IGC'04 Impressions, Big Business, Big Money

Discussion in 'Indie Business' started by Dan MacDonald, Oct 12, 2004.

  1. EpicBoy

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    That's the thing. Every portal that has approached me wanted my logos off the game (and theirs on), and any links that lead directly to my site were off limits as well. They don't want their customer knowing who you are.
     
  2. Chris Evans

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    I wasn't saying it would cost you several hundred thousand to make Cletus. I was joking and implying that usually when people start making a lot of money they don't save, they instead hire more employees, get an office space, and increase their expenses.

    Anyway but I'm curious too, was Download.com the driving (and the only?) force behind everybody's marketing plan a few years ago? Maybe it's because I wasn't around during the "Golden Age", but I just don't buy this doom and gloom. Sure, it's probably tough if you specialize in casual games, but for non-casual and niche games there's a lot of potential out there.

    Just look at Gish, it's getting reviewed in major publications such as New York Times and now just recently in Gamespot. If you make a really GOOD Indie game, you will get noticed.

    Also, I've noticed many Indie devs just don't realize how many gaming news sites are out there. Often times, it's impossible for me to find a review of an Indie game. For example Svero, I recently typed "space taxi 2 review" in Google and not a single review came up. It just brought up a bunch of pseudo reviews from download sites. I couldn't find a single editorial review. Space Taxi 2 is a solid game with nice production values, there's no reason why I shouldn't be able to find at least a few reviews.

    I agree with GameStudioD that gaming news sites and blogs are going to be major marketing tools for Indie devs. So even if IGN or Gamespot do not review your game, there are still literally thousands of other smaller gaming news site that do cover PC games. You get enough of the smaller gaming news sites to cover your game and it starts to add up. But your game has to be good or have something unique about it.

    I'll be honest here, one of the main reasons why don't see a lot of Indie games on review sites is because the majority of Indie games as of late have been uninspired puzzle games or clones. If we break out of that box, we'll start seeing more coverage as a whole. But I think Anthony's right, not many people care about boring average games, especially from Indies. Standards have risen and I don't think that's a bad thing. On the contrary, I think it will help Indie games get noticed more and break the stereotype that all downloadable games are ultra-casual games.

    But let's be realistic, the days of the puzzle game gold rush are over (if you self-publish). A 2-3 month puzzle game is good for a little bit of experience and setting up your shop. But it's definitely a no-risk venture - You have no risk of virtually making any money. If you want to make money as an Indie, you have to do something different and add some polish to it. You can't place all the blame on portals or deteriorating download sites.
     
    #42 Chris Evans, Oct 13, 2004
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2004
  3. tolik

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    My guess: Reflexive doesn't do that.
     
  4. EpicBoy

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    http://reflexive.net/index.php?PAGE...=9&CAT=Action&CATNAME=Action&FLEXSTATE=Action

    A real quick examination of "Crimsonland" shows a very small "By:" line on the product page (not a link to the developers page, just their name) and a graphical link on the left side of the official page they've set up for it (http://crimsonland.reflexive.com/crimsonland/).

    Downloading the game and installing it I see:

    - the developers name appearing in the software license agreement
    - when the game starts up, there's a quick fade in/out of the developers logo

    That's about it from what I can see. The rest has "Reflexive" plastered all over it.

    All links and "web site" buttons that appear in the game lead to Reflexive.

    So they haven't exactly removed "10 Tons" from the equation, but they've come damn close.
     
    #44 EpicBoy, Oct 13, 2004
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2004
  5. Jack Norton

    Indie Author

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    Well, I must clarify: I was talking mostly about my kind of games, niche ones.
    Infact I submitted my casual games (spin around and quizland) to various portals (only BFG published them actually).
    And as other said, they won't really discover your company... they put logos and prevent direct links to my websites. So unless someone close the game, open google.com and search for "winter wolves game studio", will never find me :eek:

    yes indeed. that was the main reason. It was really an experiment. One day I had the idea of making a goalkeeper simulation and I did it. So far has even done well on sales, but honestly I hadn't much hope on that because was really a particular game :)
    I try to alternate, a casual game, a niche game (or a game I want to make)...

