How should I advertise my game

bgillisp

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@Golden Unicorn Gaming : That is a very valid point. I've seen many people on here make games for themselves but then wonder why no one else likes them. So deciding if the game is for you or for the audience that pays $$$ is a decision that needs to be made early on.

Quite frankly, my game, The Book of Shadows is probably the same as yours. It is the game I wanted to make and story I wanted to tell. I've had a few criticize the opening (one claimed it would never sell with that even) and I did just ask for a professional opinion from studioblue, but...I didn't make the game for Steam. The average Steam user wants the game to have 4K support, run at 2048 x 1592 with 60 FPS (or some ridiculous resolution), be the epic end all of RPG's and have porn scenes in the game (I say this based on what is selling and what people complain about on there. Seriously, all I see anymore is does this game have an 18+ patch. Is that all they live for these days?). Well, afraid I am not catering to that audience, nor do I ever intend to. And frankly, I think it is because Steam has started to turn into this is why many indies are leaving Steam, as they are tired of that and how flooded Steam is these days and how lazy Valve is too. Seriously, what does Valve do to earn their 30% anyways (The % was made public by Valve early this year, so it is not a secret anymore).
 

Phenax

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Seriously, what does Valve do to earn their 30% anyways (The % was made public by Valve early this year, so it is not a secret anymore).
I get truly upset when I see how players reacting to Epic making efforts to penetrate the market. They don't even articulate a point, just childish outrage. The recent reviews for Metro: Last Light Redux are at mostly negative, 27%. They act like they're entitled to something, completely ignoring the reasons behind this move. People list all the good things Steam does but don't consider that someone else could be doing that for a fairer price.

About Twitter: I think most effort there is wasted time. A lot of people there only have their own interest in mind which is fine, but you don't get to the actual player very often. I'm not saying that it's completely useless but if you consider cost of opportunity, there are probably better ways to spend your time. In January Twitter has generated 77 views for our store presence on Steam. I guess that's something, but Reddit meanwhile generated 5020 visits which is mostly due to the launch of our Steam page mildly blowing up on /r/pcgaming. I do think it's important to have a presence on Twitter because that's where many people will look for official information about your game. But playing the Twitter game and spending hours a day on it I don't think is something a dev should be doing if they're trying to make a good game and sell it well. Personally I'm tweeting once a day and I'll retweet people's tweets if they have to do with our game. Always trying to have something to show for #screenshotsaturday and #indiedevhour but I'm using that material on other platforms anyway, so it's not like I'm going out of my way to create something just for the purpose of sharing it on social media.
 
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Studio Blue

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We agree with @Golden Unicorn Gaming on most points. If a developer is making a game just for themselves, then they should hold true to their convictions on what should and should not be in the game. If a developer wants to make money off of it, though, then they need to consider any and all peer (and especially) feedback.

But we want to go a step further with clarification, and this is borrowing from Steel's specific experience in the publishing industry. When he first started down the road to authorship, he was told this: "If you're writing for publication, you writing for an audience who you should listen to. If you're writing for yourself and your friends, keep it on Wattpad."

We firmly believe this holds true to video games. If a developer is creating their game for themselves (or their close friends), whether it be a whim, to see if they can do it, or a bucket list item, then they don't need to be publishing it for consumers (places like Steam, for example). They can share it with their friends, post it up on free sites for the community to play and comment upon, and so forth. The moment the intent is to make a game commercially accessible, a developer can no longer hide behind the shield of "Well, I'm telling the story my way."

By this logic, ATHOPS should never have gone on Steam; however, Golden is very fortunate that it turned him a profit. Good for him, but others should not use that as a benchmark or a use-case to disregard critical advice. It would be dangerous to do so.

And that leads us to our last point: Why ask people to critique your game if you're not going to listen to their feedback? If a person (or people) are going to take the time out of their lives to play your game, think about how it could be better, tell you and come up with specific suggestions, then edit and upload the video, why on earth would you just shrug and disregard it? Are you even looking for a critique? Or did you just want free advertisement for your game? The two are not the same, and the latter is exceedingly unfair to the critiquers.
 

Golden Unicorn Gaming

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We firmly believe this holds true to video games. If a developer is creating their game for themselves (or their close friends), whether it be a whim, to see if they can do it, or a bucket list item, then they don't need to be publishing it for consumers (places like Steam, for example). They can share it with their friends, post it up on free sites for the community to play and comment upon, and so forth. The moment the intent is to make a game commercially accessible, a developer can no longer hide behind the shield of "Well, I'm telling the story my way."

By this logic, ATHOPS should never have gone on Steam; however, Golden is very fortunate that it turned him a profit. Good for him, but others should not use that as a benchmark or a use-case to disregard critical advice. It would be dangerous to do so.
I’ve mostly agreed with everything Studio Blue has said throughout these 9 pages with the exception of the above quote... and I don’t like it only because it discourages people. This advice should apply only to gamedevs who have angel investors or are backed by venture capitalists (and those are VERY few of us, I’d bet) who have massive pressure to create a successful/profitable game. Or maybe someone who took out a hefty loan with a high interest rate.

