How should I advertise my game

Discussion in 'Commercial Games Discussion' started by Labyrinthine, Sep 2, 2018.

  1. jkweath

    jkweath Goes Fast Veteran

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    Interesting. I'll have to reread the documentation on Update rounds later. I was aware that you could *technically* start a round without an update, but you have to attach an announcement to the update round, and they stress in the documentation that update rounds are only to be used for actual game updates.

    Regardless, assuming the wishlist thing is true, it can still help sales if only to alert your wishlist, but it wouldn't help near as much for a game that has very few wishlists to begin with.
     
  2. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    @jkweath : There's also sales too. Something as little as a 20% off weekly sale gets you into the weekly sale list, which can help. Though I've noticed my weekly sale list is sorted by reviews too, so it might not help a game with all negative reviews.
     
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  3. jkweath

    jkweath Goes Fast Veteran

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    @bgillisp haha, I figured having sales was a given so I didn't even think to mention it.

    I generally get a pretty decent boost when I have a weeklong sale. Not only does your game get on a list, but anyone who has your game on their wishlist will get an email too, so there's practically no reason not to have a sale whenever you're able (one every 3 months IIRC, not counting seasonal sales)
     
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  4. Studio Blue

    Studio Blue Studio Blue Veteran

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    That's actually some really good input. Thanks! We'll make sure to space out our weeklong specials in order to maximize our sales.
     
  5. FluffexStudios

    FluffexStudios Veteran Veteran

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    This is definitely true, I would say at least 75% of our game Stitched are sold are because of a sale, they get your game a lot of publicity as well since people will be checking the sale list here and there. I would recommend putting game on sale whenever possible, especially on those holiday sale event like winter, summer, spring sales. Also, it's probably a good idea to always start off with a low sale % such as 10-15% then go up, once you put that sale % up, it's harder to get revenue if you pull it down (i.e. your game is already on sale last time for 60%, now you put it on sale for 40%, you won't be able to sell too many copies with the new sale value).
     
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  6. Tome571

    Tome571 Veteran Veteran

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    So, I started reading this looking for advertising/marketing tips. Lots of interesting things from a number of developers that have gotten some success, as well as from players. I just want to know what I should label my thread so I can get this much buzz in the RPGMaker community for my game and get the same level of feedback. Ha!

    For real though, thanks to everyone for sharing, tools, tips, tricks, websites, etc. Very helpful stuff.
     
  7. jkweath

    jkweath Goes Fast Veteran

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    I agree, though it's worth noting that, according to the Steam documentation, they'll only include your game in their "for sale" lists if your discount is above 20%.
     
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  8. Studio Blue

    Studio Blue Studio Blue Veteran

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    A lot of what the OP/developer got was negativity due to their rebuttal against critical feedback. You don't want that kind of reputation around here.

    Our advice is to concentrate on getting solid advice and get an LPer with a good subscriber base to LP your game.
     
  9. FluffexStudios

    FluffexStudios Veteran Veteran

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    I've been following the thread, and I'd say that consumer's feedback is the most important part in a product, whether it be a game, program, or something else. Of course not all feedback will apply to the product, but a lot of them will be helpful and help you see what's wrong with the game through other's eyes and being able to listen to those feedback and be open minded to take into perspective the "good" feedback is what will get you far into any industry.
     
  10. atoms

    atoms Veteran Veteran

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    I would definitely recommend the developer @Labyrinthine taking the feedback @Studio Blue gave him to heart with future games, if they plan to make another similar Labyronia Elements game in future. I really feel Studio Blue put a lot of good thought with the advice they gave, and for Labyronia Elements, if Labyinthine followed the advice, the game I can believe would succeed much much more.

    I also agree with @Ksi posts, and especially do think there RTP visual map looks better, but please don't misunderstand as I think custom tiles and maps can look good too, it's just in those two examples, the first image didn't visually look appealing to me. I think it had too much space with clashing tiles and seems a bit messy near the two entrances at the bottom. I also didn't like the top part because it looked to me like it was missing wall tiles, and also it's without any extra detail. While Ksi example has nice roofs, tiles that match, a good amount of space while still providing some nice amount of detail, with a good pathway, so it fits together nicely.

    It's not always easy to make maps, and can take some time and effort but I believe the developer can definitely improve upon them further with some practice.