    Eheh no sorry :)
    Every publisher will do that. No one will leave a link to the website where people can BUY the game there and they would get NO money... ;)
     
  6. tolik

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    See, Andy :)
    Don't forget a lot of people even do freeware!

    @Jack:
    We did a gambling game on Penalty theme. Quite boring, but nice to check.
     
  7. Andy

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    Jack made his Goalkeeper to make a pain to me mostly. :D
    No. Really correct - because he loves etc. But love he that type of game even more he'd probably focus on idea to share his love with another peoples around and find something casual in the genre.

    Check the title of the forum above :)

    Oh, OK. Free Art, etc... Yes, I got an idea and hate it.

    Our main task is to bring a pleasure to people. To grab money through that - this is the second task. Happyness if both tasks are working together...
    So, you really suppose that we hate all our games, don't suppose them by our children, and make them for money only? - :confused: - No.
     
  8. Dan MacDonald

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Keep in mind that Reflexive worked extensively with 10 Tons to bring crimsonland to the state it is in today. It was closer to a partnership then a standard distribution agreement, so perhaps it isn't the best example. Crimsonland is also the only Reflexive title that reflexive promoted to Real, Shockwave etc. mostly because their own affiliate network / distribution mechagnism wasn't fully in place yet.
     
  9. tolik

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    No Andy, I didn't want to say that. Every game should have fun, soul, be a state of art, should be accessible (a bit casual) and then everything will be in harmony ;)
     
  10. Andy

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    Fishes don't require our logos off. But...
    To hear this from EPIC boy!... Kidding me? Give a specific style to your games (visual design and gameplay) - to let people remember and recognize it in the future titles. Should I teach you to this?! :confused:

    Guys you all are trying to kid me today or what? ;)
    Are you submitting your games to another sites? - Careful! They also got their link in the address line of the explorer!
     
  11. BlueWaldo

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    It sounds to me like everyone is upset because big name portals are the “onlyâ€￾ way to sell a lot of games, and they only give around 20% to the developer. Maybe the answer is to open a portal that offer 60% or even 80% to the developer, in exchange for being the only online portal that can sell that game. If the site advertised enough to get a strong customer base it would soon be the only site with the best games on it, and developers would get more money.

    Would this idea work?
    Would developers accept such terms?
     
  12. Andy

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    Every creation should be devoted to audience around otherwise this is not a creation but onanism (correct me please if this is incorrect word for these forums).
    The higher audience - the greater creation.

    Suppose so,
     
  13. Dan MacDonald

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    BlueWaldo, that's pretty much exactly the GargeGames publishing model
    The problem is, they have two rules. The game has to be fun and it has to be cross platform and they have run into problems trying to get games from the community that meet these criteria.

    This thread is getting a little off topic guys, let's keep it focused on the topic at hand. The basic message that I want to champion is that portals ARE NOT necessary for success. You CAN make a great game and you CAN get customers on your own. It takes a little longer perhaps, but if you are in it for the long term you will be rewarded for it. Also, you don't have to make a casual game to be financially successful. I think we should make smaller games that are achievable with our resources, but they don't have to be casual. Make something that excites you and it will show in your product, people will appreciate it and they will buy it. It basically comes down to this, Make fun games that you are passionate about and people will play them and buy them.
     
    #53 Dan MacDonald, Oct 13, 2004
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2004
  14. Andy

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    Dan, please... OK. You can. But what for? To stay independent as a rock? :)
    I do realize that if you think about portals that pushes you into the casual direction - yes. But look how they rotate the idea - we don't want to be published on portals to get a success one handred years later - our games are from indie elite that's why nobody buys them... :confused:

    OK. I'm silence. No more for today.
    You all are great!
     
