The Voxel Agents: Year One Retrospective
September 29, 2010 Page 3 of 4
Year One Expenses
We rented an office from day one, because making games is a collaborative process. Our creativity is enabled by working together and inspiring each other. We were expecting to spend the majority on office space, but it's all the other costs that are a surprise!
Marketing, Marketing, Marketing
Ever wondered why the marketing team on your game's credits is bigger than your dev team? It turns out the games don't sell unless you market them. Stop the presses!
Coming from working at bigger studios, we were largely sheltered from the publishing side of game development. We would work on titles for months (or years!) and then the publisher gives you a big list of names of people you've never met to be added to the game credits.
What did these people do? They haven't been slaving over this game all this time! Why should their names be next to yours in the credits!? Turns out there is a lot more to making games than just the "making" part.
What we thought the marketing team did
Now we know what
The first game that we release generated a meager $300 in six months of sales. By contrast, our second title made $20,000 in its first month. In hindsight the difference is obvious; a considered approach to marketing from day one.
Where Game Design Meets Marketing
The importance of marketing has been a continual lesson for us. Marketing is important from day one, and it's not something you leave until launch. With each project we learnt new things about marketing.
Dolphin Hero suffered because it:
- Has no clear target audience
- Has a non-immediate gameplay concept -- that is, it takes more than 10 seconds to grasp
- Lacks marketable features. You would have a lot of trouble selling a game based purely on "great gameplay mechanics", it needs something more compelling to inspire the purchase.
Train Conductor benefitted from:
- A familiar and approachable gameplay concept that's similar to existing games
- Simple mechanics and a widely understood theme. It's immediately obvious what to do.
- Having a variety of gorgeous and fun content, also giving much better screenshots
- Very very addictive "one more time" gameplay
- Love and polish to each and every aspect of the game
And it's available for 99 cents on the App Store right now!
Random Statistics From The First 12 Months
- Shared offices leased: 3
- Overtime hours worked per person per week: 20 (estimated)
- Coffees drank: 1200
- First press coverage: Bark Mag (a local arts magazine)
- Game reviews received: 46
- Prototypes made: 14
- Game design documents: 0
- Game Engines written from scratch: 2 (ObjC and C++)
- Youths negatively affected by Voxel Agents games: 0
- Friends forced to buy our games: 60
- Trees planted (via GreenFleet, for offsetting our carbon emissions): 37
- Tweets: 210
- Blog posts: 20
- Google docs created: 171
We are so pleasantly surprised by how much enjoyment comes from making games independently. We encourage every single creative developer out there to take the chance on it. You'll never look back.
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