How Not to Sell Stuff

Today I got a phone call from some guy who was asking for the person who “is in charge for marketing” in my company. At that point my brain told me to click the red button to end the call, but of course I didn’t do that… the guy started saying that he just needs to update my information in their website catalog.

I managed to ask their site URL, and checked it (looked ok). Again I thought that there’s something fishy, but the guy just kept saying how he’ll just want to make sure the information is correct. He mentioned my company name, street address, phone number etc. and I said that all seemed to be correct. I even gave site URL, and finally… just before the was about to end the call he said. “We charge 40 euro for updates, have a nice…” – to which I interrupted by saying “I’m not going to pay that”.

His tone of voice changed a bit and he asked me “What, so you are going to stay outside this?”. I said “That’s right Watson” (okay, I didn’t say “Watson” but I now I hope I had). Then he started saying how they are getting “click tracking and whatnot and then he repeated if I really want to miss this opportunity”. I said “Yep, that’s correct” (I wish I had said “Yep, that’s correct grasshopper”).

Then he hang up (not sure if we said “bye”) to which I said “(poo)hole” out loud. (I wish I hadn’t…).

Anyway, I think there’s lessons here:

1) I actually think that this type of “hide the fee in the end” will increase their conversion rate. People who bother to take time to give their details feel like “I have wasted my time if I don’t pay this now” (I felt like “I have wasted my time, and am I about to waste my money too?”). I think it’s ugly tactic, but I could estimate that this works better than saying in the beginning “We have this 40 eur program, are you interested?”. Might work better in terms of conversion, but gives an ugly feeling. It’s almost like scamming people to buy.

2) I’m going to ask “are you trying to sell something?” whenever somebody calls me…

How to Use YouTube To Track Information About Who Has Viewed Your Videos

I’ve been embedding more videos about my zombie game’s progress. I was adding my latest video (see below) and clicked it (which lead me to the video page), I noticed an interesting button in YouTube.

After I clicked the embedded video, I got to the video’s homepage and noticed control panel for “owner” (notice: you can only see this if you are the author of the video – in other words: have uploaded the video in your youtube account).

There I saw the button “insight”:

I moved on and started checking what other stuff could be found behind the “Insight”. There was some information about the demographics (for one of my zombie game videos): 83% male, 17% female have been watching the video. Most of them are within 18 to 34 years, but there’s also quite many 13-17 years old (20+%) and also 35 to 54 years old (25%).

There was also other information such as discovery (which sounds how people found the video: embedded on a site, external links, through youtube’s “relevant videos” link etc.), popularity, hot spots and views. You can also see from which countries people have watched the video.

I found this to be pretty nice addition for tracking information about who is watching your game videos.

Your Game’s “Useless Tiny Details” Might Help Promote Your Game Big Time

Have you seen this video where somebody is presenting how World of Warcraft character animations offer variety of ways for dancing. In terms of gameplay, something like “dancing animation” might have close to zero gameplay value (after all, it doesn’t give you points or rewards when you cycle through these animations), they can be valuable for both entertaining the player – and of course they make a good videos.

Watch the following:

At the time of writing, this specific video has a view count of 11,161,676. 11 million views. That must be close to a youtube view count record or something. These kind of videos make great viral marketing vehicles, and they help make the game more popular.

When thinking of small details in your product’s game play, it might be worth remembering that the sum of all those tiny features might end up being pretty big.

The Wickest Marketing Plot I’ve Ever Done

I was playing a match of Half-Life 2 Zombie Master mod, and noticed that some people were spraying walls and stuff. I thought that I want to do that too.

And then it strike to me… that I might as well do my own spray. I took my Dead Wake banner, imported in the game (Valve has done great job doing this, it was matter of couple of clicks) and then I continued playing and sprayed the banner.

It was fun to watch seeing one or more players stopping near the banner and looking downwards. (But maybe not so fun to see them starting to shooting the banner…)

Here’s couple of screenshots: my Dead Wake banner in Half-life 2. Now I just need to convince every Dead Wake fan to do this when they are playing…


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 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.

Witty Way to Get Publicity For Your Game: Screenshot Contest

Developers of the World of Kung Fu game have announced a screenshot contest. The players of the game need to take screenshots, and the best shots win prizes.

World of Kung Fu is free-to-play 3D MMO/MMORPG game that offers something for all different types of gamers, from social gamers to hard-core gamers. World of Kung Fu is a virtual world set in ancient China (one of my personal favorite themes by the way). Originally, World of Kung Fu is made for Chinese audience, but recently the development team launched an English version.

The screenshot contest uses several elements worth mentioning (and learning):

  • Partnership: They are partnering with other organization to do the contest. Getting help is a nice idea and can help with prizes and publicity.
  • Press release: They created a press release to promote the event. Contest alone does little good if nobody hears about it.
  • Players (and the game) involved: I like how they tied the contest around their game. People need to actually play the game and use the game’s functionality to participate.
  • Easy for players: Taking screenshots can be (relatively) easy! Everybody who is capable of playing the game, can most likely take screenshots (if there’s a button that takes screenshots). This means it’s more likely to get people to participate.
  • Prizes: every contest needs them. In World of Kung Fu, the prizes are mainly about getting new specialties in the game (that’s quite interesting way to give prizes I think) rather than some giving away other games or gadgets or something (which can also be good)

I suggest checking out the World of Kung Fu and learning more about the game and the contest (I’m benchmarking their efforts in order to “borrow” this marketing idea for marketing my own game).

