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A response to "‘Good’ isn’t good enough" about game marketing

This article made it’s rounds last week. I decided to write a response from the point of view of a musician. Check it out HERE. Let me know what you think.

Nowadays you can’t invest less than some millions and still expect your game to bomb the market, ppl thinking like this are 4~5 years late. The unexpected indie hits from ~2008 won’t happen again, very unlikely.
People are pulling out, across all platforms, around 1200~2000 games every.single.day… Nobody have time to even look at all these games, neither play them.

While at the same time there’s hundreds of thousands of old games fans out there are still playing and ignore everything else if not for the new blockbuster releases like MGS5, etc.
I myself play only games released more than 10 years ago that are part of my memories, most of the time.
The guy from that article didn’t have in mind that, although having great marketing coverage, his game had to fight for attention against big boys’ releases at the same time frame; Metal Gear, Witcher and some other big name games… While his game, well, it’s just another game nobody care about.

There’s many things they did wrong for that game, but release date is the more obvious factor and still he didn’t get it and nobody seem to notice that, judging from Gamasutra’s comments.

And Greenlight, now with Unity, UE4 and other engines free to the public, now there’s no turning back. Everybody and their dogs will try to publish something, ANYthing, just to see what happens…

The market is saturated with many games, it’s hard to stand out from the bad games, but there’s just a huge amount of good games also. And it’s not just new games, old games still get played and many are getting rereleases. So there’s tons of competition.

In the case of the article, the issue is that they didn’t consider whether all that many people wanted a game like they made. They did a quality job, but there’s a massive amount of games like that, and even then the 2D platformer/puzzle games don’t make that much money anyways. Also a problem is that they spent 3.5 years working on the game, certainly things changed significantly in the market since early 2012. You have to think, what if _____ happens before my game gets released?

So, basically, no good perspectives, and conclusion, don’t try to make a life with games if you are a indie with no budget… lucky I didn’t quit my job :stuck_out_tongue:

No, it’s more like be aware of what the market is like—having a good game and good marketing isn’t enough unless people actually want your game.

@darthviper - exactly, you can’t stand out from the crowd with a 2d platformer with generic cutesy artstyle and a single main gameplay gimmick.

Right now it’s all about developing to a niche and serving it well. There’s plenty of areas that are underserved by the industry, but 2d platformers of any type, and especially mobile-esque cutesy gravity platformers, aren’t it.

But even within oversaturated genres and niches there’s still room for a hit, but you have to be significantly different and better in a way that’s obvious and noticeable. I think that’s a lot harder to do on a 2d platformer in general, and even more so with this art style.

As comparatively ‘easy’ as 2d platformers are to make, I wouldn’t want to make one now because the bulk of the work is in high end polishing and ‘never-been-done’ features, which is a really difficult framework to work in.

It used to be that people could go to 2d games as a way to get past the hump of not having money for 3d art and as a general reduction in complexity required to finish the project, but at this point I’m not sure that’s really true anymore given the constraints of a successful 2d game.

To give an example - to stand out in art in a 2d game basically requires some world-class artist to make your sprites and animations. Anything less will not be impressive. By contrast, a regular Mixamo Fuse generated character with facial morphs and some NVIDIA HairWorks hair and some APEX clothing will instantly put your indie game’s characters a cut above most other 3d indie games, with comparatively little effort/contracting expense. I find this applies all over to 3d games, especially with characters. If you take the time to make your 3d characters stand out with these little polish features, it will pay off big time in screenshots and videos and “wow” factor that a lot of indies are missing out on.

For my part I wouldn’t make one simply because I rarely play them, and I won’t develop anything I don’t intend to play for a few hundred hours.

@n00854180t
Does that nick mean “Noob Saibot”, the original Sub-Zero from Mortal Kombat, or am I seeing things :confused:

@Topic, there’s another post related to this whole indie drama I think is very explanative: http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/TylerGlaiel/20150915/253526/THE_SKY_IS_FALLING_EVERYBODY_PANIC.php

The only response I had to that article was - “You think you made a good game, but really, you didn’t.”

The guy keeps saying that “we made a good game, we marketed it, but it still failed”. Except it’s the gamers who decide whether your game is good or not, at the end of the day. Walking simulator Sunshine was promoted by every single gaming “news site” for months, “journalists” claiming that the game was the tightest **** ever and still it bombed; the developer had a “**** all u gamer virgin neckbeards” meltdown on twatter and the world kept on revolving.

This platformer had horrendous animations for all of the enemies, the camera made me nauseous from just looking at the gameplay and everything felt half-*****. It was by no means of the word, a good game.

