Most successful RM games: What actually works in the market?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by watermark, Jun 8, 2019.

  1. watermark

    watermark Veteran Veteran

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    There's a lot of discussion on "How can I make a successful RM game?" and "Can I make a successful game with RM engine because everyone seems to think the engine is limited/bad?" I thought it'd be interesting to look at how RM games are actually doing in the market to see if we can gain any insight into these questions. So I did a simple analysis with these few rules:
    1. In Steam searched for "RPG Maker".
    2. Sort by "User Reviews". The reasoning goes that the more user reviews a game has, the more people played this game, and therefore the more "successful" this game is. Okay, okay, I know it's not a very scientific metric, but it is one way to measure it.

    OBVIOUSLY this is a VERY SIMPLE AND LIMITED research that may or may not mean anything. And to be honest I played nearly none of the games on this list so I may be wrong about some of these games. But let's see what turned up:
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    So what conclusions can we make from this list? Here's some of mine:

    1. Some games aren't even RM games. In fact the top two results "Princess Remedy" and "Choice of Robots" don't seem to be RM games at all. And we all know the wildly successful Stardew Valley isn't a RM game (I think? Unless someone knows otherwise.). Why these games turned up on a RPG Maker search is really weird. I guess the creators tagged them with RPG and Maker tags?

    2. So removing Princess Remedy and Choice of Robots the top game on this list goes to "Meltys Quest"... which appears to be an adult themed conventional RPG starring a big chested and scantily clad heroine. To be honest I have not actually played this game. I can only say looking at the screenshots it doesn't look to be very innovative in the gameplay department. The game that follows Melty is "Mirror Bundle", which also appears to be a collection of adult games.

    So TAKEAWAY 1: Adult games, even with mediocre gameplay, work. Adult games seem to do very well. This is actually not very surprising. According to an article, the best seller indie games on platforms such as Patreon are adult games. This is not to say that we should all go into the porn business, but simply a fact that a rather significant part of the market likes to play naughty games.

    3. Next we have the horror line-up: "Trick&Treat", "Noel", "CCDB", "Witch's House", "Damned Daniel", "Hello Charlotte", "Angels of Death". Some are more lighthearted like Corienne Cross, which was an IGMC winner and a fantastic game. Others are heavier on the blood and gore side. Regardless these are horror adventure games that rely mainly on the strength of their story and less on gameplay.

    TAKEAWAY 2: Horror themed adventure games with good stories work. Most successful RM games seem to be horror adventure games.

    4. In the list is "Doom & Destiny", a very popular and funny game about 4 nerds saving a parallel world. I don't think this was actually made using an RM engine? (someone enlighten me here.) But it does look like it uses a lot of RM elements. This game appears to be a solid RPG with LOTS OF CONTENT (200 special powers, 300 enemies, 500 items, 700 locations, etc.).

    TAKEAWAY 3: A conventional RPG with LOTS OF CONTENT and a solid story work.

    5. Lastly are "The Shell of Permafrost", "Helen's Mysterious Castle", and "Mothlight". From the comments it seems these are games that have innovative gameplay. Maybe someone who's played these can talk about why they worked?

    EDIT:
    As reminded by @slimmmeiske2 , I also put in a search using the keyword "RPGMaker" no spaces. The list turned out to be mostly the same with the addition of Freebird's very successful and famous "To the Moon" and "Finding Paradise" as well as "OneShot" and "Rakuen". topping the list. (Yes, Melty's still there, right below them.) Anyway, these games have superb writing and moving stories.

    TAKEAWAY 4: Proof that the engine does not matter as long as your game delivers a moving experience. Great writing always work.

