Knowing Is More Than Half The Battle
Written by zill   
Sunday, 07 August 2011 00:00

Hi! My name is Jacek, and my task at Eyecog is to encourage people to buy Frosties.

As someone with no experience or background in marketing, I used to have a somewhat misguided notion of business. Namely: that business is about making something, and then selling it. I never thought „selling” would be my part of job, because, frankly, advertisements often feel like thinly veiled lies, and no one wants to be a liar.

Only how do you actually advertise games to people? I had no idea, so I started looking for advice. A great thing about Indie developers is that they're eager to share their experience. They all happen to say the same thing: it's not really about telling everyone how good your game is. People will figure it out on their own –  but they need to first notice your game at all.

And that's the hard part, because there are literally hundreds of thousands of games for iPhone alone. Two hundred thousand apps were published in the last twelve months – that's over five hundred releases a day. Even the biggest review sites cover about a dozen. That's two per cent. It usually takes a lot of effort (i.e. money) to make your message louder than that of 98% other developers, and thus make your game known to everyone interested.

Fortunately, „everyone” is more than we need. I mean – letting everyone know about Frosties would be nice, but we can break even with help from a far smaller audience.

A rule of thumb says an independent artist needs only a thousand devoted fans to survive. For instance, if a singer records one set of new songs in a year, tours the country with live shows, and also sells mugs and t-shirts, it's not impossible for each devoted fan to pay a yearly total of a hundred dollars. A hundred thousand dollars a year (from a thousand devoted fans) makes for a decent living.

Granted, a game like Frosties costs only a dollar, and there are several people involved in its creation. But you can create a few games like this in a year, so a tiny team like ours still needs only ten thousand devoted players, rather than ten million.

You still need to earn player devotion, of course. But it's surprisingly simple: you find players you understand well, and then you create a game just for them. No lies are necessary. A skilled liar may get people to buy a game they're not going to like once, but those buyers will soon leave. The bulk of income comes from people who stick around. The only way to keep them interested is to make them happy.

Finding your future fans remains the tricky part. Few sites specialise in a specific kind of games, for example. Most cover all genres more or less equally. From my point of view, a perfect world would be one where players advertise themselves, saying thngs like ”here I am, I love tiny puzzle games with cartoon graphics, why don't you make one for me?”. This kind of information is much more valuable than sales!

This is where I'm going to ask you for a favour that won't cost you anything. Give Frosties a spin and tell us how you like it – especially if you don't! Tell us how we could make it better suited for you. And if you know someone who likes puzzle games like this one, then by all means, tell them about us, please. :-)

The release is a few weeks away, but we're planning to commence beta tests real soon now. Thanks in advance!


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