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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperBusinessDistributors/affiliates vs. direct sales
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« on: August 25, 2008, 08:08:27 AM »

I'm on the verge of releasing my first game - hopefully within a month or two.  I'm wondering whether it's best to aim to generate traffic primarily to my website and sell directly, or to try to get on board with distributors/affiliates.  My guess is that, because I'm starting off, it'd be best to start with distributors and affiliates to start generating traffic and to get the name out there.

I suppose my question really comes down to...does relying on distributors or affiliates early on end up hurting or helping direct sales down the line?

Ultimately I'm less concerned about sales on the first game and more interested in reaching a wide audience, and then focusing more on sales on future games once I have some name recognition.

Any tips or advice to achieve this?
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Craig Stern
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« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2008, 10:05:11 AM »

I assume you've got a standalone executable type game, as opposed to a Flash game? The possibilities vary drastically depending on which method you've gone with.
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« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2008, 11:05:57 AM »

Ah, yes.  It's a standalone desktop application, not a browser-based one.
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Eclipse
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« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2008, 01:42:33 AM »

With direct sales you have the 100% of royalties, but also additional costs such advertising and a small(?) amount of money you need to pay for customer services such international online bank checks (if you don't want to do your sales only using paypal, losing A LOT of potential customers)...

The best online payment service i used was the one Bit Blot chosed for Aquaria: i was able to do a Bank Check directly to a national bank than then transfered the money somewhere. Was better than using Steam, that works only with a credit card or a paypal account.

I don't know if you can do as well as using a distributor\publisher with direct sales, or if the fact that you have a bigger piece of cake covers less sales, would be interesting to receive sales data from Derek or Alec Tongue
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<Powergloved_Andy> I once fapped to Dora the Explorer
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« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2008, 03:25:39 AM »

With direct sales you have the 100% of royalties...

Don't forget expenses for servers and bandwidth. Many portals/distributors I've seen host the game for you, so you save that money. I've seen a post on Aquaria somewhere stating how much bandwith they needed in the beginning and it was MUCH Wink.

The best online payment service i used was the one Bit Blot chosed for Aquaria:

Maybe it's just my experience but Plimus is a bad choice. They are the reason why I haven't bought Aquaria and Noitu Love 2. There is almost always some issue. Either they block your email adress because it is a "free" provider (blocking a major national email provider is a really smart move :D) or they send you to non-existing (404) Paypal-pages or if you finally manage to buy something they harass you to give them your phone number. Trying to get support on these issues is also a nightmare or just plain impossible. They don't seem to be very competent in my experience.

Fortunately there are several other companies offering the same or better services. Depending on whether they charge for setting up a store, I'd say choose at least two different ones, so your customers can choose.

Many distributors/affiliates don't restrict your ability to sell your game via multiple channels. So you might as well offer it to as many portals/distributors as you like and also sell it on your homepage. Depending on your game and the portal/distributor, you can reach different audiences you would not be able to reach on your own. I'd expect your "name" to be less noticed if you sell via portals though, because their name and their brand is prominently placed everywhere on the site.
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« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2008, 10:51:05 AM »

Steam is the only option I have heard of for non-browser based PC games.  Are there others?  And, as Ciardhubh said, why not use every resource available?
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Craig Stern
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« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2008, 08:40:43 PM »

They were just discussing e-commerce options for selling things yourself, which strikes me as an important step regardless of whether you wish to offer the game on Steam. I'm glad I stumbled on that thread, actually--I've been selling every copy of my CDs myself through Paypal, and it's kind of a pain. Future distribution of standalone content is definitely going through one of those other services!
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« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2008, 03:47:32 AM »

Steam is the only option I have heard of for non-browser based PC games.  Are there others?  And, as Ciardhubh said, why not use every resource available?

Of course, and plenty...

GameTap has also an indie program, and they're the biggest stuff around just below Steam but with an interesting audience...

Indie section
http://www.gametap.com/indies/index.html

Indie Publishing program
https://account.gametap.com/storefront/indies/indies.jsp

then there's also Greenhouse and a others such Bigfish games and so on.

If you sign with someone it's hard they will let you sign with another publisher for the same platform... like more impossible than hard.
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<Powergloved_Andy> I once fapped to Dora the Explorer
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« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2008, 07:59:36 AM »

Thanks for the info.

If you sign with someone it's hard they will let you sign with another publisher for the same platform... like more impossible than hard.

But these are distributors rather than publishers, right?  I saw several games I had seen elsewhere.
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« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2008, 01:05:40 PM »

By distributor, do you mean a company that has SOLE distribution rights over your game?  You don't need to do that.  The best thing you can do is distribute it yourself.

Basically, a 3rd party distributor will sell your game to a portal.  Then when the game sells, the portal gives a (usually) standard 35% royalty to the distributor, who gives a percentage of that royalty to you.  So by the time the money gets to you, you are only seeing a tiny fraction of what you could have had.

Now, if you pitch your games to the portals directly you have no problem.  There are no sole distribution rights.  You can put your game up on as many game portals as you want! Put it up on Big Fish, iWin, GameTap, etc, AS WELL AS your own site!  So you'll have the benefit of getting the larger sales from your own website, as well as the benefit of "getting your name out" on the game portals. 

Of course, the downside is that you have to get out there and pitch to the portals directly which can be a bit time consuming.  Each portal has their own sets of requirements and they can be a pain to put together, but it's worth it.
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