People frequently say there is nothing new under the sun. It feels like almost everything has already been done by someone.
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The same goes for mobile games.
For this reason, coming up with innovative mobile game ideas is challenging. Moreover, once you have an idea in mind, you need to evaluate it. If you don’t do this, you’re making a big mistake.
To help you out with all of this, I’m bringing you a guide for generating and evaluating mobile game ideas.
You can thank me later.
Why Are Mobile Game Ideas Important?
Behind every successful mobile game, there is somebody’s idea. The idea is a starting point for every great thing. It’s the idea that sets apart products from the competition and similar existing solutions.
Everyone thinks they have amazing ideas.
That is, until reality kicks in.
In many cases, this happens when developers try to turn their ideas into fully-functioning software pieces. This is when they become aware their ideas are too ambitious for their technical capabilities.
Others turn out to be bad when they already hit the app stores. In a lot of cases, this happens because developers didn’t do proper market research. However, by the time they realize this, it’s already too late. Resources have already been invested, and the game has been developed.
Unfortunately, ideas are not something that can be fixed later in the development process.
Many people think of product ideas as single thoughts. However, this is merely the beginning of the idea generation process.
This process should consist of a series of steps and well-thought-out elements. Only when the idea is carefully worked out is it ready for further steps. However, even considering all of this, there is no guarantee that your mobile game ideas will be lucrative.
The Story about a Mobile Game Idea: Angry Birds
Before they launched Angry Birds, Rovio was quite an unsuccessful startup.
In fact, they had 51 failed attempts at creating a successful mobile game. This is 51 ideas for 51 different games.
Consequently, the startup was on the verge of bankruptcy.
One day, one of the company’s game designers made a rough drawing of an angry-looking bird. He showed it to the other coworkers, and everyone agreed – this character will be the starting point for their next game.
Just like that, the initial idea was born.
However, the team still had no vision about the gameplay they would develop around these characters. But then, while brainstorming, someone in the team suggested that the birds should have an enemy.
That was the year the world was struggling with a swine flu pandemic. Hence, the team decided to make pigs the enemies. The pigs would steal the birds’ eggs and make them angry. This is a great example of drawing inspiration from the world around you.
Tips for Coming up with Great Mobile Game Ideas
Different people have completely different methods of getting inspired. A technique that works for one person may not work for another one.
Some seek ideas in the world around them.
Some brainstorm until they drop.
Others look for inspiration in products that have proven to be successful.
All of these methods are legit and can yield great mobile game ideas. Let me guide you through the best ways of generating mobile game ideas and the processes that go along with them.
Get Inspiration from the Real World
Some players play mobile games to experience the real world in a different way. Others play them to escape the real world.
Whatever your target group is, the real world is a great starting point for mobile game ideas.
When it comes to the first group of players, look around. What seems like a boring, everyday activity that can be turned into something super exciting in a game?
For example, planting a garden, feeding animals, selling burgers, driving cars, building houses, etc.
To address the other group of players, think about all the things we don’t have in the real world but are possible in the virtual one.
For example, flying, fighting monsters with swords, fireballs, magic, etc. Besides these activities, consider fictional characters such as dragons, witches, goblins, superheroes, etc.
Get Inspiration from Entertainment Pieces
Creative people turn their ideas into great books, movies, stories, songs, etc. You can use all these as a source of inspiration for your mobile game ideas. Every time you engage with them, you can look for elements that can be used for a mobile game.
A framework from a TV show, a scene from a movie, an album cover, whatever. For example, it’s noticeable that a lot of trivia games take inspiration from existing television quizzes.
In a similar matter, different entertainment elements have the potential to be processed into mobile game features.
Join Mobile Gaming Communities
There are different communities where people discuss all things related to mobile gaming. This includes the communities of players but also the communities of developers.
These communities can be a great source of information you may need to come up with great mobile game ideas.
Some communities of players can be found on Reddit, Steam, Discord, etc. When it comes to developers, they mostly hang around on forums. This again includes Reddit, but also GameFAQs, TouchArcade, VGR Forum, Android Central, etc.
You can benefit from both.
In the developers’ discussions, you can find information about hot games, different debates, answers to your questions, etc.
On the other hand, players frequently discuss what they like and dislike in certain mobile games. This can be useful for you, as you can find out what attracts and drives people away from mobile games.
Keep up with The Industry
Reading the latest mobile gaming news can also help you while coming up with mobile game ideas.
