Jump to content
  • Advertisement
HotButtonGames

How much to include in the Phase I launch of a game?

Recommended Posts

First time here, so I apologize in advance if I'm not posting in the correct section.

I've planned out all the things I want my game to support eventually, but I need to find that sweet spot between time needed and user-needs for initial launch. As you know, the more I include, the more time it will take to get it all produced. Are there things in the list that are definitely not necessary for an initial launch? If so, why? Any insights you may have are greatly appreciated.  

The game is 2D, and has a sort of Geometry Dash meets Zelda type of gameplay.

Here's a list of the things I planned for:

1. Story mode - this is the original game and sets up the whole thing.

2. PVP - In the game, you collect Gods as you meet them, who can later be used in this PVP mode. Used to create ongoing interest after storymode is complete, and to provide change-of-pace for users struggling to get through the story mode.

3. Marathon Mode - an endless component to help with resource collection

4. Achievements - planned for to give the player a sense of accomplishment outside of the general storyline, so there's a sense of progressing even if they're not in the linear story.

5. Daily Challenges - to give the player a reason to come back everyday outside of just progressing in the story,

6. Guilds - huge for creating that sense of obligation and camaraderie, and for motivating the player to progress more (maybe help sell some IAPs in the process). The guilds are initially planned for the PVP mode, and later in an additional Raid mode. 

7. Raids - definitely planned for Phase II, but these are to drive the players (in guilds) to work together towards a common task. 

8, etc. - Post missions, new characters to collect, new ways to collect them, new character skins... all set as later phase stuff. 

 

I am using Unity and plan to launch on Web/Android/iOS initially. Any other questions, please ask. Thanks!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement

What is the specific purpose of your 'Phase I launch'? This isn't a standard term, so presumably you have some idea of performing multiple launches - but that can often be a negative thing, because you're not going to get the same sort of press or media coverage on subsequent launches, your early adopters may have already bounced out due to lack of whatever you pushed back to later launches, etc.

Some companies use a 'soft' launch in order to get the game out without stressing the infrastructure, or to try and get some real world metrics before performing the real/global launch, but that's not so much about shipping with features missing as you are suggesting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Kylotan said:

What is the specific purpose of your 'Phase I launch'? This isn't a standard term

I presume he (HotButton) is talking about his MVP, the minimum viable product needed to get his game's following started.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Right, but 'minimum viable product' is a concept that works better for software-as-a-service where launch day is not important. With games, launch day usually is important, because you want to maximise your returns on marketing and promotion, and that usually means that merely being 'viable' is not good enough. Nobody comes back and reviews your game 6 months after launch to see how improved it is.

Besides, I don't think that "things needed for launch" is something that can be viewed in generic terms. If your competition has Feature X now, the fact that it added it 2 years after launch means nothing to you - launching your game without that feature puts you at a disadvantage, if your game is otherwise similar.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the responses Kylotan and Tom. Yes, I was referring to MVP here, I don't know many terms yet. Thanks!

The purpose of splitting it into phases was to try and cut down on the initial workload due to a lack of resources. At the moment it's just me designing & developing this with no following and no financial backing, so I was wondering if there was something glaring in that list that would make sense to push off to a later date. This game probably should be built out all at once so I don't lose the press and early adopters like you said, and to maximize marketing returns (thanks for those insights). 

Better questions are probably about building followings and partnering up with someone, so I'll search the forum for those as I'm sure they're already covered somewhere. I appreciate the responses!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, Kylotan said:

With games, launch day usually is important, because you want to maximise your returns on marketing and promotion, and that usually means that merely being 'viable' is not good enough. Nobody comes back and reviews your game 6 months after launch to see how improved it is.

That equation seems to have shifted a little (at least in the PC space) with the rise of Kickstarter and Steam Early Access. There are a lot of indie games now selling on the promise of a slow ramp-up of game features over the span of a few years. And various review outlets have started reviewing popular titles as they come out of Early Access.

