millions of gamers all over the world. Quite similar to each other, they often get compared to each other by gamers. Both games combine education with fun. What does that leave me as player? Something truly unique and interesting. Whether in terms of Art, UGC (User-Generated Content) or gameplay, the list of similarities run long. Both of these games go head to head against each other. For good reasons.
Today, we’ll be taking a closer look at the rivalry between these two titles. I will compare all of the different aspects of both of these games and let you decide which game is better.
Now, without any further ado, let’s get started!
Minecraft is currently the best-selling game in the entire world. Make that over 200 million copies sold as of 2020. Developed by Mojang, Minecraft gets about 126 million active users every month.
Set in a blocky world, Minecraft is a very quirky game. You can literally create anything in this game or go out on adventures with your friends. This game is perfect for single-player or multi-player gamers.
Art-Style of Minecraft: Blocky Cartoonish World with Immersive Realism
Like I said above, Minecraft is set in a blocky world. One in which the art-style is quite unique and interesting. Everything has a cartoonish-touch in this game. Yet it still manages to remain realistic and immersive. From gorgeous castles to a pixelated piece of art. You can basically create anything in this game.
Minecraft’s Gameplay: Awesome Survival or the Sandbox of Your Creation
The gameplay of Minecraft is extremely diverse. You can do whatever you want. This game can take you on an awesome survival adventure. Or it can be the sandbox of your own creation.
When you jump into survival mode, you will have to survive in the harsh world of Minecraft by gathering resources and finding food and shelter. Enemies appear at night. You must defeat them in order to survive.
In creative mode, you are given infinite resources and the ability to fly. You can basically create anything in this game, even a working computer. There are tons of materials in the game which replicate real-life properties.
The online gameplay of this game is something completely different!
When you interact with other players, you get a whole new list of game-modes which have been created by the community. There is a lot of UGC in this game which is just waiting to get explored. You can also interact with other players online and make some new friends. Or you can just invite your real-life friends. And play for a long game of Minecraft.
Monetization: Minecraft Marketplace but NO Shortcuts
Want to make money using Minecraft? Then you might be in for a long ride. Making video games and money from Minecraft is not very easy as compared to Roblox. Though, there is the Minecraft marketplace where the users can sell their content to earn some bucks.
It might be a little tough to start making money through this game. But it is still totally possible.
Unlike Minecraft, Roblox is a completely free game. One which can be enjoyed by anyone quickly and easily. Roblox currently has 115 million active monthly users. What separates Roblox from Minecraft you ask? Roblox is more than just a game. Roblox is a simplified game-development platform which is extremely fun and engaging. A very creative and fun game, Roblox can get ANYONE hooked.
Since Roblox is free, its creators generate revenue thanks to in-game microtransactions. By using good old-fashioned market research and consumer insights, a young creator can find the market appetite for his or her game content.
Roblox’s Art Style: Cartoonish but Much More than Blocks
The art-style of this game is pretty cartoonish, but it doesn’t follow a blocky theme like Minecraft. The world of this game looks quite beautiful, and it is filled to the brim with mysteries that are waiting to get explored.
Gameplay: UGC is the backbone of Roblox!
Roblox is more than just a game. It’s a gaming platform where you can basically enjoy any genre of games. The games on Roblox were created by gamers for gamers. The possibilities are endless. You can play the Roblox version of Call of Duty. Or should you so choose, enjoy a Roblox Minecraft.
UGC is the backbone of Roblox!
Roblox is not a single-player game. Instead it can only be enjoyed together with the community. You can just play with your friends. Or you can play with other people online. There are about 40 million games currently available on the platform, which have been created using the Roblox developer tools.
Do YOU want to try out different games and socialize with tons of people online? Then Roblox is the game for you.
Monetization: Roblox Can Help Anyone Generate an Income for Themselves!
Monetization is a major factor which might make you want to try out Roblox instead of Minecraft.
Like I said before, in Roblox, the games are designed BY users. You can create your own game on the platform and generate revenue from it. The games themselves are free. However, the user can earn money through microtransactions. Robux is the virtual currency of Roblox, usable by gamers to purchase different items. Whenever a gamer uses Robux to buy an in-game item, Roblox keeps a small cut and gives you the rest. A HUGE selling-points for Roblox.
Conclusion: Minecraft for Single-Player or Social Fun. Roblox to Make New Friends or to Try Your Hand at Coding & Content Monetization
Minecraft and Roblox are both breathtaking games. Both worth checking out. The ONE that you end up spending most of your time playing depends on your own preference.
