Category Archives: Business

Game business related posts.

Kickstart Your Indie Game Project

I just discovered this site called Kickstarter. (Thanks to Rinkuhero’s tweet about his project there).

Basically… it’s a site where you can pledge for funding. You set a funds limit, then set expiration dates and some other things (check their site for details) and then people can choose to fund your project.

Here’s the interesting thing: If there’s not enough pledges, then all money is returned to the backers.

Kind of cool system, and possibly something that indies could use in their development.

Anyone else tried this?

Why Garry’s Mod Is The Most Successful Indie Product In Steam?

When you go to check Steam indie games and click “top sellers”, the chances are that you’ll see Garry’s Mod listed there in top 10. Over the years, it has pretty much always been there (at least when I’ve checked the list).

In fact, it’s the only top selling indie product that was released in 2006. That’s quite a long time to stay on top.

In my books, that’s the most successful indie product in Steam.

Why is that?

I’d have a few ideas on that (there’s some marketing points in here, so it might be actually a good idea to read this. At least the thing where word “pack” is mentioned):

  • It’s not a “real” game, as there’s no goals – it’s a toy. (Please, let’s just agree on this? Games=goals, toys=games with no goals). Toy that let’s you play around.
  • It’s a toy… but also a “sandbox game” where you can bring new items and mess with them.
  • You can construct: put your creativity in the work. And just construct. For people like me (who like to create, like many do) it’s a huge satisfaction to see and do new creations.
    It’s moddable. Strange as it sounds, but this mod is actually moddable and people have created their own game modes which other people can try.
  • It’s wacky: you can pose characters in funny positions. Save screenshots. And then hear your friends laughing.
  • It’s social. I think this is a huge thing. In this game/toy… you get to create new things and then you can share your creations. Naturally you can do this in other games, but in garry’s mod it’s kind of like expected: why create funny faces unless you plan to take screenshots and tell your friends. I’d guess there’s underlying expectation about sharing things created with garry’s mod. (I might be totally wrong on this).
  • It’s been updated: since it’s a mod, whenever Valve brings new stuff or games (like Team Fortress 2), garry’s mod got tons of content (naturally with some work, but anyway).
  • The price is probably very right.
  • Valve’s promotion. As garry’s mod is made for Valve’s product, there’s good chances to get promotion made by Valve. For example, now you can purchase a pack “Garry’s Mod + Team Fortress 2″. Valve has interest to sell TF2, so Garry’s mod benefits from that. You don’t get to see “Team Fortress 2 + (random indie game)” being sold in a pack. Cross-selling is a good thing, and when you can stick your product close to other (very popular) product, you are in a good place.
  • It got there first. Being first isn’t always a good thing (as competitors can come and ruin your thing by doing something better), but garry’s mod pretty much was there first to provide a wacky mod for Valve’s products. It got there first, and is holding the lead. Why bother buying some other wacky mod (don’t even know if there is any?) as garry’s mod is the popular one?

Last but not definitely least:

  • It’s indie made.

And everybody knows that indie made stuff rocks.

What Are AAA Titles? (Updated Definition)

This thread at indiegamer got me pondering what are AAA titles. I wrote a somewhat detailed blog post 3 years ago and thought that it’s time to update the definition.

In that article, I pondered that AAA titles are:

High-quality games with big budget.

Nowaday, I have a shorter definition:

Games with big budget.

And, I actually don’t try to be funny here. I just feel that the “budget” doesn’t equal “quality”. AAA titles are high budget games, but I’m not so sure about the quality. Sure, there’s great AAA games, but a gut feeling of mine says 80% of them aren’t.

So, let’s talk about indie games
I feel that there’s tons of great indie games around that provide excellent quality (compared to so called AAA titles that have huge budgets, but low quality). Indie games can provide excellent quality with smaller budgets.

I recently played a game called Windowsill (thanks Ofer for this fun Steam gift!). That game is one beatiful, quality product. Everybody should play and buy it. Then I saw also Machinarium – another great looking indie game, seemed fun too. Friend of mine is working on his Lylian game. I hate platformers… but this one is a “horror” themed adventure side-scroller, with stunning graphics. Something that I like.

Many people might already know Gratuitous Space Battles (I do have an opinion about that name… but one reviewer said he bought the game just for the name, so can’t argue with that) – game by Cliff Harris. Expect quality from there. A few minutes ago I tested AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! — A Reckless Disregard for Gravity (or Aaaaa! for short) which has a simple fun idea, and really cool visuals. Another quality looking indie game.