    I just know none of what Studio Blue or Ksi said was at all "bad" advice. And while it can sound negative if you feel you put a lot of effort into a game so far and get told there are certain ways to improve it much further, it's still better to realize that advice is solid and good and try to implement some of it one step at a time.

    I know this has all been said and done now, but I'm still saying it in hopes the feedback can be at least considered by the developer, as I'm sure his games can be better with both there kind of advice.

    I'm also not at all saying they didn't have good ideas, I think they do have some very good ideas and Studio Blue pointed some of those out, but they also have ideas that don't have to be changed entirely but should change a little and go in different directions, those directions being the advice they've been given.

    That's what I'm definitely observing here.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2018
  11. Labyrinthine

    Labyrinthine Artist/ Developer Veteran

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    I know I already said I'm done with this thread, but I have one little thing to add, be it repetition or not.
    I've taken all advice into my heart concerning my next projects. So, I thank everyone for their criticism, be it harsh or not. What I'm still waiting for is more reviews from people who managed to play the entire game through, because they seem to be more positive generally. Most of the current ones seems to based on the starting area only , or (because of my mistake), the Fire world in addition. It would be nice to get an opinion from some other world, too. As I said, it's my mistake, though. I shouldn't have added Labyrinths on the Fountains of Fortune.
     
  12. jkweath

    jkweath Goes Fast Veteran

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    Great to hear. That being said, I would recommend you focus a lot more on those "early game" reviews than trying to get more full-game reviews.

    I don't say that as an expert (because I'm not), but as someone who has personal experience of having a game that performed poorly for similar reasons that you've had with your game. For starters, my first game's images on Steam were mostly plain text on a black background. Combine that with the fact that the screenshots showed it was an RTP game, and, more than a year after the game's release, it has grossed less than $400 (I'll be happy if it hits $500 in its lifetime)

    I also noticed that, looking at the stats for both of my games on Steam, that many people who bought my games have played them for less than 30 minutes, so you're definitely not the only one who has problems with this. I know the amount of effort I put into my games, and I'm confident they're both good games, but I know that telling those guys "just keep playing the game, it gets way better!", assuming I could, wouldn't work.

    Think of it from the player's perspective. If they're been playing a game for 20 minutes and they're confused, bored, overwhelmed, etc., why should they believe the rest of the game is any better?

    If there's a marketing phrase I've heard that always rings true, it's "first impressions are everything". And I know we're all told "don't judge a book by its cover", but the simple fact is that we all do. There's a graveyard of RPG maker games on Steam right now where the developers told themselves, "Okay, so maybe my presentation isn't all that great... And I used RTP graphics... And the beginning is a little slow... And I'm too broke to invest any money in marketing... But if people just buy my game and play it and see how much time and effort I put into it, it'll all work out!"

    And then, a week later, you see a status update on the RPG Maker message boards where one of those developers laments about how their game flopped.
     
  13. atoms

    atoms Veteran Veteran

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    @jkweath Thank you for sharing that! I know it's for @Labyrinthine and I hope it helps him a lot, but I think all this has covered a very good point for me and everyone to think of too, that's there is a lesson to learn here. The lesson is, the beginning of all games matters so much to players and the way they are presented too, so no matter how much effort we put in a game we really need to try and get that right.
     
  14. Sharm

    Sharm Pixel Tile Artist Veteran

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    I wouldn't say that the first 20 minutes of a game is the same as a cover. The steam page might be though. 20 minutes in is the same as the first page or 5 of a novel. Do you know how much of an entire novel a publishing editor usually reads before making a decision on a story from their slush pile? One paragraph. Just a single paragraph of a story or first few minutes of a game gives the editor/player tons of information about the entire book/game. (I can go into detail here if you want, but it's probably not important to the point.) 20 minutes is not enough to tell the difference between a good or great game, that's absolutely true, but it is also very true that it's enough to tell the difference between a game that is worth that player's time or not, especially the more experienced the gamer is. Now, you could just try to hand-wave the results away and say that those who didn't keep playing aren't your core audience, but remember, these are the people who got past the steam page and bothered to actually try it out. I've only looked a little into the science of advertising, but from the little I know anyone who gets that far is actually your core audience. I mean, these are your conversion rate clicks, not just your idle browsers. If you lose players after that, you're either directing your advertising at the wrong group or something about your game isn't working with your core. That's not only a lost sale for that one game, but the loss of a potential sale in the future as you come out with more games. Because you're wanting to make multiple games, building a loyal customer base is way more important than the sale of a single game. This is why sometimes game companies will try to make you forget a game exists (even though there are potential sales there) if it doesn't match the branding or didn't perform well enough. This is why sometimes companies will give away loads of free things. A loyal customer base is essential to the success and failure of a game company.

