Developer experiences from the trenches
Sat 20 August 2011 by Michael Labbe
There is no mother lode of eyeballs waiting just on the other side of your game’s launch.
Frogtoss released Zombie Minesweeper a few weeks ago. Let me tell you this: if you’re planning on making a living releasing games, make sure you can answer the question: Why will people check out your game?
That’s a very different question than Why should people check out your game. If you answered “because it’s really good and focus tests have gone SO well” then you are answering the second question, not the first one.
If you ask people who have been successful in launching games on the Internet in recent years, they will frequently tell you that there was no one action that they took in order to build up an audience and anticipation. Instead, a lot of smaller actions built up their presence over time.
Maybe you saw how it worked in the early days of game promotion where all you had to do was release a product and people would check it out and it could rise up. Picture the Monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey landing and monkeys jump up and down around in a primal world. Try planting a black, shiny block in the middle of Times Square. People would just walk on by and probably just drop litter at its base. We’ve seen shiny and black. You don’t deserve the people’s attention just because you showed up.
One of the most exciting press stories is by the most hardcore indie developer in the western hemisphere, Brian Provinciano. He is the main man behind Retro City Rampage. Take a look at his Twitter and Facebook pages to see how he has been incrementally building buzz for years. Stop looking for the next big leap forward and take a cue from Brian. Brian is uniquely impressive in that he can write NES assembly but also capture an audience of thousands with his words. He is doing interesting work and he deserves your attention. People will check his game out because he’s out there.
Being a small developer means stretching in all directions. When there is no one place to go to get attention for your work, be prepared to go in a hundred small directions.