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What I've learned so far about getting coverage (nothing)
I try and make sense of what little success in getting coverage for Alaska in the games press.
February 26, 2014
3 Min Read
So I've not posted in a while for 2 reasons: my new son Alex taking up all my time and I've been working hard putting a build together in order to entice the press into writing about Alaska.
The game is progressing nicely, it's a 2 or 3 act game and the first acts core content is finished but in a rough state and I've split my time between polishing and developing it. There's still a long way to go before I'm happy with it but there is enough game there to know I'm going to be happy with the final product. Coming up now, I need to write the second act dialogue and puzzles and QA the first act and make sure it's paced well, I'm not, nor have I ever been, interested in making a difficult game and so sanding off any sticking points is important.
As expected I didn't get nominated for the IGF and so 2 pieces of the distribution puzzle are still not in place: A steam deal and press coverage. I've been working on polishing a build a bit to try and get some preview coverage or at least an announcement trailer post. I put out the press releases this morning and as usual absolutely no one posted news on it. It's tough because I know that there are hundreds of emails going into these inboxes and I am British so don't believe in being to pushy and waiting your turn, tweeting them or sending follow up emails to me is pushy as well as contributing to the noise and making the journalist think you feel entitled to PR. On the other hand I know I my game was more gimmicky I'd have an easier time catching peoples attention but that's really not the kind of game I want to make and I have to make those kinds of compromises in my day job far to much to let it spill into this.
So in summary I think the truth is press releases as an unproven indie don't work, they only serve to waste your time and clog up journalists inboxes/make them feel under pressure. Something I've got no data on yet but I'm intrigued to find out about is how this would change if I had a kickstarter or greenlight. I don't believe Alaska is a good fit for early access due to it's narrative dependant gameplay, imagine you'd played a buggy half finished version of gone home with dodgy programmer art before it was released. However greenlight is an option and I'm probably going to start working towards one now, especially since I know I want a steam deal and it's now the only avenue available to get there.
The doom and gloom about press releases aside, I have learned that there is a much more effective and easier way to getting noticed than spamming journalists email accounts & that things like screenshotsaturday.com and simply submitting the game to the igf, all the coverage I've had so far was from those 2 channels and I think going further down that route by posting on forums about it and most importantly of all turning up to industry events which I have been utterly abysmal at, on account of having a pregnant wife for virtually 2 straight years as well as the resulting family, i'm going to try and balance these better in the future by going to industry events, but taking it out of dev time, not family time. Hopefully it pays off and hopefully this will be helpful to other people starting out.
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