The Ultimate Guide to Market Research for Video Game Developers

Unlocking the Value of Consumer Insights


Market research is about understanding the relationship between what ‘you’ want to do and what consumers/gamers want you to do, identifying opportunities and maximizing the success of a product. By understanding the target audience, their needs and motivations, a clearer strategic map and identity can be formed for a product.

At Bryter, we help our gaming clients understand their audience and how to create games players will love, from casual mobile puzzle games, to AAA blockbusters. The following guide highlights the importance of market research for games and key guidelines. 


Why is Market Research Important for the Gaming Sector?

The games market is evolving and growing all the time, so what we think we know about the market is  also likely to change. Within the audience of gamers, there are many different types of players, with very different motivations and needs. For example, a solo adventurer who plays open-world A-RPG games to immerse themselves in and explore diverse biomes, versus a social competitor, who is looking for a challenge, a chance to show off their skills before others.

This highlights the importance of conducting market research before investing time and money into a project – firstly to understand the feasibility, and then to help steer development and positioning.

At Bryter, we support our clients throughout the game development lifecycle, helping to understand where the opportunities lie and how best to maximize engagement. From building a market or category understanding, to testing the feasibility and appeal of a new game concept, to preparing a new game for launch, in terms of the gameplay or the marketing strategy. 


Key Takeaways

  • The games market is constantly evolving and changing, with different types of players having varying motivations and needs.
  • Conducting market research is crucial before investing in a game project to understand feasibility and guide development and positioning.
  • Bryter offers support throughout the game development process, from building market understanding to preparing a game for launch.

Steps For Effective Market Research

1. Defining Your Research Objectives

The first thing to do before conducting any research, is to design a detailed research brief. This is aimed at outlining why there is a need for research, what you hope to understand through the research and how that research will be used within the business.

Often there are many stakeholders or parts of the business involved in the research, and the research brief can ensure that the scope is clear and everyone is on the same page. It is also a very important document to refer back to throughout the research process – to ensure that the business needs are still being met and the research plan isn’t (unknowingly) deviating too much from the original objectives.

Key components of the research brief:

  • Business problem/objective: what is the over-arching problem to be solved or question to be answered? For example, “How can we re-engage Lapsed players?” or “How do we best position the game in pre-release marcomms.”
  • Research objectives: the specific information that is needed in order to solve the business objective, in other words, what are the key questions that need to be asked? For example, who is our target audience, what type of gamer are they, what motivates them, what features from the game most appeal to them etc.
  • Specific questions or metrics that need to be included: thinking specifically about whether this research will need to be compared to other data or studies, perhaps there are set metrics that are used consistently within the business (e.g. NPS or satisfaction scores).
  • How the research will be used and who it will be used by: this is predominantly to help steer the analysis stage, and inform the strategical insights and recommendations that are produced. For example, a marketing team needing to know how to position the game in marcomms. will have different research objectives compared to the dev team who may be looking to understand what features in the game to prioritise for development.

2. Conducting Secondary Research

Before jumping into conducting primary research, it often helps to take stock of what you know already. In some cases, it may even be that the answer to your problem has already been solved by other research, or at the very least, could help inform how you plan your next primary research.

Secondary data is any research that has previously been collected for other purposes, so can take many forms…

Internal sources

  • Player behavioral data from your player database – understanding broad player behaviours and identifying where the knowledge gaps are. For example, you may notice that players are churning at a certain point in the game journey, but you need further research to help understand why this is, in order to find resolutions.
  • Previous primary research on similar topics – perhaps this can help to shed some early light on your current research questions, which you can build on further, rather than just repeating.  It’s also worth considering the methodology or metrics used and whether consistency in using the same techniques will help by allowing comparison of data sets.

External sources

  • Industry reports or studies – general studies or reports produced by third parties, may help shed some light on general behaviors or include sizing data
  • Other online articles, podcasts etc. – often useful for identifying key current trends within the market
  • Advantages of conducting secondary research:
  • Expand on your current knowledge and start to form early hypotheses for later testing
  • Help to refine your research objectives and questions
  • Suggest research methodologies and techniques
    Act as a point of comparison between data
  • Save time and money in the long run

3. Identifying Your Target Audience

Before creating your research methodology, you will first need to identify who you want to target.

