Studios around the world are working on new ways to attract as broad an audience as possible, but Slitherine says that in some cases such diversity is a near-impossible goal.
Speaking to Develop, the firm’s development director Iain McNeil says the niche appeal of Slitherine’s games – primarily wargaming and military strategy titles – limits the team’s ability to entice a particularly important demographic.
“For us, to try and push wargaming onto women is pushing water uphill,” he said. “We don’t see it as a growth area for us.
“I’m not sure you can even battle the perception of wargaming as a male-dominated genre. There are certain things that men are interested in that women aren’t, and wars, battles and history [traditionally] have a bigger appeal to a male audience. There are women who do it, but they are a small minority.”
McNeil believes Slitherine exists in “a different park of the industry” that “doesn’t obey the same rules as the mainstream insutry”.
“Some of the things just don’t apply to our sector – it just works a slightly different way,” he said.
“Things like pricing; our market tends to be well-educated, above-average income, short of time rather than money in many ways, and not so price-sensitive. If they see something that they really like, then they will buy it – the price is not really the issue.
“By bringing our app prices down from $20 into a $10 or $5 price point, we would grow the market, but not enough to make up for the lost revenue from the existing consumers. There’s nowhere else they can get this kind of thing.”
That said, McNeil recognises that Slitherine needs to broaden its appeal and reach more players, particularly if it hopes to one day take on the big brands.
“We’re not there yet, and we’re a long way from being direct competitors with games like XCOM, but that’s the goal,” he says. “Civilization, XCOM – those are the games that we want to be competing with, and that’s the direction that we’re headed towards.
“Our teams are generally quite small. They can’t jump from where they are to competing directly with XCOM, and there are steps along the way to growing and improving. We find that a smaller, polished experience is better than an enormous unfinished experience, so it’s taking it in bite-sized chunks.
“We know we can do better, but we don’t want to overreach and push too far and have it all collapse around our ears.”