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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperBusinessSharing my Greenlight experience (Ask me anything)
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Author Topic: Sharing my Greenlight experience (Ask me anything)  (Read 3593 times)
UnfoldGames
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« on: February 23, 2016, 11:20:03 PM »

Hello fellow developers  Gentleman

I have learned a lot on this forum, so I thought it's time to share my experience - maybe you will find it helpful. Recently, I got my game DARQ greenlit on Steam - it reached TOP 10 of the most popular items. This was a big surprise for me, since DARQ is my first game, and there was plenty of established sequel-titles with big fan bases listed on greenlight at the time (like Samorost 3!).



Going on Greenlight was a big test for me. I wanted to find out whether or not the game has a commercial potential. Most importantly though, since going on greenlight is a news-worthy event, I wanted to turn it into a big marketing campaign. My goal was to receive as much press coverage as possible, whether the game gets greenlit or not.

Here's what I've learned:

  • Trailer is the most important thing - I made sure my trailer shows the key element of the gameplay within first couple of seconds. According to my stats, only 2/3 of my visitors have seen the entire video. My trailer only shows gameplay, no cut scenes, no text, no voiceover. I paid close attention to music & sound design to achieve as professional look as possible.

  • Nobody reads the description - Numerous comments posed questions that suggest that nobody reads anything on the page. Still, I think it's a good idea to take advantage of the fact that Steam allows you to post custom made headers and screens in the description body. TIP: img tag is not listed in their description box, but you can still use it.

  • Make your thumbnail a GIF - I didn't and I regret this. During the first 2 days a new greenlight page receives a massive amount of traffic because your game is at the top of the page. Later, the traffic from Steam decreses and it becomes crucial to grab the attention of a person who browses through greenlight Queue. It's something I noticed too late, but many games had terrific animated thumbnails and they were excellent click-baits.

  • Contact a lot of journalists...at once - Before going on greenlight I made sure I have a list of journalists and bloggers whom I want to contact. My list contained about 200 names and emails. I knew that it's crucial to contact them all at once immediately after the start of the campaign, because a game going on Greenlight is news-worthy. Reaching out to press several days after your campaign stars makes less sense, because it's no longer a "news." When my Greenlight campaign went live, I spent an entire day sending emails. I made sure to address every journalist by name, so it doesn't completely look like a copy-pasted spammy email. I also kept my emails short and to the point. In the first sentence I described why DARQ is worth writing about and what makes it special. Instead of going into details, I provided a link to my presskit. Apart from usual text and screenshots, my presskit had a clear note that DARQ is now on Greenlight and it's essential to include the Greenlight link in an article. Within a few days DARQ got featured in about 40 gaming websites, including giants as Rock Paper Shotgun. Since DARQ is a horror game, I also contacted non-gaming press that writes about horror in general. We got picked up by some big horror websites as a result. The press continued to show up pretty much every day during the campaign. Every article in a major website resulted in a noticeable spike in greenlight traffic.

  • Press releases actually work - Not that my press release resulted in massive press coverage, but it has definitely done some damage. Many sites (like Gamasutra!) and forums simply reposted it, so I'm sure it added up to the overall flow of traffic. I published a press release through a paid service (gamerelease.net) and I feel it was worth it. The release was distributed by them to their subscribers that include various journalists and bloggers. When writing a press release, I made sure it was short and...humorous. As I learned, a humorous tone (especially in the first paragraph) encourages the reader to delve into the rest of it. Here is the first paragraph of my press release:

    Quote
    If you ever find yourself walking on walls and ceilings in attempt to prevent being eaten by monsters, it's probably a sign that it's time to see a psychiatrist. There is an alternative explanation though. You might be playing DARQ - a psychological horror game about lucid dreaming, developed by Unfold Games.

     
  • Engage with your audience - I think it's a wonderful opportunity to engage with the people who leave comments on your greenlight page. The fact that they took the time to write something means a lot - they are your future customers, supporters, and possibly collaborators. Show them that you care. I often responded to comments and I also added many of them as friends on Steam. A number of them became active supporters of the game, offering their contribution as programmers, voice actors, graphic designers and composers. We keep in touch and that's just great.

