Developers should focus on and communicate with their core audience who can help find the best elements of every game, Paradox Interactive CEO Fredrik Wester told GamesIndustry International.
At the GameHorizon conference earlier this year, Wester gave a talk called "Using an axe to carve a niche" in which he explained how Paradox builds games for its core audience with hardcore strategy games like Europa Universalis 4. But even that kind of specialization can't necessarily tell what consumers want, he said.
"I don't think that you have to specialize that early, actually," Wester said. "I think you can find a way that works for you. I've mentioned what I call the DOTA factor, which means that, if you make a game that's good and someone else takes it and makes it better — or more replayable, more interesting, more e-sport, like they did with DOTA and Warcraft 3. There's potentially a DOTA in every game. You don't need to choose that early, you just need to make sure that you're talking to your target audience, that you're speaking to those people at an early stage in development."
He went on to paraphrase Helmuth von Moltke the Elder's military adage about how "not even the best battle plan survives first contact" as a way of showing that even the gold master of a game doesn't really mean it's finished.
"Then there's fine-tuning and bug fixing and so on, so there's no end to when a game can be balanced," he said, "it's up to the player base."
For more on Wester's take on development and catering to a core audience, you can watch his GameHorizons talk below.