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  • A Guide To DIY Market Research For Indie Developers

    [07.16.19]
    - Damien Yoccoz
  • This article was originally posted on Level Up Translation's blog.

    Ah, market research. Just seeing those words probably sent shivers down your spine. Market research for indie game devs is often your worst nightmare. But it doesn't have to be!

    There are plenty of free resources available online for indie studios that can't afford to hire a professional market research team and need some DIY guidance. Follow the guide!

    Article outline

    1 - The role of market research

    2 - What market research tells you about your localization needs

    3 - DIY market research strategies

    4 - Free resources for video game market research


    The crucial role of market research for indie game developers

    If you're still unsure of what defines market research, it can be summed up as a compilation of data about games, trends, player interests, and forecasts for the industry. It's basically everything you need to ensure you're making the right game for the right people at the right time.

    As an indie game developer, your best route to success in this increasingly saturated market is to find a niche audience and then leverage this niche.

    It's no longer good enough to make a great game that just anyone will like and then launch it in the hope that it will make waves.

    Does a market opportunity currently exist for the game you want to make? And how can you leverage this opportunity? If an opportunity does indeed exist, you need to know the size of your potential audience and understand what they're interested in.

    That's what market research is for.

    Doing market research mitigates the risk that's often associated with indie game development and allows you to identify the needs of your audience - so that you can deliver the kickass game that they crave.

    It takes the guesswork out of figuring out the unique selling point of your game.

    Plus, if you're looking for funding, as Robert DellaFave explains in his guide to funding indie games, you'll most likely need a market analysis just to be considered.

    But most importantly, market research is the most reliable source of insight for your localization needs. And when starting a new indie game project, you should always have localization in mind.

    What market research tells you about your localization needs

    Your game's localization should be carefully planned - don't just localize in a certain language because you feel like it's a good idea!

    First off, market research will help you figure out where in the world your audience is located. Do the players from these areas prioritize localization in the games they play?

    For instance, Brazilian players list localization as the 4th most important criteria when shopping for their next game. This means that if your key audience is in Brazil, you'll probably need to localize for Brazilian Portuguese.


    Source: Pesquisa Game Brasil 2016

    Secondly, you need to know the English level of your players. If this level is low, they probably won't buy your game unless it's localized in their language. And if they do end up buying your game, this could result in negative reviews.

    You should also note that not all languages have the same localization costs. Let's take Scandinavian languages as an example - they're quite expensive to localize, which means you should be 100% sure you have a large audience in these countries before planning to localize.

    This is especially important when you consider that the Scandinavian market is relatively small and that English proficiency is generally excellent.


    Source: English Proficiency Index 2018

    As another example, consider the Japanese market, which is much bigger than the Scandinavian market.

    Even considering the relatively low English proficiency and huge audience available in Japan, the language is relatively expensive for localization, so your market research should help you work out whether your game meets the Japanese gamers' preferences or not.

    By figuring out all these key facts, you'll know which languages you should include in your localization plan. Proper market research helps you plan out localization in advance and establish an accurate budget.

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