Here's 5 advantages you'll get after reading this article...
- Why do video games with bad names sell less copies
- What does a great name look like, and why does it help get you improve video game sales
- Why do good names grab a gamer's attention
- Picking out a good name is the best way to brand your video game for free
- How to name your video game in a way that instantly attracts a gamer's attention: one step action plan
As an indie video game dev, you need every advantage you can get. And having a name that is hard to forget, is one of the best hidden advantages you can have.
But most game devs don't put too much thought into the name. They come up with something cute.... or technical sounding... or hard to say.
Now, I'm not saying that a name is the only reason a game will fail or will succeed. There are examples of games with bad names that sell very well.
But again, any advantage you can get will help you get a gamer's attention. A good name attracts gamers. And getting attention is the first step in marketing your video game, so you can sell more copies.
Also, a good name means you get free branding.
So, go grab a hot beverage. Come back. Put on your favourite video game soundtrack (I'm listening to Destiny's soundtrack). And let's learn a video game marketing tip not a lot of game devs will know about...
What Makes a Bad Video Game Name
Most people don't realize this, but the sound of a name is way more important the words themselves.
What I mean is, when you were a baby, you didn't learn the words fist. You learned the sounds.
It's no coincidence that HUGE companies like Google, Yahoo, Coca-Cola, sound like baby talk. It's all about the sound, not the word itself.
The sound of the word is what helps people remember the name. It's hard to forget. Baby sounds are easy to say, and easy to remember.
The reason I'm showing you this example, is because bad video games names can HURT your video game sales.
Having a name that sounds hard to say, and is hard to pronounce, will hurt you.
Just ask anybody who has a foreign name trying to get a job. Even if you speak fluently, even if you have experience, even if you are qualified, sometimes it's your name that stops you from getting a job. If you have a hard to say name like me (Konrad Michniewicz), you know exactly what I'm talking about.
It's the same with the name of your video game. A technical sounding name is hard to remember. For example, Daikatana.
It's a very cool name. It has a very cool meaning. But it's too technical for a name. It's hard to remember.
John Romero helped make the game DOOM. A very easy to say name. A name that is hard to forget. Then he started his own game dev studio, Ion Storm, and made the game, Daikatana. A very cool name. But it's too technical. It's too abstract.
Let me show you some examples of "technical" sounding names. I went to Humble Bundle and sorted the the indie games, best sellers. Then I went to the very last page.
Here's what I got...
Is it a coincidence that all these games start with a number? Numbers are technical. Maybe, they look cool on paper. I don't know. But I do know that names with a number are hard to remember.
Do this yourself. Go sort the best selling indie video games. And go to the very last pages. You'll notice a trend. Most of the names are hard to say. They are too technical. They are hard to remember.
The reason technical sounding names don't help video game sales is because they are abstract. Later in this article, you'll learn why abstract names lead to less video games sales.
Again, I'm not saying that a name is the only reason for good or bad sales. But there is a something about a good name that has a hidden advantage when it comes to helping you get more sales.
And there is something about a bad name that is usually associated with bad video games.
Next, let me show you what makes a good name. And then I'll show you how you can take advantage of what you learned by using a one step action plan to help you come up with a name that grabs a gamer's attention.
So, let's keep going...
Does a Good Video Game Name Really Influence Your Sales?
Well, there is a hidden advantage to having a good name.
Remember, your goal is to develop a videogame that sell itself. Any advantage you can use, will help you with your goal.
And having the right name is one of those hidden advantages.
Think about it this way...
New gamer's don't know you yet. They have no idea what type of games you make. They have no idea what your games are.
The first thing a gamer will hear about you is the NAME of your game. It will be the first introduction to you and your video game.
And all new video game names that are good, have one thing in common....
A good video game name is jam packed with benefits.
Remember, a gamer doesn't know you yet. They have no idea what type of games you make or what they'll get. The name is the first thing they'll ever see... way before your trailer or your game play or your youtube videos.
The name is the first contact about you and anything you'll do.
So it's important that the name of your game is jam packed with a benefit.
What do I mean when I say "jam packed with a benefit"? And how do benefits help sell video games?
What Are Benefits and How Do They Help Sell Video Games
A benefit is something a gamer will get to DO or HAVE. And don't confuse benefits with features. Features are what the thing is... a benefit is what you get to do with that thing.
For example, let's look at the name Minecraft. That name is loaded with benefits.
The two words, "mine" and "craft" are both benefits to a gamer. They get to DO those two things. And it's no coincidence that Mojang used "craft". Other huge games like World of Warcraft, Starcraft, have the word "craft" in their name.
The word "craft" is jam packed with a benefit. The gamer knows exactly what they'll get to do.
But be careful. Once a game dev discovers a word that is loaded with benefits, others will copy. And then the opposite happens. That word that was once jam packed with benefits gets too saturated. And the word "craft" no longer has the same benefits associated with it.
