Depending on the country, certain gaming titles are more popular than others. In Japan, the cosplay trend is insane, whereas Europe and Brazil love their FIFA games. Despite some differences in the specifics of a game, there are certain similarities that can be noted amongst successful games worldwide.
1. Reduced Levels of Violence
Because of bans in several countries restricting the sale, use, or download of games with intense violence and depictions of cruelty, games which are not significantly violent produce better worldwide sales. In Brazil, where there are 48.8 million gamers, the list of banned titles comes with the threat of high fines and even imprisonment.
One way the industry has sought to reconcile differences amongst the various international laws is by modifying a game to fit a particular country’s requirements for sales. Even then, low violence games still beat those with high-impact violence, gore, and cruelty.
2. Ease of Purchase
Internet, cell-phone, and tablet games that can be downloaded quickly help create a fast trending game that successfully rides the wave of popularity. Angry Birds was a trending phenomenon no one in the gaming world predicted because the ease of purchase through downloading was only beginning to be realized.
Sites like Amazon.com and Gamefly.com have increased popularity of certain console titles due to quick shipping, ability to rent, and low costs. Some Redbox vending machines even make the rental of games possible to people who don’t have internet access.
And wait, there are games too where no purchase is required at all. The social networking craze offers a platform for interactive games like Candy Crush which only requires the simple click of “yes” to join in the fun. No purchase necessary? Ok, I’m in!
3. General Audience
Games that can be played by nearly any age, have low or no violence, and have simple themes based on regular human activities are usually very successful.
For example, Wii Sports outperforms all other console games by more than double in terms of worldwide sales. Not only can it be played by nearly anyone old enough to push a button, but it goes beyond the realm of physical ability. People with various kinds of disabilities can play sports they may never have thought possible.
Another popular general audience game is Mario Kart — any release version. Somehow this game never gets old. Kids love it, teens will play it, and adults can easily figure it out. Again, it has low violence — ok, so some players fall off the track, but there is no gore when they just disappear — and is an accessible game appealing to anyone who’s ever driven a car or wanted to.
4. Nostalgic References to “Vintage” Video Games
Visual and title references to 1980s games from Atari, Nintendo, Game Boy, and various arcades appeal to users who were first introduced to gaming via these original platforms as children. Mario Bros, Donkey Kong, Tetris, Pac-Man and others just keep coming up with new fan gear or surfacing on Ebay with lots of bidders. It seems a lot of us really are kids at heart.
5. Simple Hardware
As of June 2014, the Sims game is the number one best-selling PC software game to date and still ranks in the top 40 games in all platforms. Why? It can be used by anyone with a PC and a mouse. No game console is necessary, so it is a very easy “gateway” game. It also meets the low violence, general audience, and ease of purchase traits above.
World of Warcraft (WoW) comes in at the number two spot for best-selling PC software, and even those who haven’t played the game have at least heard of it. (And if you haven’t heard of World of Warcraft, you should really get out from the cave more often.) Although WoW does require an internet connection in addition to the computer, most households in top gaming countries have internet access too.
Finally, cell phone games that use only the interface of this daily-used electronic item are generally well accepted because of their simplicity. Words with Friends anyone?
Are there other traits that make a game successful worldwide? Tell us your thoughts!