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Piracy & Technical failure after launching my game.

Hi guys, I launched my game created with blueprints on Steam 10 days ago, but the launch wasn’t successful due to negative reviews.

Technical Failure:
A lot of people really liked the story and graphics but everyone had the same conclusion, that the game was a technical failure in terms of gameplay. It was a bit disheartening at first as the sales came down to a near zero per day having barely got past $2000, but I decided to view it as a stepping stone for better projects in the future, one of the main reasons I especially want to try and concentrate more on my favourite side of game development, the art side. I’ve never been much of a technical person. But its encouraging to see how some steam users have clocked many hours of play even though main game itself is just over 2.5hrs some players have over 30hrs on record.

Piracy:
The thing that really bothers me is piracy, my youtube channel exploded with around 80,000 views the past 5 days, I initially thought that this was because of the steam launch and that people were curious to know more about the game but after checking my analytics data, it turns out almost all the traffic sources were from piracy websites that were hosting free cracked downloads of the game, these websites were also filled with reviews, conversations and ratings of the game. Normally so much attention and youtube traffic would have made me happy but I feel that I’m just losing out a lot and not gaining anything at all because this, not to say that my game would sell any better if there was no pirated versions online but I feel that hard work is going to waste.

If you have any thoughts concerning what I’ve talked about I’d like to hear them, I believe the there’s lots I can learn from fellow UE developers.

It’s hard for a new developer with no marketing power to really generate a lot of income from Steam - there is an enormous amount of competition and it will bury you shortly after release. The best thing you can do is listen to the complaints and act on them; either improve the state of your game, or write it off and learn for the next one.

Piracy is unfortunately inevitable, you will simply have to accept it. It’s important to realise that the majority of people who have pirated your game were never going to be paying customers anyway, for whatever reasons they have. The best you can do in this regard is either ignore it, or to try and find a way to engage ‘freeloaders’ and turn those that you can into customers.

I didn’t play your game so I can’t comment on the specifics of it but,

Technical: however much you like to create game art, you’re selling a videogame and people will expect good gameplay and good performance. People that buy your game will compare it with other games within the same price range and will of course feel disappointed if your game doesn’t deliver in those terms.
if you really want to focus on the art side, find yourself other [more technical] people to help

Piracy: it’s the way of the world, and the more known a game becomes the more likely it is to get pirated.
Companies usually consider piracy as monetary losses but usually fail to see this point: from all those that pirated it, how many would actually buy it if pirating it wasn’t an option? I tend to think that it would be next to none.

[edit] you beat me to it ambershee :slight_smile:

From what you write, it looks like you’ve given up on this project. I’d say you shouldn’t. The game looks pretty good and it has potential. Just find a way to fix the technical stuff and you could make a decent amount of money from it. I would say that you just have to fix what’s been mentioned in the Steam reviews and go from there. If you can’t do it yourself, either hire someone to do it or find an associate that has technical skills.

Steam as introduced “latest ratings” so people can see how the game is doing lately, so the reviews can get better once stuff gets fixed. Also, after fixing the things in the comments, contact those users and ask them to reformulate their comments.

I would try not to get too worked up about piracy, it will still happen wheather you like it or not. Best way to counteract would be to drop the price (to 10 euros/dolars, for example). If the game is that cheap, not many people will risk downloading viruses along with the cracked version.

If you don’t have the money to invest in the game, find someone who can do the technical part and to which you can offer a percentage of the sales. This way you don’t have to pay upfront.

Good luck!

BTW, for the technical part, just ask around in the forums, I’m sure there’s a lot of people who can and want to help.

The loading time, for example, can be reduced/eliminated using level streaming.

**Did you implement Steam DRM on the release? **
That is not a silver bullet but can help protect you a little bit.

**Did you release a Demo first or do a pre-release? **
This would have given you some insight in to the problems that users encountered and may have helped sort these issues before release.

**How did you test your game? **
This is extremely important as you are too close to the game to be able to effectively test it and give it a critical eye … this ties in to doing a demo release or pre-release.

What was your Steam Greenlight process like?
How long did it take … Was it well received … What promises did you make.

I think if you are really passionate about your game and want to see it succeed, then you should get someone to help you fix the problems or try to fix the problems yourself. Maybe move the game back in to Pre-Release and reduce the price … you will probably have to chat to Steam about this. Good luck.

I think you should be proud over the fact that they cracked it and is spreading it around. I dont see anything negative coming from that at all.
Think of the promotion you are getting… Its free promotion and when the next game comes around they might say ***“hey, remember that game we downloaded before and thought was good but still downloaded and cracked?, lets buy the new game from this developer” ***

Its common to think that piracy is a negative thing, i would disagree on that point so hard.

I say congrats man, they are trying your game for free, and you wait and see, this will be good for you in the long run. If you were to say “Go ahead pirate it you want, but toss a donation to me, any amount will do”. You know what that says about you then? That you’re a good guy and not only in it for the money but also to spread your art.

We’re making a first person shooter in a world of first person shooters.
We continue to fear that we aren’t doing enough to make the game unique and attractive to get and maintain a player base, let alone make money.
There is more to it under the hood to be sure, but from an outsiders perspective, it is still just a generic first person shooter.

What have you made?
I’m sure the trailers don’t show everything, but from what they do show, the game comes across as a generic third person shooter.
A third person shooter in a world of third person shooters.
If that is truly all there is to it, then no amount of story or polish will help :frowning:

I don’t agree.

There will always genres like FPS, Strategy, RPG, platformer, etc. What’s important is what you add to it, like additional mechanics, art, story, etc. That’s how you differentiate it from the rest.

The difference between Quake and Unreal Tournament for example is mainly the art and story. There are mechanics differences, but they are still FPSs.

