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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperBusinessWhen to have press previews?
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Michaël Samyn
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« on: January 22, 2009, 11:00:32 PM »

What would be the best time to have previews of your game in the press? A week before release? A month before release? Two months? Even earlier?

Having early previews is good to create a buzz. But if they're too early, perhaps people forget about the game by the time it's released.

Also, there's the sense of (semi-)exclusivity to be considered. I imagine it's more interesting for a journalist to publish a preview of a game that nobody has seen yet. And vice versa, if there's already been many previews, a journalist may not be interested anymore. So it becomes important which journalist you allow to preview the game first.

And then there's print media. They are much slower than online media. Should they be given a head start?
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ஒழுக்கின்மை (Paul Eres)
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« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2009, 09:38:34 AM »

I'm not sure, but I'd guess that as soon as the game is in a playable state with a significant amount of content is a good time to start trying to get it previewed. I.e. when someone could play and enjoy a game and see that it has potential.
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TeeGee
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« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2009, 10:28:21 AM »

Quote from: JohnyZuper
What would be the best time to have previews of your game in the press?
I would say as soon as you feel the game looks and plays good enough. The sooner you start contacting the press, the bigger the chance that some journalist will actually bite and cover it before the release.

Also, now (and in the next few months) is a good moment to release anything. The holidays mass release craze has ended and mags/websites are looking for any meaningful content they could feature.

Quote from: JohnyZuper
But if they're too early, perhaps people forget about the game by the time it's released.
It's very hard to create any real hype with an indie-scope games. You're looking for the "hey, I think I've heard about that game before" effect more, so people forgeting the exact content of the preview shouldn't be a problem. If they have the game's name and basic idea stashed somewhere in their subconscious, that's great.


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Tom Grochowiak
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« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2009, 10:59:43 AM »

Personally, I'd say as soon as people who aren't your friends/family say your game is fun.  I'd start out with blog / specialist stuff at first, though.  Then you're guaranteed to get people that are understanding of what it means to still be in development, and will forgive your crappy programmer art or a few bits of unpolished gameplay.  If you can keep your game in the community's eye, I think the word of mouth it will help your chances a lot when other, more important marketing opportunities come along.  If people have heard of you, it's much easier getting reviews, trying to get coverage on sites that normally cover AAA games, and hell, even your chances in the IGF will be hugely improved (the judges self select some of their games, and self-selected titles I'd imagine are more likely to get higher scores).

The one thing I wouldn't do is try to get mainstream coverage or large numbers of players until you're nearly art/content complete.  If you strike too early there, you're going to leave a bad taste in people's mouths, and they'll be less likely to play your game once it's all nicely polished and ready to go.
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ஒழுக்கின்மை (Paul Eres)
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« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2009, 11:04:37 AM »

will forgive your crappy programmer art

You do realize you're speaking to someone whose game won the visuals category in the IGF, right?
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Michaël Samyn
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« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2009, 11:29:48 AM »

We didn't win. We were just nominated. Fez won. And one day we'll get even!  Angry Noir

Anyway, we're probably in a slightly different situation than most. We've been talking about our game ("The Path") for quite a while. We've already had a bit of press and there's actually several journalists who want to publish a preview of our game. So we're not so much desperately seeking attention from anyone, but wondering about what would be the best approach strategically, mostly in terms of reaching our audience.

On the other hand, many many people have never heard of us. So there's still a lot of work we can do. We're not sure if we should just have as many previews wherever we can the sooner the better, to spread the word. Or if we should wait and carefully select the best opportunities and make a bigger impression closer to the release date of the game.
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ஒழுக்கின்மை (Paul Eres)
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« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2009, 11:36:56 AM »

Oh! My mistake, not sure how I misremembered that. Still, being a finalist is something, and I didn't like how he was so quick to assume that the people here make crappy games.

I'd say that having as many previews as possible is a good idea. I don't see very many negatives to it. Generally previews are better than reviews, because previewers tend to be forgiving, since they know it's a work in progress and will be different when it's released.

I think it's more important to worry about the number of people who will be exposed to the game before release rather than the exact manner of impact it'd have on those who are exposed to it. I.e. I wouldn't reduce the former because of concerns about the latter.
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ShawnF
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« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2009, 12:21:04 PM »

You do realize you're speaking to someone whose game won the visuals category in the IGF, right?

Was just meant as general advice, not specifically to him.  And I didn't know if he was talking about The Path or The Graveyard or some new thing that wasn't announced and didn't have real art yet, so I just kept things vague and figured it might still be applicable. Tongue

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Michaël Samyn
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« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2009, 12:35:40 PM »

I think it's more important to worry about the number of people who will be exposed to the game before release

However, I can imagine that some journalists are sensitive to having some kind of exclusivity or being the first to publish a preview. If your game has been plastered all over the net in smaller channels, perhaps a journalist for a bigger place might find it less interesting to talk about this game that everyone already knows about.
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ஒழுக்கின்மை (Paul Eres)
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« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2009, 12:38:45 PM »

I think that's just speculative. I imagine there's an equal (if not a greater) chance that journalists tend to prefer to preview games that have already been previewed elsewhere, so as not to fall behind the times, and that more previews increases your chance of getting further ones, not decreases it. I never actually saw a journalist who cares very much about exclusiveness, otherwise there'd be more exclusiveness in journalism.
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ஒழுக்கின்மை (Paul Eres)
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« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2009, 12:40:41 PM »

Well, caveat: they often care about exclusiveness if they're first and everyone else has to cover it next. Like being the first on a scene of great importance, the first to get footage of a historic event. Breaking a news story first can be important. But I imagine that it's not important for indie games, since 'breaking' them as news isn't usually followed up with everyone else covering it too.
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Michaël Samyn
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« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2009, 12:45:47 PM »

True. And in the case of many indie games, it's probably more about what the journalist has to say about the game, their own personal take on an original game, then just repeating the kind of stuff everybody says about all AAA games.
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« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2009, 12:48:44 PM »

Yes, but journalists who do that are rare -- they're nice when they can be found though. Most just copy and paste press releases and do no real work.

Maybe it'd be a good idea to be choosy about who to *first* send preview copies to, but that after a few weeks or months of exclusiveness to those people, then you send it to everyone and anyone and try to maximize the number of sites that preview it.
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dc2005
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« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2009, 10:57:16 AM »

What would be the best time to have previews of your game in the press? A week before release? A month before release? Two months? Even earlier?

Having early previews is good to create a buzz. But if they're too early, perhaps people forget about the game by the time it's released.
We are doing previews between 1 to 2 months before release, and will do reviews about 1 week before release.

The important thing about previews is having a stable, FUN build that shows the mechanics of the game and can give an idea of the final game. We gave a build with only 3 levels, but most of the mechanics were there (we left some things out since we can't risk spoilers). Other important thing is to choose the people that you want to preview your game (Country, size, etc).
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