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DapperDave

Help Me Decide on Storefront/Boxart with Voting

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Well, that's unfortunate. What did you specifically do to market the game for Steam? I'm asking because everybody might learn something from your story and you might also learn something if anybody cares to comment on what you'll 'disclose' :)

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3 hours ago, DapperDave said:

I couldn't disclose the exact numbers because I didn't bother check them. Why subject myself to heartache? The game didn't even acquire enough user reviews to obtain a user rating.  Pretty disappointing for four years of full time development.

You seem to be missing something critical:  How much marketing did you do?

Typically in a successful game, the amount invested in marketing is roughly equal to the amount invested in development. There are exceptions (just like there are lottery winners) but if you run like a business with reliable returns, that's the cost.

For AAA games and major titles, sometimes there are cases where marketing greatly exceeds development cost.  A major annual game may spend $15M on development, $20M on marketing, all to ensure they make a reasonable profit.  That is on top of market research to ensure they've got potential customers, to ensure they're creating a game that has a viable customer market, and to ensure the marketing is hitting those correct customers.

This article from the archives is 15 years old, but covers the topic relatively well even though some terms have changed.  If you want to sell a product you need to have a product that can actually be sold, then you need to market the product effectively to potential customers, and do everything in your power to encourage them to spend money on it.

Did you do market research?  Since you've invested four years of effort in development, have you invested a similar amount in marketing?

Or are you taking the "build it and they will come" approach?  (Good luck on that one.)

Occasionally somebody happens upon a hit with that method, but they are quite rare. For most people, the odds are better with the lottery than they are with "build it and they will come" game development.

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1 hour ago, frob said:

You seem to be missing something critical:  How much marketing did you do?

 

Okay, when I get a chance I'll write a longer post about what I did for marketing and we'll discuss it. Since this is a release on a new platform it's another chance to try something new.

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Version H: Here's a new version I made after posting this from suggestions another artist gave me. It's zoomed in just two characters and some colors and shading are different. The fire is smaller to distract less.
1000x1000h61-small.png.a82af0bf2fc640909c79fbfb557baaca.png

Also, since some of you were asking I made a post about what I did to market the game on Steam here: https://www.gamedev.net/forums/topic/699588-i-released-a-game-on-steam-a-year-ago-this-is-how-i-marketed-it/

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1 hour ago, DapperDave said:

Version H: Here's a new version I made after posting this from suggestions another artist gave me. It's zoomed in just two characters and some colors and shading are different. The fire is smaller to distract less.
1000x1000h61-small.png.a82af0bf2fc640909c79fbfb557baaca.png

Also, since some of you were asking I made a post about what I did to market the game on Steam here: https://www.gamedev.net/forums/topic/699588-i-released-a-game-on-steam-a-year-ago-this-is-how-i-marketed-it/

I personally still like the first version as this one has the fire coming up from the bottom, but it looks off without the base (rocks, sticks).

I read up on your 'marketing' part. I wont get into this too much as there are many components involved, but you need a 'PAID' campaign, not just making social media posts, and getting a few people to do playthroughs. You can have an amazing product, but you need exposure from your target audience. Getting paid sponsors to showcase your game, and ad material is far more important than posting tweets. There is so much crap coming out of the indie scene, but you can by pass the filters if you throw enough cash at getting exposure. I wouldn't see any other way to combat the amount of garbage releases that will over pile your game on Steam.

I also wasn't sure what you meant about "big dogs", it seemed like you're trying to get your game noticed by a publisher??? In my experience, unless you have enough buzz around your game it wont get any attention from anyone big enough to offer you a deal. Publishers want to be in a position that allows them to throw additional money at your brand so they can greatly increase their returns. This comes from having a proven concept, and an already established customer base.

The 'social media only way' is a very slow way in marketing your products, and can sky rocket if you go viral for some reason, but beyond that you're going to have to throw money in paid campaigns. Promotion isn't cheap but it will generate exposure quicker than the above slower method. You still should always do social media updates, and YouTube/twitch if you can, but don't use it as your primary tool. I've seen far too many developers work their butts off to make a good game then release it on steam with low to non-existent sales because they never spent a dime on promotion. This is why you cannot depend on Steam to help give your game exposure.

Either way, I do wish you the best. I did check out your game on Steam, and must say you've done a good job with the style! The game play looks fun and engaging as well: 

Final note: Don't restrict yourself to just one platform! Release on several if possible. :) There was a story where another developer made almost nothing on Steam, but 20x in sales once they moved to Nintendo Switch.

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5 hours ago, Rutin said:

I personally still like the first version as this one has the fire coming up from the bottom, but it looks off without the base (rocks, sticks).

I read up on your 'marketing' part. I wont get into this too much as there are many components involved, but you need a 'PAID' campaign, not just making social media posts, and getting a few people to do playthroughs. You can have an amazing product, but you need exposure from your target audience. Getting paid sponsors to showcase your game, and ad material is far more important than posting tweets. There is so much crap coming out of the indie scene, but you can by pass the filters if you throw enough cash at getting exposure. I wouldn't see any other way to combat the amount of garbage releases that will over pile your game on Steam.

The 'social media only way' is a very slow way in marketing your products, and can sky rocket if you go viral for some reason, but beyond that you're going to have to throw money in paid campaigns. Promotion isn't cheap but it will generate exposure quicker than the above slower method. You still should always do social media updates, and YouTube/twitch if you can, but don't use it as your primary tool. I've seen far too many developers work their butts off to make a good game then release it on steam with low to non-existent sales because they never spent a dime on promotion. This is why you cannot depend on Steam to help give your game exposure.

 

I'm not opposed to paid marketing promotion. But I would have no idea where to go, who to trust, or what kind of return to expect on the investment.  There's also the consideration that 80% of people simply aren't going to be interested in my game because it is niche and any marketing would need to focus on a very specific audience.  

 

5 hours ago, Rutin said:

 

I also wasn't sure what you meant about "big dogs", it seemed like you're trying to get your game noticed by a publisher??? In my experience, unless you have enough buzz around your game it wont get any attention from anyone big enough to offer you a deal. Publishers want to be in a position that allows them to throw additional money at your brand so they can greatly increase their returns. This comes from having a proven concept, and an already established customer base.

 

I just meant the more popular youtube players and websites. I've never considered getting a publisher. I suppose I'm just ignorant about the benefits of one.

5 hours ago, Rutin said:

 

Final note: Don't restrict yourself to just one platform! Release on several if possible. :) There was a story where another developer made almost nothing on Steam, but 20x in sales once they moved to Nintendo Switch.

 

Sure if I had the time and resources I'd port it to every platform I could. Why not?  Porting is just time consuming, frustrating and very boring. I'd rather move on to new game ideas but it's probably worth the effort to get more ports out.

 

 

 

 

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