The rise and fall of Indie developers: Missed opportunities
As a way of introducing ourselves, we have always supported the ‘indie scene’, be it titles that already gained a certain status, or those who were simply starting their journey of forging thoughts into an actual playable concept. While we still write about mainstream items a lot, we have done our best maintaining a healthy balance between mainstream and indie, at least as far as it is/was possible. Nonetheless, there’s something that perhaps I alone have to get off my chest, namely, ‘dear indie developers, stop throwing away opportunities’.
At a certain point in time we all have to stop and face the music, and in this case the problem is pretty much that the indie name is slowly turning into an open sewage of copy-paste games that seem to serve as a get-rich-quick formula or an uninspired concept to simply call yourself a fellow developer. Nonetheless, between the truckloads of releases every single day, there are those developers that make a viable concept, or even a diamond in the rough, but sadly the people running the project are often incapable of decently promoting their baby.
Over the course of the three years we’ve been promoting indie games we’ve had a lot of positive feedback from developers that we were able to help with their greenlight or kickstarter campaigns and even boost their sales numbers, simply thanks to the publicity the game had received from one of the writers on our site. Nonetheless, for some reason there are many developers who expect that their game will receive a perfect score and often tend to react furiously in the comments that we are mistaken, even in cases when the game received a sturdy 8,5/10. Not only is this counterproductive, the games business is still rather small, when it comes to unprofessional behavior, thus news tends to spread quickly. So, perhaps this is already one the key points that could aid your own image.
That being said, more than once, we don’t get to the review stage of a game, or even to the point we’re able to feature a small news article about said project or game. This is often due to poor monitoring of the situation, stubbornness or sheer laziness. In about 80% of the situations where we contact an indie developer to talk about their project and perhaps even feature it on the website, we get replies as: ‘we’ll send you a press kit right away!’. Well, to those who we contacted over the course of three years: we’re still waiting… (If you say you’re going to do something, just do it.)
Other times messages simply get read and we’re being ignored, while at later periods these same developers whine and mope about the fact nobody is giving them coverage. Some of those developers are hoping their game will immediately get picked up by the giants such as IGN or Kotaku, but again, face reality and be happy with the publicity you can get. If a smaller site offers you a chance to feature your game by giving them a key (which you can generate for free) and perhaps reach a couple of thousand of people, why not take that opportunity? It’s probably the cheapest way of advertising your game anyway.
Last but not least there are those who expect that every little update should be featured on the site and get really upset about it when it doesn’t reach the front page of the site. While it’s fun to see your game evolving, please note that a site has already taken interest in you, but they also have to consider what their readers would like to read. It’s great that you’ve added trees to the barren environment of your game, but this is something you should feature on your own social media, which hopefully is well up-to-date.
Even though Facebook is slowly killing the reach of smaller pages, you should still consider having an active Facebook page, where you can actively show the progress of your game. Of course channels such as Twitter and nowadays Tumblr and other sorts are equally important to create a certain buzz around your project. Not only show progress, but perhaps a few snippets of you and the rest of your team, to make things perhaps a bit more personal, which might make people like you and even support your upcoming game.
Perhaps a rude one from our side of the fence, but if your concept is simply copy-paste from another game: please leave it alone, put it back in the oven and come back when you think you’re able to make something that has your own stamp on it. Keep in mind, many people will dig into your past projects thanks to the wonderful world of the internet, and if they see your previous (crappy) project they might just lose interest in your current one. Be original, be creative, be qualitative.
To finally wind things down, we’ll keep it simple. Dear indie developers, we still love you and your games, but sometimes you guys are rude, lazy and not qualified to handle the PR side of your own baby. There are plenty of affordable publishers or PR agencies that could help you boost your campaigns or even your sales. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions, who knows we might be able to get you in contact with certain companies that could help you.
While this article may have a rather negative undertone, we still wish to thank all devs who have shown us courtesy and great service. We will do our best to keep supporting you guys!
Note: Those who are interested in a tutorial on how to make a proper mail directed at a gaming site, we will gladly make one if there is enough response. For further questions you can contact me at Joshy.Scheers@3rd-strike.com .