Disclaimer: All of this is based on my own personal experience, gathered during and after the release of video game Inner Voices.
You made your game and enchanted it with your love and passion. And now the fruit of your labor is our there, hanging, waiting to be taken. And it happens! And your players come along, to take your 'child' for a walk. Follow them, the players. Go there. Don't lock yourself behind the cold screen. Don't hide in your shell. Go and...
...Talk To them.
See the reviews on steam? Reply. Get yourself involved. Don't just sit there scrolling. After all, you made the game for them to play, not for yourself. Devour and absorb every word they type. They are the feathers of your wings. Let them pull you up, into the sky. Let them... Inspire you. And all you have to do is...
...Talk To them.
Someone disliked your game or left a negative review? Mute your pride, kill your arrogance - you don't need those. Go there and talk. Ask 'why','when' and 'how'. Befriend the authors and see what went wrong. Lear how to make it right and MAKE it right. But none of this will ever happen, if you don't...
...Talk To them.
(Initially this was negative review. Now its not.)
Video games made by Indie Developers are 'love letters'. Compressed passion, love and dreams that you send out. Your confession of devotion. And the players are human beings, just like you! You want to inspire and be inspired. And they will gladly give you all the inspiration in the world. As long as you put as much faith in them, as you do in your game. But, guess what? You have to...
...Talk To them. :)
Doesn't matter if there are 10 comments or 1000 - reply to all of them. Say „Hi!” to each and every reviewer. Get on a wacky ride around YouTube and check out every 'Lets Play' video you encounter. And say "thank you”. To EACH and EVERY one of them. Till your eyelids fall down and you fall unconscious. Do that to show that you care. Because, of course, you do. You are happy and excited. Just share it around. Don't play mind games with them. Don't censor yourself them or delete their posts. Take it all in and be yourself. Honest and true. Don't pretend to be someone else. Take that leap of faith. Give them the credit of trust, you would never give to a stranger in real life. Be their comrade, not enemy combatant. And of course, in order to show and prove your good will, you have to... That's right!
...Talk To them! :D
Ever heard of a saying "What goes around, comes around"? Well, that's no hippie talk. It sounds hippie but it’s not. Passion and kindness is contagious. But don't take this all for granted. Be humble. 'Appreciate' their support (even the smallest), but never ‚expect' it. Be transparent and open. You are not sure, if you should develop a port of your game for Linux? Make a poll via Google Form and ask them! Too small and insignificant for GoG to let you in? Tell your players. Some of our went out of their way and made a wishlist - unasked. Not sure, if Feature X is a good idea? Ask them! To put it bluntly...
...Talk To them!!!!!!!
That's what we did, that's what we are doing. During and after the release of Inner Voices. Effect? Hah! I knew you'd ask.
You want numbers, right? Ratio of conversion between traffic and sales. Charts and analytics. Bullet list of PROs and CONs. So you can learn what there is to gain from all of this. You want to know what the exact, guaranteed benefits are...? Well. There is one for sure and the only you can take for granted:
You will fall in love =)
Too cliche? Well, stand still for a moment. Why do you make games? Why did you get started on this mess of a job? You have the skills to be a software engineer. Graphics or design talents that can easily fetch you enough money elsewhere. Yet you are here. In a market, where money is the last to be gained. You are here because, deep inside, you believe that there's something more to this world, than just a dollar bill. And that there's a difference between "living" and "being alive".
So... Talk to them. And fall in love. Let them be your fuel. Because... Once again:
When you’re the one who can fly and take them places - they are the feathers of your wings.
Developers and players. We are the opposite sides of the same coin. And I think you now understand what I'm trying to explain. Simply...