    So anyway, TLDR, all this rambling is in an attempt to say "Don't ignore the 20 minute reviews, they're really important."
     
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  15. Dreadshadow

    Dreadshadow Lv 38 Tech Magician Moderator

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    @Labyrinthine a reviewer who hasn't played all the game and has an opinion on it, really gets under your skin and I can really understand that.
    It's like having an opinion on something you got no idea about.
    What is harsh here though, is a reality fact. Th first 10 minutes on a game experience are really vital.
    The player would either play the game till the end, or sometimes give it a shot for other 10 minutes then go on and play it or uninstall it.
    The presentation, is during those 10 minutes. A video game presentation is a craft everyone has to master.
    Take for example fortune499. This game has a simple idea, jrpg genre, worse graphics than yours, but a perfect presentation. 14 minutes and 18 seconds. My first save. I decided to play it to the end. Why? Because it was engaging. I liked it. I could relate with the character who actually is a woman, and I am a guy.
    Classic example? Final Fantasy III (6) which started with Terra and two soldiers on mecha machines. A little blah blah, some movement, a battle (user plays it, it's ridiculously easy) some talk, and a long walk with credits rolling under a great music piece.
    The first 10 minutes are the reason why someone should play your game. Too much text should be in visual novel games or something. JRPG needs some action.

    I would like to see a full review though, because it could be a fair one, because let's admit it, life is unfair. Life IS unfair, but you have to get used to it.
    People won't care for the rest of the game if they will feel they wasted 20 minutes already on it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2018
  16. Ksi

    Ksi ~RTP Princess~ Moderator

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    Look at it like this: Steps of player retention.
    1st step: Finding the game. A lot of people just won't even know your game exists at all. This is why Steam and advertising on social media is important. Yes, word of mouth can help but only after someone has already played the game and recommended it to their friends. You need to get them to play it first and if they don't know it's out there, there's not going to be people playing it.

    2nd step: Judging the cover. Hey, images and blurbs are important. Those are the honey trap that get those who find your game interested in playing it and if you don't show something that will capture their interest you're not going to get anyone to play. No players means no word being spread means no players means no audience. So those who get past this point and actually play your game are going to be the group who net you more players.

    3rd step: The first foray. The first 10-20 minutes of your game are vital! You might have a long-ass game with slow building set-up but you need to get the players to stick around past those first 10 minutes before they can even bother with the rest of your game. If they don't stick around they're going to either ignore the existence of your game completely or leave a review that probably isn't as shiny as you'd like. So nailing the presentation and showing something that will make the player want to stick with the game in those first few minutes of play are extremely important.

    I just want to take a step aside here and point out that it's not just the gameplay itself that is vital so far. Presentation of what is shown should be high-quality tier. If the first thing a player sees is a glaring spelling mistake, some weird grammar, clashing colours, overly empty/busy map or mapping errors their thoughts on your game are going to sink. They will start the game already predisposed to shut it down if something they don't like comes along instead of giving it more of a chance because they see issues piling up. This is why testing and polishing are extremely important for a game dev. Spit and shine that first half hour til you can see your reflection. If they're still playing after that half hour they're more likely to forgive a few minor issues here and there but starting off a game with shoddy presentation? Yeah...

    4th step: Retention. So they've gotten past the first 20 minutes and found something that has hooked them in. Great. Now you need to keep them in.

    If a player gets to the 4th step, then they're more likely to be in it for the long haul unless you really mess up somewhere.
    One thing I recommend is looking at when people start dropping your game and seeing what's going on at that point. Are some of the instructions confusing? Did you change something or introduce a new gameplay aspect? Did enemy difficulty ramp up or did something in the story change to make no sense?

    But yeah, it can be hard to keep players to the fourth step if you ignore the first three - because the first three are vital to getting people to the fourth. And every step you will lost a LOT of people who might have otherwise played, due to whatever reasons. So put your best foot forward and do what you can to present your game well in all of those first three steps so that players at least get to the fourth step.


    @Dreadshadow I wouldn't say a jRPG has to have some action to start off with - talk talk and scene scene can work just fine as long as it's interesting and not just text scrolling on a screen. Sometimes dumping the player in the middle of a battle can be just as much of a turn off as throwing text at them - it depends on the way it's presented.