    So what do you guys think? Feel free to agree or disagree with my opinions. Any other insights you see from this list?
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2019
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  2. BlueMage

    BlueMage Slime Lv99 Veteran

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    We have to consider the year the game had been published too.
    Back then in 2015-2017 it's easier to sale games (in general) on Steam.
    If Doom & Destiny has been released in 2018 instead? i highly doubt it can do as half good as it was
     
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  3. JayIsrael

    JayIsrael Veteran Veteran

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    Stardew Valley was not made in RPG Maker however - I suspect it would be possible to make that game in RPG Maker. I am not sure that RPG Maker's engine is so dramatically limited as to make it incapable of making a great good selling game on it. Obviously, you're not going to make a 3D game, but with the right amount of scripting, plugins, one can make some pretty creative stuff.
    I have been working to recreate an old NES game from my childhood and I keep saying, "Man, I wonder if I could do this..." Google, five minutes later I find someone else who has figured out how to do the thing I was wondering how to do.
    I think RPG Maker's greatest drawback as far as how limited it is, is the inability to easily develop a game as a team. Games take a lot of time to make by yourself and i think you'd see less people burn out before finishing their game, if they had the ability to work as a team.
     
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  4. Indinera

    Indinera Indie Dev Veteran

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    "How can I make a successful RM game?"

    As a dev, success means profit.
    Sales and especially reviews are not reliable indicators of profit.
     
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  5. slimmmeiske2

    slimmmeiske2 Little Red Riding Hood Moderator

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    Sorting by user reviews get you the highest recommended % games out there, not the most reviewed ones. For example, Corinne's Cross only has 91 reviews, while the games under have a lot more (Helen's Mysterious Castle has more than 500). I don't think you can search on number of reviews.
    I've also noticed that the tag used by Finding Paradise, OneShot and other games is "RPGMaker", not "RPG Maker". Searching that on User reviews gives a different top 25.
     
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  6. Engr. Adiktuzmiko

    Engr. Adiktuzmiko Chemical Engineer, Game Developer, Using BlinkBoy' Veteran

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    Another thing I think is the fact that Steam only started to allow adult games late last year, so they are kinda new to steam and as such you can expect traffic to them to be high (especially when Steam seem to actually shove it into your face).
     
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  7. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

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    I don't know if I'd consider them "new" to steam, as there were plenty even before the change. The only difference is that, previously, developers would release their games in a SFW format, then offer an external patch that would unlock all the naughty pixel bits.
     
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  8. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    One thing I've noticed is about any RM game released in 2014 or earlier on Steam did pretty well. Most came up with 200,000 sales per Steamspy, which is not 100% accurate, but gives you an idea. But RM games released 2015 - 2017 dropped drastically to where Steamspy had many at 3000 or less.

    Again, not 100% accurate, but the same method of reporting is used in both and to show that much a drop in the games in that time, even an estimate, says something.

    As for what sells in 2019...seems adult games. That's the only RM games that show up at all. Though I'm getting suspicious of the adult games some as the same company seems to crank one out every 2 weeks and reviews say it is 10+ hours of gameplay, which should be near impossible to produce in that time. Also I've noticed most have bad mapping and mix various assets (I saw RTP + some DLC that don't match in one screenshot). If we did that we'd be flayed alive, but guess the adult market doesn't care or something.
     
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  9. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

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    Oh yeah, adult RM games can get away with murder. Of the few I've tried (don't judge me) nearly all had some combination of dumpster-fire-tier mapping, terrible writing, mostly RTP, atrocious balance, and pretty much a laundry list of things brought up in the "things to avoid in your game" thread. But when dirty pixels are involved, people seem to switch off their other expectations.
     
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  10. Engr. Adiktuzmiko

    Engr. Adiktuzmiko Chemical Engineer, Game Developer, Using BlinkBoy' Veteran

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    Well a lot of the games of that category I see are new ones.. or maybe steam just like putting new ones in front..

    Most of the older ones are also sold somewhere else without any censorship so I feel like people buy them more from those sites than on steam (or waiting for steam to allow uncensored ones) before steam chose to let them post the uncensored version. Then the moment steam allowed it, started buying them on steam.. The patches for some games are a bit hard to use correctly or cause some glitches so getting the actual uncensored english version on steam directly is a big boost I think.

