It’s a problem as old as gaming itself: you have a great idea for a game and you believe in it — but you can’t be sure it’ll be a hit until it’s actually tested by its audience.
Now, the second problem: development costs are high, and those budgets are too often abused by doubling as research budgets. Talk about the ultimate gamble. It’s 2023; the gaming industry is rounding third base towards becoming a $230 billion global industry, yet we’re still consuming months (and sometimes years) along with millions of dollars of development team costs to figure out if a game is viable or not. It’s unbelievable that a better way hasn’t surfaced.
Luckily, now, there is a better way.
Meet Navigator. It’s a one-stop location where game developers can understand the exact audience they are making a new game for — or benchmarking their current game against. It’s enabling companies like Ten Square Games to double their development paces, hit their target audience from the get go, and achieve game-to-market fit far faster than previous game development methods.
“I’m never designing a new game again without Solsten Navigator,” says Ten Square Games’ Lead Game Designer, Andrei Tudor. We get it, Andrei. Because, before Navigator existed, every new game required big bets of time, money, and guesswork to anticipate markets without fully taking into account what makes up those markets: their players.
A classic cautionary tale comes from a team that was recently immersed into the world of Solsten — a little too late to save a game they’d recently had to give up on. They hadn’t had the deep audience intelligence they needed to sidestep massive testing and development inefficiencies.
“It was such a shame, and it happens every day at game studios,” explained one team member. “We had a great idea for the game that we all believed in.” But, like all games, we had to test a whole list of hypotheses regarding theme, mechanics, core loop, and art styles. We tested these and tried to save money by acquiring a more general, larger audience.”
Ultimately, the investment was a gamble and they lost due to the inability to identify their target audience early on.
“The game tanked in soft launch.”
Today, Solsten is proud to say this is a nut we’ve cracked. Because we’d already created a robust insights platform that could show game companies everything they could ever need to know to resonate with their current games’ users. But we hadn’t created a way to show game developers exactly who their prospective players were for games that weren’t yet live — until now.
Introducing Navigator by Solsten.
Our team put their minds — and vast stockpile of the richest player assessment data in the world — to work to create our new market intelligence platform, which is not only a powerhouse of a tool, but a surefire defender of your development costs and overall ROI. You don’t need a live game title to use it, which makes it perfect to use as you concept, design, develop, and bring new games to market while also identifying strategic opportunities across genres. AKA, knowing where the best place to invest your creativity is in the first place.
Not bad, eh? Let’s dig in to how it’ll change the game for games.
Validate your intuition. No more guesswork needed.
Navigator is better than a crystal ball. Because it’s real. And based on a vast, intricate set of data gathered through audience assessments and behaviors translated through the lens of vast psychological research. Our player profile pool is so extensive that we’ve reached a critical mass that lets us algorithmically extrapolate and predict with exceptional scientific certainty what game elements will resonate with which audiences.
For game designers who would typically base their ideas off intuition, then test later, this allows a fantastic reversal of process: instead, gather a known audience response first, and design and develop accordingly.
Explore, assess, understand.
While it’s exceptionally powerful, the Navigator dashboard is clean and intuitive to use. You can assess the viability and value of your target audience, understand genre growth and value trends over time, and validate assumptions about your target audience.
You can select a target audience based on one of 11 game genres ranging from action-adventure to sports to puzzles, or you can craft a curated one based on your own inputs and competitor titles. Either way it will draw on the entire Solsten database and contain a statistically significant cohort of players representing the whole of your chosen genre. You’ll understand everything about your targeted audience, from their values to their motivations, personality, and communication style.
“Everyone thinks they understand their audience until they start using Solsten. Then they begin to see their audience as people and unlock insights and processes that they’d have to find out the hard way through incredibly expensive development costs,” says Lisa Welch, founder of Brand Therapy and former VP of Consumer Strategy and Insights at Activision.
All you need to do is tap into what Welch calls our “consumer empathy engine” to build a game they’ll get, use, and love.
Launch faster — and do it with confidence.
Now that you’ve eliminated conjecture and your hefty pre-production test plans, your team saves development time, cost, and risks. Instead of arguing and agonizing over mechanics and features, spend your soft-launch fine-tuning your monetization and acquisition strategies.
“We have client-confirmed metrics,” explains Solsten co-founder Bastian Bergmann. “Teams are at least twice as fast, save multiple rounds of prototypes, and go to market faster with better results.”