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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperBusinessTop Tips For New Indies
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torncanvas
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« Reply #20 on: April 20, 2007, 02:57:47 PM »

So I'm gonna go out on a limb here and add my two cents.  People are giving some good advice here. I really like this formula:

Income = Quality * Exposure

I think quality should be weighted quite a bit more than exposure.  Quality can be created via a number of means, but IMO indies often do the worst job at art production quality.  Granted, it can be one of the most expensive parts of development, but content can play a huge role in bringing in the cash-moneys.  Because of that, I think indies can stand to gain a lot of benefit from it.  It's important that the content be tasteful to a large audience.  Taste is something that's pretty hard to nail down - volume of books have been written on the subject.  I feel like people often overlook that, though, or at least don't put enough time/money into it.  And yes, you will have to not doing something else in order to make more room for quality.

Those that say "the game can sell itself" obviously weight exposure very little.  But I'd rather take their side than a side that considers quality and exposure to be equal.  I'm not saying anyone here does, or that taking sides is necessary, but you get the point.

Here are my examples of indie games that have a heavy focus on (what I think a large group of people would consider) tasteful content and could sell themselves:
Cloud
fl0w
Rag Doll Kung Fu
Alien Hominid
(feel free to add more)

I also think that good talent can get you a looooong ways with quality.  I bet there are quite a few people around, including on this forum, that have quite a bit of experience and talent with the games industry (not me).  What's so wrong with teaming up with them on something?

Anyone agree with this?
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Intuition Games
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« Reply #21 on: April 20, 2007, 03:46:45 PM »

Anyone agree with this?

To put it bluntly - no. I want to believe it, but the reality is, exposure is probably more important than quality when it comes down to sales.

It's too easy to fall into that trap - I'll make a great game, and stick it on the internet, and even though I can't afford the time or money to do any marketing, my hard work on the gameplay will pay off anyway. It's the way the world should be, but it's not the reality of how it is. I just don't want people to get crushed after making something good and give up is all. Getting an amazing review in several high profile gaming mags doesn't directly convert into sales like effort put into marketing does - I know, because I've been there.
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« Reply #22 on: April 21, 2007, 01:10:18 AM »

Yeah, sadly Fost is right.

Cloud wouldn't have had the exposure without being free.  Same with fl0w, and while I can't vouch for the PS3 game, the complete lack of public success stories doesn't say anything positive.  Rag Doll Kung Fu had exposure, via Steam, so it did better than most.  Though it's my understanding Media Molecule's Big Little Planet is being partially funded by Sony (See Indie GDC and Media Molecule presentation).  And it's been said in a few interviews that the Alien Hominid guys still haven't broken even (I forget where this interview was).  And Gish, the other one people like to talk about, didn't do all that well (See Cronic Logic interview on Indie Podcast Show).

I hate to point out that we are still fighting the uphill battle, but we are.  Indie games are becoming more accepted, and will continue to for years to come.  Sadly, we're still establishing the ground rules, and the market.  A sad truth of things is the more business savvy are the only ones that can and are taking advantage of the situation right now.  On the one side, it's the consoles.  On the other, there's portals including Steam.  Retail is fair game too, but you're not targeting the same people as EA, the same way.  At least that's the case for those of us without a booming website or community.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2007, 01:24:27 AM by PoV » Logged

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« Reply #23 on: April 21, 2007, 03:13:26 AM »

I just wanted to add that it is alot simpler to get exposure from a free game than it is for a commerical version.

The game I am working on Penumbra: Overture, was first released as a free version and now recently a commercial version as been released. I first thought that it would be easy to get plenty of the demo downloads for the commerical version since the free version was downloaded alot. The problem is that as it is now we have gotten around 10% of the downloads we got from the free version and I was hoping for at least 50%.

As for exposure, the main problems for indies is that you often need to buy add space to be able to get any larger coverage on major sites and magaiznes. And since adds cost a lot of cash, it is really hard to get into magazines unless you have very good contacts or have a very known game (that will attract viewers/buyers), but for that you will need some exposure Wink
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« Reply #24 on: April 21, 2007, 03:27:34 AM »

I wouldn't bother with mag ads - the maths doesn't stack up next to website ads, and readers can't click on them and download your game. We've been really lucky to have some incredible reviews for Mr. Robot and Starscape in high profile gaming mags, but we've never noticed any appreciable change in traffic or sales when they hit the stands.
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« Reply #25 on: April 21, 2007, 06:55:50 AM »

Okay, about advertising, you mention only CPC and CPM, but there are other types of advertising. There are paid placements on shareware sites like Tucows.com and its kind, which Cliffski (author of Democracy and Kudos, you probably know of him) said he's found the most benefit from. There are also simple "banner ad for a month for X$" type deals. And there are things like projectwonderful.com. So even though I agree that CPC and CPM advertising is probably almost useless to the independent developer, I think that those other forms of advertising can work.

I should mention that I haven't done them myself, as I haven't yet released a shareware game (only freeware games) but I've seen others use them who have said that they've worked. Besides, I think it's a good idea to be experimental. Don't waste thousands of dollars on this type of thing, but try something, track it, and if it works continue it.
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« Reply #26 on: April 22, 2007, 02:29:36 AM »

there are other types of advertising.

I've actually used all of these and they perform in a similar manner to CPC/CPM sites -except download sites which woefully underperformed for us once they sterted changing the rules (that could just be us though and if it worked for Cliffski then I'd say it's worth trying). Project Wonderful is basically a CPC site although you are gambling on what CPC you will get - just divide the amount you are willing to spend by the predicted daily clicks. The major problem with PW though is that there's no decent sized sites on there yet so you can't get any kind of major traffic boost if you are willing to pay more. Of course that may change if PW grows a bit more.

