When developers strike on a winning formula that attracts millions of players around the globe, they want to milk that as much as they can. Unfortunately, in the fast-paced world of gaming with endless options for gamers, even a perfect title would eventually see a drop off in players. Therefore, studios strive to create diversity while also staying true to the product that brings them the most revenue. Here are a few ways that developers build variety into their games.

Sequels and Prequels

The sequel model has been one of the most surefire routes to success in the gaming industry since time immemorial. Early arcade games that were part of the initial buzz in the industry had to freshen up with sequels as newer titles emerged. Nintendo’s Donkey Kong in 1981 is one of the earliest examples of this. In 1982, Donkey Kong Jr. was released, followed by a third offering, Donkey Kong 3 in 1983. That same year, the Japanese company doubled down on the success of the franchise by releasing the hugely popular spinoff, Mario Bros.

One of the most successful game series of all time is Grand Theft Auto from Rockstar Games. The first title in the series was a 2D offering with a bird’s eye view released in 1997 and its incredible success led to a sequel soon after in 1999. As consoles rapidly advanced over the years, the developer improved its core title with each one. It has always kept the key facets that constitute a GTA game, but it has also introduced new mechanics and ideas to maintain originality and keep players interested.

Going against a series and trying something new can be dangerous for studios. CD Projekt Red’s decision to move away from its hugely successful Witcher games ended in disappointment for players. Gamers were excited for the release of Cyberpunk 2077, but it failed to live up to the high standard that the Geralt of Rivia games had achieved. Players were attracted to it because they believed the studio to be reliable, but when news spread about glitches, interest in the game quickly dissipated.

Franchised and Branded Themes

Rockstar Games has become a brand in itself, with players knowing that any new release is going to be great. This allowed the studio to go for a bold change in direction in 2004 when it ventured into the Western genre with Red Dead Revolver. This sparked a brand-new franchise that has been almost as successful as GTA, with Red Dead Redemption and Red Dead Redemption 2 regarded as two of the greatest games for their respective consoles.

Some titles exist as a franchise and spread out onto different platforms to attract as many players as possible. This has been seen with several Square Enix titles, with Tomb Raider being the most notable. Aside from the console series, Lara Croft has also appeared in mobile games to reach a wider audience.

In Line with a New Way of Marketing

All these methods of building game universes and tapping into existing player bases are in line with the modern methods of marketing online. The underlying theme of nearly every area of the gaming industry is that players need to try something first before they can commit to it. This is why prequels, sequels, spinoffs, and branded themes are so successful. Players are already familiar with the projects and have forged a connection with them.

Diverse sectors of gaming do this in different ways. Platforms that host a variety of games, for example, need to give players a chance to try something from the outset, and this usually comes in the form of a freebie. The surge of casinos offering free spins online highlights how this is a particularly strong method for bringing in players. Players can enjoy games without having to make a deposit at a site like Pocket Play which offers £5 free play, and this enables them to come to a decision as to whether they then want to invest their own funds at a site. It’s like playing and enjoying a console title and trusting that the sequel will be just as good.

While the gaming industry does offer a vast amount of opportunity to startup development studios, the greatest success is shared among the most established companies. The winning method in the business is to double down on hit titles and build the franchise as much as possible through sequels and spinoffs. Players love to have tried something first before they buy into a new game, which is why this is such a well-used formula.