Videogames, like all other media, can be a fickle business. Highly anticipated titles can flop while relatively unknown works suddenly surge into extreme popularity. And on either side of these rises and falls, you’ll likely find people with regrets one way or the other.
Martijn Reuvers, director at Two Tribes, told one such tale of hindsight on a recent Reddit AMA thread. A budding indie developer by the handle “quakeboy” asked how he could best test his games and succeed in finding the right audience. Reuvers offered advice on testing methods, but added that striking gold may also involve plain old chance. For Two Tribes, one such opportunity came and went in the form of a cross-collaboration between their title Toki Tori and Angry Birds:
To give you an example: when Angry Birds released back in 2009, its initial success was quite limited. In fact its publisher, Chillingo, contacted me to see if there were possibilities to put an Angry Bird in Toki Tori to raise awareness of their game. Back then Toki Tori was a success for Chillingo, whereas Angry Birds (which was released on their B-label: Clickgamer), was not (yet). The idea was to put an Angry Bird in Toki Tori and they would then put Toki Tori in Angry Birds. But when I played the game, I strongly felt that it wasn't a right fit to put in Toki Tori. And I declined. A couple of months later, the sales suddenly picked up massively. The rest is history. In retrospect, it has been my worst decision ever.
Looking back, the possibility of a meteoric rise in fame with Angry Birds was there, but there was no real way, according to Reuvers, to know whether that specific game would become a hit:
Anyhow, the point is: it is very difficult to predict success. When AB released there were already a ton of physics based games on the App Store. When Temple Run hit the store, there were a lot of infinite runners on there as well. Why did they succeed where others failed? Part of it is being lucky. Releasing the game at the right time. Being featured at the right time.
Yet even after speaking of luck, Reuvers had only words of encouragement for the developer, telling him to be as vocal about his games to as many people as possible and forge on if that’s where his passion lies:
The only thing you can do is to go for it, completely. If it then still fails, bad luck, but at least you tried!
How much do you think luck or circumstance plays in the reception of certain games? Let us know and feel free to share some examples below.