    For example, Trials of Cold Steel is a great game but the first 10 minutes or so was kinda bad (thankfully the company has a name behind them from their other games, but if it had been the first of the series I'd played I probably wouldn't have continued playing). It starts you off at a base full of enemies with a party of different characters who have a quick chat, go through a short dungeon fighting enemies and then watching some nukes being shot off from failing to stop the enemy. It didn't work because we didn't know the characters and didn't care about their plight, what they were doing or why. Only after playing the game and meeting the characters and their story do we actually care, but that start was really bad.

    Another example is one of my games which has a 10-15 minute series of scenes giving you the background of the characters. They're fully automated and you watch them but everyone who's given feedback on the game have said that they really liked them and got interested in playing the game more because of that introduction. You don't actually get to play until about the 15 minute mark, but you've gotten to know the story of the characters, the hook of the story that makes you want to play more and find out the what's, why's, when's and how's of the rest of the game. Said game got cancelled years ago but I still have people PMing me at times asking when the game is going to come out because they loved what they saw and what they did get to play.

    So a dialogue, scene-heavy start isn't necessarily a bad thing as long as it's done well. Hell, one of my favourite games, Suikoden V, takes a very long time to set up the main story. Again, it's a series that has a history and NAME behind it so if you've played the other games before you know that it's worth the weight (and boy-howdy, is it ever), but it takes literally 15 hours to get into the real start of the game. And it's worth it and it works.

    It's how you do it, not what you do.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2018
  17. Dreadshadow

    Dreadshadow Lv 38 Tech Magician Moderator

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    No argument here, but it is even harder.
     
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  18. Studio Blue

    Studio Blue Studio Blue Veteran

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    @Ksi brings up some amazing points. The first game we ever created takes about 15 or so minutes to give full control and another 15 to really get started (so about 30 minutes total before the game gets moving). Some of the players hated it and blasted it, while others liked it and praised it. It was a gamble, and it only partially paid off.

    In retrospect, what KSI is saying is 100% true. It's not what you do, but how you do it. IF those first vital 20 minutes are spent with solid, quality writing, sympathetic characters, and a strong presentation, then the average player is far more likely to stick around. However, we still hold fast with this point: You have one hour to truly keep your audience. 20 minutes to hook, one hour to keep. If by that first hour, they aren't fully invested, the chances of them playing your game to completion is rather slim.

    Great post there, KSI. I only hope that budding developers read it and take it to heart.
     
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  19. jkweath

    jkweath Goes Fast Veteran

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    @Ksi lotta good info here. It's funny, though; my friends and I have an opposite opinion of game intros in that we all get frustrated pretty quick if the first 15-30 minutes of the game is essentially all cutscenes and dialogue. But everyone has their own tastes and opinions in this regard. I wonder if there's a poll or a study out there for how many people prefer the slower-paced "setup" intros to the "drops you straight into the action" kind of intros.

    I took a sort of hybrid approach in my last game - it begins with maybe a couple minutes worth of dialogue before the action starts. There are scenes spaced out within the dungeon that reveal more about the characters and the story, and then by the end of the dungeon is a somewhat longer cutscene that really sets up the game.

    A previous poster mentioned Final Fantasy VI's good intro. I'd also throw Final Fantasy IV's intro in the mix - it was somewhat long, but the intro did a great job of introducing you to the characters and the story, and had some good action to watch in the mix, so it wasn't boring to watch it all unfold at all.
     
  20. atoms

    atoms Veteran Veteran

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    @Ksi I really believe your post, just as it is as a comment even, or an article could be used somewhere on the site like the tutorial section or an article section maybe to what to take into consideration with presentation and game making, as it's really good advice. I don't know if it's possible for this to happen?

    Perhaps you or someone could see if it could be accepted somewhere on the site where it would get more attention for all the developers out there. Of course that's my opinion and it's entirely up to you.

    Also, if I come across as trying to push to do something or someone else too I've very sorry about that, that's not my intent at all as my only thinking here I just think many developers could benefit from reading what you just shared with us.

    That's why I'm saying what I'm saying, with the suggestion I'm sharing here. It is entirely up to you or anyone else that would be involved in the decision making whether to add it as an article/tutorial or put the comment as it is somewhere else in the forum.

    I just don't want to come across as pushing something if you and/or others involved don't want to do that.

    I think it's a good idea, if others don't think so that's fine.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2018
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