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Indies, we aren’t in competition with each other, no, really…
by Byron AtkinsonJones on 11/27/12 07:11:00 pm   Expert Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


I couldn’t help it, I got dragged into a debate about what Steam should do by Sophie Houlden, which I believe was prompted by a belief that Steam should do more for Indies. I’m not going to debate that here but what I would like to debate is that as Indies there are things we can do to help each other just as long as we get over the idea that we are in competition with each other.

To be in competition with you anybody buying my game would have to do so at the detriment of your game; in other words, if they buy mine they sure as hell aren’t going to buy yours. Is that the case though? No, chances are our respective purchasers don’t even know the other game exists. I’m not trying to say that you aren’t popular or your game isn’t great – I’m saying that there is a hell of a lot of people looking for games out there; we don’t need to see it as a small pool.

The market is currently so large that the people who would buy my game are most likely aren’t going to do it at the detriment of buying your game. I’ll bet that the people buying your games will never have even heard of me let alone my games. While at first glance that might seem like a negative position to be in but it does open up a huge potential to increase that knowledge by helping each other and in a way that doesn’t impact upon people buying your games.

This is all leading to cross-promotion.

Once somebody has bought your game you are in a unique situation in that you already have eyes on your product, the buyer has crossed that chasm from maybe buying to parting with money. So, you no longer have to worry about that particular aspect of game development. It’s at this point you could be telling that player that there are some other games they might be interested in and indeed if they want here’s a link they could follow to get to those games. This isn’t just one-sided though; those games in turn are pointing their players to your games. All of a sudden an audience we might never had a chance to reach before is now aware of your games and hopefully buying them.

This isn’t about spamming your players with adverts. This is telling them, this is my review of this game, and I think it’s worthy of your attention. This by no means a new thing, the Pickford Brothers have been doing it for a while: and I wish more developers would follow their example.

So this is a call to action to all you Indie developers out there. I’m making a new game called Cyberstream Fugitive and you can find the web page here: and I would love to promote your games through this when it comes out and I hope you’ll return the favour. Give me a buzz on twitter @xiotex if you think this is a good idea and we should start talking.

There are real ways we can help each other out, I’ve presented just one of them here. It’s up to all of us to get over the illusion that we are in competition with each other and just get in there and help each other out.



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Tom Shea
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Another very successful form of cross-promotion is what Team Meat did with Super Meat Boy, including characters from other indie games. Very effective without being annoying.

Sven Bergstrom
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You still have to have cultural knowledge in order to care, though? In which case you are likely a fan of, or already own, the respective characters games.

Though maybe people google "commander video" and find out that there are games attached and do so for the other characters.

Cameos are great, but often subtle or for people who already know about the games/characters/cameo content.

Lex Allen
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That was one of the most confusing game trailers that I've ever seen. Maybe it's because I skipped to the middle to see what I think was gameplay. Most people aren't going to read a minute of slow typed text on a youtube video.

I don't think I have any similar games to this, but I think you have the right idea. I'm always looking for ways to cross promote similar products.

However, I would disagree. Any other game out there is competition for your game. People don't have enough time to play all of the games that are out there, so every time someone releases a similar, but better game, the likeliness that someone will play yours goes down.