Indie Life Wasn’t Supposed To Be Easy…

I got this post from one of you readers, and I think there’s valuable questions and ideas worth considering here. I’ll go the post step by step and answer as well as I can.

I know very well what constrains me, and do not know HOW to make it work – doubt there is a way btw…

Somebody has said that Where there’s a will there’s a way and I 100% agree with the statement. I do realize that some things don’t work for everybody all the time, so sometimes you need to stop wondering how to go through a dead end and simply turn back and find some other route. But often, there’s a way.

Let’s see if we can come up with a solution – but for starters, I think it’s hugely important to make sure you concentrate on thinking about the solution rather than thinking that there’s no way to make it work.

The problem is, the type of game I make is true RPGs… and big, thriving portals all says it’s not the kind of game that clicks to their target audience…

Yes, that’s a fact of life. Portals won’t sell certain kind of games, so it’s waste of time trying to sell them anything they don’t want. It’s bit like the story about banana farm for monkey.

so how can i rival Azada when Azada is so much promoted and I get nothing but my own site and a couple others?

A simplified answer is that “you can’t”. If you are doing an RPG game that portals don’t want (unless it’s a ‘casual RPG’…), then I don’t see how you could ‘compete with Azada‘.

The good news are, that you don’t need to.

When you are creating a game that cannot go through portals, then you gotta find some alternative routes. For starters, there’s sites such as Kongregate.com that can help promoting your game. You can simply approach different publishers and make deals with them. Reflexive is another good choice: they take indie games too.

Or, look what one Finnish game company did with their Shadowgrounds game: they have several purchase places (and they published through Meridian4).

Simply put: if you cannot go through portals, then use something else.

HOW can I make THIS work? Seems to me there is no answer, as I cannot force the portals to promote my stuff – if they dont want, they dont want…

You said something really important: you can’t force other people to promote your stuff. It’s the old saying about getting horses to drink: you can lead them to a river, but they’ll make up their own mind about drinking water.

If you think you are not going anywhere with your game (even after trying several publishers, like mentioned above), then at some point you gotta ask if you could change your approach. Perhaps it could make sense to do a market research where you’ll go through various stages to find out if there’s market for your game. If RPG genre isn’t getting you where you want, perhaps you can try something different (‘casual RPG’, ‘Puzzle RPG’, ‘Adventure RPG’,, Puzzle games and so on). Something that you might have better chances in getting to portals.

That was the hopeless message of the day… one of your writings says, “dont give up, business could start the month after”… how can you see it coming when the main actors of the indie scene clearly states they have no interest in the type of game you do…

There’s a chinese proverb that says: “The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.” If you think it cannot be done, then you perhaps could get motivation from watching how others are doing it.

Our games should not try to please everybody on the planet all the time. If your game can please some audience, for some time – then you’ll done your part (and can reap the rewards).

If portals don’t want your game then you have (close to) two options:
1) Either you create a game that portals want
2) Or you try some other ways to promote your game.

Also remember that selling isn’t the only option for promoting and generating revenue. There’s plenty of practical marketing tips and business insight available that can help you getting ideas on how to get forward with your game.

If you really enjoy doing games, and really think you have a good game – then go forward. Find somebody who can help you. Ask from others who have done RPG games earlier. Ask in different forums. Make a plan and go boldly forward.

Make things happen.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Yeah good advice Juuso.

    A couple of weeks ago when I did my 2nd dan black belt Aikido grading I was talking to a brown belt outside who was going for his 1st dan. He was saying “I don’t feel ready for this, I know I’m going to fail” etc. Guess what? He failed. His whole body posture and demeanour said he was a failure before he’d even started. In fact during the grading he actually did some really good bits (sword cutting and four man attack and ki tests), but he messed up the moves in any order. Once he started to get a few wrong, instead of putting his mistakes behind him and moving forward, he started to sag and get flustered and this had a snowball effect. I’m pretty sure if his attitude was different he would have had the skills to pass the grading…

  2. And yet, how did Azada compete against the hidden object mill ? They took a chance and it paid off. There is an interview of the developer on http://www.azada-game.com that is quite interesting. Basically they had no idea if it would do well or not. It’s easy to say in retrospect “adventure games are hot”, but at the time, they rolled the dice.

    How did Huntsville compete against the zuma clone factory ? They took a chance and it paid off.

    What games do portals promote? Games that convert. They test a title for a day or two and if it converts, they push it. It’s that simple.

    I’m sure there is space for a well done RPG. Someone will figure it out and make a top hit on portals, and then people will complain “but how can my game compete against ‘big rpg franchise’, portals promote such games”.

    Stop brooding and ask empowering questions such as “what kind of original game could sell on portals?” and then build it.

Comments are closed.