But most of us don’t have that pressure and gamedevs shouldn’t be discouraged from going commercial. If a dev wants to put together game X and let the market decide on purchases, that should 100% be up to the dev. Create the game “for yourself”/“with your story”, throw it on Steam, and maybe there IS a market for your quirky game or the story you want to tell (this assumes a level of professionalism, obviously). Remember, 99% of us are self publishing, so it hurts literally no one if we don’t sell a single copy. Without the burden of pressure to profit, the dev can CONSIDER all advice from people like Studio Blue or Driftwood Gaming (who do a great job, by the way) or other playtesters, but there is no necessity to act on their recommendations

Regarding heeding the advice of playtesters, you act or don’t act at your own peril, tho, and live with the consequences.

Does that make sense or are we not talking about the same thing/talking past each other? (Your first and last paragraphs were home runs but I wanted clarification on the middle)

Luke
 

Studio Blue

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Does that make sense or are we not talking about the same thing/talking past each other? (Your first and last paragraphs were home runs but I wanted clarification on the middle)
We're not entirely sure. Here's what we're saying: In our experience, most developers who are creating a passion project show no desire to improve it based on feedback. And those who have no desire to improve their passion project based on feedback have no business putting their game up for commercial release. That is what we are saying, and we back it up with four reasons:

1. They are generally only interested in fixing bugs, not features, and those features are usually listed as "part of their vision". So regardless of the number of players who come back with legitimate concerns, it falls on deaf ears. They'll listen to bug issues, but not game design or story issues. They aren't learning from their mistakes, they are defending their work. They rarely grow as developers.

2. A lot of times, the passion project ends up being "their baby", and developers can get pretty testy about defending it. We've seen developers go from dismissive to snarky to outright hostile and rude over such things. Neither the playtesters nor the general public needs any exposure to any of that.

3. It sets a dangerous precedent to other developers to (a) put up their passion project regardless of its preparedness or quality, (b) dismiss the criticism of both playtesters and the general public, and (c) worst of all, use those LPers for free marketing instead of genuinely critiquing work (this wastes the LPers time and produces unbelievable stress).

And finally, probably the biggest reason of all:

4. The RPG Maker Community comes with a painful and ugly public perception of producing sub-standard work. When a developer releases their passion project ignoring the feedback of those who want to improve it, they risk further sullying the community's public image. For every "To The Moon" there are many other pieces of garbage. For every piece of garbage, the community slides further into ignominy.

Now, we fully recognize that the above four points are neither absolutes nor encompass every developer, and we admit they are generalizations based on what we've seen the 15+ years we've been in this industry. However, those years of experience have shown us that most developers who are pursuing passion projects fall into one, or more, of those talking points.

Regarding heeding the advice of playtesters, you act or don’t act at your own peril, tho, and live with the consequences.
Here we completely agree. Unfortunately, the attitude we're seeing from many developers is "It's everyone else's fault but mine that my game isn't successful." Having developers like that empowered to commercially release their passion projects when their games are not ready doesn't help anyone, including them.
 

bgillisp

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@Studio Blue : In my opinion, I think if someone wants to release a game that was made for them, that is their choice. BUT (big but here)...they need to realize that there is a chance that no one else will like it, and they will have to take the feedback into consideration.

However, there is also the danger of trying to please everyone with feedback to the point that you please no one. I see it too much in AAA games where they try to please everyone and in the end please no one. So as a developer you do need to adopt a stance of being the final say in things, and that might mean rejecting some feedback in the end.

The approach I've used myself is if one person makes a comment on something in the game they don't like that's an opinion. When many say it, then it might be time to see if you can change it. For example. I used to have a low to hit rate in my game (75%), and I though that was fine. Then everyone who tested it thought the to hit rate was terrible as they all lost a battle due to a string of miss, miss, miss, miss, miss, miss. So I looked to see if I could improve it and ended up changing the to hit formula and raised the natural to hit as well to 95%. And in the end, the game improved for it.
 

Studio Blue

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However, there is also the danger of trying to please everyone with feedback to the point that you please no one. I see it too much in AAA games where they try to please everyone and in the end please no one. So as a developer you do need to adopt a stance of being the final say in things, and that might mean rejecting some feedback in the end.
This we agree with completely. There does need to be a point where the developer says "I've done all I can to implement feedback, things have to be this way now." We were talking about the developer saying "Nah, not listening to anyone at all since this is my vision."

Also, this is very hard for us, taking up this position, since we are very much against censorship. We're trying to see it from a big picture standpoint and not from a single point-of-view. It's difficult, to say the least.
 

Golden Unicorn Gaming

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@Studio Blue

You guys clarified your position and we are in 100% agreement. The clarification definitely helped clear things up. <3

Generally speaking... I'm interested in hearing the strategy used to sell 1 million plus copies. Is that a bundle thing? Anyone here familiar with bundles? Does bundling your game result in lower review scores? I'd be very interested to hear about people's experience with them.