Just looking to have a fun single-player adventure? Or simply trying to have some fun with your friends, then Minecraft is what you should be playing.
Looking to make new friends online? Then definitely give Roblox a go. Want to try your hand at coding or even earning revenue from your creation? Then Roblox is the game for you. Not only is Roblox more educational than Minecraft, Roblox can introduce young gamers to the world of coding or game content monetization.
Both of these titles are extremely fun and filled to the brim with endless possibilities. Personally, I prefer Minecraft as I really love its approach towards creativity.
Platforms for Young People to Start Making Video Games and Monetizing within 30 Days
Traditional video game development and publishing is big business. Expensive big money business.
According to Newzoo, the gaming industry is estimated to be over $152 billion a year, Check out the State of the Video Game Industry and research. Gaming is bigger than music AND movies, combined! And making video games is expensive business. Let us not forget video game marketing and publishing. Especially if you consider the AAA video game development budgets for large game developers like EA Sports, Lucas Arts, and more. Video game development cycles spanning 24 months or more, with 100+ people full-time staff dedicated to a given studio are not unheard of.
Does that mean only the AAA developers and publishers can create fun games that players love? Of course not.
Must you go through years and years of formal game production school and hope for a lucky break? Just to get a chance to create console-quality game content and get PAID? Absolutely not. Not anymore.
Now more than ever before, young game developers and CONTENT creators can make playable games and make money in as little as 30 to 90 days
AND make good money for their creations. As well as make the game discoverability easy and built in!
At the Fortune Brainstorm Tech 2019 Conference, Roblox’s CEO David Baszucki, said it perfectly. Its category summed in 2 words. Human Coexistence.
He seems to be onto something really really big. As of July 2019, Roblox drew over 2 million creators of 3D virtual experiences. And translated into 100 million+ active people – primarily boys and girls aged 8 to 13 – playing Roblox games every single month.
There is currently an Roblox exchange rate of $.0035/R$. You DO have to be a member of Roblox Premium and over 13, as well as have a minimum balance of Robux. But if you ARE, you can cash out your Robux for real money.
Roblox’s creator community ranged widely. Its 2 million creators spans from young creators getting their start in game design and coding, to teams of ten or twenty people forming studios.
I had the pleasure of meeting Roblox’s CEO David about ten years ago. He is about as smart and genuine as game CEO’s get. Ten years ago, Roblox was the mainstay of boys 7-11. Today it attracts a loyal following over 100 million players – both young boys AND girls. Trust me. If you love having fun, exploring and socializing in Roblox, you MUST check out Roblox Studio.
Manticore Games: Like Youtube did with video creation, Manticore is on a mission. Mission to disrupt creativity and game making. Period.
Currently in a 100-spots Creator Payouts Pilot Program, Manticore is testing a simple model based on an easy premise. The more people play your game, the more you should get paid.
Yes, but what about the learning curve? Say to create a multiplayer game? 24 months? Nope. 12 months? Nope. 6 months? Not even that. Take a look at the following screenshot. The Core engine lets you create and customize gameplay, social as well as scenery inside of its user interface. You can create multiplayer or single-player games. WITHOUT writing code. Should you like to learn step-by-step game development, check out Manticore’s Core Game Dev Bootcamp.
Manticore’s Core Game Dev Bootcamp is all of four weeks.
Age requirements to join the Creator Payout Program? You DO have to be legally considered an adult in your country. IF you get an invite from Manticore. So in the United States, anyone aged 13 to 17 can participate, with parental permission.
PER month, a creator gets paid $3 for every Averaged Daily User. Fairly simple math. What does it mean, for those of us familiar with free-to-play and subscription models?
Manticore’s creator payout model already accounts for 2 key metrics: Scale and Retention.
If you have 1000 players on the 1st of the month, steadily bleed users through Day 3, but manage to retain only 100 players who stick around until the 30th? Well then, you get paid only for the averaged Daily user player count. In this case, in month 1, getting a total of $1432 for the 477 Daily Averaged Users.
If you have 1000 players on the 1st of the month and retain the same 1000 players on the 30th, you are paid for the 1000 Averaged Daily User. Or in the scenario below, in month 2, getting a total of $4425 for the 1475 Daily Averaged Users.
MONTH 1 – January
MONTH 2 – February
Month-averaged Daily Users
Of course, even breakout hits and the big money-makers on Roblox and Manticore Games are not accidental surprises. Solid consumer research, player testing and fun, engaging gameplay are all expected table stakes. But for young people who are looking to get started making video games, built-in mechanics for video game marketing? Definitely check out Roblox and Manticore Games.