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My first game release has been a financial failure but is becoming a huge personal success!

I released my first game on Steam this week. It’s not a financial success at all but it’s turning out to be a huge personal success!

After months of hard work I finally released my first PC game on Steam. After trying my hardest with marketing I had a good idea that it was not going to be a financial success due to the fact that it has two major hurdles to overcome:

  1. It’s another platformer
  2. The main mechanic of the game being set in the dark makes it nearly impossible to sell based on screenshots and videos

However I continued with the release because I truly believe in this game. It’s come from a genuinely good place of my love of intrigue and exploration in games, especially as a child gamer. And its abstract plot hides a deep story that is close to my heart. Also after showing the game at the PLAY Expo in Manchester (one of the largest in the UK) I had a lot of great feedback with players getting sucked into Glo’s hidden world even some playing for up to 2hrs straight! Seeing their surprise as they went from thinking of it as a weird game that’s mostly a black screen to getting addicted to giving it one more go trying to navigate and understand this hidden world was an amazing feeling I will never forget.

So along comes release day and although I’ve been completely realistic in my expectations I would be lying if I didn’t say there was a part of me that thought “What if it sells really well?”. As expected, after the first day, sales have been very low and into the second day even less. There have been quite a few wish list additions which is great and will hopefully stretch out sales a bit further but I can safely say it has not been a financial success. Emotionally I didn’t really know how I was feeling. I am really proud to have accomplished what I have and I do absolutely love this game, but the feeling of virtual tumbleweed is a little bit depressing also…

But then things changed. I started to get links to reviews from some of the smaller press outlets, blogs and YouTubers that have given Glo a chance. And this changed everything for me from an emotional point of view. They seem to really enjoy it! And what’s even better is people are starting to pick up on the influences I’ve had in creating this game. Subtle hints from drastically different games that I thought only I would know about have been noticed. Some of my favourite comments from reviews have been:

“It’s fun, it’s cute and one of the best games I’ve played this year.” - GameLuster

“Hell of a lot of fun to play… Masterful level design.” - Keen Gamer

“I’ll say this firsthand: Glo is one of the hardest games I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing… Glo allowed me to exert my gaming chops with it’s enticingly brutal difficulty, something not many games can do now-a-days… Exhilarating challenge.” - PixelJudge

I gave out the usual Steam keys to enable reviewers to check out the game, but that’s it. They had no need or reason to compliment Glo so the reviews have really meant a lot.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all compliments. One reviewer went on to call it more Steam shovelware. I personally feel it to be a bit of a harsh label but I am not a developer who seeks only praise for my games. Everyone’s interests are different and Glo is certainly not for everyone so I respect the opinions of that review as it will only help me grow as a developer.

To sum up I almost made the mistake of letting sales be the dictator of my view of success as a game developer. However, thanks to everyone who enjoyed Glo at the expo, the great comments from reviewers who’ve played the game in its entirety and picked up on its subtleties and the followers who support me and Glo every day I have been reminded that I made this game for me and others to enjoy. And they are enjoying it more than I could have hoped for…

For anyone who's interested in taking a look:

http://store.steampowered.com/app/711550/Glo/

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This blog post originally appeared on the Chronik Spartan blog.

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