So… we don’t really need more AAA games.

I think we need more something else. Something like this:
(here’s the actual comment by somebody who referred me to play Battle Bears)

“Juuso, If you ever want to shoot heads off cute pink teddy bears, check it out.”

Not sure if that’s indie, but at least sounds fun.

Next step: let’s beat those AAA games.

Potatomen

Cliff Harris just tweeted about a blog post called Are you a potato or a rock band?. I think that has a valid point… No matter how you price your product, somebody will say “I’d buy it if it were cheaper”. An example to prove this: there was one guy who got sick of those bastard blaming that they need to spend like $3.99 to upgrade their iphone app (after the app got tons of improvements). So, instead he priced the app for $39.99 (it was a witty marketing campaign).

So the point is… if people are like whining giving constructive criticism over couple of bucks – they whine talk about any price.

So.

Cliff is right.

Pricing games & doing indie games means not being a potatoe.

It means doing some cool games like this. (Absolutely stunning game.)

What Pringles Taught Me About Marketing (And Cross-Selling)

When Pringles was introduced here in Finland, I remember myself thinking: “why on earth would anybody buy such expensive chips in such a weird packages?”

Ten years later… I only buy Pringles when I buy chips.

I guess the process went like this in my head:

  • New weird chips? I’ll stick to what’s familiar
  • (later…) Hmm, I guess I could try these new chips for once
  • (more later…) Hey, I could buy Pringles again, those were yammy
  • (more more later…) They actually are darn good together with goat milk cheese. I wonder why I first thought that these were weird chips..

So… something “weird” might get some time for people to get used to it. But… by doing same thing differently (basically Pringles chips were packed in a box, while other chips were packed in a… some thing) at least you get their attention.

By cleverly looking different, they totally got me.

The only thing they missed to do was to make a cross-selling deal with the goat milk cheese manufacturers. Since goat milk cheese + pringles is like awesome combination. They would have got me years earlier if they’d let me know that this is a killer combination.

I guess we all can learn something new every day…

Indie Xmas 2009 – Update

Yesterday’s idea about indie xmas got some great feedback, and I also wrote about it in the indiegamer boards.

Please feel free to participate and comment the original blog post for your ideas. For example, feedback could be used about the fact that not everybody will manage to finish their game… thus we could consider allowing also “upcoming games videos”. Please let me know what you think.

P.S. I accidentally had written “indie xmas 2010″ while I meant “indie xmas 2009″ in the blog post title. Now… after being pointed out what year it is, I’ve fixed that typo. It’s like my uncle used to say: “The only thing worse than a mistake, is a stupid mistake”.

Indie Xmas 2009 (Let’s Beat Together Those Bastard AAA Games)

I got this really funky idea this morning which could mean:

  • I want to get help generate tons of indie game sales. I want to build a huge hyped “xmas portal site” that helps sell tons of indie games this Christmas – all profits going to indies.

Here’s my idea in a nutshell:

  • We’ll register a domain that has “indie” and “christmas” or something like that in it (feel free to suggest ideas!)
  • The site will be bloody simple (think of something like this but a little more texts and download buttons and stuff)
  • The site will have Xmas colors and reindeers and bright xmas stuff (if somebody wants to help make layout, please feel free to show yourself!)
  • Only indies are allowed to submit their games
  • Each game’s position will be randomized with every page load – so every game has equal chance to being shown there. (It could even be an Xmas calendar type of thing where new game or games are revealed every day)
  • There will be images to click and links to click. Only images are hosted here, downloads must be hosted by you.
  • Payments go through your site. I collect zero pennies for this. 100% revenues go for indies and webhosting fees are on my shoulders (when the server crashes due too much traffic, we can ask for donations or something).
  • It would be good if there was a xmas special discounts (maybe something to be revealed in the calendar each day) as many games as possible. Ranging anywhere from 10% to 50% or more discounts. (To give customers more reason to visit the site)

As for promotion:

  • I will use my game release service to promote the site.
  • Naturally I’ll also use this and my own game sites to promote.
  • All indies who participate, if possible, should try promote the site some way (for example via their mailing list, blogs, twitter…)

Of course I’d benefit from this the same way as everybody else: I’d finish my game and put it available through this “indie xmas site” (in absolutely same manner as everybody’s elses game – not my game getting any bonuses or anything for being “owner” of the idea).

