Design & Style, Sports & Gaming

Choosing and Understanding Your Platform

Will Wright

Lesson time 08:40 min

When deciding what platform your game will use, you’re also deciding which audiences it will reach. Will teaches you what to consider—such as independence, monetization, and hardware—when making this choice.

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Topics include: Platforms Are Changing • Consider the Economics • Don’t Depend on Platform-Specific Affordances • Pros and Cons of Development Platforms


As I think about platforms, you know, maybe I think about them in a different way than most people. But I think of the technology as just one part of the platform. I think just as important is the cultural platform. What kind of culture? Is this being played in China, in America? Is it being played by serious gamers in Germany? And the third being the actual demographic, the person. Is this being played by young girls, by older men, by a whole family together? Is it a very social experience? So really they are almost like three platforms we're dealing with here. There's the technological platform, the cultural platform, and the kind of demographic platform. Understanding all three is totally important. You know, I think that we are getting a lot of freedom on the technological platform that we did not have before. If it's a really big game, you can eventually put it on any platform you want to really. You know, it's a matter of where you start. The other ones are really going to be much more constrained over time. You know, if this game is really targeting 12-year-old girls, it doesn't matter whether it's on an iPad or a PC. That's kind of what the game's DNA is about. So I tend to think of all three together as the platform. The whole world has changed so much, you know, in terms of app markets, mobile, tablets, online. And it looked, you know, with console development and really big PC game development, you know, the teams were getting larger and larger, and the budgets in the tens of millions of dollars. And all of a sudden, you know, it looked like, you know, we were doomed. You know, you had to have $50 million and a team of 100 people design a game. Now it's totally reversed. Now we're back to where a small group of passionate people can create a cool game on an iPad or whatever, and release it pretty effectively on the app store. Now it's a matter of, you know, press, marketing, and how you actually get people to download it and try it out. But at least you have the ability to create and have it available to people. And also to learn about it, you know, very quickly, and iterate on it. So the dynamics have changed dramatically. And I like that idea just as a design point of view that now I have the opportunity to learn much more effectively and much faster from our players, and shift directions-- you know, pivot very easily. Whereas before pivots were incredibly expensive. So to me-- and, you know, also the fact that it's now kind of more ubiquitous, in terms of I might have my laptop, my iPad or my phone with me in my pocket. I can have parts of the game that are very interstitial. I could pull out of my pocket my phone and play for a minute or two, go home, pick up my iPad, do something else. But still play it, you know, on a browser on my PC if I want to. So the fact that the game is becoming kind of more platform independent is very attractive to me as a designer. I think nowadays we actually have a ...

About the Instructor

Learn the art and science of game design with Will Wright, the mind behind SimCity and The Sims. In this game design class, Will teaches you how to create games that empower players and unleash their imagination. You’ll develop a tool set for understanding player psychology, as well as learn Will’s approach to generating and pitching ideas, prototyping, playtesting, and building a community.

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