KnockOut City is an online multiplayer competition game inspired by the sport of burnout, published by Electronic Arts. (Free Press Photo: Forbes).
Creating a video game, especially one that leaves money and the opportunity to live off of it, goes beyond having a good idea, design or programming skills or even money. However, successful video games have these 3 elements as fundamental pillars that are identifiable, scalable and defensible, according to Guha Bala, president of Velan Ventures.
“Somehow the hardest thing to do is make something unique and simple that is also identifiable, scalable, and satisfies some kind of universal fantasy. And sometimes experience gets in the way of achieving it. Experienced developers get very good at doing more of the same, a little better. And so, the new talents that enter, especially the new people in the games industry, whether they are students or people who do not belong to the games industry are a unique advantage ”, explained Bala in an exclusive interview with Forbes Mexico.
To date, Bala and his small studio Velan Studios (founded with his brother) have developed and released two games on the market: Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit, a title inspired by the famous Nintendo game but that combines the use of the Switch console with toys and augmented reality; and the most recent KnockOut City, an online multiplayer competition game inspired by the sport of burnout, published by Electronic Arts.
With 2 games on the market, one just a few weeks old, it seems that Bala lacks the experience to talk about what a successful game needs. However, for him and his brother, Karthik Bala, Velan is not the first studio they have founded, as in 1991 the brothers decided to enter the industry by creating Vicarious Visions.
Since then, Vicarious has grown to become an industry-leading game developer, whose titles have even made an impact in pop culture around the world. The studio has become one of the most prolific video game creators in North America, with more than $ 4 billion in sales and 45 million units of games sold from such famous franchises as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Guitar Hero, Skylanders. and Crash Bandicoot.
“What I really like about working with game entrepreneurs is that they are people who are willing to take risks in something that is unique and different,” Bala said.
The new entrepreneur and mentor of different startups explained that developing an identifiable, scalable and satisfying game may sound like simple words, but often the inability of independent studios or young developers to define them are the main limitations to receive financing or be successful.
“The meaning of simple, in essence, is it something complicated to understand, or is it something simple that people can quickly understand, embrace and start playing? Is it scalable? I mean, will it hold your attention for a long period of time? Is it a quick diversion or is it a game worth continuing to play until mastered? And finally, is it defensible? That is, is it easy for others to replicate or is it unique?
“Entrepreneurs who really succeed, or even game inventors who are successful, have the ability to respond to all three of these qualities. Simple, defensible and scalable and they do it really well. “
The developer commented that it is a formula that they applied for their most recent Knockout City title, which on the surface has a very simple premise: throw the ball to burn your opponent; however, its online multiplayer system, the collaboration you need to have as a team, and the game modes add the elements of scalability and defensibility that the video game needs.
“I can tell you that the people who can answer those questions often find the funding they need and the partners they need. And if they can’t but have good ideas they should keep working on it. Perhaps your game is not simple enough; it may be too complex and not attractive to enough people, ie it is not scalable, or it may be too easy to copy. The principles, again, are not difficult, but they are actually quite difficult to achieve. Simple is often difficult, ”said Bala.
However, for the president of Velan, despite the enormous competition in the sector, the new generations of young people interested in growing within the gaming sector have a better chance of succeeding than the Bala brothers had in 1991 when they founded Vicarious Vision.
“Large studios are very good at creating franchises already established by huge teams, but today we have better mechanisms to distribute our games and thanks to technology we can make more complex games with less people and investment. In my opinion, the future of video games is about curiosity and inventing new things. And that’s really what will shape the next 10-15 years. It’s about offering something unique and valuable to players around the world. In the end they are people with a curiosity of heart who want to invent something new. And that’s what Velan Studios is about, for example, “he said.