4 Ways to Make your Game Stand Out in a Sea of Knock-offs

4 Ways to Make your Game Stand Out in a Sea of Knock-offs
October 24, 2018 David Mel


Once a game takes the charts by storm, it should come as no surprise that knock-offs will follow (Remember the Flappy Bird craze?). Endless developers do not even bother to remix the formula, creating copies and expecting to live outside of that game’s shadows.

We see this everywhere, not just with mobile games from PCs to consoles, developers try to cash in on viral hits and trends. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Gamers appreciate unique experiences and different take-ons on a subject matter, and while it’s not easy to create original games, it is also not impossible. In fact, it is more probable to take off if it offers the target audience something they haven’t experienced before.

Here are some things you can consider for your next game to stand out in an oversaturated market:

Art Style

New is not always better. This is something that games with timeless art styles have taught us throughout the years. While technological advancement helps with the quality of a game, a unique art style allows the game to go beyond the zeitgeist; elevating your game’s status.

Marketing-wise, the art style is the key identifier for your game. If somebody sees a screenshot or a character on the internet or in a publication, it will automatically bring back your game to mind. The art style can also set the mood for your game, such as the case with Limbo’s silhouette art style with its creepy atmosphere.

Other times, it can be the basis for your game mechanics, like in Runbow where the colorful foregrounds and backgrounds interact with one another, providing the guidelines to how to play the game. In such case, the art style is not just mesmerizing to look at, but also a visual experience integral to how the game is played.


An immersive game does not only rely on the gamer’s vision; it brings other senses into the mix. A fitting soundtrack, great voiceovers, and snappy sound effects can make or break your game.

Rhythm games is the go-to example to what people expect from an audio experience. However, that is the not only route to take. Some games can completely rely on audio for game mechanics. Three Monkeys is a game where you play blind, pushing the boundaries of what to expect from a “video” game.

Game Mechanics

There is the classical way of playing a game, which is not a bad thing per se, as the familiarity can be a reason for a game’s success. But technology is ever-evolving and our phones continuously provide ways to innovate. Why tap, when you can shake? Why select “attack”, when you can yell it with utmost excitement (provided you are not annoying everyone in public)?

Pokemon Go, and its predecessor Ingress, interweave the game with the real world, asking to you to physically move in order to progress in the game. This completely relies on a feature than developers don’t often consider for games, which is the GPS. Smartphones are capable of many things, and it is possible to take advantage of features not usually associated with games to be key elements in your next game.


A great story has been the source of people’s entertainment—and means of discussing important issues—since forever. It’s another tool that games can use to be built upon. In fact, entire games are based on storytelling, sometimes solely on reading. What distinguishes such “reading” games, or as they’re called visual novels, from your paperbacks is that they let the gamer be part of the story. With the ability to make choices throughout the game, the gamer changes the plot of the game and potentially leads to different endings based on these choices.

These are just some basic rules to keep in mind before taking the easy way out and create knock-offs of some viral hit you’ve seen on the charts. With proper guidance, research and an experienced publisher you can create a game like non-other.