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Can distributions of indie games bring them to more players?

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My friend wrote an article about distribution of indie game here:

I was wondering it's true or not. I knew about indie game about 2 years ago with World of Goo and have noticed many more indie game coming into view recently.
I would love to hear expert opinions about the relation between the distribution of those games and their popularity.

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I'm not sure how the examples in the intro relate to more usual indie games. The examples are:

* Mobile games - it's true there was a goldmine, everything from charging for ringtones, to app stores from Nokia etc. This is due to people willing to pay more for the convenicence of something on your phone, when there was still a lack of competition.
* Facebook games - The lucky ones at the start could take advantage of the automatic spam, thus getting Facebook to generate awareness for them by spamming their game to everyone.

It's unclear how this helps other kinds of games. And even if you are writing a mobile or facebook game, I'd say the goldmine period is over now. We hear about the success stories about ones like Angry Birds which gets tonnes of free publicity (and then unsurprisingly, do well!), but this tells us nothing about most games.

It's good today that you can distribute through the Internet rather than trying to get distribution through physical means, though it's been that way for 10 years. There have also been sites that handle payment for you, for at least 10 years.

The rest of the article was interesting though, about the new payment tactics, and whether these can actually help sales.

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Interesting article, but it is yet another take on an age-old theme:

Remove the barriers between your product and your customers.

One of those barriers is location. In the physical world that means getting your product into the stores that your customers visit. In the virtual world that means getting your game to the sites your customers visit. Businesses have known about it since the late 1980s, jumping en masse in the late 90's. In that respect it is old news that you want as many distribution points and distribution methods as possible. Yes, it helps, and there is almost 30 years of strong evidence that it is just as true in the virtual world as the physical.

Another barrier is installation. Many people download the installation files and never actually install it. Having the product directly in a web browser removes that barrier, (assuming they have the required plugins). This tends to also help unify system requirements. In that respect browser based games remove many barriers. Again, nothing new here, in the computer world this dates back to the early 70's with terminal compatibility. Break down the barriers, get more customers.

The article notes the option of setting your own price. Cost is a barrier to some customers. Again, nothing novel there and it has been done for ages in marketplaces around the globe. With computerized transactions we have shifted negotiations strongly in favor of the seller, this is just a shift strongly in favor of the buyer. An interesting take, but nothing new to the business world of removing barriers.

The server-based display, what is now called cloud-based rendering, is not new either. The computer world goes through cycles, and this is yet another case of it. Sometimes apps are server-driven, even to the point of laying out the visuals on the server and transmitting them over the wire. Other times everything is client driven, with very little done in the data center. In the earliest days through the end of the 60's machines were massive but were designed around a single user. The late '60s and 70's had the mainframes that did everything and dumb terminals that displayed it. The 80's trended back to local machines doing the work. The 90's and rise of the Web saw sever-driven everything, the machine sent all the content for display. The mid 2000's and Web 2.0 swung back toward local machines doing the work, requesting data from a server, compositing everything locally, running complex AJAX systems in your local browser. The recent drift to cloud-based rendering started a few years back; it isn't exactly news to many people, but I can see why it is to you. Either way, it is a simple pendulum-shift in the hope of removing a barrier from the customer.

The article is short, and it does seem to help point out the details to those less familiar with these age-old patterns. So yes, interesting in that respect of youth, and a simple reminder for those who have been on the planet for a while.

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