Interesting Genres for Developers Running Video Game Startups
If you’re a developer with experience running video game startups, you’ve probably learned a thing or two about what genres are most popular with the current consumers of the gaming industry. While there are as many genres and flavors of video games out there as there are people who play them, some genres are more intuitive for designing video games than others. While you could create a game that resists genre and takes on more of a literary or avant-garde quality than some of the more mainstream games, it may be hard for that type of game to find its audience and pick up steam in the current gaming industry climate.
Whether we like it or not, consumers tend to enjoy games that remind them of other games they’ve played. If they don’t have any reference point for what a game’s play experience might be like, they may be hesitant to drop some of their hard-earned cash on purchasing the game. If a game is too different from everything they’ve ever played before, they may also have a hard time getting into the game and supporting it from a fanbase perspective.
Getting positive press for a game that’s unlike anything else on the market can be tricky, too. On the one hand, there are no new ideas under the sun as the adage says. It would be tough, if not impossible, to come up with an idea that’s so different from any other game or story that’s ever been created that it resists any kind of reference or derivative quality from other pieces of literature, art, or video game content. On the other hand, a game that’s very out there could generate some press for being interesting and unique enough that it’s groundbreaking.
How to Choose a Video Game Genre as a Developer
When you’re designing and developing a video game, you’ll want to enjoy the project that’s taking up all or most of your time at work. If you find yourself dragging yourself out of bed and to your computer for remote game development work every day, it’ll be easy to lose motivation and get sloppy with the quality of your work. On the flip side, if you love the genre of your current video game that’s in the process of being developed by you and your team, you’re more likely to get excited about going to work every day. That excitement will shine through the game and players will be able to feel your enthusiasm once your game is on the market. As they play the game, they’ll experience firsthand the fruits of your team’s joy and enthusiasm while working on your game. There’s nothing more rewarding than that, so you should choose a genre that resonates with your taste and preferences as a developer, gamer, and gaming industry professional.
If you don’t know what type of genre you should choose as a video game developer, you may be able to draw inspiration from the types of video games that line the shelves in your living room near your entertainment system. When most of your video games are horror or gore, it’s safe to say that that type of genre speaks to you and your sensibilities as a player. It may be easiest for you to develop horror or gory video games as a result of that because you’ll know what players will expect from that kind of game. Alternatively, if all of your video games are cozy cooking games or cute animal games, you may want to steer clear of horror or intense genres like racing and stick with creating a slow-paced, casual game with adorable graphics that players won’t be able to resist.
As you can see, the kind of video game you develop should rest largely on a combination of your sensibilities and the trends of the industry. You don’t want to design a game in a genre that’s been unpopular for years but you do want to design a game that people love. Striking that balance can be tough, but your team of developers should be able to help you make wise decisions about what types of video games you would be good at designing for a startup in the industry. With all this in mind, we can explore different types of video game genres that are ideal for video game developers to use as inspiration in their design choices in a gaming startup.
1. Analytical Business Simulator
For many video game startups, it makes sense to draw from what you know as a creator. If you’re a business owner, you could use that experience to develop an analytical business simulator for a cabinet painting company or another type of business. This could also present opportunities in the future to collaborate with other businesses and create simulators of running their business so that their customers could feel involved and invested in the business development process.
2. Compelling City Simulator
Some video game startups may draw from what they like to play. If you enjoy playing city simulators, it can be fun to develop a game where you build your pipeline and construct a city from the ground up. For the graphics on this type of game, you could either shoot for a super realistic design that resembles the architecture of some of the cities that you love to visit or you could go out of this world and have players build a city in a faraway galaxy. No matter how you design your city simulator, it can help to consult with construction professionals and city planners to make your game as realistic as possible. Doing your research will help you to make this game the best it can be. You can also play other city simulators while you’re working on the game to see how other developers handle the storyline, gameplay, and functions of the game.
3. Thrilling Racing Game
For most of us who end up working in video game startups, racing games may have been our first introduction to video games. From games where you could choose a truck or jeep to race to races that ended in destroying your car, we all have fond memories of playing racing games as kids and even adults. If you love the chase of a racing game, you may enjoy developing your own for a startup.