  • Twitter is your friend - before going on greenlight and had prepared a number of promotional images and concept art (usually accompanied with a text saying "DARQ is now on Greenlight!") to post later. My twitter account has 7K followers, so I knew it was important to reach out to as many of them as possible. First couple of days were very busy with sending emails, so I had to schedule tweets to be posted automatically. There are many free services that do that. I used twuffer.com. Staying constantly active on twitter resulted in many retweets and of course, votes.


Let me know if you have any questions, I'd be happy to help out!  Beer!
« Last Edit: February 24, 2016, 12:24:24 AM by UnfoldGames » Logged

Torchkas
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« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2016, 11:36:49 PM »

This is some textbook stuff, they're good tactics. I'm really glad to see it worked out for you. I wish you luck in the future.

edit: I do have a question. How much money did you invest into this game? Including things like monthly expenditures and hiring people.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2016, 12:07:27 AM by Torchkas » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2016, 12:08:53 AM »

Well played for your campaign, and thanks for the tips!
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UnfoldGames
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« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2016, 12:11:16 AM »

This is some textbook stuff, they're good tactics. I'm really glad to see it worked out for you. I wish you luck in the future.

edit: I do have a question. How much money did you invest into this game? Including things like monthly expenditures and hiring people.

Thanks! So far I haven't spent much other than my time. My team consists of me and my brother, but we're looking into expanding soon.
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« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2016, 10:47:03 AM »

Thanks for posting this. A lot of great stuff  Smiley

Did you have any current relationships with any journalists before you reached out to them? Or did you send out 200 cold emails?

Thanks again
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UnfoldGames
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« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2016, 12:42:00 PM »

Thanks for posting this. A lot of great stuff  Smiley

Did you have any current relationships with any journalists before you reached out to them? Or did you send out 200 cold emails?

Thanks again

I did not, and needless to say, I did regret it when contacting the press.
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« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2016, 07:14:21 AM »

Thanks for the info shared.
Wish I had seen before putting out my game.
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Hey, please check out my game on Steam Greenlight: Ant-gravity: Tiny's Adventure. Hope you enjoy it. o/
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« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2016, 09:00:54 PM »

Thanks for the write up. Smiley

It's good to know that animated images can be used the thumbnail image.

A few questions:
-About contacting the journalists, did you just visit websites and see who happens to write articles/posts or are there faster ways to find out that type of information?
-What kind of subject line did you use?  Was it something similar to one of the current ones at GameRelease.net "Interactive Fiction game PataNoir now on Steam Greenlight" ?

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« Reply #8 on: February 29, 2016, 08:08:05 AM »

Great read!

I have a question:

What about let's plays? when do they "matter"? Could they be a part of a greenlight strategy, or is that giving too much away? with a demo of the game or something. Or is this simply more about getting out to the press and getting covered as much as possible?

thx Smiley
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UnfoldGames
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« Reply #9 on: February 29, 2016, 12:59:14 PM »

A few questions:
-About contacting the journalists, did you just visit websites and see who happens to write articles/posts or are there faster ways to find out that type of information?
Exactly. A lot of web browsing and googling.

-What kind of subject line did you use?  Was it something similar to one of the current ones at GameRelease.net "Interactive Fiction game PataNoir now on Steam Greenlight" ?
A used a couple of different ones. I tried to write something intriguing, like "Psychological horror set in a zero-gravity dream world"

What about let's plays? when do they "matter"? Could they be a part of a greenlight strategy, or is that giving too much away? with a demo of the game or something. Or is this simply more about getting out to the press and getting covered as much as possible?
I think having some big youtubers do a let's play would be a dream come true. Since I didn't have a playable demo, that wasn't an option for me. BUT, I did in fact contact a lot of YouTubers asking them to repost my trailer. To my surprise, a number of them gladly did.
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io3 creations
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« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2016, 02:50:22 PM »

Cool! Thank you for your answers.