Of course, you are totally right in that experimentation is the key. You need to be looking out for new things constantly.
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torncanvas
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« Reply #27 on: April 22, 2007, 10:56:23 PM »

I guess part of my point was that a lot of devs will focus on gameplay and rely on that to carry through.  But maybe they should focus more than they usually do on making the game pretty because it will result in exposure.  IMO a game like Rag Doll Kung Fu was able to get on Steam because of the quality, so quality resulted in exposure by its very nature.  These are good rebuttals though, I can dig it.  So exposure, wherever it comes from, is hella important.  What can indies do to get exposure?  Festivals are an obvious one.  Here's my list of festival options.

Festivals

  • IGF
  • Slamdance
  • FuturePlay
  • Eerie Horror Film Festival
  • Indiecade
  • Edinburgh Interactive Festival
  • GameShadow Innovation in Games Festival
  • SBGames Independent Game Festival
  • Vancouver International Game Summit
  • Northwest Games Festival
  • ScreenBurn Festival
  • GameCity
  • The British Academy Video Games Awards

Maybe someone else can comprehensively list out ad options?
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« Reply #28 on: April 23, 2007, 03:43:32 AM »

I also agree that making a pretty looking game is pretty much essential if you want to get people's interest. For example first time I saw gish I thought it looked very boring and it was not until I saw a gameplay video that a decided to play the demo and later on buying it. Now Gish is not a bad looking game but it still has that amatuerish look on it and if it had looked better I might have decided to try the demo first time I saw it.

So, in my opion getting good looking screens for your game is essential to gain get interest which hopefully leads to more expsoure (since more sites / magazines will consider you newsworthy)
« Last Edit: April 23, 2007, 03:45:07 AM by GetAGrip » Logged
torncanvas
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« Reply #29 on: April 24, 2007, 07:05:15 PM »

Yeah, that's exactly what I mean.  I actually felt the same way about Gish, too.  But I saw my friend playing it and seeing it action made it cooler.  If the screens would have been prettier though, I would have been more interested to begin with.

I think it has become obvious that everyone agrees that exposure is really important.  I guess the disagreement is in where to put the least time/money to get the most exposure.  Honestly, I'm still not sure.  I don't know if making something pretty gives you the most benefit for the least time/money, but I do think it should be more important than it seems to be right now.
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« Reply #30 on: April 24, 2007, 07:36:33 PM »

Thanks for a great read Fost.
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« Reply #31 on: April 24, 2007, 07:54:40 PM »

With Gish, my interest level was so:

screenshots: low
gameplay video: high
actually playing the demo: low
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« Reply #32 on: August 11, 2007, 05:11:12 AM »

Awesome post. I agree on everything, except the portals. You should use them only as last resort, if you can't really get direct sales anyhow.
I personally think is better to spend a lot on adwords but increase YOUR customer base, than giving out your content (your game) to portals so they can increase THEIR customer base.
Unless you plan to depend on someone else forever.
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« Reply #33 on: October 01, 2007, 08:47:27 AM »

*bump*
Minor update:
*Moved aggregator stuff into it's own section
*Added point: include own name clause in aggegator contracts.
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Alex May
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« Reply #34 on: October 01, 2007, 09:10:00 AM »

Good stuff Smiley
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« Reply #35 on: October 14, 2007, 03:35:44 PM »

Omg omg... We're in the situation where we may or may not sign retail deals. That thing about getting bundled sounded scary since it would make royalties meaningless.  Sad

Thanks for the advice, a good read.
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« Reply #36 on: January 02, 2008, 04:50:47 PM »

Quote
I just don't want people to get crushed after making something good and give up is all. Getting an amazing review in several high profile gaming mags doesn't directly convert into sales like effort put into marketing does -

The term marketing has always confused me. I've seen Indies say that you have to put a lot of effort into marketing, but they never spell out what it entails exactly. I have also seen them say that advertising isn't cost effective. So what I want to know is what are these guys doing when they are engaged in the activity of marketing? Because they say they are spending 50% of their time doing it.

« Last Edit: January 02, 2008, 04:52:38 PM by Davaris » Logged
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« Reply #37 on: January 02, 2008, 04:57:46 PM »

I wouldn't say advertising always doesn't work. I've had some mixed experiences with it, both good and bad. But a lot of marketing work isn't related to advertising. Here are some examples:

Sending review copies of your games for review, writing and sending out press releases, submitting your games to contests, letting people know about your games on forums, dealing with customer service such as helping people with problems in the game and responding to comments and email that your players send you, submitting your demo to the hundreds of game download sites that exist, engaging in interviews with the gaming press, doing 'i'll link to you if you link to me' things with other developers, getting affiliates to sell your game on their site for a percent, for those who want games on portals there's a lot of work involved in doing that, doing search engine optimization, making trailers of your game and getting them viewed a lot on YouTube, making good screenshots of your game, building your website and maintaining it, dealing with e-commerce services, dealing with refunds and credit card fraud, maintaining your forum, writing regularly in your group's blog about new developments and future game projects, maintaining an email newsletter list, coming up with creative ways to market such as contests or temporary sales -- I could go on. There's tons of stuff that isn't advertising but which qualifies as marketing that eats up a lot of time.

And honestly it's really overwhelming if (like me) you were just used to making freeware games and posting them on a forum.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2008, 05:01:53 PM by rinkuhero » Logged

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« Reply #38 on: November 17, 2008, 02:38:37 AM »

Wrote something on advertising on Project Wonderful here:

http://studioeres.com/games/content/using-project-wonderful-advertise-indie-games

(note the sidebar ad!)
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« Reply #39 on: December 16, 2008, 06:31:48 PM »

Ad: Fuck The Sims, play Kudos 2. Terrible.
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