4. Cute Animal Adventure
While some video game startups may opt for designing super serious games that have mature themes and realistic graphics, some games are cozy and adorable. Games like the ones in the Animal Crossing franchise have surged in popularity over recent years for a reason. Many gamers love animals and love having an opportunity to simulate pet surgery or navigate a cute animal character through a series of challenges. From platformers to puzzle games to roleplaying games, there’s something about creating a memorable animal character that tugs at the heartstrings of gamers. If you want to develop a game that has serious potential to become big, a cute animal game could ride on the coattails of current trends like Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
5. Open World Escapade
If you love exploring a world where you can bounce off of suspended tires or run on an endless track, going with the open-world escapade genre that has captured the hearts and minds of video game startups and players alike may be a good choice. When gamers can dive into a world unlike their own, it creates a special sense of escapism that can be addictive and enjoyable after a long day of work. Sometimes, games that have exceptional world-building also grow a popular following because of how much the game feels like a place rather than a collection of pixels on a screen.
6. Musical Rhythm Game
Even for those who have hearing problems and need to use a hearing aid, musical rhythm games can be fun to play as a way to take your mind off of the everyday stresses of life. Some video game startups capitalize on this and make musical rhythm games that are reminiscent of
Dance Dance Revolution
and other popular franchises in this genre. While this genre has some competition for making a name for yourself, musical rhythm games can be simple enough to incorporate characters from previous games. You could produce a whole line of musical rhythm games that get progressively harder as you go from one version of the game to the next. Alternatively, you could change the aesthetics of the game to reflect changes in the seasons or character arcs.
You can also partner with musical artists and other musical professionals to create an original soundtrack for the game that game players will love. This allows your startup to make strategic partnerships with musicians who are either up-and-coming newbies to the music scene or established in their genre of music. Down the line, this kind of collaboration can help with marketing since the musical artist may already have a platform that you can leverage to create hype and interest in your game.
7. Exciting Sports Game
For sports lovers, incorporating baseball gear and other aspects of sports is a wise move for video game startups. If you enjoy a specific sport, you can base your game on that. If you like different sports, you could launch multiple games based on different ones.
8. Intense Horror Game
For some video game startups, horror is the ideal genre. After all, there are endless possibilities for creating a scary, spooky, or gory game that incorporates some of the common themes and elements of everyday life that gamers will find relatable. You could create a puzzle game where a first time home buyer has to inspect haunted houses while looking for their dream home or a story-based game with lots of jump scares to shoot gamers out of their seats at every twist and turn.
9. Epic Grand Strategy
When you have a video game startup, you can develop a strategy game to keep gamers on their toes mentally. Some gamers will like a medieval game where you’re hauling mutton from one place to the next as a merchant. Others might like a strategy game with a science fiction spin. If you’re developing a grand strategy game, you should keep in mind that these games tend to be more complex and complicated than your average game to play. As a result, you’ll have your work as a developer cut out for you. It’s not a simple game like jumping from one place to the next as a character or moving items around a room. Strategy games have to have a cohesive storyline and logical gameplay to keep players engaged. If they’re too hard, they’ll frustrate people who could be potential fans.
10. Engaging Roleplaying Game
Maybe you’ll design a true crime game. The character will have to go through the criminal justice system and contact a bail bond company to help bail him or her out of jail before he or she returns to the major criminal enterprise. That’s when the real roleplaying starts!
If you create an original genre in the video game industry, you may be seen as a trailblazer and leave a legacy on top of potentially earning a decent living from the proceeds and profits of your video game startup. If your game is interesting enough to investors, you may also be able to get some kind of financial assistance with developing the game and mentorship, along with other perks of big video game industry investors taking an interest in your game. Still, if your game is too different from anything else that’s available at the moment in most video game stores and platforms, reviewers in the media may have a hard time comparing it to any of the current games.
This lack of connection to other games in the industry could be bad for search engine optimization. It could also lead to your game fading into obscurity when you can’t tether it to a pop culture phenomenon in the present game industry. For all of these reasons, we recommend choosing your video game genre wisely as a video game developer and using the list above as a launching pad for creating a one-of-a-kind gaming experience for players.