Given the uniqueness of the game, it's very likely that your game will be played by many YouTubers. Smiley

I've seen gaming related channels posting game trailers but you reminded me that quite a few YouTube gamers also upload game trailers.  That's another great tip for extra promotion! Smiley

That brings up a few more questions:  I was going to ask if using dropbox for the video file would be fine and see that you used exactly that on your Press Kit page. :D  I don't have a Dropbox account myself yet.  The free account seems to be limited to 20GB.  Depending on the size of the trailer, that should be enough to handle a single promotion (even at 100 downloads a day of a 200MB file).  How many video downloads did you have and is it worth to upgrade to Pro account - just in case?  Seems like the Pro account can be downgraded to free account so that aspect should alse be fine.

For the Indigogo campaign, did you do similar promotion?  I see the link at the end of the video but  don't see it mentioned e.g. on the Steam Greenlight page as an announcement.  I would imagine that could've brought some traffic.  I think I've seen other projects mention Kickstarter or is that not allowed?

When you promote your game later (for people to make playthrough videos), I've read it at a few places recently (such as https://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=47706.0  page 2), that sending a Steam key seems to work better nowadays then sending other type of url.  Also mention the Steam key in the subject line.
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« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2016, 03:55:40 PM »

Yes, I did use DropBox, I love it. I've had a pro account for years.

As for IndieGoGo - i started it as a bonus to my Greenlight campaign. I did cross-promote both campaigns, but Greenlight traffic hardly translates to pledges (which is something I had expected). My IndieGoGo didn't make its goal. Having had this experience, I strongly believe the ideal time to go for crowd-funding is after releasing a playable demo. In the ideal scenario, such demo would get picked up by big YouTubers and reviewers. Such exposure can really make a big difference  (as it happened with Never Ending Nightmares that raised over 100K after being picked up by PewDiePie). 
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« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2016, 12:00:43 PM »

I agree that releasing a demo can help: players can experience it and YouTubers can help further promote it. Also, perhaps due to many Kickstarter project failures, people seem to expect that there's already some work being done on the game by the time it gets to the funding stage.

However, having a demo or even other types of exposure by itself may not be "enough". If you look at a project with an "credibility list" as:


(yes, PewDiePie is there as well) and a funding amount of $40,000, would you expect it to be funded?  Here's the result:  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1216321816/bulb-boy

On the other hand, I saw many comments on the Pinstripe kickstarer people mentioning coming after seeing this or that YouTuber playing the demo as well as that they really liked something about the game.

So, how much difference will various promotions make?  There's only one way to find out! Grin


I read on your will have a "blind" level where you have to use sound ques to navigate the level.  Have you played such games?  I've played The Blind Swordsman - my walktrough video:

and it was quite fun.  Especially, since the audio was in stereo so you could tell where enemies were ... well, for the most part. Grin   In general, I wonder how people will find that gameplay.  If you keep it "simple" enough, that should be fine but that part will probably need to be tested to make sure most people can manage it.
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« Reply #13 on: March 02, 2016, 06:27:47 PM »

Quote
(yes, PewDiePie is there as well) and a funding amount of $40,000, would you expect it to be funded?  Here's the result:  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1216321816/bulb-boy
Thank you for sharing this, I wasn't aware of this campaign. It's quite depressing, to be honest. Anybody wants to take a guess and say why this campaign failed?
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« Reply #14 on: March 02, 2016, 10:02:46 PM »

game looks incredible. This is a lucid dreaming theme that is a lot more clear than the ps4 game Dreams.

You totally deserved to get greenlit. Getting +40 articles is amazing.
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« Reply #15 on: March 03, 2016, 01:46:09 AM »

I have a few questions. Not so greenlight related if you don't mind.

- How do you get that much Twitter follower? How many follower you got before a greenlight and press contact process?
I used twitter for a couple of months, but I still struggle getting myself notice with current ~50 followers, half of them is a bot.

- Does your website have a lot of visitors?

