Come on Indies, think it through

Sometimes, success should be kept under your hats indies. In particular, the success you’re having on Switch.

You may not realize this but every blog or article wrote saying “Switch rocks! Our games selling amazing, best of all platforms!” is another bat light being turned on, calling every developer to the party. Generous but ultimately suicidal.

You may take solace in the openness you have shown.  Yet, that solace will turn to burning hate as the publishers arrive.  Publishers whose solitary goal is to milk Switch users like big fat cows until empty, and you’ve just sent out the bat signal calling them… Bravo!

Those words even whispered will cause a thousand publishers ears prick up and singularly think (as there is only one brain) “let’s put our sh*t on Switch!”

So like on the Wii, Steam or XBox 360, where Indies initially thrived before the mass arrival of shovelware, clones and x.1 iteration culture. Oversaturation is now likely.  Meaning consumers get the TL: DR list of releases and ultimately gloss over before going to play whatever their friends are, what YouTubers have pushed or whatever IGN said was cool.

And so another avenue becomes clogged like an artery full of developers, marketers, and hacks.

Well done Indies.

Next up to be completely blocked like a public toilet will be AR.  At least that is what my spidey senses are saying (it’s a tingle more than a say).  Take care and muchos gracias.

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A summary of Mayweather versus McGregor for gamers

If I was to compare the big fight to a game it would be easy.

Just think No Mans Sky.

Lots of hype followed by the realization, it was all bullsh*t.

The only real difference is that Hello Games offered a refund and have been working hard to put right what they completely misrepresented during their runaway hype train.

The big difference is that, Hello Games had their feet held to the fire by consumers, there will be no such reaction by fight fans.

The media are already spinning it into a valiant effort by McGregor but they must have watched a different fight as a UFC champ should not be out of breath by the third round, nor should the fight be an exchange of love taps with a smiling Mayweather.  Especially after all the talk.  Would you gamers be okay with that?

It would be like the gaming media coming out in full support of No Mans Sky after its launch.  Giving it 9/10’s and hailing it as a valiant effort to create the game they had promised via all the hype. The gaming media would be held to the fire.  It’s not happening by fight fans.

Perhaps you gamers have more principles, or are more consumer savvy than fight fans? It’s plausible.

So while you pushed Hello Games into making their product better, these promotion and fighter charlatans have literally lied their way into hundreds of millions of dollars. Anyone would think they were bankers…

The only question that lingers now is whether the fight has done damage to the brands of boxing and UFC?

For Hello Games and No Mans Sky, if they didn’t yield to consumers their brand would have wilted and died.

Yet…

McGregor will return to the UFC with the same swagger and KO’s. Everyone will forget the Great McMayweather consumer robbery because no one has the balls to stand up.  Fight fans need some tips from gamers it seems.

 

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Originality RIP 2017

It’s over.

Originality gave up and the gaming audience were the ones to unplug it unceremoniously.

Twenty years ago everything was a 1.0. We had new ideas everywhere and consumers were inquisitive about them.

Ten years ago everything was a 2.0. Not new, but with enough gimmicks to feel different(ish).

Now, we’re in an era of rehashed, pre-cooked, repeats and ready meals. Just look at Hollywood and the music industry. They’re on a hamster wheel going nowhere and gaming has followed.

We see, hear and play the same things with the same gimmicks over and over, ad infinitum. The only difference between each is whether Game X is backed by Influencer Y and what art style is used.

The gaming industry, like the other entertainment industries, have at best, become focused on what makes money. At worst, it’s an industry who learned how to manipulate the consumers to purely focus on what addicts, not entertains.

From the inside looking out, all is well and creating “game 3.0” based on “game 2.0” makes sense because it was successful and people loved it.

These 3.0 creators go on tour in conferences talking about the “magic” they have created and turn developer heads so that they make 4.0, which was the same as 2.0 and 1.0.

We now have 2,000,000 x “Game 37.0” on the market and still, the gaming market grows.

This proves addicts JUST want gratification in a color scheme they like.  If that wasn’t true, the market or revenue within the market would have shrunk.

The same is true for Hollywood and music. If originality was profitable it would be what the corporations chased. It doesn’t.

Familiarity gratifies addictions and it requires little effort from the creators.

Right now successful games exist where NOT PLAYING the game rewards you. So no matter what you do, you’re a winner!

Where can the industry honestly go now that users demand gratification which is easy and constant?

You don’t have time for originality, or even anything interesting or different.  You literally have seconds to hook or the user moves on.

This is why originality has died, and why interesting, intelligent, different and all the other good stuff which made gaming an art will slowly be sacrificed in the name of immediate gratification.