Now, let's look at the name, "Grand Theft Auto". Again, the name is loaded with benefits. In less than a second, a gamer knows exactly what they get to do in this game.What about the name, "Duck Hunt"? Again, it's loaded with what the gamer get's to do.
These 3 games I've mentioned are in the top selling games of all time. And if you look at the list of the top selling games, you'll notice that the majority of the names are NOT cute, they're NOT technical, they're not abstract.
The names of some top selling games sold are mostly literal.
- Mike Tyson's Punch Out
- Assassins Creed
- Tomb Raider
- Guitar Hero
- Resident Evil
- Euro Truck Simulator
- Farming Simulator
- Goat Simulator
- Prison Architect
- Railroad Tycoon
- RollerCoaster Tycoon
- Garry's Mod
- Command and Conquer
- For Honor
All these name tell the gamer what they will get to DO or get to HAVE.
Again, none of these names are abstract. What I mean is, let's pretend you know nothing about these games. If you take one look at the name, you know exactly what you get to do in the game, or what you get to have in the game.
I know I'm cherry picking these names. There are a lot of names that are abstract and sell (i.e. Myst, Elder Scrolls, DayZ, Diablo, Nioh, etc.)
But again, having a name that shows a gamer in less than a second what they GET to do will help you leverage your video game. It's a lot easier to get a gamer's attention with a name with a benefit than some abstract name.
Also, abstract names are hard to market. You need a lot of branding to get a gamer to remember your name. And remember, branding costs money.
Coming up with a name that is jam packed with a benefit so a gamer is instantly attracted to it, is free branding.
So, what do you do? How do you come up with literal name that isn't boring? How do you come up with a name that is jam packed with a benefit and is easy to remember?
Let me show you next...
How To Name Your Video Game So It Instantly Gets a Gamer's Attention: 1 Step Action Plan
Most game devs want to come up with a flashy name. They want a technical sounding name. They want a weird creative name.
But put yourself in the gamer's perspective. They don't know you yet. They don't know what your game does. Their first introduction to your game is the name.
Even if they do know you, a name that is literal and jam packed with benefits has a lot more leverage than some abstract name. And by leverage, I mean, a gamer knows exactly what they get to do once they read the name of your game. And the benefit to that is, that name is hard to forget. Abstract names are easy to forget.
So what do you do?
The key to a good video game name that is easy to remember, hard to forget, is to stay away from being too abstract.
For example, write the name of your game in the middle of a clean sheet or a new word document. And pretend a little 10 year old kid is reading that name. Would that 10 year old kid know what they get to do?
- Tomb Raider
In less than a second you know exactly what you get to do in that game.
- Team Fortress
Even if you have no idea what the game is, in less than a second, you know it's a team based game.
- 7 Days to Die
- Don't Starve
- Mount and Blade
- Last Man Standing
- Endless Space
- ARK: Survival Evolved
- Football Manager
By the way... "7 Days to Die" has a number in it. But, the name itself isn't abstract. The gamer knows right away the benefit from reading that name. You only get 7 days, and you're dead. But a name, say "7 Quest" means nothing.
Again, these names are more literal than abstract. Even if you had no idea what these game are, you know what you get to do.
So, the closer you get to being more literal and less abstract, the better the name.
Abstract names are fun because they sound cool. Plus, you've spent years developing your game, and you know the meaning behind an abstract name.
But guess who doesn't know?
Your gamer. Your gamer never spent as much time on your video game as you have. They don't know the meaning behind an abstract name. The name doesn't show them in less than a second what they get to do in the game.
And when a gamer doesn't know you yet, an abstract name doesn't help because all gamers are self interested. They are not going to take the time to get to know your game and try to figure out the meaning behind an abstract name.
So, here's how to come up with a literal name that isn't boring -- and is jam packed with benefits...
Your Action Plan: Come Up With a Name That's Loaded With Benefits
Write down the name of your game. Look at it, and ask...
After reading the name, does a gamer know what they get to do?
If not, that's OK. I'm not telling you to change the name of your game if you already have one. I just want you to discover a technique to help you properly name your other games.
To help you answer the first question, ask yourself...
What does a gamer get to DO in my game?
Is it a management game? Survival? Shooter? What do you DO in the game? Knowing this will help you come up with a name is loaded with benefits.
Think: Tomb Raider. HITMAN. Football Manager. Grand Theft Auto.
All these names signify what you get to DO in the game. These names are not sexy. They are not clever. They are not flashy. But they are also hard to forget. They are easy to remember.
Remember, the closer you get to being literal, the closer you get to coming up with a name that is hard to forget.
Abstract names are great, but you'll need to spend a lot of money on branding to help gamers remember you.
A literal name does all the branding for you, for free. A literal name shows the gamer what they get to do... and that gets a gamer's attention.