He says it’s a great game because, you know, won prizes. IGF and stuff…

I don’t think this case illustrates much of a problem with the industry or indie game development in general. But their lack of understanding what persuades people buy games in the first place. A forgettable name, a non-existent storyline, mobile-like look and a nauseatingly spinning video do not help. You can have neat mechanics, but if everything else is blander than a toast sandwich, nobody will care.

Honestly, while maybe it’s cool to play, it looks like every other cutesy iOS game. I rarely pay attention to those, and one is always just like the other. Games now a days are going to have to be pretty innovative to get attention, and I’m glad about that, because I’ve been sick of games for quite some time. And like others I often play old games from when I was growing up.

Indies can still make a living, serving particular narrow niches very well.
For example: Neptune’s Pride has very little art, yet is a profitable game.
TIS-100 is another narrow-niche game with very little art (don’t know exactly how well it did, but I know a lot of people who bought it.)
Artemis is another.

My advice to a budding indie developer: Forget the genres of Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, League of Legends, Magic: the Gathering, and Mortal Kombat.
You can’t compete with games that are as broad as that.
Instead, find something that’s very narrow, and deliver the gameplay that matters to that particular niche.
Also: The less you need of animated characters, the cheaper your game will be to produce. Wide-ranging landscapes/levels are also expensive, unless they’re procedural (in which case they will likely feel repetetive.)

I’d say his analysis is right but i would have known the same before even starting a game. You have to follow trends or be lucky enough to be at the start of a new one (Minecraft for example), everything “human” is cyclical.

I have two theories

  1. We are heading for a crash similar to the early 80’s. Everyone and their dog was making sub-par games just like in the 80’s and players my guess are getting tired of making the wrong choices. It also does not help that getting noticed is not about a good game but who you know or at least starting some kind of gate controversy.

  2. Graphics and game art sell. When I was a kid you bought your fix from the local brick and mortar and the box art was usually the deciding factor. Now you have Let’s Play, first impression reviews, and even though there are still hardcore gamers where game play is valued over looks we are well into the next generation of gamers who expect a lot of bling with their gaming fix.

Yes, because the IGF and similar award shows aren’t rigged at all.

Based on what i’ve seen in this page: http://steamspy.com/ i believe there is still enough room for making it as an indie. You can’t expect to sell something that isn’t good enough, people won’t spend their money on something that is just not well done. But they will definetely buy something that makes justice for what they paid for.

“Why did Airscape flop so badly? As always, the answer is complicated.”

I don’t want to come across as nasty but to be honest I think the answer is simple, it’s just another 2d sidescroller. Easy to make indie games are flooding the market, I think anyone making something a bit nearer to current gen has a far better chance. I don’t know a single person who looks for 2d platform / adventure games, and the people I know buy a lot of games!

Basically: what n00854180t said!

Okay so I read the article then decided to check a video of gameplay.

After the first 10 seconds I started to feel dizzy and had a small headache starting so I had to stop after around 1 minute.

Is the article owner kidding? Whose idea was that camera?! An Indie gamer can be quite limited resource wise, but this one is NOT acceptable. I don’t really care how much reward a game gets. The camera is horroendous and probably it’s not the marketing that is the problem, rather the CAMERA.

This is mostly the case here and what I agree as it sums up pretty much everything.

And the guy constantly says “we made a good game.” That’s pretty ignorant and annoying.

I may not be the guy to judge, but it is sad to see that people think the guy is right. Look at Super Meat Boy for example. It’s terribly simple that any Indie dev can do even alone, but it succeeded for having unique things. This game? Camera. Man.

Seems to be a common thread.

Use to be a simple formula of making a good game and people will buy it. The players who use to buy these type of games are now having grand kids with a totally different set of marketing requirements as to what they will or won’t buy and with social media it only take one to tell 100,000 others that they don’t like game X and off the top you loss 100,000 possible sales.

In 2015 it’s a real thing, Google it, so just like any top brand playing the social media game one would be better off than spending money on advertising that no one seems to believe in at the moment.

Long way of saying find out what kinds of games someone would buy and make it instead of guessing that your game is good enough to generate box office.

For example.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again. Good really isn’t good enough. Lots of people make good games. They make them in low selling, unpopular genres, or make them not as good as their high level peers. Or they make them without a financial plan in mind at all. I’m not saying everyone should make what is popular, not everyone chases dollars. Further the more popular the genre the steeper the competition usually is. In short, when you set out to make a game for profit, the driving factors (in my opinion) should be financial. Creating a graph of competition vs. market size could be a viable first step before you begin prototyping ideas. What market do you have the skills to create a product that can beat the #1 game in art, play ability, and overall fun. If you don’t have them (or can’t hire cough cough someone who does)… well, you probably shouldn’t be expecting financial success.

This, of course, doesn’t matter at all if financial success is secondary to, say, producing games as art… or just for the love of the product. In those cases every penny you get should be considered extra profit on your job well done!