Is Your Game A Purple Cow? 5 Ways To Make Your Game Remarkable


When you go browsing for a game to try, how do you know which one to choose in the vast sea of endless choices of today’s digital download app stores?  What if, instead, you were walking through a forest?  After walking past countless trees and various species of plants, what would stand out to you?  Most likely, something like a fallen tree, hollowed out, with all kinds of interesting fungus and mushrooms growing on it.  You might even take a picture of this and share it with your friends.  Why?  Because in a forest full of trees, this fallen tree is remarkable.

If you haven’t already guessed, I recently read Seth Godin’s Purple Cow, which I highly recommend. In the book Godin sheds some light on the TV Industrial Complex and how audiences are now immune to TV ads – they simply don’t have the same impact that they used to have.  Obviously, TV ads are crazy expensive and far outside the reach of indie developers, but the concept applies in a new way: user acquisition.  That said, after reading and studying all the various marketing ideas in the book, it seems that the best way to rise above the noise of these digital labyrinths is to truly stand out as a Purple Cow.  And the way of the Purple Cow is to be remarkable.

5 Ways Your Game Can Be Remarkable

  1. Advanced technology – let’s face, games are technical marvels.  Players love the “cool” things that these games do, and also love being surprised by the graphics and visual effects that spew out of today’s top games.  It’s not easy, and is usually quite expensive to pull off, but if you can create a new or unique technology to your game you will get attention.  Look at World of Goo, Where’s My Water, or Riptide GP. They all have a unique technology that is really well done and is tied to the core mechanic of the game play. This is hard to do if you’re using off the shelf software like Unity or Unreal, but still possible.
  2. Advanced Graphics -pushing the art to the absolute limit and doing it better than everyone else will stand out, for a while, until everyone else catches up.  Again, not easy to pull off and you’ll need to really pin point which devices and hardware you are targeting, but if you can look better with unbelievable graphics it can go a long way.  Just look at Shadow Gun and Infinity Blade.
  3. Unique Art Style – explore and make a truly unique art style all your own! Players love this and for the artists this is usually a ton of fun.  Art styles can also help with production times, such as creating an art style that is not time consuming to create. The sky is the limit here but it seems that there are tons of emerging art styles in these digital store fronts.  You’ll have to really challenge yourself to come up with something truly unique to be remarkable.
  4. Unique Gameplay – of course, this is the holy grail of the game industry, the lightning in a bottle idea that no one has done and is instantly enjoyable and original.  Fruit Ninja was pure genius.  When the rest of the world was focused on third and first person character based games, Fruit Ninja comes out and says, “hey, why not just swipe fruit objects with your finger?”  Simple, addictive, unique, brilliant.  Not easy, but I think this kind of thing comes along once a hardware cycle.  The new consoles probably won’t have anything as original as this, but in emerging interfaces like Oculus Rift and Leap Motion, there could be, actually will be, a handful of killer apps that define new genres.
  5. Marketing and Game in One – this is what you see from a lot of VC backed mega games on mobile right now; the game is a homogenous blend of social, monitization, mass appeal, share-ability, and marketing. It’s a new skill set, but if you can make your game sharable as part of the core gameplay it can spread like wildfire.  Example being Minecraft, which is engineered for players to create, explore themselves, explore their friends, and be game creators themselves. Minecraft game players the tools to do so much and made it fun to do so.

Finding ways to make your game remarkable should be the million dollar question on every dev’s mind as it could save you from resorting to expensive user acquisition costs or other forms of marketing.  Have that idea that get’s people excited, is easy to talk about in a sentence or two, and is easy to share can go a long way, especially if it looks unlike anything any one has seen before. Not so hard, right?

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