General / 10 September 2022

Creative Strategy answers…

Why the game exists, What it is, and Who it’s for.

There are countless models for the creative process and product development. This step-by-step outline transforms established concepts from marketing and puts them to work for new IP development.

Making games is not a totally linear process and some would say it's completely organic. This depends entirely on the company, culture, and how they approach development. There isn't one solution for every team.

What's important is that if we have an understanding of the complete picture and larger parts, we can make more informed decisions around each of them.

This outline approach is like building a house, each step lays the foundation for the next.

1. Company Brand

  • Your brand is what players think of you, not what your logo looks like.
  • Modern players care about company purpose.
  • Modern employees expect people-first cultures.
  • Understood Purpose, Mission, Vision = better results.

2. Audience Insight

  • Understand your fans' motivations.
  • The team is the first customer - scratch your own itch!
  • Discover players values (feature < benefit < value).
  • What are the values underlying the game's Unique Selling Propositions?

3. Positioning

  • Understand and map the market landscape to discover blue ocean/gaps.
  • What competitor comes first, second, third in players' minds?
  • Gain high-ground with differentiation and being a first-mover.

4. Brand / Voice

  • Famous film directors all have a brand and voice. Given the same world, they create dramatically different films (e.g. classic vs. modern depictions of Sherlock Holmes).
  • Embody personalities the audience is attracted to.
  • Values should align between the Brand and Player.

Here we start moving further away from business strategy and psychology. Don't ignore those previous steps because they're what's driving everything moving forward, even if it's not immediately obvious.

5. Gameplay

  • At this stage we understand the audience and competition.
  • How Familiar and/or Surprising is the gameplay?
  • What genre (and values) appeal to the team and fits the business strategy?

6. Story

  • All stories have the same structure. (see Story Circle by Dan Harmon)
  • Complexity isn’t Quality... "With great power comes great responsibility."
  • Protagonists are distillations of the Brand, and their values align with players.

7. Art Style

  • How we instantly communicate with the target audience.
  • Without proper integration, this stage can become subjective decoration.
  • What art movement or genres share themes/values with the brand (e.g. Film Noir = German Expressionism)

8. Name

  • Shipping title. We now know: brand, audience, game, story and art style.
  • Unique, simple, short and still has meaning.
  • Fun to say out loud.

Beyond this point, Marketing can drive much of the decision making, and was probably already involved in naming too.

9. Collateral

  • Where it all comes together.
  • Ads, website, billboards, etc.

10. Messaging

  • How to communicate all the above to players - “what’s in it for me”
  • Every engagement with the Brand aims to be as exciting as the game itself.

11. Marketing

  • Where is the audience (what websites, physical location, etc.).
  • Develop specific messages for each environment/channel.

Hopefully this outline gives you more context and clarity around the steps involved in developing new properties, good luck!