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What Can We Learn About Quantic Foundry’s Study on Excitement and Strategy in Games?

Quantic Foundry

Quantic Foundry, an organization that studies gamer’s behavior, has published a study that measures motivation of players of some popular PC games, particularly the required planning and decision-making (Strategy) and fast-paced action coupled with rapid reactions (Excitement).

The results are interesting in what gamers define as fun this may be applicable for marketing games titles to target audiences.

Easy Fun

Games that are labelled “Easy Fun” include Roller Coaster Tycoon, Football Manager, Cities: Skylines, Transport Tycoon, SimCity and Master of Orion. These games require some degree of thought and strategic thinking and not a lot of fast-paced action. Players can take things as slow as they want in these games.

The study has noted that players do, however, enjoy the free-form nature of these games. It is creativity, not challenge, that makes “Easy Fun” appealing to their respective players.

Hard Fun

Then there is the “Hard Fun” category. Games like League of Legends, Counter-Strike and DotA don’t require a lot of strategic thinking but are extremely demanding when it comes to reflexes. Starcraft is a game that demands high levels of both strategic thinking and fast-paced reflexes, while Total War and Europa Universalis require careful thought over the many factors.

The genres of these games vary wildly, from MOBA and RTS to shooters and turn-based strategy, but they are all designed to push a player’s cognitive resources to the max. More importantly though, many titles in this list are also popular in the e-sports scene – the ones that contain high-speed action. This highlights their value not just as games to play but also games to watch.

Balanced Fun

“Balanced Fun” is just what it sounds like – a balance between careful thought and fast reflexes. Heroes of the Storm, World of Tanks, Hearthstone, Command & Conquer, Age of Empires, X-COM, Kerbal Space Program, Heroes of Might and Magic and Civilization all fall into this banner.

Games in this category are even more diverse than those on the “Hard Fun” category: MOBA, artillery, card, real-time strategy, turn-based strategy – it’s all quite mixed up, including a whole spectrum between ‘casual’ and ‘core’ games. They offer opportunities for players to be as relaxed or as stressed as they choose to be. It is this ability to choose that define the target audience of these games.

While it will not always be possible to fit a title definitely into one of these three categories, approximating a game into a category can help industry professionals to focus their marketing efforts. See a game that is Easy Fun? Focus on the game’s appeal to creativity. See game that could fit Hard Fun? Focus on their competitiveness and the thrill of accomplishing a difficult challenge. Does a title offer balanced fun? Emphasize the player’s ability to play the game as casually or as hardcore as they want.

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