Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Digital Distribution Problem

No one will deny that we are entering a new age of distribution of games. Players are no longer expecting that their games be confined to a disk or cartridge that can only be run by a single proprietary device. "Digital" has already swept the world of music, and we're next if it isn't already the norm. This is not a bad thing; no longer needing the capital that a physical copy of media requires has made distributing your games an effectively "costless" endeavor.

Saturday, January 11, 2014


The Story So Far

The way I handle marketing is widely considered to be wrong, if not nonexistent; I feel a good game "sells itself," I have never emailed the press, I don't regularly write blog posts, and I've never written a press release or built one with Press Kit.

I tweet all the time, but it's usually not about things directly involving the promotion of my games, and my follower count is almost to 500. I no longer use Facebook because I don't like the way interactions on the site make me feel, but I do have a couple of pages for suteF and Bulletromancer that I don't update. My website's game page hasn't been updated since it was first built, but my GameJolt profile page is up to date yet doesn't have a few of my older titles available for download. I haven't bothered making a Greenlight page, nor have I rationalized doing a Kickstarter. I've too much pride to plaster a donation button all over my site.

I'm very knowledgeable of the current state of the industry and independent developers, but I haven't made a large effort to reach out to either group for feedback or to simply exchange ideas. I'm relatively isolated and keep in contact with only a few close developer friends.

But perhaps my greatest failure of all is the fact that I have created a great game that has been well received by the press and players, but within the last THREE YEARS I haven't capitalized on the notoriety it has given me.

The Point

I hate doing "marketing." It is probably one of the most soul-draining things of the indie world that I have ever experienced, and I know this is a very widespread issue among developers; I'd much rather spend all day making the game good than telling everyone how good it is. I'm an analogue human who would much rather speak to a single human than foster a million digital connections with them.

"Ted, that is not an excuse. If you want to be successful, you have to learn to LOVE the dirty-business-like world of begging and wrangling for attention! Games DON'T sell themselves, yo!"

I wholeheartedly agree with you. I want to be successful; I want Bulletromancer to be released with great fanfare and a ba-jillion purchases within the first eight hours of my magically-unrealistic chance of being released on Steam! But I don't want to damage my "soul" attempting to do so.

I haven't read an article that has explained ways to make marketing FUN... I know it's part of the "trick," right? Some sort of exposure therapy applied to the fear of the dark arts of marketing.

Because it's the nature of Game Development to have to "go with the flow" and that I've spent two years of personal-growth to simply live with myself, I'm no longer averse to behavioral change, nor am I "unwilling to learn."

The difficult part of learning to "love" marketing is that it's unintentionally misleading. I've written about this before, but it was more centered around the experience portion, not the marketing of it (though I did complain about advertising and hype campaigns in general). If the draw of a game is that the "joy of it" is entirely unique to each individual and their perspective, how can marketing also cater to everyone's uniqueness and perspective and NOT also influence their perception of the game?

The Resolution

"Ted, the "trick" is that you need to make folks WANT to play it! What's so misleading about that?"

Yep. I've got nothing. It's market or bust, isn't it? By the way, I haaaaate that I can't figure out a way to make a commercial game viable without needing to market it.

And it is with great reluctance that I admit I have devoted 2014 to improving my overall marketing ability, or at least figure out how I can make it more bearable, and this blog post is an obvious beginning step on the path to that goal. First step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, right?