Perhaps you know your target audience well already, or perhaps part of the research objective is to identify them. This will steer the methodology and sampling approach you use.

Target profile: who do you want to talk to? For example, surveying a broad sample of gamers representative of the population, in order to gain a wider market view (useful for markets sizing and concept testing studies) – or focusing on a specific type of players (often when the target audience is already well understood, and the focus is on gaining detailed feedback amongst a relevant audience, for example, playtesting a soulslike game amongst a soulslike audience, rather than including Platformer players who wouldn’t consider the game.

Markets: what are your key markets of interest? Primary market research can require significant cost investment, so you may need to prioritise a smaller number of markets that represent the broad range of behaviors/ cultures. Some things to consider are the importance of each one (e.g. their share of your player base), and whether the markets chosen will reflect an accurate representation of the total player base.

Sample size: how many gamers do you need to target in order to capture robust and meaningful data? As well as having a large enough total player pool, you will need to consider any other subgroups of interest you may need to cut the data by, and whether you will capture enough of these in the overall sample. Also in qualitative research - which typically deals with much smaller sample sizes – it’s important to consider if there are enough of each profile type to identify patterns confidently.

For example, one focus group could consist of eight individual Shooter players but the feedback and opinions within this could be steered by one dominant respondent. Therefore it is always recommended to have at least two groups of each player type.

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4. Deciding on your methodology & conducting the primary research

Once you have outlined the key objectives and the scope for the project, you can decide on the most suitable methodology. Perhaps it will involve more than one stage of research, with each stage informing the next and building a more holistic view. For example, initial exploratory qualitative interviews in order to understand how players perceive a certain category or product, before validating the insights in a robust quantitative survey, and identifying the most significant behaviours.

Types of research:

  • Online surveys: to measure behaviors and opinions across a broad audience
  • Focus groups & individual depth interviews: to help build a more detailed understanding around why players behave or think the way they do
  • Digital ethnographies: typically more longitudinal studies, based on regular, in the moment feedback from players, to build a more realistic picture of day to day behaviours
  • Playtesting: either online or face to face, to see first hand how players play a game, and capture immediate feedback

Specific tools or statistical techniques

Consider specific tools or techniques that may add additional layers of insight. Sometimes in a research environment, where respondents make more considered decisions, what they say they feel or would do, can be different from what they actually do.  Using advanced statistical techniques such as MaxDiff, TURF and Drivers Analysis, can help go beyond stated importance or preference, and uncover a clear hierarchy of preference and what really drives appeal.

Implementing and monitoring the research

Set out key project milestones, but allow adequate time for each stage. Data can be delivered quickly, but it requires time and exploration to uncover detailed and meaningful insights.

Track progress regularly, but also check topline data to ensure that the story is broadly in line with what you expect.

5. Analysing and interpreting the data

Most research projects will result in an abundance of data – whether it’s thousands of rows of data, interviews, video selfies, text answers, photos, or a mix of all of these – it can often be overwhelming. For this reason, it is crucial to plan the analysis stage beforehand.

The research plan will help guide the analysis, but you can’t always foresee exactly how the data will fall out. Perhaps the data will develop in a way you didn’t expect, and therefore open up a new path of exploration. For this reason, the analysis stage is an iterative process.

Tips for an effective analysis stage

  • Revisit the key objectives and the questions you need to answer, to ensure that the insights are based around these
  • Identify the key subgroups of interest and ensure you can cut the data by this
  • Initial analysis of the data to outline the overall story
  • Create a broad structure for the report, including clear sections
  • Check the narrative running through the report.
  • Each slide or page should make sense in isolation, but also the story should flow from slide to slide
  • Less is more. Don’t feel you need to present every bit of data, resulting in 50 slides of PowerPoint that no one has time to read. Consider what the key message is for each slide, and what data helps you convey this
  • Summarise the findings – ideally on one page – with clear recommendations. Recommendations should be written with the target audience in mind (e.g. who is going to be using the data - the marketing team, the dev team…?)

