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Making a game to make a game; It's like Kickstarter, but with more explosions.

[TL;DR We made a clicker game to support the studio financially and use it as a platform to keep 100k+ players updated about what's going on at Berzerk's. It's like a Kickstarter, but with more explosion]

[TL;DR We made a clicker game to support the studio financially and use it as a platform to keep 100k+ players updated about what's going on at Berzerk's. It's like a Kickstarter, but with more explosion]

From day one nearly ten years ago, our end-goal at Berzerk Studio has always been to make games for the home consoles, but as you may know creating such games also means a lot of risky financial investment, especially as a start-up. Even if you somehow manage to build the game, you still need to raise awareness for it during the production, some hype building and stuff. So what do you do to get your game known during the development and get financial support? Patreon and Kickstarter are great options, but we wanted to try a different, less traveled path: making a game to make a game.

 

The game's ultimate purpose.
To help us on our epic quest to create console game, we decided to create a "simple" (lol) clicker game available for web, mobile, and later on Steam. We wanted to achieve two things with this:
 
1- Financial support, y'know, keeping the repo-man away
2- Talk to our players, something we've been having issues with since Facebook started to be P2Reach

 

1.a Telling the players where the money goes.
Yes, there's InApp and ads in the game. In addition of making the InApp respectful and avoid any pay-to-win traps (See my other article on MicroTransactions here), we wanted to make it clear to players that we're not running away to cocaine-land with it all; It's used to create bigger, riskier games.

First, If the player does a transaction, it gets him out of the inApp page, straight to a message thanking them. We also list the project we're working on in there so they can get more details if they wish, or they can just gtfo back in game super quickly.

This is a store picture, it might not be the best but it is ours.  

 

1.b Conveying how much it means to us.
When the player click agree to watch a rewarded video ad, we randomly replace the ad for an image of us thanking them. We cancel the ad and give them a huge bonus as a token of gratitude. We feel it's important to humanize the project, to reminds the player that there are people working every day and listening. We're not a huge corporation of 1500 employees in a gigantic sinister building with thunderous background atop a volcano, we're just a couple of dudes and dudette that create games in their underpants because it’s fun. 
 

Look at this ugly mug, this guy really needs a haircut.

 

1.c Directly linking the team and the community
We've hooked the game with Twitch so it shows an ingame notification when we're live on stream. We've been streaming for 3 years now, and that little notification bump our viewers from 100 to 400-500 on busy days.

The player can talk directly with the devs (us) from there and see the other project the studio is working on; you know, doing the thing we said we'd do that wasn’t drug abuse with their money. 

Why do I look like this.

 

Speaking of talking with players, here's different ways we've used to sustain a bidirectional conversation with our players. 

2.a In-game notification system
We use a simple notification system to announce important news in the game. We used it to tell players that the game was launching on Steam with cross platform features, and it was a huge success. We had 50k players crossing over Steam on the first week of the release, boosting us through the charts and securing a spot on the front page.

Bottom line is, it's very useful to announce any big news, but what about smaller announcement? You can't just spam them everytime you fart... or can you.

 

2.b Introducing Hotter Mail
We’ve built in a mail system inside our game so we can send unintrusive messages to our players to announce anything new at Berzerk. We can target a specific platform, player or the entire playerbase and even give out rewards if we feel like it.

It's particularly useful when a platform has reached a threshold like "100k download on Steam!" and other kind of community building messages. When we have a podcast on Twitch coming out, we send out a mail to all player to stay tuned for the event, and we've gained a lot of viewers since we started doing that. 

 

2.c The code system
We have a system in the game that allows us to create temporary codes to gives rewards on the spot. It's very handy when doing customer support in conjunction with the Hotter Mail system, (Enter this code to get your diamonds back!) it's also useful to reward players that contribute to the game, like being helpful on social media/reddit/steam forums etc (Hey we’ve noticed you saved us gallons of time helping out people, have some Diamonds on us!).

We also give out a code every day on Twitch to fuel the community, so people swing by the stream to snag the code, share it with their pals, maybe stick around a bit and dick around with us and the rest of the chat.

 

2.d Berzerk Podcast
Every two weeks, we have a podcast on Twitch with the whole team. We present the upcoming update, explain our decisions behind balancing changes and share our insight for the future of the game. We also often brainstorm live with the community to show the “behind the scene” of designing the game. This is all very improv style, this helps a lot to, again, humanize the team and the project.

Everyone is having fun, except for Mike, guessing said fun was at his expense.


Our biggest success so far
Zombidle has been released a year and a half ago. We have a team dedicated to the project so we can sustain our community with new content. It's on iOS, Amazon, Android, Web and Steam. Over 25k people are playing it daily and 3,000 of those come see us on Twitch every stream. This "we'll just do this in 3 weeks" game is the biggest financial success at Berzerk Studio, fueling the company's production and making us truely independent.

It's obviously not for everyone, nor is it a novel concept (read Juicy Beast's much better article on doing that very thing here), but we feel it definitely worked for us, and that perhaps, it could work for you too.

Now, it's time to finish those console games. 

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