Mobile Games · Game development

How Do I Validate A Mobile Game Idea?

Henry Lok

February 11th, 2016

So I have an idea for a Mobile RTS Game and I wanted some advice on how I can go about validating this idea. I am new to the app field with no technical skills or experience in the world of apps. However being an entrepreneur I wanted to learn and do something new. Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Fernando Gouveia Head of Business Development at Xapo

February 12th, 2016

Making a game is more about the mechanics of the game than the art and looks. What you want to be able to test are these mechanics. This includes things like rankings, levels and things that show the player they are making progress (so that if they do want to leave they have to consider the amount of time they spent building up their avatar, castle, etcc....).

I disagree with the rest of our colleagues here saying you can test this idea with a paper version. In order to know for sure you will need someone to create a basic version of the game where you can test a few things:
*  retention levels (typically you want to keep an eye on how many players return after 7, 14, 21, 28 days after installation)
* how much you can expect to make on ads.. ( if it's free-to-play focus on eCPM) 
* how much it will cost you to acquire users (typically on a cost per install basis)

With these you should know within a month if it's something that can scale.

To get to this point you need someone to build an early version of the game for you.. and well that costs money. Trying to learn to build a prototype, when you have 0 game development experience, is a waste of your time. If you do want to focus on something I'd recommend researching what the benchmarks for RTS games are on the bullet points above.

The cheapest way for you to build your game is to hire a small game dev studio. Make a deal with them where you will cover their costs for building an early version of the game and will then give them a revenue share portion of what you make over time. Make sure they dont spent too much time on art. Again, test the mechanics. 

Your game should be ready within 3 months and you should have ~$1-2k to test with paid acquisition so that you have some good sample sizes to see if its successful. Good luck!

Luis Avila Owner/Fullstack Architect at IdeaNerd LLC

February 11th, 2016

Make a board game/paper version of it and see if people enjoy it? Much cheaper than game development.

Andre Lamothe CEO | Founder at Nurve Networks LLC |

February 11th, 2016

Henry, I have written dozens of games myself and developed 100's of them over a span of 3 decades. Additionally, my books trained many 1000's of game developers over the years. That said, you're asking the wrong question... You don't validate a "game idea" -- games are art, they are creative products, simple as that. Either you know the space or you don't. That said, there IS some method to the madness. When I was writing games, as a gamer and a game developer, I would write a game that I wanted to play, but at the same time as a game player, I was playing other games at the same time, so I knew what was "hot" at the time. Therefore, there are two approaches here -- 1. if you are passionate about an idea for a game, don't listen to anyone else, simply do it. 2. If you don't really know what kind of game you want to develop, then you CAN go out and look at the various categories; arcade, shooter, retro, platform, puzzle, etc. and then in each see how well these games are doing and then decide to do something similar to one of them without infringing of course. As a CEO, I couldn't always make what I wanted to, many times I would go out and look at what the hot top 10 games were in the casual space, and then make 10 games similar to them. If Tetris games were hot, I would make a tetris game, if candy crush is hot, I would make that. So, at the end of the day -- game dev is an art and passion and you really have to WANT it -- there's no formula for what people will like. Even if you have $50-100M to throw at a game, there is a graveyard of AAA titles with these kinds of budgets in the last 10 years that were flops. Then you have a game like Flappy Bird that a pro could write in a day for $1000 bucks or 2 that made millions -- its very intractable. And the LAST thing you want to do is get advice and opinions about "creative" things like a game. It makes me laugh when new game developers show their games and ask what people think -- WHO CARES! You think steven spielberg is asking other's what they think? Beta testing is one thing, but games aren't a bureaucracy where we vote for colors, shapes, sounds, etc. games are creative visions of a single person or very few in most cases --the best analogy to a game is you are the writer, director, producer, and actor -- think Clint Eastwood films :) Finally, game developers WRITE CODE -- so if you want to be in the space, you need to start building stuff, go thru the process and see how hard it really is. Watch "Indie Game" for a taste of the craziness of it... -- Sincerely, Andre' LaMothe CEO | Chief Scientist Nurve Networks LLC BA Mathematics, BS Computer Science, BS Electrical Engineering Email: Linkedin: Andre' LaMothe Skype ID: NurveNetworks Ph: 512.266.2399 x2 Cell: 408.835.7584 Web: | Nurve Networks LLC

