Game Design

Choosing your Audience

March 13, 2019

The Target Audience

When creating a video game, even before conceptualizing its mechanics, it’s imperative to determine which audience is being addressed. But what is the target audience? In short, the target audience is the demographic group that is most sensitive to being interested in your game based on their interests and habits.

For example, a first-person shooter game will most of the time target a demographic of young men between the ages of 15 and 35, while a mobile casual puzzle game may target women between 20 and 45 years of age.

Risk Against Reward

Therefore, it’s common to rely on known clichés and stereotypes. This can be a risk considering that it’s more and more common today to see a multitude of people coming from different social spheres interested in all sorts of things.

On the other hand, it’s a risk that all developers and publishers are ready to take since the gain of targeting a specific demographics is incomparable to that of losing sales due to a marketing campaign that wasn’t aimed at the right audience.

Nevertheless, targeting an audience does not guarantee success every time. A lot of money can be spent in a marketing campaign that is completely off the mark, or a game developed for the wrong audience. These can have disastrous consequences.

Unfortunately, there is no certain way to know if your target audience is the right one when you launch your game. That’s why it’s all the more important to put the time and resources to better establish your target audience.

The Persona

Another common practice in the stage of finding one’s target audience is to build a Persona. That is, to create a fictional person with social and psychological characteristics and who has interests in common with the target audience.

Source :

This practice simulates scenarios where this person would be exposed to different marketing strategies and to the game itself.

Although each conclusion is based on assumptions, the results are still very informative and often make it possible to rectify the marketing and mechanics of the game.

Why Is It Important?

On some occasions, developers will think they’ve found the best game concept there is and, by the same token, that many will want to play their game as much as they do. However, even the best concepts cannot succeed if they’re not conceptualized, developed and sold to appeal to a specific audience.

In order to arouse the interest video game players, it’s imperative to reach the intended audience by the tone and the content of the message. In this way, a bond of trust will be established between the creator and the consumer.

For example, if you’re trying to engage a mostly female audience in their 20s who love the outdoors, your advertising method may be an energetic and positive message on social media.

Developing for Your Audience

Finding your target audience is a crucial step for any company selling a service or a product, but how does this practice conceptually affect the development of a video game?

Several features can be directly affected by the intended audience, such as:

  • The platform (Mobile, Console, PC, etc.)
  • The genre (RPG, Shooter, Race, Puzzle, Adventure, Sport, etc.)
  • The visual (Cartoon, Realistic, Minimalist, etc.)
  • The content (Characters, Story, Levels)
  • The difficulty of the game and the consequences of losing
  • The duration of a session
  • The entire duration of the game
  • Etc.

There’s no miracle recipe that matches every type of person since each feature is interrelated with the next.

Depending on the reality of each studio, it’s also not uncommon for a target audience to be imposed at the same time as the genre of the game, and sometimes even followed by the platform. The concept will therefore be extremely influenced by these guidelines.

An Example is Worth a Thousand Words

Let’s take a situation where the criteria are:

  • Genre: Platform game
  • Target audience: Young children

Following these guidelines, the game will probably have bright colors and a range of fun characters. Its mechanics will be simple, its levels relatively easy and the consequences of losing almost inexistent.

Naturally, with its more creative levels than any other, its flamboyant characters and its wacky frame, the game New Super Mario Bros. is an excellent candidate for this situation.

Source : den of geek

Let’s take the same example but with a different target audience.

  • The Ggenre: Platform Game
  • The target audience: Men, 20-35 years old, Mid-Hardcore Gamer

In this situation, we would probably have a more serious game with a darker visual, more complex mechanics and systems as well as much more challenging levels.

With its serious story and dark frame, its skill and growth systems, and its levels that require extraordinary dexterity, Ori and the Blind Forest is the perfect game for this situation.

Source : News Ledge

So you can note that by targeting only distinct audiences, two games of the same genre will be completely different to please their respective audience.

An Endless Task

The above examples only show part of the impact that the target audience has on the design of a game. However, today with the use analysis tools such as Swrve, Localytics, Flurry, Game Analytics and Delta DNA, it’s much easier to track players in terms of their usage and habits within a game.

Source : Klipfolio

Some examples of points that can be followed are:

  • The objects used
  • The time spent on each level
  • The number of deaths of the character
  • The characters used
  • Etc.

Tracking this data allows the developer to adjust and balance their game even after it’s released to avoid possible frustrations that players might experience.

This practice is especially important for multiplayer games since the majority of the time, players will compete against one another. Conflicts must absolutely be balanced otherwise players will quickly find the problem and risk leaving and not returning to the game if no action is taken.

Source : Wired

That’s why a game like Fortnite is so popular. The developers follow their community closely and adjust the game almost weekly to keep Fortnite evolving.

A Quality Pawn

In summary, establishing the target audience for the game is a task that requires a lot of study and this blog only scratches the surface of the complexity of using its target audience to set your game’s development on the right track.

However, it’s now much easier than before to get to very conclusive results thanks to the help of many tools, but to find one’s target audience is only the first step in the development of a video game.

With the climbing quality of the games being put on the market, it’s even more important to take the time and resources to listen to your audience in order to give them the best experience possible.

A constantly evolving game is a pledge of quality that will be noticed and appreciated by your community of gamers and this could make your game a worldwide success.

by Olivier Latouche
Game Designer