Even a small audience can have big value on a global market, says Wargaming boss

Kislyi: Don’t be afraid of making niche games

Developers should not be afraid of the term niche, as games with small games can still make big returns, says Wargaming CEO Victor Kislyi.

In a recently published DICE Europe whitepaper, Kislyi said that as today’s market is global be definition, developers shouldn’t worry about not catering for the mass audience.

He added that innovation could come from studying a particular group of people’s tastes, and developing a game especially for them.

“We have to study that particular group for its niche and then cater to it,” said Kislyi.

“These days, you don’t have to be afraid of the word ‘niche’; the market is global by definition, but even a small niche can be big in monetary terms.

“So, innovation will come from immaculate study of a particular group of people, or market segment, with particular likes and dislikes, and carefully catering to them. You have to figure out which platform they use now, and use that one.”

The Wargaming boss warned however that it could take some time before next generation consoles see innovative games. He explained that it would take time to build an install base on the PS4 and Xbox One, and that a sizeable number of hardware owners would be required before developers could take risks on niche audiences.

He said that, at least in the meantime, the real innovations would come on mobile, tablet, browser and current-gen consoles.

“You can do the math yourself. Imagine they sell two million consoles all in allm,” said Kislyi.

“That includes every demographic: older guys, younger guys, ladies, everyone! Any particular game, say a fighting game, strategy game, or a racing game will only reach a certain percentage of that two million – which is pretty much nothing. If you don’t have the install base then you can’t justify the investment for a third party developer.

“So until the new consoles gain some steam, the real innovations are going to be everywhere else. We can see that in mobile and tablets; in browser games; in old consoles – Minecraft has taken the 360 by storm – why? It’s not a triple-A game by definition, but innovation can come from anywhere.

“In my opinion, it has to be pragmatic and realistic to a particular company. The industry, in general, is huge – and it’s growing – but the practical value is what a particular company can do for itself. With platforms like mobile that have such huge numbers of users, you can take more risks and create a real niche for yourself because you can still make millions of dollars and have millions of users.”

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