The announcement trailer for Puzzledorf has just hit a new milestone today – over 50,000 views! Wow! I am so excited!
Given that this game has taken so much time and energy to develop, not to mention going back to study to gain extra skills in programming and business, to put all of that time and effort in and see results is a very rewarding feeling. All the signs are looking positive for launch and I am super excited to see what happens next!
The Steam Page is currently live where you can Wishlist the game so you’ll get emailed when it launches. I’ve been getting some nice traffic there so I’m quite happy.
I am also currently looking at other potential stores to release in, and hoping to make the game available for direct purchase on my website through the Humble Widget.
Marketing is a funny thing, there is so much that goes into it. And I’m shocked when I learn other developers virtually didn’t do any marketing – sometimes that works out for them, and other times it doesn’t. I think sometimes too success happens and people aren’t sure why, but in many cases I think there are a combination of concrete factors that are likely repeatable if we can pin them down, although occasionally good timing is a factor that can be hard to replicate (but not impossible).
Here are some important things that work, based on what I’ve researched from other developers, and what has been helping me prior to launch:
- Release a good trailer (what makes a good trailer is a huge topic and something you should be spending a lot of time considering and researching, starting here):
- Researching what other developers are doing:
- Release a trailer at least 3 months before launch, to let people know it’s coming, and ideally have a new trailer at launch to let people know it’s now out
- Focus marketing on your trailers, or artwork, not a web page
- Share your game on different social media channels
- Have a developer blog, post semi-regularly if you can – it’s a good way to build a following (I’m obviously not that regular at posting, whoops, but it still works)
- Share a lot of cool artwork for your game on social media channels, it’s a nice way to grab the attention of new people and generate excitement
- Contact the press BEFORE you release your game, try something like:
- Let them know when you’re in development and have something new and interesting to share
- When you announce your game
- When you have a preview copy and are getting close to launch
- When you have a review copy
- Post-launch if you have anything interesting to share about how your game is going, ie, significant sales stats
- There are some rules with the press though:
- No one likes to read the same thing twice, so if you don’t have anything new and interesting to tell them, wait until you do
- Do you have enough to write an entire article about? If not, it may be better to wait until you have more
- Would you be bored reading about what you were planning to share with the press? If you wouldn’t read it, why would anyone else? Think carefully about WHAT you share and HOW you share it
- If the press don’t write about you, don’t stress. Your trailer is more important anyway
- People are more likely to buy your game if they have seen it somewhere first, which makes your trailer your most valuable marketing tool, probably followed by press articles
- Experiment with paid marketing, it might work for your game
- Releasing lots of small games and building an audience is a surer way to success than spending years on one big, and hopefully successful, game. Plus, every time you release a game, if it’s good, people will look at your other games too
Ultimately, don’t stress if your first game doesn’t work out. I’ve released a few smaller hobby games, and none of them did particularly well. True, I haven’t got sales figures for this game yet, it’s not even out, but with 50k trailer views, I’m optimistic.
Instead of quitting after previous failures, I did more study. I learned programming so I knew what was going on and could make my own games instead of having to hire people, and so I could understand how to NOT be ripped off by lazy programmers lying to me, which sadly happens a lot in indie.
I learned business so that I knew how to actually sell my game, so that I could afford to make more games, because lets face it, if you don’t make enough money, you can’t afford to hire people, let alone live. You at least want to earn a full time wage from your game, that should be your goal. And 100k per person on your team if you want staff and to make any kind of profit.
I learned animation, and upskilled my self-taught pixel art skills, so that I could make games that looked polished.
And I set out with the goal in mind to make something that looked professional, and not to be seen as some hobbyist. Having that kind of mindset, to look professional, to be professional, like it could have been made by a long-standing company, makes a big difference to the end result.
I hope some of what I’ve shared helps. And I’m really, really excited to see what happens when this game launches, did I mention that? It’s hard to articulate the feeling of working on something for so many years, and seeing it come together. The game was 2.5 years, but if you include study and previous hobby projects, it’s a lot longer up until now.
Let’s wait and see what happens next.