Some of the most popular destinations for mobile gaming news are Udonis News, Pocket Gamer, and Wired.
Being aware of the mobile gaming trends and happenings helps you understand the market better. Consequently, this can be excellent guidance for generating mobile game ideas.
Use Online Idea Generators
Need something to help you spark your creativity?
Give online mobile game idea generators a shot. These tools generate random game ideas using a random set of tags. For example, they can give you a random combination of genre, rule, setting, and theme for a mobile game.
In most cases, the results will be, well, odd.
No, these generators won’t give you the world’s best mobile game ideas. However, they can help you think better and broaden your imagination.
Some popular game idea generators are BAFTA YGD, IndieGameDev, and Let’s Make A Game’s Generator.
Analyze Mobile Game Market Leaders
Want to get some inspiration from the games that have already proven successful?
One of your first destinations should be the app stores’ top charts.
By looking into them, you can keep track of which mobile games are popular at the moment. You can analyze which are the top downloaded games, the top-grossing games, and top-selling games.
Moreover, you can analyze the categories and genres these games fall into. You can also look into the players’ reviews to find out what players like and dislike about them.
Another thing you can do is to keep track of the top charts for a while. This way, you may spot some kind of a pattern of how trending games come and go. As a result, you may decide to focus on a game category you see the most potential in.
Play Some Games
Sure, observing how different games perform is important. However, playing different games is even more effective for generating mobile game ideas.
If you decide on this strategy, it is crucial to play various games. For example, games from different genres, trending games, old-but-gold games, indie games, etc.
The more, the merrier.
Only this way can you learn about their differences and similarities, advantages and disadvantages.
From the players’ perspective, you can get a whole lot of valuable insights.
First of all, you should consider everything you like and dislike about a game. For example, the interface, user experience, how it makes you feel, etc. Moreover, you can observe the game’s strategies, mechanics, and unique and not-so-unique features.
Based on this experience, you may decide to go into a particular genre with a new and original idea. Or you can get inspired to recycle an existing game.
If you decide on the latter, know there is nothing wrong with basing your framework on an existing game. However, it is important not to be a complete copycat. Numerous games out there tried this approach, and most of them didn’t get much out of it.
Consider All Combinations
Okay, now you know how to track down successful games and how to analyze them.
Now, you can play a little bit.
For example, you can try combining two tried-and-true mobile game ideas into a new one. Create a list of successful mobile games and pick out two random games. Then, play and analyze these games.
Next, think about how you would blend them together. For example, how you would combine shooter mechanics from Call of Duty: Mobile with match-3 mechanics from Candy Crush Saga.
I know. It sounds super weird.
The point of this is – don’t be afraid of playing with conflicting ideas. Some of them may actually turn out to be valuable.
Try Out the SCAMPER Technique
If you’ve decided to base your mobile game on the existing one, you should know about the SCAMPER technique. It is a brainstorming technique that dates back to 1953 and is still very much relevant today.
Obviously, the word SCAMPER is an acronym. It stands for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Purpose, Eliminate, and Rearrange. Use the technique by thinking about how you can improve existing products with these seven prompts.
The technique is suitable for many product ideas, including mobile games. One of the games created on this approach was Color Switch – a hit hyper-casual game.
You can simply apply this list of transformations to an existing mobile game idea. Analyze a mobile game and see what you can combine, eliminate, rearrange, etc.
What’s the point?
Well, every time you cross something off the SCAMPER list, your mobile game idea becomes slightly more original.
Example of Using the SCAMPER Technique
Probably the best way for you to understand the SCAMPER technique is to exemplify it.
Let’s say you want to get some inspiration from one of the world’s most profitable mobile games – Coin Master.
Based on the SCAMPER technique, you may set some of the following questions:
- Can I replace the pig protagonist with some other character? Should I replace the spin button with a pull lever? (Substitute)
- Is it possible to connect the game to some other social network other than Facebook? (Combine)
- Which new elements can I add to the slot machine? Does it make sense to add another currency (Adapt)
- How can I revamp the interface? Should I make the background music less fun and more dramatic? (Modify)
- Can the game be put to other uses other than playing? Should I also make it a communication platform? (Purpose)
- Which of the current Coin Master features would I like to eliminate? Maybe lose the Pet collection meta-layer? (Eliminate)
- Are there any processes or features that can be entirely switched? If so, what would the effects be? (Reverse)
Remember, there are no stupid questions or ideas here. The purpose of this method is to create a selection process to find the best ideas and develop them further.