June's The Adventures of Shuggy
for Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade platform wasn't a big hit for several reasons, though a lack of promotion seems to have been its biggest.
According to game creator and Smudged Cat Games' sole employee David Johnston, direct promotion from a game creator to the press -- while generally frowned upon -- can sometimes be necessary.
"I left publicizing the game in the hands of the publisher, and ended up feeling quite disappointed at the amount of publicity Valcon managed to generate," he recently wrote.
"Valcon didn't want me to contact any media directly, as this would be duplicating their efforts, so I left the publicity in their hands. It took ages for the official press release about the game to appear, because apparently Valcon was waiting on it being approved by Microsoft. We even had to wait until the game was actually released before getting any review codes, meaning there were no reviews of the game available on the day of release."
Johnston describes his June 15 release as going out "without warning or fanfare." Not only were no early reviews lined up, but according to Johston the game was not promoted on the Xbox Dashboard, and was overshadowed by Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalker
, which was released the same day.
"In hindsight, I wish I'd followed my instincts and taken the matter into my own hands. I'm going to make sure I give any future projects a bit more publicity during development, rather than waiting until they're released. I've learned this lesson the hard way," he wrote.
Learn more about Johnston's challenging experience releasing his first XBLA game in this Gamasutra postmortem