There’s an old saying in carpentry: measure twice, cut once. What this means is that when you’re building something, you want to be as accurate as possible. Otherwise, you have to hack things together when they don’t fit correctly, or buy more materials when you need to start from scratch.

Even the most skilled carpenters would never cut without measuring. Yet in the early stages video game development, this is often the prevailing mindset. Measurement is something that comes much later, once something has already been built.

The truth is that both data and expertise can work together in the early stages of game development. With the amount of blood, sweat, tears, years, and money that goes into developing a new video game, it’s important to do everything you can to validate your game concept before starting development — to measure before you cut. While one of those measurements should certainly be the domain expertise of a creative team, data can provide the second measurement. It can provide the assurance that a concept will evolve into a thriving game.

With this in mind, teams can adopt several approaches to validate their game concepts before starting development. In this article, we’ll explore four of the most effective ways we’ve seen creative teams tackle this process.

1. Leverage Audience Intelligence

The number one reason that games fail is that they fail to find their audience. With audience intelligence tools, developers can align and refine every aspect of their game with the motivations and preferences of their ideal target audience before writing a single line of code.

Audience intelligence tools offer vast databases of player data on everything from motivations to pain points to hopes and aspirations. This allows developers to assess the potential market size and viability of their idea, see which features and themes will resonate with the largest audience possible, and predict key performance indicators like LTV.

Using insights from audience intelligence tools, developers can optimize their game design and prioritize features that are most likely to drive engagement and retention. This not only saves time and resources but also increases the chances of launching a successful game that stands out in a competitive market.

Ultimately, audience intelligence tools help mitigate the risk and uncertainty associated with bringing a new game to market, increasing the likelihood of creating games that resonate with players and achieve long-term success

2. Create Player Personas

Developing detailed player personas can help you validate whether your game idea aligns with the preferences, motivations, and behaviors of your target audience. By understanding your ideal players on a deeper level, you can tailor your game concept to better meet their needs and expectations, increasing the likelihood of success.

Here’s how player personas can help validate a game idea:

Identify the Target Audience
By examining the player personas that are most likely to be interested in a game concept, developers can gain a clear understanding of their target audience. This includes insights into their psychological traits, motivations, and gaming preferences. With this information, developers can assess whether there is a sufficient market for their game idea and determine if it aligns with the interests of their target audience.

Test Game Features and Themes With Your Target Audience
Player personas provide detailed information about what players in each persona group enjoy in games. This can help developers test their game ideas by comparing the planned features, mechanics, and themes against the preferences of their target personas. If there is a strong alignment between the game concept and the desires of the target personas, it indicates a higher likelihood of the game resonating with players.

See Potential Challenges and Opportunities
Player personas help developers identify potential challenges or gaps in their game idea. For example, if a key feature of the game does not align with the preferences of the target personas, it may need to be adjusted or reconsidered. Alternately, the personas may reveal untapped opportunities or features that could be added to the game to better cater to the target audience.

Compare to Successful Games and Competitors
Developers can use player personas to compare their game idea to successful games in the market that cater to similar personas. This can provide valuable insights into what works well for the target audience and help identify opportunities for differentiation. By understanding the player personas targeted by competitors, developers can also identify potential gaps in the market that their game could fill.

By creating player personas early in the development process, developers can validate their concept, identify potential challenges and opportunities, optimize their game design, and compare their idea to successful games and competitors.

Maximize Your Product-Market Potential with Solsten’s Personas Template
Using detailed personas is the best way to know your audience so you can build a roadmap to maximize your product-market potential. By giving your personas more depth through psychology, Solsten provides a deeper understanding of your target audience. This lets you create a game that truly resonates with them.

If you’re ready to take your game idea to the next level, read our guide to creating advanced personas and start using the same tools as the leading studios. With our personas template, you’ll be able to validate your game concept, identify potential challenges and opportunities, and optimize your game design for success

3. Conduct Market Research

Conducting market research is a critical step in validating your game idea because it provides valuable insights into the current gaming landscape, player preferences, and the potential demand for your concept. Market research can ensure that your game idea aligns with market trends and player expectations, maximizing the chances of success.

