Target audience considerations (part 1)

In today’s post I’m going to talk about a quite tricky topic: target audience and its implications on the development and commercialization of your app or game on the AppStore. First of all I would like to clarify that I’m not by no means an expert about this topic. Everything I’m going to say is based on my experience with paintingWalls and New Sokoban. So, comments on this post will be specially appreciated 🙂

Probably when you start your first project that is intended to be published you don’t think about your target audience seriously. You probably focus on creating a great app or game and assume that this will be enough to reach mass market. Usually this is not true. Usually you need to create a great app for your target audience. And that implies that you need to fix or select your target audience first.

Fixing target audience

Ideally, you should be able to fix your target audience in the early stages of the development. In an ecosystem such as the AppStore there are millions of users with a wide range of necessities and preferences. Reaching all these users at once is impossible. (Yes, sometimes I also think that probably Angry Birds did it… but no… it’s impossible…). Therefore, you need to fix your target audience.

Back on reality, fixing your target audience is very very difficult, unless you have years of experience. However, you should do the exercise of trying to do so.

Mental note: fixing your target audience is important. It is very difficult to do it accurately unless you have years of experience in the industry but, at least, you should do the exercise of trying to do so. It will be very useful for future projects.

Knowing fixed target audience

Probably fixing the target audience implies that you already know it. However, you can always learn new things about people that play your games or use your apps. Again, the best way to learn about your audience is by experience. However, you need to be permanently mentally aware to observe the hints that people around you (or reviews on the AppStore…) hide between lines.

From my point of view, knowing about audience has nothing to do with sales numbers but with subtleties in people’s behavior while experimenting your game. Observing your family and friends playing your game may be very instructive, even though they were not a perfect representation of your target audience.

Mental note: always observe very carefully to people playing your game. Open your mind and try to see the subtleties on their behavior and read between lines when they talk about your game, specially when they are not talking to you.

Working towards well known fixed target audience

And finally, it is obvious: now you need to work towards the target audience that you have fixed and know well. It may seem that the hard work has been done and that now all we need to do is to develop our game. However, fixing the target audience has many development implications, actually it will influence all the aspects of the development during all the development time.

It will define the core game design and gameplay design, the artistic appeal, the sound track and SFX, learning and difficulty curves, global difficulty, amount of content in game, amount of content out game (such as websites, social networks, trailers and videos, screenshots…) beta testing, pricing, business model, marketing strategy…

Wow! It seems that target audience is an important issue 😀 I would like to talk a little bit about how I applied all this theory to New Sokoban, but I thing that this post will get to long and I’m going to split it into two parts.

So, see you on the second part!!


About Toni Sala

Indie game designer and developer
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