Yo, Kamal here! This is the second episode of Game Dev EXP – Business for games.
Last time we talked about Market research and how crucial it is to the success of your game. Today we will continue our business journey by exploring the various ways of launching a game in today's market.
Knowing how you’re going to launch your game is probably the second most important thing, after market research, because once you figure out these two, you can build a reliable Business plan and a vision for your game that screams “realistic” and can raise funds.
In this article, I’m going to talk about different ways of launching your game and how each one affects the development; hence, having you make an early decision and not change it later down the line. I’ll be sure to link detailed articles on each type in case you want to dig even deeper.
So, launching your game greatly depends on the platform and genre of your game. For example, a strategy game on PC will probably follow a soft-launching model while a story-driven game on consoles will probably need a huge following for the first-day release. So I’m going to list down some of the proven techniques and include in what sense they work better.
This method is a cautious one which is why a lot of investors and publishers like it. The main idea is to release your game earlier and only to selected countries, stores, or a limited number of players. The version of the game you release then must be Beta+ which means the Beta version has been tested for bugs and has been polished further for soft launch release. The main reason for soft launch is to test your game design, monetization techniques, marketing strategies, and get confirmed data about your target audience. If you don’t already have a publisher for the game, this is the best phase to pitch your game to publishers. Soft launch enables you to get real, approved, and unique data about who is playing your game, how they’re playing it, why they’re interested, how much average revenue per user you’re receiving ( ARPU), and what marketing strategies are working for you.
Genres that work well with the Soft-Launching model:
Generally, most online games are better off using this model.
Much like movies, this strategy revolves around releasing the game and concentrating all marketing effort to ensure the highest sale on the first day of release. You see this method used a lot by AAA games especially the offline ones. Keep in mind that while Soft-Launching needs constant expenditure to manage the community and development at the same time, a premiere launch focuses more on quality content prior to the game’s release to build hype enough to ensure the highest sales figure on the first day of release and this often means multiple trailers, appearing in the biggest game conventions, working with journalists to secure articles, and teasing the game every now and then. However, Premiere-Launching isn’t only for AAA games, lots of indie games have used this model as well such as Hell blade, Ori and the blind forest, Super Meat Bo, and more. Indie games that use this method often rely on building a fanbase throughout the development stage through streams and community engagement. So setting up a discord server, joining podcasts, getting journalism coverage, and producing a high-quality trailer are key contributions to the success of this model.
Genres that work well with the Premiere-Lunch model:
Action / Adventure
And generally offline games, which might be ruined if spoiled to players who are yet to play the game.
Community Launching (I came up with this name)
This type is probably only suitable for indie games of well-known genres. This type of publishing is close to the premiere launching; however, it doesn’t tease or keep most of the content secret. Instead, it depends on sharing the development journey and building a community while developing, it revolves around a personal connection between the developer(s) and the community through discord servers, devlog videos, development streams, Patreon/Kickstarter campaigns, etc. Such examples are games like The First Tree. By the time your game is released, there will be a considerable number of players who know most of the things about your game; they remember how the unpolished versions looked like, they lived with you through the development journey and they have taken a liking to you personally as a developer not only your game which is why they will share the game around for you and create the momentum needed to kickstart your game.
This is probably the hardest way because to do it, you need a good deal of personal branding, as well as a game that clicks with a lot of people. So in order to do this, you probably need to first be one with the community before you introduce your game. This type of launching often revolves around honesty between a developer and the community and is broken if a publisher is taking care of PR. This is why I said it’s probably only suitable for indie games. Personally, I follow two games of this nature and those are Lucen and Project Feline. So take a look and support them if you like their content and definitely learn from their example so to how to build a fanbase and how to launch the game with your community.
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