So what do find ?

The consensus is people play games to have fun. Unfortunately, that in itself is as useful as asking a chef to make ‘delicious food’- the definition is too wide and varies from person to person.

Luckily, there are several frameworks that allow us to players’ engagement and enjoyment.

The most well-known motivational model is self-determination theory which predicts players’ enjoyment based on 3 factors:

Autonomy: players can self-determine what they do.

Relatedness: interaction and connection with others.

Competence: feeling of success and growth.

While this framework works well at evaluating player satisfaction after having played specific games, it is a bit abstract for evaluating different player tastes and more importantly the gaps between their experiences and needs.

I’ve found the motivations identified by the Quantic Foundry model to be quite exhaustive in breaking down, and encapsulating what players can do in games.

Quantic Foundry uses these to analyze players and rank them based on their percentile score in different motivators compared to other players.

I tried a different approach based on the same motivators.

Players were first asked to rank statements reflecting the top 3 motivations they look for in mobile games in general, and then the top 3 motivations they get out of games they identified as their favorites.

Here’s an illustration of what such a motivation map looks like for mobile puzzle games (games like Candy Crush, Pet Rescue or Bubble Witch):

The data tells us that puzzle games players would like to have more Immersion and Creativity in their games. This could provide an explanation to the success of titles such as Gardenscapes or Homescapes, who provide players with some light narrative and decoration options.

Where it gets really interesting, is stepping away from the average player. Since audiences become more varied aiming to please everyone by focusing on the average player becomes an increasingly difficult, low returns, task.

Game makers should instead aim for the long tails and, like Netflix, target specific taste communities.

Analyzing a representative sample of players from all the mobile game genres yielded 5 different player types.

These player types are still abstractions, but they give a clearer indication about where opportunities lie. This is what it looks like for puzzle players:

  • 55% of players (Completionists and Solvers) are quite happy with their games as they are
  • 25% of players (Explorers and Designers) are where the narrative / decoration opportunity lies
  • 20% of players (Champions) are interested in a more social puzzle game

These type of needs based segmentation enables game makers to cater for the different taste communities and provide players with tailored experiences.

The player types vary in their propensity to spend, try out new games and in the type of themes they like. All of which are important factors that should be addressed when considering potential market opportunity.

Think of it like attempting to cook the best dish ever.

First, you get a nutritionist. They go over your life-style, your goals and what you like and construct a list of ingredients- that’s the motivations data.

Then, you get a 5-star chef. The chef uses their intuition, talent and knowledge to figure out how to best transform the individual ingredients to a wholesome meal. They have the common sense not to put the whipped cream with the roast, and comes up with a meal that’s balanced, delicious and looks appetizing; that’s the game designer.

While both are important, it’s important to emphasis that the data isn’t prescriptive. It needs a human to make sense of it and use the ingredients to build a full experience based on a craft and a vision.

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