Hello! I have a question that I’ve always pondered. Why do certain franchises like Pokemon and The Sims have no serious competitors or at the very least never had a serious breakthrough competitor? on the internet; I’ve always seen very loud complaints from fans who say that the games have gotten worse overtime so naturally I wonder why a competitor has never been able to swoop in and grab a foothold. Is it because these games are hard to replicate in reality or something more that I’m missing?

Major genre leaders are really hard to unseat once they’ve gotten going. There are a few major reasons for this.

First, every major genre leader has an incredible amount of momentum going forward. Any competitor that is entering the space can’t just compete with what Pokemon, the Sims, Call of Duty, or League of Legends launched with, because that’s not what those players are playing. They’re playing the latest update with the latest features and all of the expansion content for that title to date. A Pokemon competitor is competing against all nine generations of pokemon, all of the game systems, all of the lore, all of the entrenched goodwill and memories players have from growing up with the brand. This means any competitor must launch ready to compete with the current state of the genre leader - and that can often be decades of combined developer hours.

Second, the genre leader has a huge amount of player data at their disposal - they know what their players like, what they want, and they have the tools and years of developer experience to build the kind of content that they know their players will engage with. These hard-obtained data from actual players are much more actionable than the market research for a game no one has ever seriously played (or paid for) before.

Third, it isn’t enough just to match the genre leader - any new competitor must be significantly better to draw users away. Humans are very conservative by nature and they don’t like trying new things. It’s the biggest reason why sequels sell far better than new IP - people are scared of the possibility of not liking it, so they stick with things they know they like. Any new offering must be so much better that the difference overcomes the comfort of the player base. That’s a mighty tall order.

The result of all of this is that any attempt to wrest leadership away from the current leader is an enormously expensive undertaking that has no real means of recouping that investment until launch. It’s a huge gamble with extremely long odds. As such, it’s very difficult persuading people with money that such an endeavor could successfully dethrone an existing major genre leader like the Sims or Pokemon. These are all major reasons why Twitter users stay on Twitter, Facebook users stay on Facebook, iPhone users stick with iPhones, and so on - despite all of the other issues that have arisen with them, the offered alternatives are just not appealing enough to overcome the need to make that switch. Instead, most competitors don’t try to become the leader but instead aim to carve out their own sustainable niche within the space. That’s a much easier ask.

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