That said, the OP is mentions mobile, and I think one will find that those spaces are, as you say, still almost entirely launch-window driven. Shipping an MVP on those platforms isn't really viable - you have basically one shot to make it onto the appstore front page, and if you miss that window, shipping future additions to the game is basically pointless because the user attach rates are abysmal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks swiftcoder, very helpful info. That's great news about the reviews being (somewhat) available after early access as well.

I think my plan of attack is going to be two-fold after considering all the feedback. First I'll finish up part of the storymode and provide it on Steam to build a following and get player feedback. Then after making any adjustments, launch a kickstarter campaign to try and fund it a bit and speed up the rest of the development for all of the main features I listed out. Once that's solid and tested, launch to Mobile with a marketing campaign to try and shoot for that appstore front page like you mentioned.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is really more of a business decision than a game design decision. Moving to Business.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It looks like you're planning multiple rounds of funding, including a VC round, a kickstarter campaign, and early access in Steam. You're planning to target "Web/Android/iOS" and somehow release on Steam. 

You also list vague plans for a mixed-together game between one game that has about 1000 work-years and one that has about 1 work-year. You don't seem to have any actual game designs, nor a business plan, nor industry experience.  You seem completely unfamiliar with any aspect of game development, yet want to develop a product requiring multiple game clients and game servers for (at least) three distinct systems.

 

Success can happen as you described. That is to say, it has happened in the past with other people who also did not have viable plans but still somehow managed to get extremely lucky.  Even with a Herculean effort on your part you'll still have better odds with the lottery.  

 

In an effort to be useful....

For each of those groups, you need a good pitch, and the pitch varies by who you are presenting to.

For VC funding you need a solid business plan. They need to know they've got a good chance at getting their money back plus more besides. They need to know you have the ability create a viable product including getting that product out in the marketplace.  In addition to having all the details about your business in order, you'll need to know everything about the product you are trying to build. You'll need to know the audience and target market, overall design including mechanics, the realistic revenue potential, the costs of marketing and distributing, and basic plans on how to deliver on everything.  This often includes a fully-functional prototype, although sometimes is little more than concept art and animated cuts.

For a Kickstarter to succeed you usually need a "vertical slice". You will also need a bunch of friends and word-of-mouth power to find people willing to invest in the idea. People in Kickstarters tend to be less careful about realistic business plans, investing mostly on a whim and "coolness" factors. Amazing concept art and video are requirements. Having something they can play with is usually necessary, but not always.

Steam has their requirements and they're easy to find online. Some bad games slip through, but most poor quality games never make it past the initial barriers. If you manage to get your game out to public visibility (which includes paying them some initial fees) you'll be lost in a pile of other games launched daily. Even with several thousand dollars invested in good marketing you're still unlikely to get funding through Steam's early access. Early access players want to see a nearly-complete product that has all the core functionality but some content gaps. 

 

Most ideas never reach the point where they can be launched on app stores.  If you manage that feat, understand that they average over 1000 new apps released each day, and a single-digit number of hobby projects skyrocket most years.

I recommend you change the initial conditions.  Get some industry experience, gain familiarity with all the processes of game development, develop a network of game industry contacts in all areas, meaning not just development but also marketing, business, production, and support.  Develop a strong business plan, and use your knowledge of the industry to craft several good ideas.

Change that, and your odds of success go up dramatically.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

frob, I wasn't even aware that I was seeking multiple funding rounds, so that shows the experience. I appreciate all the advice on how to approach the various pitches, as well as what might be better next-steps for me to take. The plans for the game aren't as vague as it seemed from that post, I just didn't think it was the place to list out all the content. 

It would be great to get some industry experience and familiarity as you suggested, but I'm not sure where to start. My level right now is disorganized pieces that I puzzle together to try and make a linear picture. Is a solution to market some services to game companies and get to know the processes better that way? Is there an "everything you need to know about the game creation process" that I can dig into?

Thanks for your help.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Advertisement
×

Important Information

By using GameDev.net, you agree to our community Guidelines, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy.

We are the game development community.

Whether you are an indie, hobbyist, AAA developer, or just trying to learn, GameDev.net is the place for you to learn, share, and connect with the games industry. Learn more About Us or sign up!

Sign me up!