  15. Diragor

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    I have not sold any of my own software yet so I have no personal experience from which to draw my own conclusions about how best to sell a game. But while reading everybody's opinions here I don't see why some people are completely missing the point of the "get and keep your own customers" side of the debate.

    If you sell your game through a portal you make exactly one sale to that customer, collect your 20% or whatever, and that's the end of it. If you sell your own game directly to that same person you get a lot more money and, more importantly, you have a potentially loyal customer of your very own. They might opt-in to your newsletter so you can tell them about new products. They might come back to your site on their own if you update it with interesting content regularly, they might buy add-on packs for the game they bought, they might buy the sequel to that game or a completely different game of yours. The point is, repeat customers are an easier sell by all accounts I've read, so that customer retention is quite valuable.

    I'm just getting started here but I can tell you right now, I'd rather spend 5 years steadily growing my own loyal customer base than be a flash in the pan at some portal, no matter how many one-off sales I could get there in a short period. Part of the appeal of the indie thing to me is that I'll have only myself to blame if I fail, and I'll keep all (or most) of the rewards if I succeed. That won't be the case if I give away my customers and most of my profits to somebody else.
     
  16. EpicBoy

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    I'm not sure I follow what you're saying.

    Give the game all the flair and style you want but if the customer doesn't know (or care) who made it, it's all for not.
     
  17. Mike Boeh

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    My thinking is a bit more along the lines of Thomas... Portals can't stop you from attracting traffic and making your own sales. There is no walmart in the equation here.

    For example, my audience is what I would call "crossover". Somewhere in between casual and hardcore. These games wouldn't convert at a great rate to a casual audience, but do well to my visitors. It took years to build that audience of course, but now I have an instant consumer base for each new game I create or publish.

    Thomas has the same thing for solitaire games, except he sells a lot more than I do :)
     
  18. Greg Squire

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    I noticed that a number of you have cross links to other indie sites. This marketing technique can "cross-pollenate" customers. It's sort of a "banding together" of sorts. Does anyone have any data on how this has helped sales? By standing together, the bigger portals would have less leverage, I think (maybe not but much, but it's an interesting thought).

    I also agree that the community needs a better Indie portal (as has been mentioned). I could be nothing more than a glorified link site at first, after all, that's all the shareware sites are. As long as it got enough eyeballs it could work. I think Grab.com is a step in that direction.

    I think "togetherness" is part of the key in the indie community. Our survival is, in a way, dependent on everyone else. Portals have been a way to do this "banding products together", but it seems they want way too much for their "value add" nowdays. (Also if you have read this Wired article about the Long Tail, do so; it's good reading.)
     
  19. BlueWaldo

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    I don't think a list of links or cross linking between indie sites is enough to compete with the big portals. People go to these portals because they know about them, and they know they have good games (games they want to play). To launch a site that could compete with the portals would require a significant investment in advertising.
     
  20. Anthony Flack

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    What if you simply put together a low-overhead site with the emphasis on good search and rating capabilities, and an eye to being comprehensive?

    Just try to make it good, and don't make a big effort to advertise it. See how far word-of-mouth takes it. You know, I don't think I've ever seen an ad for any of the big portals, or download.com either for that matter. All of these things I know about because someone mentioned them at some point. Of course advertising probably played a big part in getting them to reach critical mass... but if everyone was behind it and gave it a mention here and there...?

    Also - I don't really see much harm in using the portals if you can. I don't know if the people you reach through the portals are people you would ever reach on your own - if someone is having their needs met (or thinks they are) by Realarcade then they have no need to go trawling for shareware. So my hunch is that these are mostly seperate, additional people to your core audience.

    And I can see why they wouldn't want you to put your web address on the games they publish. But the idea that you should take your logo off is something I find quite offensive. That's going too far.
     
    #60 Anthony Flack, Oct 14, 2004
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2004

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