Ranko Trifkovic CEO at Harper & Earl

February 11th, 2016

Here is an advice... Don't do it! Mobile RTS games are not viable product as competition is well entrenched, playing dirty and appstore is rigged market.

Lawrence Castro Web Developer, Internet Marketer

February 11th, 2016

Henry, With having no technical skills you may want to consider It's the best game creation software on the market and all you would need to do is get the artwork done. Every Niche has competition, so don't be afraid of that. Best of luck, Larry

Ranko Trifkovic CEO at Harper & Earl

February 11th, 2016

Mobile RTS isnt a niche and be very afraid because gaming industry is not promised land. If you want to have any chance of success, hire people who know what they are doing and who have visited hell of game development...

Glenn Song Co-Founder and Lead Engineer at Prisma Wave Studios

February 11th, 2016

Your best bet might be to make a paper prototype and play it with other people to work the kinks out. It would be the cheapest way to vet your idea without any technical expertise.


February 11th, 2016

It depends on a few things: 

1- How is it different from other Real Time Strategy games?
2- Who will play it?
3- Why would they play it?
4- How will you reach those who will play it for the reasons mentioned above? 
5- Why would they return to the game and play it again?
6- And more importantly, why would players pay $ for its in-app purchases (if monetization is the goal)?

Above "drill" should help, to some extent, in validating your idea. 
Once that's done, the important components of RTS games are: 
a) The story
b) Characters
c) Storyboard
d) Modeling
e) Animation 
f) User Interface
g) Coding
and so an ideal situation, each would be dedicated to a professional to do the task. For example, you don't want a coder to be modeling and modeler to be doing UX design.  

As far as tools, there are plenty out there. Buildbox is already mentioned. There is also Steam and so on. But that would be the easy part of the process. The critical part is getting people to download and keep playing the app. 

Roger Hector CEO @ TopTrack LLC

February 11th, 2016

Most commonly, game concepts fall into categories of "similar" games. You'll want to understand clearly which games you'll compete with, and understand just how yours is unique and special. You'll need to offer original fresh ideas in order to give a reason for an audience to download yours. A game concept that falls completely outside of existing norms will be extremely high risk (but potentially high reward). It would be critical to consult with experienced successful advisors before committing any resources. Sent from my iPhone

Henry Lok

February 11th, 2016

Thanks alot guys for the insight.

Ranko. You are advising against me creating this game. Can I kindly ask for your opinion as to why more specifically?

Luis and Glenn. You guess mentioned paper versions of the game. I am a little uncertain of what that means if you can please specify. I did draft up a Game Design Document in relation to the game and how it would work with details. Only problem is working a prototype in which case I figured a prototype would be best way to validate the idea by letting people "try" the game in which case am looking to hire or cofound with someone who has the skills to do it. Perhaps you may know people? Thanks!

Lawrence. I will check out thanks!

Farzad. I did draft out a Game Design Document with some of the details in the drill that you mention though reaching out to players is something that I am a little uncertain as to how I am going to do that. I am assuming that i will have to do some marketing to reach out to those individuals via FB, Gaming sites etc. As with the animation, UI, Coding and Modeling I do not know anyone in this field. Perhaps you can recommend companies or knowledgeable individuals that can do any of these to create a prototype? Thanks!

Roger. I have tried games in similar categories and I believe that I have found a potential niche that I can fill. Are you an advisor or perhaps if you know of any advisors? That would be greatly appreciated! Thanks! 

Guys I appreciate you all for helping a novice like me. Your advice is duly noted as I am serious about getting this game off the ground.