Here’s a closer look at why market research is so important and how to approach it:

Understand the Competitive Landscape
By analyzing existing games in your target genre, you can identify what works well, what players enjoy, and where there are gaps or opportunities for innovation. This information helps to validate whether your game idea offers something unique or complementary to the current market offerings.

Align With Player Preferences
Market research helps to define a target audience and understand their gaming preferences, motivations, and behaviors. By gathering data on player demographics, gaming habits, and spending patterns, you can validate whether your game idea aligns with the needs and expectations of your intended audience.

Assess Market Trends and Potential Demand
Analyzing market trends, such as popular genres, emerging technologies, and shifts in player behavior, helps you validate whether a game idea is well-positioned for current and future market demand. You can conduct surveys and focus groups to gauge player interest in your concept and gather feedback on specific features or elements.

Evaluate Monetization Potential
Economic viability is crucial for a game’s success. Market research helps to validate this aspect of a game idea by assessing the monetization strategies of similar games, analyzing player spending habits, and estimating the potential revenue streams for a concept. This information will determine whether your game idea is financially feasible and aligns with your studio’s business objectives.

4. Address Player Pain Points

Focusing on player frustrations and unmet needs is a smart way to differentiate your game idea from competitors. It allows you to identify gaps in the market and create a more targeted, compelling experience. By validating that your game idea solves real problems or fulfills unmet desires for players, you can increase the likelihood of creating a successful and memorable game that stands out in a crowded market.

Here’s a closer look at why addressing player frustrations and unmet needs is so important in the idea validation stage:

Find Market Gaps and Opportunities
By researching and analyzing player frustrations with existing games in your target genre or niche, you can uncover market gaps and opportunities for innovation. This helps you validate whether your game idea has the potential to fill a unique space in the market and attract players who are looking for something new and different.

Differentiate From Competitors
When you validate your game idea based on its ability to solve player frustrations or fulfill unmet needs, you naturally differentiate your game from competitors who may be overlooking these key areas. This unique selling proposition can help your game stand out in the market and establish a strong brand identity that sets you apart from the crowd.

Build Player Loyalty
By validating that your game idea addresses genuine player needs and frustrations, you lay the foundation for building long-term player loyalty and advocacy. When players feel that your game truly understands and caters to their specific desires and challenges, they are more likely to form a strong emotional connection with your game, recommend it to others, and look forward to future releases or updates.

By focusing on player frustrations and unmet needs in the idea validation stage, you can create a more differentiated, targeted, and compelling game concept that resonates with your target audience.

Create a More Player-Centric Design
Validating your game idea through the lens of player frustrations and unmet needs ensures that your design decisions are grounded in a deep understanding of your target audience. By prioritizing features, mechanics, and experiences that directly address player pain points, you can create a more player-centric game that resonates with your target audience and builds a stronger sense of engagement and satisfaction.

Effective player understanding is crucial for creating player-centric games. Lack of knowledge about the target audience can lead to missteps, while overconfidence based on limited assumptions can cause stagnation and player alienation. Investing in robust games user research provides the necessary insights to navigate player preferences, unveil hidden challenges, and illuminate the path to a resonant and thriving gaming experience. Player research and resonance studies are an excellent way validate a game concept at any stage of development. Learn more from Bilge Coskun, a UX researcher who has been building successful player-centric experiences at leading studios like Ubisoft and Tactile Games before joining Solsten.


Validating your game idea before starting development is the gaming equivalent of measuring twice and cutting once. Any of these four approaches will help you align your game concept with player preferences, identify market opportunities, and differentiate your game from competitors. Ultimately, by taking the time to validate your game idea through data-driven methods, you can mitigate risk, save resources, and increase the likelihood of creating a game that gets made and achieves long-term success.

Are you ready to make game concept validation an essential part of your development process? We’ve created the Product-Market Potential Framework to put a repeatable methodology behind this indispensable first step.

Our framework can help you ensure that your next game idea is as successful as possible. By using our framework, you’ll know your audience and be able to build a roadmap to maximize your product-market potential. And if you’re ready to explore insights tools to help validate your game concept and take the next step towards creating a hit game.