Game Development Reference
players quickly decide on the types of games that appeal to them, often
buying games from a small selection of genres or sub-genres. However, that
combination of styles is likely to be as personal to that player as the games
themselves.Two fans of fantasy role-playing games, for instance, are likely to
enjoy playing other genres, and while one may prefer adventures and real
time strategy games, the other could enjoy first person shooters and car
Many players will have an interest in other genres outside their core
grouping, but only for games that they feel are worth their time. Often, the
games that are classed as having a mass market appeal are simply the ones that
are so well designed and made they are in the top few percent of their genre.
They draw in additional players who would not normally buy that genre's
'run-of-the-mill' games. Publishers who see the success of a genre-defining
game may try to copy that success by financing the making of a similar type
of game, but only rarely does this actually succeed.
When the installed user base (the people who own a game system) of con-
soles and computers is considered, there is a potential audience in the
hundreds of millions. A game that sells a million copies may be a big success,
but it is only reaching a tiny fraction of that audience. For example, we know
that the number of Playstation 2 consoles sold is close to 100 million through-
out the world. If you add on the other consoles (Xbox, Gamecube, Gameboy,
etc.) as well as huge numbers of home computers, we get numbers in the
hundreds of millions. If a game sells a million, then it is clearly reaching much
less than 1% of the game systems in use throughout the world. It therefore
seems natural to consider all games as being part of a series of niche genres.
Admittedly, some niches are much larger than others, but if top games ever
had true mass market appeal they would sell fifty million copies instead of the
five million, which they sell if they are very fortunate. Even the larger genres,
like first person shooter games, have a high number of games that sell poorly
because, not only do they fail to appeal to those outside of the genre, but they
also fail to appeal to many of the players who are fans of the genre and whose
expectations are raised by the high quality of the genre's best games.
Occasionally, there are games which appear in the market that seem to
have a broader appeal in a way that transcends existing genres, but unless the
sales are really huge the game still is not mass market, it has simply reached a
large niche audience for which there is currently no defined genre. It could
be that the game is the first of a type that defines a new genre within which
other games will follow.