Key takeaways

  • Defining your research objectives is crucial before conducting any research. It is essential to design a detailed research brief, identify the business problem, research objectives, specific questions or metrics, and how the research will be used.
  • Conducting secondary research helps expand on current knowledge, refine research objectives and questions, and suggest research methodologies and techniques. Internal sources and external sources, including industry reports or studies, are valuable sources.
  • Identifying your target audience requires defining the target profile, markets of interest, and sample size. Understanding your target audience helps steer the methodology and sampling approach.
  • Deciding on your methodology and conducting the primary research involves outlining key objectives and scope for the project, choosing the most suitable methodology, and using more than one stage of research to build a more holistic view.

Using Market Research Insights to Drive Decision Making

Examples of how Bryter have supported gaming developers and publishers in successfully using market research insights to inform game development or marketing strategies…

Case studies

Confirming the primary audiences and refining the positioning for a new PC/console title


Objectives: Firstly, to confirm the primary audiences and understand who they are as gamers; what motivates them and how to reach them. Secondly, to test the overall concept of the game, with accompanying video and artwork assets, in order to identify the most engaging elements and refine the game’s positioning, ready for release.

Methodology: Bryter conducted an online survey with a representative sample of PC and console gamers in the US. As well as key metrics such as take-up and appeal, we used text highlighting and video pulse rating tools to build a detailed understanding of reactions to the assets being tested.

Outcome: By targeting a representative sample of gamers, we were able to measure appetite for the game across the gamer audience, as well as identify specific audiences of interest within this; who they were as gamers and what motivated them most. We were also able to give specific recommendations regarding the positioning of the game – from key phrasing in the description, what to emphasise more or less in the video, and what visual assets to prioritise in marcomms.

Understanding the A-RPG category and the opportunity for a new title within

Objectives: Understand what drives success in the A-RPG category and how this relates to players’ associations and perceptions of current titles. Building on from this, how can a new title from a previous franchise fit into this – is there still appetite and what does it need to look like.

Methodology: A 3-stage approach, firstly conducting online focus groups with A-RPG gamers in the US, exploring the motivations for playing A-RPG games and what players look for in A-RPG games. This then fed into the design of the next quantitative stage – an online survey aimed at creating a hierarchy of driving factors of A-RPG games and current competitor performance. Lastly, we conducted a second online survey with previous franchise fans and newcomers, specifically exploring appeal and equity of the franchise in question.

Outcome: Using advanced statistical techniques - drivers analysis and perceptual mapping – we were able to create a clear hierarchy of features that drove success in A-RPG category, and how current titles delivered on these. We also identified the key features for a new title, including how strategies may need to differ across the different audiences of newcomers and previous fans of the franchise.

Key takeaways

  • Bryter supports gaming developers and publishers in using market research insights to inform game development or marketing strategies.
  • Through online surveys and focus groups, Bryter was able to confirm primary audiences, test game concepts, and identify specific audiences of interest for a new PC/console title, as well as understand what drives success in the A-RPG category and how a new title from a previous franchise can fit into it.
  • Using advanced statistical techniques such as drivers analysis and perceptual mapping, Bryter was able to create a clear hierarchy of features that drove success in the A-RPG category and identified key features for a new title.

Tips for Conducting Effective Market Research Projects

Here are some overarching tips to help you achieve the best outcomes from your research project:

  • Clearly outline your research objectives at the start, and regularly refer back to these to ensure the research remains on track
  • Utilise existing data, to build on your current understanding and to steer the primary research
  • Consider a combination of methodologies and tools in order to build a holistic understanding
  • Take advantage of external expertise – this can offer a more objective viewpoint, as well as tap into further resources and methodologies
  • Encourage stakeholder buy-in from the start, to ensure that the research answers their needs, and that the business is engaged with the results

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