Superbrothers Dev Warns Against Chasing Angry Birds

Superbrothers Dev Warns Against Chasing Angry Birds

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Superbrothers: Sword and Sorcery EP developer, Nathan Vella, argues that making games for everyone really means making a game for no one.

While both Angry Birds and Superbrothers: Sword and Sorcery EP have both enjoyed critical success, they couldn't be more different. Angry Birds attempts (and succeeds) to appeal to everyone, and has clocked up somewhere in the realm of 350 million sales. Superbrothers on the other hand, is an unapologetically niche title, with sales standing at respectable 350,000. While most developers would much rather see 350 million sales rather than 350 thousand, Vella reckons that trying to emulate Angry Birds is a poor business decision.

"I personally believe that one of the scariest parts of the massive success of the iOS platform is that it has taught developers that they should try and make games for everyone," said Vella.

"It seems like an obvious choice because games like Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja and Cut the Rope sold 10, 20 million copies but, believe it or not, I actually I think that's a really bad business decision."

"Everyone wants to make a million-selling game, and that's cool," he continued "but the problem with the hit-based mentality is it puts you in direct competition with all the other people who have the same hit-based mentality - the people who aren't creative enough to make a unique game, and the people who aren't willing to take the risk to make something that actually has a soul, or is fresh, or flies in the face of conventional wisdom."

Angry Birds isn't all that original. It's polished and well presented, but the core concept of hurling X at Y until Y falls down has been floating around the internet in the form of various flash games for years - I also distinctly recall playing a similar game with bricks and the elderly during my misspent youth. Angry Birds simply came along at the right time and, most importantly, on the right platform.

"There's a subset of gamers who want to play something new. If you provide them with something worth playing you're not actually competing against 99 per cent of the market. You're competing with the one per cent. Sure, you might not reach the biggest slice of the money pie but you're ensuring your project has a really good chance of being successful."

Vella went on to compare the hit-based business model to a slot machine. Claiming that developers were throwing their game budgets away like gamblers with a poor grasp of probability.

"You're trying to make the next Angry Birds, so what you're doing is basically walking up to a slot machine, putting the budget of your game into the slot, pulling the lever and praying to God that you get three fucking cherries. In reality, one in 10,000 maybe do okay - I don't know the odds," he added.

Source: Eurogamer

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SOMEbody's but-hurt
Nah he's probably right though but for a different reason: all you other Angry Birds are just imitating.

I can't say I disagree with him. One point I'll also say is that people throwing out casual clones trying to hit that jackpot wind up flooding the market with all kinds of useless garbage to the real quality titles become fewer and further between, and honestly one thing that prevents me from buying more apps for my Kindle Fire, is simply having to wade through 30 tons of games that don't even seem like the creators took them seriously.

Speaking for myself, what I've actually spent the most on is probably Roguelikes, and I haven't found one that I think it paticularly good. No "Mordor", "Nethack", "ADOM", "Gearhead" or more recently "Dungeons Of Dredmore", none even come close to that general quality within the genere. Want my money? make a good roguelike. Too few people try to even come close to success.

I did find one game that seems like a passable imitation of Shadowrun for the Sega Genesis though, no magic system though, not even a scaled back one as it's going straight cyberpunk.

In business classes, a few of which I had to take during the course of getting my degree, they call this the "Blue Ocean Strategy."

It's a good idea that takes creativity and clever marketing to pull off, and when it works, it works well.

Agreed. The problem with everyone trying to imitate popular games so much is that no one really cares about a third rate CoD clone (or whatever clone) and would just play the original. Better off trying your own thing so people don't just immediately lose interest thinking it's just a copy. Then again I'm pretty sure some people have hit it big doing just that. For one Rovio themselves did that. Well then I don't know. Good on him though.

I can agree with this. I don't think by trying to appeal to everyone at once is a sound business decision. Most people looking for that one casual game to play on the way to work will have found it for the moment and being there when they want to change is completely up to chance.

Innovation = making something new and exciting. No promises on it being picked up by everyone but at least people will be willing to give it ago as opposed to merely dismissing it as an Angry Birds clone.

Here's something I've learned about trying to rip-off successful games.

You'll never be able to have a 100% original idea. If you look hard enough, you'll see someone out there has a similar idea to yours. Our contemporary triple A games are nothing more than copies from old games, just super polished and presented differently.

So if Angry Birds was an international phenomenon that sold a bazillion copies all over the world, then you can be damn sure someone's gonna try and emulate its success. The problem is they won't have the same success. Because it's just a copy; it's not the original. And the original game probably has certain things that this copy doesn't. It's the reason why CoD is cool but Homefront sucks even though they're both FPS. I think Extra Credits discussed that in one of their last videos where they compare JRPGs to Western RPGs.

So I say Angry Birds, or any of those games, for that matter, have nothing to worry about. If someone wants to piggy-back ride their success, they're gonna have a hard time doing it. It just makes the original game shine brighter or something.

Grey Carter:
Angry Birds isn't all that original

You're almost there.

Try "Shamelessly ripped off" instead and you'll be dead on.

"try and make games for everyone"

Oh so does that mean you're FINALLY gonna bring your game to the Android so I can play it? (fucking morons)

By all accounts, Superbrothers is a good game. I haven't picked it up yet for one reason: no demo! Before I bought Angry Birds, I was able to give the free version a try and then ponied up the cash for the full version. I know the same help true for my in-laws and probably thousands (tens of thousands?) of others.

You want me to pay for your game? No problem. I am more than happy to pay for something I know I'll like. I do it on XBLA all the time. But experience has made me gunshy about buying games sight unseen... even if they're only $5.

bringer of illumination:
Try "Shamelessly ripped off" instead and you'll be dead on.

But that's the point, isn't it? "Angry Birds" is a well polished version of venerable game mechanics. Most hits are.

Quiet Stranger:
"try and make games for everyone"

Oh so does that mean you're FINALLY gonna bring your game to the Android so I can play it? (fucking morons)

You didn't read the next line, did you? It went: "...actually I think that's a really bad business decision."

Remember what happened to home console gaming when a glut of samey, low quality games clogged the market. It almost killed home gaming.

Mygaffer:
Remember what happened to home console gaming when a glut of samey, low quality games clogged the market. It almost killed home gaming.

Yeah, and that is most likely what is happening here. There's a bubble based around throw-away, gimmicky gaming and it's going to burst. I give it a few months to late 2012. Hopefully it won't reverberate in the traditional gaming market, and will only affect social and mobile gaming. But nothing is certain. Investors could (very foolishly) lose confidence in the rest of the games industry.

 

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