Friday, January 21, 2011

Zombies are invading my Ipad, and I am tired of it!

Remember how vampire stuff was all the rage about a year ago?... Well now it's Zombies.  I counted well over a hundred zombie apps on the iPad and iPhone. What does this say about app developers and their outlook on what we should buy?  Rule #1 with creating any new content for any marketplace should be to make it an original idea.  Plants vs. Zombies and Call of Duty: Zombies were very original at the time of release and successful. It was fun to play in that world.  I am sure a lot of developers looked at this and said, "Hey zombie stuff is selling well. Lets do that!"  This kind of creativity is what makes me sad.  Following trends is sooo boring. It requires no risk and doesn't broaden our outlooks for what can be a great 'time-killer' app. We all want them as we sit in a dentist office waiting for a root canal.

Lazy apps are the reason most of us buy apps, play for 10 minutes. and never turn the app on again.  That's not a very nice feeling.  I could have bought a movie ticket, a flower for my wife, or a nice little lunch for the cost of a zombie game that's not much fun after a while.  Not to mention, the games are often as mindless as the zombies themselves.

To all of the would-be app developers out there: try to think beyond zombies... really.  The world is full of ideas waiting to be grasped.  To marketers, think about open water concepts... don't go to the beaches and repackage ideas you see folks playing with there.  I know the temptation is to go after what the core demographic already likes.  But instead of cloning an old app, ask yourself this question: Why did they like the Zombie app in the first place?  Was it because of zombies, or because they like tension; the cartoon look of the app; or was it the wittiness of the main characters' one liners?  The reason we went to a movie like "Gladiator" and walked out saying "Wow, that was amazing!" is not because of the action or the violence- at the core it's because of something deeper. The same is true for books and games. Deep in our primal psyche we like things to go beyond the surface.

So, what's the draw for zombie games?  We like to take out aggression on things that don't make us ashamed of ourselves afterwords.  Zombies have no soul, they are funny, and really- pure slapstick.  Shooting a zombie is like shooting at cardboard.

Lesson: People want games that are a fun and funny way of letting out personal inner conflict.  Life is stressful, therefore we need a release.

 There are tons of original ways to get that premise across.  Heck, you can make a game about a monkey in a circus that's tired of getting picked on by clowns, bratty kids, bigger animals, and side-show freaks.  He wants to escape the circus, but the ring leader is a dictator that will let no animal leave at any time. Your goal is to escape the suppressive circus and bring down the Big Top once and for all so you can get back to the wild.  Its a simple idea that can be expanded upon and nobody is doing it. Wow!- an original idea that deals with similar, core anxieties people have.

Focus on what people feel deep down.  Make a game that medicates that feeling.  BUT BE ORIGINAL in how you do it! Zombies are dying on the app store if they are not dead already.  Let's find some new ways to let people vent frustration.

Just my two cents...

Thanks for your time, and have a great weekend.


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