MIDCORE PROJECT: A SOLUTION TO RELIEF YOUR DILEMMA
Casual games might make your bank manager happier, but not yourself. It’s time to try a midcore project (at least) for pleasure.
Matter of Opinion, Fernando Souza Filho
It is a fact: when you are a student, you dream about making the new Call of Duty or the new Assassin’s Creed. As soon as you get your first job, you might have to deal with some “cute green cat chasing a cute pink mouse” sort of game that will be monetized with “cute yellow cheese” in Facebook for a couple of years. Even worse: you might have to work hard on an advergame [i.e. games for advertising] for that stinky corporation you hate with your guts. Midcore Projects.
Well, you will have to deal with it, because that’s how real life works.
It’s like a kid dreaming to be a world distinguished soccer player with a US$ 10 million annual salary. It’s a known fact that 0,2% of the entire pro soccer player population will actually climb that wall and get a wealthy life. As for the remaining 99,98%, they can expect to retire with a living wage – tops. So do not expect to get rich by making hardcore games – but don’t give it up just because you are not a part of the 0,2% statistics.
With that said, you should be aware of the midcore development, which might be a good way to relief your life-dilemma. We are not talking about a huge hardcore project like GTA, but it will satisfy your hunger for a “deeper” project. You have to keep in mind that all sorts of work in the business world are full of angry and frustration. You do not have to be part of this statistics, not if you’re doing what you really love: developing games.
Russian developer ZeptoLab has been working in heaps of sequels and spin- offs of Cut the Rope for four years now, it was their first hit and of course they have invested a lot of time and money on it. Now it’s time to move on and do something fresh and new. That’s their main plan for 2015. It’s going to be a midcore project and you should not be surprised by this.
“We understood that if we wanted to develop something that would be current in the market, we needed to look at the trends, predict the state of technology and networks, and then try to ship a product that would make sense at that time. The number one lesson was to build for the market that would be there when the game was released, not the one that’s there when we first conceive it”, ZeptoLab CEO Misha Lyalin told GamesIndustry.biz recently.
Their new IP King of Thieves is out now (Feb. 2015) and was designed from scratch as a free-to-play massively multiplayer game. A midcore IP. And it was not easy for them because there’s an obvious “pressure” and lots of anticipation after the huge success of Cut the Rope. But this is a midcore IP, for God’s sake!
“Long term retention is more important than a short-term experience. So even though the setting is casual, the game gets more hardcore when you get to 120 days or year two or whatever in the game,” Lyalin said. “This is what midcore is. You get more people interested, and more people are playing the game initially, but the experience becomes a little more hardcore. Those casual people vaporize and more hardcore people stay. The potential of midcore games is probably larger in general than true hardcore games. There might be a sweet spot, but it’s a more difficult sweet spot to hit.”
And that’s the point: you’ll be reaching a lot of casual people and you don’t know how they’re going to react. Are they going to stay? Are they going to vaporize at a blink? We all know that people are spending more time playing games on their smartphones and tablets these days. And this base is being hugely increased every year. It means opportunities. But are you going to feel like you’re selling out? Did you? So what?!?
You don’t have to give up your dreams just because you need to pay the bills. And you don’t need to be a living-wage- satisfied-developer either. Make your casual project as if it was a new Call of Duty, then work in your midcore ideas to be fully satisfied. The Russian guys behind Cut the Rope have learned the lesson perfectly well. Follow their steps. Make yours.