I don’t use this word often, but the artwork is breathtaking (the below video is quite blurry, you should check out the screenshots or try the game on your own to get a better picture).

More videos, screenshots and a free playable game at the World of Kung Fu website.

There so many opportunities to learn about marketing by simply watching what kind of stuff other people are doing.

Beginners Guide to Recording Game Videos and Showing Them on Your Website

This article shows you what tools I’ve used to create game videos, and how I’ve embedded them in my website. You’ll need couple of tools that are either free or inexpensive to get.

Recording videos
I’ve mentioned this earlier, but I’ll mention this again to make this guide as complete as possible. I use Fraps for recording game videos. Fraps is inexpensive and provides easy-to-use recording of your games. Fraps has everything you need for recording sound and video.

Editing your video
I actually haven’t done much video editing (and have survived pretty well without editing), and don’t know many of them but somebody mentioned Sony Vegas Movie Studio which might be handy. (If you have any more recommendations on video editing, please feel free to suggest)

I haven’t used Sony, so can’t personally recommend it – but it seems to be pretty feature rich tool. If you don’t need to edit your videos, then you can skip this phase and just move to the next step.

Converting AVI to MPG
Fraps records movies in .avi format, so it’s a good idea to compress them to MPG (I usually convert to MPG1 instead of MPG2 format to make sure it works as many place as possible). MPG videos are much smaller than AVI files, yet they can provide good quality. (Those who want to have HD quality videos need to find some other tutorial though… I’m not covering those here)

I tested a loads of different AVI-to-MPG tools and there were some free, some expensive and many, many crap ones. Finally I found WinAVI which does everything I need (and I only need to convert AVI to MPG). It’s inexpensive tool and worth checking out. I personally like the simplicity of the tool. It does what it’s supposed to do.

Update: Toni and Stoper recommended VirtualDUB – it’s free converter.

Uploading your video
I’ve used mainly YouTube to upload videos, but some other places worth checking are for example WeGame and Vimeo.

Showing videos on your website
Google YouTube API provides some tools that you can use to show videos on your website. Recently I discovered the Videobar which I’ve used in Dead Wake game website to show latest videos I’ve uploaded to YouTube. Basically I just used the wizard and wrote my YouTube username to “Youtube Channels:”, unchecked the “Most Viewed Videos” and the widget provided the code to use in my website.

If you have a WordPress blog, you can google for various plugins that help showing uploaded videos on your blog. I haven’t used those, but they seemed to look pretty easy way to publish videos.

Naturally you can embed videos (they give you code after you’ve uploaded videos) on your site using HTML. That’s very easy way to upload videos as well.

That’s it folks
This is how I’ve recorded and published videos, and even though there’s several steps I think overall it can be quite easy to get game videos on your website.

And gamers love seeing videos.

How to Turn Piracy Into a Sales Machine

Software piracy is a hot topic: use it for your marketing
Cliff Harris has made an excellent marketing campaign for his game: he opens a can of worms and then uses it to generate publicity for his game. Here’s how he did it.

You cannot change anybody else, you can only change your own behavior
This is pretty simple principle in life that has worked to me. Whether it’s friends, relations, teamwork, bosses or piracy. It’s pretty much wasted effort to try to change others. Sure, you can try come up with motivational bonuses for your team members. You can try to threat them to work harder, but in the end it’s up to them to decide.

You cannot stop piracy, but you can use it to generate interest and promote your games.

So, how does piracy can bring more sales?
Cliff Harris is has developed Kudos 2 game – a sequel to his popular Kudos game (Kudos Rock Legend sales statistics here).

He crafted a nice marketing plan to get publicity for the game: (not actually sure if he knew what would happen, but I have a feeling that he did)

#1 – First he made a post about “I wanna hear from the pirates”
He wrote a post asking reasons why people pirate his games. He posted the article to various other places such as slashdot, penny arcade forums, digg , arstechnica and bnet.

#2 – That topic took fire
Talking about piracy is a hot topic. It’s something that generates interest. No matter what you say, there’s always somebody against it when it comes to piracy.

Cliff’s blog was flooded with traffic (at the time of writing, I think his blog got too much traffic and could not be reached).

#3 – Then the next step: answers and the game sales page
After the topic caught fire, the natural next step was to reveal the answers. Cliff posted a lengthy post with answers, and provided some links to Kudos 2. He was answering to the questions and saying that he will do some changes to Kudos 2, so that players would be more inclined to buy the game.

We’ll wait and see if that helped
His site got flooded with traffic, and I really hope they convert to sales.

I know that Cliff is really wanting to negotiate with the terrorists pirates, but I’m pretty sure he is also doing this to drive traffic to his site and get more sales.

I think the campaign concept is brilliant.

To help out Cliff, please digg his article.