The "Shark Fin" of game development

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The "Shark Fin" of game development

Postby scotland » September 12th, 2016, 11:00 am

Just for fun, here is an article on the fast rise and fall we see in mobile free-to-play games

The author calls it a 'shark fin' - a game launches with some buzz, and rapidly rises in most downloaded and top grossing, then fall pretty quickly - like a shark fin. This may be because these games are basically 'minimally viable' - not deep - there is too much risk. So, users consume the content far quicker than a successful game can 'lay the tracks ahead of the train'.

What I find interesting is that this is a modern phenomenon. In the cart days, the released game was all there was. No DLC, no updates with new levels. Castlevania was Castlevania. Companies could decide whether to release a good game, and maybe reviews or word of mouth would sell more copies, and maybe even create a franchise, or release a not so good game, and make your money up front with a licensed property or some other draw.

Now, its a decision to make a 'minimally viable' game and then add on content and fix bugs after the train has left the station, or invest deeply right from the start and hope you have a game that will sell, and satisfy users for a long time without having to lay that track after the train has left the station.

"Back in the Day" it at least seemed like gamers had fewer games vying for their attention as well. Today is seems like there are so many games vying for a gamer's attention, that its natural to enjoy a game for a weekend or two, and move on to the next siren's song.

Some interesting things in the article are the ideas of 'regulars' - core players who potentially might continue the play the same game for years, and 'elder game' - facets of gameplay beyond winning or leveling up.

What do you think?

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Re: The "Shark Fin" of game development

Postby Sut » September 13th, 2016, 3:19 pm

Very interesting read. I do think they are slightly delusional in expecting gamers to play a game 'for years'.
I equate games similar to movies, I'll enjoy them whilst I play them but I do crave different experiences and would resent a game that tried to keep me tied in.

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