With a record-breaking number of games hitting the digital shelves, it’s safe to assume that there are more independent developers fighting for attention than ever before. Steam is adding hundreds of new games daily, with no signs of slowing down despite more challenging conditions for smaller players.
In such a competitive marketplace, we can assume that independent developers are fully aware and act accordingly, allocating more time and resources to building and maintaining a public image, right? If only.
I’ve witnessed first-hand how teams lose their identity. Some can’t stick to a single strategy and fall apart, others never put in enough effort from the get-go. While there are many threats for small teams, these two have stood out for me thus far.
1. Development slows until there’s no new content to share with their audience.
This poses a difficult challenge because there’s no “best” solution. Perhaps you started building a social presence too early. Or maybe you shared too much content too soon and tripped yourself up.
Regardless of the cause, it’s a troubling development which is best addressed by stepping back from content distribution and focusing on content creation. After all, if you have yet to build a community, it could be falling on deaf ears anyway. There’s nothing wrong with resharing content later, especially with a “Throwback Thursday” hashtag.
2. Their content gets lost in the noise of social media.
It’s not because the content is boring, it’s just that there’s too much out there. Without building a publicly accessible repository for past content, you can assume that few will actually digest your material.
Posting content to a single location is a thing of the past, and an unfortunate number of teams don’t realize the importance of divide-and-conquer social networks and digital communities until it’s too late.
Below, I offer some solutions to these problems.
If you’re determined to build a brand, diversify your investments. While there are a million good ideas out there, you don’t want to risk everything on a complex and experimental game which could drain your resources and limit your options in the future .
Developer and designer Bart Bonte has made a name for himself creating a series of unique mobile puzzle games. While none of his games are exactly revolutionary, Bonte’s natural talent for creating puzzles has allowed him to rapidly and successfully create entertaining, small-scale productions. While some titles have seen more exposure than others, Bonte’s consistency and attention to detail is what solidifies his brand in the independent and mobile game scenes.
Data Is Still King
As I’ve written elsewhere, you’re doomed if you don’t value quantitative data. This is even more true for smaller teams who plan on developing their business over the long-term. Without SMART goals, user metrics, sales figures and other critical metrics, you’ll never be able to accurately measure the performance of your company.
For many, seeing weekly sales is enough to feel accomplished. But without relevant factors like relative performance, impressions and conversion rate, standalone values can be misleading. You don’t just need the data, you need context.
Lastly, it’s critical that you value your offline presence. Yes, most of your time, attention and resources should be spent on your game, website, community and social media presence, but you should never forget the importance of face-to-face interaction.
There’s literally an incalculable number of missed opportunities from personal interactions gone bad. From underwhelming showmanship to lack of commitment to industry norms, there are plenty of ways to miss out on valuable real-world connections. Don’t make that mistake.