There’s also the consideration of money. Not everyone has the posibility to spend 50$ for a third person shooter, some may settle for one at 15$ or 10$.

So yeah, I think there’s a place for everybody and the art and the story are very important. Of course, having additional **mechanics **is always good.

Quake and UT are highly regarded as arena shooters. the controls are snappy and they offer a high level of polish. Back then those 2 and nowadays take BF and COD and no mid-low budget shooter will be able to compete unless they do something really unique (i.e. Portal).
if an indie shooter is ‘just another shooter in a world of shooters’ as Kris says, and given that the indie game will most likely be inferior in every aspect to that other AAA game, if it doesn’t offer anything unique I see no reason why anyone will pick the indie one over the AAA one.
In your case take Tomb Raider, Uncharted, Deus Ex, Metal Gear Solid or Quantum Break. they have good stories, good art, good mechanics, and offer a great experience, and can be bought for $30 or less if you don’t mind it not being the latest in the franchise. so (and again, I haven’t played your game) why would anyone pick your game over any of these?

or people will just play that $50 game that came out 2 years ago and is just now discounted to $15-20 on a Steam sale. even being 2 years old will probably give them more value than some indie game that came out this year, if said indie game isn’t doing something unique.

Agree with what everyone has shared, and to @Chosker’s point- if you haven’t already, you should put your game on sale for 20-25% off. It helps with visibility and marketing. I’d also put a link to your Steam store everywhere- forum signature, all over social media, etc. so that anyone interested in purchasing can do so easily. Especially on the vid with 80k views.

The only thing people were complaining about was bugs glitches and bad optimisation.
Jump on it while you can! Release a patch and fix that stuff! Then you should get some positive reviews.

And ignore those pirates, they will strangely act as marketing for you.
More people playing the game means more people know about it. So just try and go with the flow and embrace it somehow. And use it to your advantage. (You can’t get rid of them.)

I think you just scratched the potential of making some money out of your game. It is still Episode I, so you can offer on Episode II something that only paying custumers will get, like: a One-time Redeem Code given after purchase that they can register into their steam account to receive in game an item, just as an idea. Other things that are quite usual and I think ppl should explore is the ability to maintain an item market inside the game (once you get enough content for ppl to explore it) that they can use ingame and only way to obtain it is paying. The last solution would make you put the game for free and the money earned by the market would more than pay for the development in the long run.

Keep up the good work, dont give up on your project. I also agree 100% with all the previous posts and Im sure my two cents might help aswell.

Cheers!

I’ve followed the launch of your game with a thread on reddit /r/pcgaming and would like to thank you for your feedback which is very instructive.

I think you should consider fixing major issues of your game then do a marketing sale and maybe a trailer showing the improvements.
If you show that your product has a followup you get the chance to build on top of what you already built.

You’ve at least make the foundation of your game and can build on top of that. As for piracy, this is heartbreaking for Indie developers really.
I won’t go as far as saying it’s free advertisement as all those people won’t buy your product anyway, but it’s fair to assume they wouldn’t have played it in the first place. It’s not a clear loss.

There is thing what we call - if you cannot fight them, you should them. In this regard, it is almost pointless to combat piracy… therefore, try making an incremental update so that they can purchase items in the game… my advice is nothing new actually. It is not one sure way to get rich (or even break even) fast, so make it a point for you to enjoy developing the game… whilst you are in it.

Honestly I do not agree at all with this. I’ve heard it so many times, but still I didn’t hear any serious motivation. I’m talking for my experience, my father has always downloaded illegal software (since the first twilight CD in the 90ies lol), and i grew up having almost every game for free. When i got closer to the IT world I just decided that it was wrong, and i started buying those games, wait for discounts, and play demos to decide if those games were worthy of my money or not. I would’ve downloaded all these games for free ten years ago, now I simply don’t. I believe that many people download illegal versions just because they can, and if you could prevent them from doing it, at least some of them would pay for it.

Congrats!

Edit:
Oh, and if you want to avoid piracy, stay away from PC. publish on Nintendo or other consoles, piracy there is much smaller.

Citation needed.

Also, it’s not exactly cheap to publish on a Nintendo console, nor is the audience necessarily very large.

When I worked for PC projects, the piracy level was around 80%;
When I worked on a project for PC/consoles/handheld, it was around a little bit more than 30%. I cannot show images of the thing obviously, the game isn’t “mine”.

So this is the impression I have now, I feel like PC has much much more pirates.

Oh, but the PlayStation 2 era, console was king of piracy btw.

I haven’t played the game, and just looking at the screenshots and videos that sell it as mediocre at best, I never would, but I’m just going to point out here, from just skimming the reviews, what did you expect exactly? The reviews cite poor pacing, terrible optimization and loading times, and other glaring issues that for the most part should be easy to detect on your own, and generally represent a massive failure on your part if they made it into the final game.

Then either become one, or go do art on the project of someone who is technically competent.

Wait wait wait, you’re charging 17$ cad, for a game that lasts 2 and a half hours, looks visually mediocre, is mechanically indistinguishable from every other 3rd person shooter I’ve ever looked at, and to top it off, you did this at a time where the market has been absolutely flooded with loads of 3rd person shooters?

Comparatively, Amnesia The Dark Descent cost 20$ at launch iirc, did EVERYTHING extremely well, had a good 10 hours of playtime, and was one of very few horror games at the time.

Piracy is going to happen. It’s an inevitability of this industry, and in your case even had no one pirated the game, if your reviews are any indication, it would have just gotten mass refunds instead if the reviews are accurate to the issues plaguing your game. It’s wasted time to complain about it, especially considering that the coverage you got from it probably well exceeded what you got on steam, so instead spend that time improving your work so you can make something better next time.