February 2, 2019

Lessons learned from the Paradox podcast - Season 4

Paradox Interactive is a company that's both developing and publishing games. In their podcast they talk about the business of video games, and if you want to listen to it on your own, you should search for "The Paradox Podcast" on iTunes or wherever you can find popular podcasts. I've earlier summarized season 1season 2, season 3, and this is season 4:

  • The successful game RimWorld is a perfect "paradox game" they never published/developed because RimWorld is a combination of the games Factorial (manufacturing), Don't Starve (survival), and The Sims (social). 
  • Paradox has acquired the game Prison Architect, which is a game first released in 2015. They acquired it from the company that developed it, so they didn't acquire the developer itself. Prison Architect is a good game because it's a sandbox where you can create your own stories, so Paradox believes they can come up with new content in a similar way as Microsoft is still making money from Minecraft by updating it. Prison Architect is obviously not as big as Minecraft, but both games are similar to each other. Paradox also plans to develop other "Architect" games, such as Ski resort Architect. 
  • Paradox has an idea that to provide free updates to an existing game, they can sell paid updates (DLCs) to game and that will also pay for some free updates to the same game. A seven year old Paradox game is still getting free updates because some people pay for the paid updates. 
  • There's currently a war between developers if they should put their game on the Steam store or on the Epic store. A better idea is to focus on making a good game and put it on a store, and competition between stores is good.
  • Farming Simulator might sound like a stupid game idea - who would want to spend time drive around in a tractor? But it turns out people like to farm, the company behind the game announced they will turn farming into an e-sport, so what you think is boring can be fun if you make the boring parts fun to play.
  • The quality of games released every year is increasing because people can now go to school and learn game development, which is not something you could some years ago. But releasing a good-looking game with no bugs is no longer enough - it also has to be fun to play. And you also need to figure out a way to market the game, which is what Paradox can do for you. 
  • Paradox has recruited Rod Humble to lead a new Paradox studio in US called Tectonic. He has made 200 games (including Sims 3) and has 30 years of experience. 
  • Rod Humble believes in "The Valve style" when making games. Valve is a successful game developer and they believe in: 
    • Small groups
    • Each group members should be specialized in one area while still having a broad range of skills
    • Small amount of documentation (1 page is enough)
    • Moving fast by prototyping ideas without first having to ask if you are allowed to do it and then some manager has to make that decision one month from now 
  • Game developers make art - they sell a fantasy, telling a dream. A game is not like toothpaste which you actually need. 
  • An interview with Wendy Young and her experience of working through the ups and downs in the game industry. 
  • How can you reach a new type of audience that plays another type of game than the audience you already have? Just because you make a game that attracts that type of audience does't mean they will automatically be aware of your game. What Paradox did to make the new audience aware of the new game was to launch a dating app which is an odd thing to do if you are a game developer. But it would make the new audience be aware of the game. 
  • To measure if your marketing idea was successful, you measure of many people found what you wanted them to find. For example, how many watched the trailer, how many media sites wrote about the game, how many signed up for the newsletter, how many pre-ordered the game? But it's still difficult to really measure if it was a success if you have nothing to compare the numbers against.     

This article will be updated as they release new episodes!

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