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Game Ideation at Sunday: How We Blend the “Strange” with Tech and Teamwork for Standout Mobile Hits

Sunday’s on a mission to transform the game industry, and that includes the way we ideate on game prototypes. Here we do it by fostering a culture of creativity, while harnessing the power of technology and data-driven insights. In this article, we will dive into the strategies employed by our Game Leads as they combine proven game mechanics with innovative concepts to create captivating gaming experiences. Plus, learn how our dedicated Tech Team provides invaluable support in our ideation cycle with their advanced tools and resources.

How We Ideate Mobile Games

At Sunday, the game ideation process lives within the culture of creativity and open communication. Take Umut, the Game Lead in our Hamburg office: he set up a simple yet effective system that allows everyone on his team to share and present their game ideas. While team members are not required to come up with game ideas, they are encouraged to do so. With a flat hierarchy like this, everyone has an equal say, and the most popular idea is the one that gets the green light.

When ideating, Umut’s team doesn’t just rely on creativity and intuition, though. They look at successful games and examine their game mechanics and gameplay. Proven game elements are then merged with fresh ideas to create an experience that captivates and retains. They always consider whether game mechanics are something players are familiar with, and if the concept is marketable. If it’s a new idea, they have to make sure it’s not too risky. This helps ensure that the concept they’re pursuing will resonate well with the players, as the gameplay mechanics are already proven.

André, another game lead at Sunday, is with Umut on this topic: he also uses a mix of both qualitative and quantitative methods. He keeps himself in the loop of what games currently work on the market and what genres or elements of games are popular. At the same time, he uses his creative intuition to come up with unique and innovative game concepts.

One approach he’s currently experimenting with is called the Strange Attractor, a concept used for screenwriting. The “attractor” part is the familiarity, while the “strange” part is something the audience has never seen before. By combining both, he can create game ideas that are both unique and appealing to a wide range of players.

“If we look at Hollywood, they have to create movie ideas that are easy to understand, captivating, and can sell to a wide audience. The same goes for us at Sunday, because we’re actually like Marvel… or the Minions of gaming! We aim to reach a super big audience with our games while staying within a realistic budget. That’s why we use the Strange Attractor concept during our game ideation process. It involves taking familiar elements and adding something novel to them. Because in the end, if you don’t decide to clone a game, you need to add something new to it, right?”

While looking for something new, we still start by trying to understand what works well on the market. This is why we prefer to look at the “evergreens” — as André calls them — games that have been released two to three years ago and still maintain good download numbers in the last 90 days. “This shows me that the concept still attracts a big audience, and it makes sense to try to ideate them further.”

Extra Boost from the Tech Team

Having a smart approach is great, but we’d never be able to fully realize it without having a dedicated Tech Team on board. They work with game development teams as their main stakeholders to provide them with valuable data insights and build software solutions that fuel Sunday’s game production machine. Their main product as of today is Sundash, Sunday’s very own mobile game marketability testing dashboard. It tests marketing videos across different platforms and presents collected data in a clear, user-friendly way to help studios make an informed decision on whether to continue working on the prototype or not. And it’s clever in a way that the functionality of Sundash isn’t limited to testing prototypes — we use it for ideation as well.

André recollects: “Once, I did a prototypical research on a Miro board to group similar games based on shared familiar elements but with a unique trait that made them stand out, just like in the Strange Attractor concept. Still, I quickly realized that if we wanted to create a large pool of games and make ideation easier, we’d need a more efficient way to do so. That’s when I pitched the idea to the Tech Team to create an ideation section in Sundash where games with shared elements would automatically populate the dashboard, allowing us to see relevant data in real time. The Tech Team implemented this feature, and the ideation section in Sundash proved to be an incredibly useful tool, making it easy to find promising ideas and helping us refine our product strategy.”

The ideation section of Sundash is now a dedicated page with real-time data on top-performing mobile games and their marketing materials separated by genres, which allows our developers to always keep their hand on the pulse of the industry and quickly react to emerging trends. However, that’s not the only way they ideate with Sundash.

Each game team at Sunday has access to Sundash, which means they can keep track of the market insights generated by testing every game that comes in from internal and external developers. This also helps them stay up-to-date with industry trends and identify patterns to either push or halt production. Umut says: “It helps us a lot because when someone brings up a new idea, we can pre-test it with Sundash. There’s often something similar already tested on Sundash. If it failed, why would we work on this idea again?”

Another great resource that the tech team provides us with is their BI expertise. The BI guys greatly facilitate live-ops ideation, game production, and UA by developing solutions that estimate and predict major KPIs like retention, playtime, and LTV as far as D60 from only 3-4 days’ worth of data. We’re betting on BI also because it gives us room to grow into bigger projects, casual or hybrid-casual if we ever decide to. We know that we’ll need a a well-defined data structure for such initiatives. That’s where the tech team, specifically BI, will have all the necessary tools and resources ready for us to make data-driven decisions.

That’s a Wrap!

Now that you’ve seen how our creative minds and handy tools like Sundash work together to bring out fresh ideas, it’s your turn to join the party! If you’re looking to publish mobile games that’ll wow the world, get in touch to team up with us at Sunday and take advantage of our experienced crew and the power of Sundash as the ultimate ideation tool. 

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