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Waiting for review... or "ok, it was fun, now what?"

Why 99% chances your first indie game will be a flop. In this post I reflect over my first flop as an indie developer while working on the marketing of my second game, Noir Run.

Robert Kessel, Blogger

July 12, 2014

4 Min Read

As a indie, who loves to work inside my own world with my own rules (no deadlines, no budget), this is like "... ok, ok, I need to get a life and move on, and well, let's also try to make this thing something real at last, something that people can touch and provide some reactions… let’s go and see what happens!".

This is the kind of attitude which will always make you fail when trying to make a dent into the App Store. Your game will probably hit the deepest rank in App Store in 2-3 days and will never recover from there.

None will care about you, your "firm" nor your game, because the real thing is that you never existed, your shadow is too short.


The real problem about app marketing is not just about game quality or marketing budget. If it was so simple, then the solution would be just to throw in more bucks. But it’s not. It's been always about reach, or properly named "social reach" today.

When I worked on the first game, TapTapGo (see it at AppStore here),  I did it for the sake of getting the experience of both creating something on the magnificient Apple platform but also publishing and trying to make impact. I learnt a lot about marketing then. And I also felt depressed.

I tested almost any tool and tactic to try to get attention from potential gamers: preview videos, social and forums engagement (and joining #IDRTG), PR kits (almost none reply to my pledges), paid reviews with Gnome Escape (which gave my first game a mix of good and bad reviews), ASO (Sensor Tower and others) and many more.

It was exhausting (and expensive). And I could not see any benefit from those actions. I watched every day (and every hour sometimes) Apple charts. I was looking at iTunes Connect app and other statistical apps in my phone during my walks.

After 2-3 months releasing a few updates and working hard trying to get my game up in the ladder of App Store I threw the towel and decided to move on, to take a break and bring in space for new ideas.

My reflections on that experience are that, even I pushed very hard to market my game, my reach was very low. I had few contacts to share my game with and even though my game got a few thousand downloads during the first weeks, I could not see any network effect. Every action, every penny, I expended trying to expand my reach was unsuccessfully brief, because the real problem is that I didn’t have any social attractor linked to my game.

I didn’t care about creating a fan base which could provide enough reach so any update could bring in more fans. Instead, I got only superficial downloads, forced by discrete investment.

So, next time, don’t rush to release your game. Make sure you have a good reason to do that. Why will you be going to release the game? What are your expectations? Do you have taken the steps to build a proper reach through a fan base when launch day comes? Because if you don’t, you will be disappointed. And you won’t be able to explain why do you feel so.

In next posts I will describe my efforts to create some noise before Noir Run, our second game, get released. Stay tunned!




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