A target audience is the group of people who most likely want to play your game. Your target audience is not everyone because your game isn't made for everyone—it's made for a specific group. You will have some people who love your game and some people who don't care for it. Not every product is meant for everyone, and that's okay. Figure out who will love your product and focus on them.
The target audience is also a working hypothesis, meaning it can and will change as you research and learn more. It's okay to edit who you think your target audience is. Your target audience will also change from project to project—sometimes the change will be big, sometimes it'll be very small.
Determining your target audience
Lots of things go into determining target audience and it's not an exact science. Here's a few things to consider when looking into your target audience.
- Story genres (types of romance; character arcs; themes)
- Aesthetics (color palettes; art styles; icons)
- Gameplay mechanics (how does the player interact with the game, if at all?)
- Length (5 minutes or 5 hours?)
- Platforms (phone; browser; tablet; console; PC)
- Content warnings (such as mature content)
- Overall polish (was the game made in 1 month or several years?)
Things like art styles and story genres play a very big role in deciding who your target audience is. It helps to think objectively about these things—while you might have set out to make a game appealing to otome players, you might unintentionally be pushing them away with one of the things listed.
This is where research comes into play.
Researching your target audience
Research is a big part of marketing and vital to determining your target audience.
Before you set up your social media accounts, take some time to look into spaces where your (hypothesized) target audience is. Are they on Reddit? Tiktok? Tumblr? Take guesses and dive in.
Take into account what kinds of content they post and reshare. What tags do they use? What sites are more popular and have more active communities than others? Do they enjoy games that are like the one you're making? Be honest with yourself. While they may seem like your target audience, people who only play console games with full voice acting might not like your hour long game that's only on PC. And that's okay.
Surveys are a great way to get more detailed information than from just observing. You can create your own survey and ask about art styles, plot ideas, and more. You can also search for previously conducted surveys. The visual novel development sphere has been around for over a decade now, meaning several surveys have been conducted on various groups of players.
If you decide to make your own, your can use free tools such as Google Forms to easily let players respond.