Target Audience: Me (Part 1/2)

Around 2001 – when my gaming hobby had grown to such point that I could actually make game stuff in 3D – I had no courses nor experience in marketing. When I started doing that “battlefield 1942 but in fantasy world with elves & orcs” game I had a very clear target audience: “me”.

I managed to finish some sort of network system (was crap, but hey – it somewhat worked with at least 2-4 players) and some 3d models (very low poly, but hey – those were animated!) and it even had some fighting (not much, but hey – at least the guys died). It even had this cool looking torch and I remember testing the game thing with 1-2 friend of mine and we were simply chatting in the game. 1 troll, 1 goblin and 1 dwarf were standing next to each other – watching torch light to burn. I had my first touches in network programming and also I had a clear vision to whom this game is made.

When learning more about games and marketing, I got introduced to this idea about “making game to others.” And “defining your target” audience. I have studied (and practiced) marketing where “finding your niche” and “selecting user segments” are important. It felt right, and “doing game for others” made sense.

Now… after eight years, I’ve kind of gone the full circle.

I’m not sure if this thing works for big studios and big corporations who go to big mass markets with big money. I have no experience on that.

But, my gut feeling that for indie guys… this is how you determine your target market:

Ignore everybody else, and do what you feel is fun to play – the tarket market is you.

I believe Cliff Harris is somewhat in favor of this tactic. He mentioned in his game’s post mortem that the strategy game idea evolved from the idea about having a game where he wouldn’t need to micromanage things – but that he could have time to prepare the fight – and then watch it happening.

I know that the recent book I read Ignore Everybody (that’s an excellent book for any indie whether you agree or disagree with me about this target market thing) has affected my thinking, and it might be that right now I feel more strong about this market segment thing.


I do this stuff for me
I think it’s okay to do some market research. I think it’s good to see what others have done and do something unique or different… but I kind of feel that the most important factor in game creating should be that creating the game should be fun. I think it should not be about money.

Somewhere it was asked “passion” or “profit”? And I’ve usually answered “both” in the past.

Now I’m leaning into answering “passion”.

I feel that the target audience should definitely be “me”. All the stuff I do needs to be fun (Hmm, by thinking back – I think this probably has been true). Money is okay – but it should be secondary thing.

If there would be an indie tree, then Fun is the root. Money is the fruit.

And if there’s no fruits (money) – at least you have had great fun growing the tree.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. @Sargon: Agreed. I made business software for 9 years before making games and that certainly gave me a solid foundation in many things.

  2. @Sargon: Sorry that’s not really what I meant to say. I should have worded it differently. :)

    I meant that you should target yourself… because it means you have the passion and drive to finish your projects. But at the same time you have to make sure your game isn’t so unique that not many other players would enjoy and buy it. If both conditions are TRUE, go ahead and “target yourself”.

    There are lots of games where the designer made a really good game he loved and was passionate about – but in the end not enough people enjoyed it also.

  3. You can’t really effectively make a game that’s fun for someone else… sure you can take ideas of what you think would be fun, but really you need to do what’s fun for you. And then hopefully the rest of the audience agrees!

  4. Jake, I agree with you. For me, the main drive to make profit from my games is to be able to work on them full time. That is the dream. :)
    But for now I have a “real job”, but I don’t think it’s crappy. It will just require a lot of time from me. Also, some jobs can benefit your knowledge and experience that are also good for game development, so it’s not all bad.

  5. I still think it’s possible to combine passion and profit, and then you will be able to do your “fun” job for longer instead of having to get a boring crappy job to pay the bills.

  6. Forget about everything you ever did or thought. All what matters is what you like to do. Do it now. There will be always enough people to like what you do, no matter what you do.

  7. I dunno, the big gaming companies seem to target themselves as well. Why else would so many triple A games be the same genre?

  8. Oliver, I think most people have their own taste in games. There is no “normal” gamer and “weirdo” gamer.
    From what you are saying, every game that gets 9 on gamespot a “normal” gamer must love to play. Which is far from reality.

  9. Hmm, if you are a gamer, you are part of your industry, thus targeting yourself makes you target other players who like what you like. So, if you’re not some kind of weirdo who enjoys games most other people don’t, you have targeted your target market. The question “How to reach them?” becomes “How did other marketers in that target market reach ME and how can I use those channels for my own marketing?”. Makes sense to me! ;)

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