- Engage with your audience? Do you always reach out and talk to the audience first or you let the audience talk then continue?
Because in my case, with so many few follower and such I have no one to engaged to.

- What time and which day you used to contact the press? (With your timezone if possible.)

Thank you in advanced.
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« Reply #16 on: March 03, 2016, 01:01:14 PM »

Quote
(yes, PewDiePie is there as well) and a funding amount of $40,000, would you expect it to be funded?  Here's the result:  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1216321816/bulb-boy
Thank you for sharing this, I wasn't aware of this campaign. It's quite depressing, to be honest. Anybody wants to take a guess and say why this campaign failed?
The game was released last year and the main issues of those Not Recommending it seems to be that the price is too high for a "short" game and that .  Other than that, one person mentioned the "Flash animation" style (I'm guessing tweens) and one person mentioned button mashing as an issue.

After Kickstarter failed, I had a few guesses.
-Maybe that the game wasn't considered a "good" game as it is a point-and-click type game or the "cute horror" style may not have worked for people.
-I wondered about the demo.  I really like the style but my demo gameplay experience was mixed.  I haven't played much point-and-click style games and not all but some aspects seemed more confusing than puzzle based.  Might have been just my experience, though.  So, sometimes, it's also possible that a demo can hurt perception.  But in that case, that feedback can also be valuable for changing aspects of the game early on that don't work well.


Much like you mentioned your IndieGogo experience, I've seen a few projects where even ThunderClap didn't seem to make much difference in terms Kickstarter funding.  On the other hand, and it's difficult to gauge from an outsider's perspective, it may help raise overall awareness of your project.  I've heard many people saying that they don't support such funding (even Early Access on Steam) but prefer to wait for and buy the finished game. 

But overall, if you have a "good" game and the various forms of marketing are there then the chance of your game becoming "successful" increases significantly - but there are still no guarantees.
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« Reply #17 on: March 03, 2016, 01:14:46 PM »

TeeHee, I thought this looked familiar. I saw your reddit post   :D . I can't remember if I commented to you then, but this is some awesome insight, so thanks!  Beer!
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« Reply #18 on: March 04, 2016, 08:48:47 AM »


- How do you get that much Twitter follower? How many follower you got before a greenlight and press contact process?
I used twitter for a couple of months, but I still struggle getting myself notice with current ~50 followers, half of them is a bot.
I spend a lot of time on twitter browsing through profiles in gaming / horror niche. I follow a lot of people who I find interesting, and some of them follow back. Greenlight campaign has brought a lot of new followers. Starting a new account is always slow, but things accelerate as you stay active and regularly post engaging tweets. Check out this Twitter series, you might find it helpful:
 



- Does your website have a lot of visitors?
Not really, that's why I don't update it as often as my social media accounts.

- Engage with your audience? Do you always reach out and talk to the audience first or you let the audience talk then continue?
Because in my case, with so many few follower and such I have no one to engaged to.
I occasionally reach out to people and start chatting, but most of the time I reply to messages and @ mentions. Some people stay in touch overtime and become "twitter-friends." It's awesome.
- What time and which day you used to contact the press? (With your timezone if possible.)
I contacted the press on Dec. 14th. The timezone doesn't seem relevant, since I spent the entire day doing it. I'm in PST if that helps.

 
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« Reply #19 on: March 14, 2016, 08:50:48 PM »

Congrats on the greenlight! Your game certainly deserves it.

Ask for my question; Naive as I am I thought "I'll just see if I need the press". Whilst my game is doing better than I anticipated, it turns out, I could use some press coverage now.

Quote
Reaching out to press several days after your campaign stars makes less sense, because it's no longer a "news."
This makes an awful lot of sense now. My game has been on greenlight for 6 days now however, and top of that, GDC is going on as well.
Should I sent out emails as soon as possible, or wait till GDC is over?

Another small question, how did you format your emails to the press? My game's concept makes a lot more sense when you see an image, but putting an image in the email body sounds amateurish. I do have a presskit, but that requires them to actually be interested enough to click the URL. What's your view on this?

Thanks!
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