Successful games are games that manage to meet the right audience willing to invest their money in them to get the kind of fun they expect. And that is nothing new, it’s game design 101. It’s the very first lesson you learn anywhere when you start designing games. You should design a game for some audience.
There are many ways of failing at this. Actually, the vast majority of games fail to deliver this exact point. Which is why video games are a very risky business.
The experience may help you avoid some mistake, and mine has a almost constant issue that I see: failing at premises.
In fact, a lot of times I hear sentences like:
We want to make a game like <CoolGameTitle> but more [casual|hardcore|midcore], just like <NewTrendyGameTitle>.Senior VP of Product Ownementshipssss (or some fancy title like this)
I don’t know if the syntax I am using is completely clear, I guess it is not. But the truth is that when you want to change a playstyle from a specific audience, that almost for sure leads to disaster. Casual, midcore and hardcore to me are a way of describing the gameplay session time.
It is good that you take your references, but if you are willing to force a significant change in gameplay behavior you are on the wrong way. If you know that a specific successful game has that playtime, you should consider that seriously as a pillar and not as something to change. We can be misled to think that “making things simpler” means “shorter/longer gameplay sessions” and that is almost never the case.
Never say never of course, but that is in my experience one of the false premise that make a game lose the money and efforts you and your team invested in.