If you are interested, please reply in this blog post (or retweet or blog about this) and please suggest some ideas & improvements on how to handle this. Let me know if you are interested in participating or helping improve the design for this idea.

Basically the idea is to beat those bastard AAA games and bastard game portals the next Xmas. (Or at least give them a little nudge… and let *us* collect what’s rightfully ours.)

Viva la indie!

Xbox 360 Or PlayStation 3 – Hmm, I’ll Buy Neither One… But Perhaps a PlayBoxStation?

I discussed with friend of mine about “getting either Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3″. I started making a point that I really have no time to play pretty much anything, so in a way I don’t really want either one. But then again, there’s some cool games that would be fun to test on consoles…

(So far I’ve relied on playing at my bro’s place)

Anyway, we discussed that it’s quite a wonder how games are made either for Xbox 360 or for PlayStation 3. And how it’s pretty expensive thing to handle. Sure, there’s many games that are done for both, but often you get games only for one of these. Xbxo 360 and Microsoft has nice game development community around XNA. Sony has Blu-ray, which is of course cool if you watch movies. Sony’s PS3 is black, which is also a plus.

But for games. It’s tricky. For example, Alan Wake is coming only for Xbox (not even for PC which is a shame). That’s an enough good reason to buy Xbox 360. But then for example Little Big Planet is only for PS3.

So… would I need to get both machines, just to be able to play something I want? Spending 300-400 euros for being able to play Alan Wake sounds pretty expensive.

From a gamers point-of-view, that’s quite tricky. Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 are kind of close to each other in terms of games audience, so I wonder what could happen if these two would combine their efforts… and do PlayBoxStation IV or something (BoxStation? XPlay?).

That would mean:

  • They’d pretty get monopoly over (hardcore) gamer consoles
  • They could set the prices for games (they do this already, but I guess they’d have more power over this)
  • No console price war in hard core gamer audience (Wii is a different thing): nowadays if Xbox price drops, so will Playstation. New PlayBox would cost something and that’s the thing you must get if you want to play games. Spending 300 for Xbox and another 300 eur for PlayStation is like more expensive than spending 450 euros for the PlayBoxStation IV.
  • Lesser game development costs (I’m not an expert on how these things go in the publisher end, but from a developer’s point of view it’s always less expensive when you don’t need to do porting to different platforms…)

So basically, instead of 2 kids fighting, they could become teammates and start bullying others.

Hmm, actually I’m not so sure if this is a good idea after all. Maybe it’s better after all that there’s these 2 rivals in this sandbox fighting each other. Who knows.

How to Handle Pirates (The Final Truth)

Makers of Demigod write that Demigod was pirated like hell, but nevertheless the game sold it’s way to top 3 (even though it was less on what they expected).

As Ars Technica was quoted on that post:

“The reason why we don’t put copy protection on our games isn’t because we’re nice guys. We do it because the people who actually buy games don’t like to mess with it. Our customers make the rules, not the pirates. Pirates don’t count,” Wardell argues. “When Sins popped up as the #1 best selling game at retail a couple weeks ago, a game that has no copy protect whatsoever, that should tell you that piracy is not the primary issue.”

Indie developer Positech has NO-DRM policy on their games and Cliff is one of the most successful true indie developer in the world.

If there’s pretty well selling games that have no DRM, then why shouldn’t we all learn something from this?

I believe that it’s much about the mindset you take. Which of these segment do you think you should focus, which attitude should you take?

  • Anti-pirate
  • Pro-customer

We cannot stop piratism no matter what we do.

So, that leaves us the option to concentrate on something else.

What we can do is to have 100% focus on customers.

When we ignore pirates, and put our focus on customers we also start to attract the right type of audience towards us. When our minds are focused on “how to get more customers” instead of “how to prevent people from stealing from me” we are getting forward.

The final truth is: Arr, ye should just ignore pirate scums!

Everybody wins then.

Are You Submitting Your Game to IGF?

IGF submission deadline is almost around the corner and I wonder who is going to submit their game there? I have many things that need to be finished, but it’s my goal to get in this year.

There’s there’s many developers who have submitted their games already.

Are you going?

Submitting your game to IGF 2010?

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Those unfamiliar with the IGF… briefly put: it’s a place to get your indie game popular. And much more. Check the website: IGF.com. The finalists and winners will get fame and glory.