I like to keep up-to-date with the latest Post Mortems that find their way into the gaming news websites. It’s one of the first things I’ll check out on Twitter and the main reason I keep an eye on Gamasutra. Thanks to the Penny-Arcade Report I came across this one from Flippfly, makers of Race The Sun.
Head on over to their site to read their detailed breakdown on how disappointing a successful launch can be of an indie title.
It’s a little frightening to be a new developer. Heck, reading the comments from the River City Ransom or Mighty No. 9 Kickstarters are worrying. These are games that I’ve got a lot of confidence in, and by the look of the funding on Kickstarter, lots of other people do too. But time and again the comments read “unless it’s on Steam, I’m not buying it” or “unless it’s on PS4, I’m not buying it.”
The customer loyalty to Sony or Valve is heartbreaking. Don’t get me wrong, they’re great platforms, and I support them… but as a developer it’s not as simple as simply choosing the platform to develop for and saying “this is it.” Believe me, I want Super Hematoma to be on Steam. And I want it to be on the PS4, but it isn’t just as simple as that.
With Steam, you need to win a popularity contest. This means hounding people to vote for your game… a process which pushes other potential candidates out of the way. Greenlight is very prohibitive to indies in that without being able to get the votes, you aren’t going to get on Steam. Now from what I understand, a very successful Kickstarter can make that problem go away… but for someone new to the scene, getting an audience is pretty tough.
PS4 has easier accessibility. We’re encouraged by that and do hope to make it a platform that we target, but there are still lots of processes that come up once you want to release to a console. You need to have it localized to wherever you release it. A North American release means that you need to support English, French, and Spanish. It means a lot of paperwork with SCEA, and making sure that you comply with all of the specifications that the system requires. I recommend you take the time to check out Brian Provinciano’s talk from Casual Connect for a good summary of what’s involved with releasing to consoles.
I really wish there were more of a market for people releasing through alternate distributors than Valve, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo.