Knowing your Audience: Players Profiles
15 Sep 2022
As game developers, there is one ingredient to the success of a game that we should never forget: the players. Without players - without an audience - having the best game ever means absolutely nothing. They are the movers and shakers, and at the heart of why games are made. Understanding the audience, their motivations and standards, can be a game changer ( pun intended) in creating a successful and long-lasting product.
Richard Bartle, researcher who created the Bartle Test of Psychology, dissected the taxonomy of player types. Through his tests, he identified four key classifications of players. It’s important to note that these categories aren’t rigid, and most people display traits in more than one category. Knowing their dominant trait allows developers to foresee the majority of features that should be used and which other features can be added in smaller amounts, to appeal to the other categories. Plus, it is always more interesting to make informed decisions rather than just half-educated guesses.
An explicit planner and implicit opportunist are characteristics of this profile at heart. They are all about points and status, being able to check and showcase their progress at all times. They not only want to collect all achievements and badges, they will proudly display them. This kind of player will respond well to incentive schemes and faster routes to success. Bartle estimates that roughly 10% of players are Achievers. They are very conscientious, ambitious go-getters, who often rush to finish daily tasks and challenges. They will seek praise from Socializers, even if not explicitly or directly.
The largest profile group, Socializers account for approximately eighty percent of people who play games. For Socializers, the fun part of playing games is the interaction and connection to friends and peers. They enjoy collaborating for bigger rewards, using games as a healthy path for richer social environments.
Social games and platforms, as well as metaverses, appeal to Socializers, as they are not seeking out fierce competition, but support. This doesn’t mean they aren’t ambitious. They are networkers, love large audiences, and are agreeable and friendly. They start and hold conversations in voice chats, join guilds, and are a frequent voice in chat rooms and discussion forums - you got the idea. We have all encountered a Socializer at one point in our gaming journey, whether this be in a game or hanging out in a forum.
An inquisitive bunch, the Explorer wants to experience new adventures and discover new secrets. They are happy to pursue repetitive tasks and explorations, as long as it unlocks rewards such as easter eggs or a new secret level. They are not impressed by badges or interested in gloating about their achievements. The Explorer gains inspiration from experimenting, finding new ways to exploit the game to reach new, unseen areas. Open-worlds and sandbox games are their playground, and they’re not in a rush either, exploring everything at their own pace – and enjoying every minute of it. Around 10% of players fit this profile.
Although the name is a bit scary, the definition isn’t. Killers are similar to Achievers, but with a twist; they want to see other people lose. As you could guess, they are highly competitive, and motivated by being the winners - and to be true winners, everybody else needs to fail. They are politicians, out for blood and chaos, but very conscious of their status and reputation. They prefer live PvP and are prone to use scripted cheats whenever possible. This category is very rare: less than one percent of players.
So, what did we learn? When keeping these profiles in mind, it makes it easier to understand why games like Farmville and platforms like Roblox are so successful, but this just scratches the surface. In order to make the right decisions for your game design, proper player research and analysis is essential, and can take you a long way.
We would love to know which kind of player you are. We would say broadly that we are Socializers and Achievers, ready to use ODIN and 4NetPlayers to interact with our peers, while keen to better ourselves every step of the way.
For us at 4Players, it doesn’t matter if you want to appeal to the Socializers, Achievers, Explorers or Killers, if they are there to chat, join adventures or boast: we want to provide developers the tools to make the player’s experience top level and unique. We are here for all of you!