Luke
 

jkweath

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@Golden Unicorn Gaming regarding bundles, after releasing my 3rd game on Steam I was able to bundle them all up and noticed a considerable increase in sales, especially during discounts. Definitely not a "sell 1 million copies" increase for sure, but my Steam revenue jumped considerably after my 3rd game release, and that's considering my 3rd game didn't sell quite as well as my 2nd. I haven't noticed any negative reviews from bundling either.

I've also enjoyed some extra revenue from IndieGala bundles.
 

CrowStorm

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"1) made it to make money/sell as many games as possible/please the community or
2) tell HIS story."

We all want both. Is there any good reason we shouldn't, i.e. that it's IMPOSSIBLE? I've thought about this a LOT over the years but I have no answers.
 

Golden Unicorn Gaming

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"1) made it to make money/sell as many games as possible/please the community or
2) tell HIS story."

We all want both. Is there any good reason we shouldn't, i.e. that it's IMPOSSIBLE? I've thought about this a LOT over the years but I have no answers.
No, there is no reason why one can't have both :)

Just understand that you can't please everyone in the process.
 

Studio Blue

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No, there is no reason why one can't have both :)

Just understand that you can't please everyone in the process.
That's the real rub... and the true and final test of anything creative. Learning to be the artist you want to be and produce the art you want to produce, and have the public love and consume it, takes a long time. You have to learn yourself as an artist and the craft you're attempting to master. That ain't easy. Very few, if any, get it their first time. Or their second time. Or their third time. And so on. You keep making, keep getting critical feedback to learn what does and doesn't work. You keep trying and failing and picking yourself up and trying again. One day you'll make it.

The ones that succeed are the ones that never give up.
 

CrowStorm

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The ones that succeed are the ones that never grow up.
Fix'd. ; )

(Does this forum really not have Strikethru or am I just being a dunce?)
 

Golden Unicorn Gaming

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That's the real rub... and the true and final test of anything creative. Learning to be the artist you want to be and produce the art you want to produce, and have the public love and consume it, takes a long time. You have to learn yourself as an artist and the craft you're attempting to master. That ain't easy. Very few, if any, get it their first time. Or their second time. Or their third time. And so on. You keep making, keep getting critical feedback to learn what does and doesn't work. You keep trying and failing and picking yourself up and trying again. One day you'll make it.

The ones that succeed are the ones that never give up.
VERY WELL PUT <3
 

Conflictx3

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the craziest thing about all of this is last year we saw a beacon of hope that's killing the switch scene even now: Octopath Traveler caught the eye of many people, not for it's creators, not for its system (as many people are begging for ports and using the game as a test point for a switch emulator) but because of its retro look and feel. As nice as the game looks its not much beyond the capabilites of RPG Maker, in most cases its visually Valkyrie Profile with mode7 on ecstacy.

our community is a strong one but i do believe that for devs with dreams of fantasy RPGs, i can't help but notice our realistic point of views on the world of sales and business are more of an obstacle than anything. We start making our games, with each month we get better and better tools, plugins, resources, we work on our stories and start designing our characters. but then we come to the forums and have great discussions like these and the discussion sits on us, in the back of our mind, and starts to pose that horrible question "why am i even making this? whats the point?" at first we ignore it but it festers for many and has many discourage themselves from completion among other things.

i personally think we should build a sulf-sustaining community, by that i mean that we ofcourse continue to operate through steam and google play, etc. on our own vendetta's but maybe we should create a fubu (for us by us) mentality platform. alot of us are working on projects here, theres a few hundred on this forum alone and many of us have spent HUNDREDS on our project (i know i have). why not have a platform where we can sell our games to eachother? at 5-10 a pop to support someone else its hardly a dent compared to that 60 character bust you had made on fiverr and your most likely investing in someone who'd happily return the favor if its on here when you release your project. if theres even 100 of us here promoting sale among eachother at 10/game and only 30 players buys from you thats still 300 back towards you and you feel a hell of a lot more confident. plus theres alot DIY online shop app where we could better control how much the creator is taxed per sale.

just a thought.
 

Studio Blue

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We, for one (well... two) think that an "RPG Maker Only Digital Distribution Platform (DDP)" is an EXCELLENT idea!

Not sure how it would work, but the concept is sheer genius.
 

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Already exists, y'all, ran by @Indinera

As for the rest of the points, I do try to buy RPGMaker games, provided it:

-Does not look like baby's first RPG
-Does not look like it's only selling point is nudity.
-If I have bought a game from you before, it had to not be absolutely terrible, or if it is, it has to at least show promise that you will improve in your next game (either via how the game improves, of what I've seen of you and your posts).
 

Indinera

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We, for one (well... two) think that an "RPG Maker Only Digital Distribution Platform (DDP)" is an EXCELLENT idea!

Not sure how it would work, but the concept is sheer genius.
Yes, as bgillisp said, not only already exists, but has been in existence for more than a decade (cf signature). B):rock-right:
 

Studio Blue

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Yes, as bgillisp said, not only already exists, but has been in existence for more than a decade (cf signature). B):rock-right:
Very awesome! We did not know that such a thing even existed.

So, it features games by Aldorlea, but also allows for games by other developers, is that correct?
 

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