    I actually have a lot of those older games in my wishlist that I almost bought outside of steam XD
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2019
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  11. Elliott404

    Elliott404 RookieGameDev Veteran

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    @bgillisp
    Are you refering to Kagura Games?
     
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  12. VitaliaDi

    VitaliaDi Jedi Master Veteran

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    To the Moon was made in XP and that seems like it has enjoyed a lot of success as well but I didn't see it on your list. I didn't enjoy the game but I know a lot of people did because it was a fresh take on certain story elements that were used especially in the characters. It was more like an interactive story than a game though so if you want to add that to your data go for it.
     
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  13. Dezue

    Dezue Love Ninja! Veteran

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    As an adult creator myself, I'd say not so much 'switch off their expectations' but rather 'prioritise their expectations accordingly'.
    Obviously, if you want to play, say, an action game, you'd want the action to be the aspect the game focuses on, with things like story being able to take a back seat ;)
     
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  14. Prescott

    Prescott argggghhh Veteran

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    From my experience, the best RM games are the ones that either tell really good stories (anything by Kan Gao), very strange games (Toilet In Wonderland), or horror/dark-themed games (Mad Father, Ib, Yume-Nikki, LISA, The Witch's House, The Crooked Man... I know some of those aren't RPG Maker but Wolf is essentially the same). Corpse Party even got an anime adaptation and could probably be considered the most successful RPG Maker game ever.

    I don't think it really has much to do with the engine, to be honest. Most of the games that are really popular are for darn good reasons. The RPG crowd is just a little bit more niche, and the hardcore RPG crowd even moreso. That crowd then also has to be into indie games. That's why most RPGs made in RPG Maker don't really hit huge strides. The ones that do unique things with the engine and use it for something other than RPGs are usually more popular because the genres that they make their games with are more popular and THE BIGGEST THING is that they are easier for content creators to make content for. Everyone loves watching YouTubers play horror games and really weird games and games with awesome stories... how many people like watching them play hardcore RPGs that are tens of hours long and then STILL feel the desire to purchase/download the game afterward? Probably not many. Like I said, it certainly isn't a fault of the engine. It's really just a fault of the genre itself not getting as much attention.

    Adult games are where it is at though. They are huge in the market right now. If you're looking to make a profit and don't care what it takes to get there, that's certainly a great place to start. I've considered it heavily but I have too much on my hands right now with a game I'm definitely going to lose money on.
     
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  15. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    Adult games have always sold well though. In the 80's/90's the ads for adult games were all that kept computer game magazines alive, as no one else really advertised with them. Look up some old scans of Computer Gaming World, the back pages were nothing but ads for adult games.

    In fact, I remember reading a story of someone who decided to play most of the adult games on the market and evaluate them on whether or not they were actually good games, or if the adult content was all that was good about them. His consensus? The adult content was all that was good. The RPG's were terrible. The action games had bad controls. The fighting games had the bare minimum to count as a fighting game. So on and so forth.

    It still seems to be true today though as the ones I've mentioned on Steam (I won't say the maker since we are a corporate forum) get away with things that I'd never get away with in my RPG, which makes it pretty obvious to me that the only thing those games got going for them is the adult content. And if that is the direction of the market, then Steam needs to rename itself Steamy and cater to that market, and let the rest of us who want actual GOOD games go elsewhere, and stop cluttering up the rest of the games with that garbage.

    In fact, it is due to the flood of adult games on Steam that led Jim Sterling to make a good point about why everyone seems to be jumping ship to Epic, and that is because all the media and others hear about are the adult games or the controversial games, so when they hear Steam they immediately think of those. And which one do you want your game associated with? An adult or controversial game? Or something else? Game makers have to consider their reputation too, and many don't want a reputation that is linked to adult games.
     
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