Just look at Hollywood and the music industry for where it’s all heading…

Boy bands, singing the same songs, doing the same dances, at the same time or…

<Add super hero name here>: Revenge of the <villain who was killed off but as we’ve reset the franchise last week we’ll use them again as the audience has ZERO connection to reality and just want to get their rocks off without firing up a single synapse in the brain>.

/Rant over.

 

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Click here to find 5 extreme marketing blah blah blah

If you’ve clicked here actually looking for 5 extreme marketing blah blah blah’s, there is no help for you. Go away.

If you’ve come here to see a person coming to a realization via the land of Oz then “this be the place Captain!”

I am officially giving up on the marketing nonsense.

Everyone is happy to pump out their marketing tips but having spent the best part of 2 years trying to put almost all of them into action I’ve come to the conclusion. They are all full of **it!

“Ye travelers on the interwebz be too savvy for the old ways Captain…”

And by this I mean, people don’t give a damn about your 50% scroll popups, exit-intent call-to-actions or the video ads you’re pumping out flooding the borders and baselines of every website willing to take your money.

Remember the days when all you needed was a big rounded edged button saying “BUY NOW MOFO!” and it worked? Funny right.

Marketing is no longer about getting the attention with a snazzy button, popups, freebies, prizes, (add an infinite amount of items here).

This is the only marketing tip you need. You ready?

Your content is your marketing.

BOOM. Your head spins, explodes and brain matter splatters on all four walls right?

Why couldn’t these marketing “experts” (term used loosely) just say that and save me 2 years?

Forget everything, focus on your content because THAT is the only way to get peoples attention.

I’ve come to consider marketing like this…

I am watching the game on TV. An ad break starts. My attention goes to my phone or tablet, whichever is nearest. Or the bathroom if no technology is nearby (grabbing tech on my way of course). I look at what is being said about the game online and as the ads end, I go back to the game.

I don’t want my marketing to be the ads in this scenario. I want my marketing to be the game.

So rather than trying to ram a sales pitch down some average Joe’s throat via ads, pop-ups and other “please look at me” avenues try to turn your sales pitch into content your target audience wants to invest their eyeballs into.

This doesn’t mean stop buying exposure. It just means making sure what you’re exposing doesn’t turn people off. Like that one time you… with the jacket… in the park… the court case…  remember?

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The illusion of sales

All present and future game developers know this.

Consumers wait for sales.

Unless you are a big swinging… pendulum of a developer, or have a well marketed… media darling of a… sleeping with Gabe Newell kind of game, you’ll be sucking on the sales nipple from launch to living in your parent’s basement.

This is not a slight. Needs must.

It’s a consumer driven market and every Tom, Dick and Harry have lined up to shuffle craptastic shizzola onto every App store because “look Ma’ I’z got a job, so I canz liv in da basement.”

/Sarcasm

Anyway, to the point.

These sales you’ll be hoping to live off are not actual sales. They are “calls-to-action” done by platforms to draw in consumers who have been trained to expect massive reductions and free sh*t.

So here’s a reality check.

The price your game is at, during a sale is the true reflection of product value on the market. So, as every other mother flicker is putting the peddle down to F2P even your $0.99 price point is looked at with the “hmmm, should I buy a can of diabetes OR a 20-hour single player game” hesitation.

/Metaphor.

The platforms are the guards, and games are the inmates. The guards dictate when you can get a conjugal visit and because only so many inmates can have bang bang at once, you’ll have to wait your turn.

What this means is that you either stick at full price RRP and hope for the best or succumb to the guards and fragrantly wave the %OFF flag in an inmates circle jerk.

The irony here is that the circle jerk will get you a better return. Sleeping with Gabe Newell ain’t sounding so bad now, is it?

So, as a developer, you’ll likely be hoping the handful of major sales during the year can make up for the vast majority of the time your little sweetheart is stuck at full price.

/The punchline.

Consumers know the only time to buy is when your game is on sale, or in a bundle, or F2P. It sucks right?

The only exception, you are the big swinging… orangutan on a rope tire and can make gaming media dance so you get the exposure needed.

So go sleep with Gabe Newell quick.

We should have, as right now we’re stuck doing the inmate circle jerk.

It’s probably why they say the games industry is a messy business.

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Warning to rookie journalists

Some rookie journalist for an unknown site reached out to me the other day asking about Oointah. It was 100% phishing, but still, they found us. I was excited.

Initially.

I asked him to get back to me with some real meaty questions about game development, Steam, and all the other usual confrontational “stuff” Jim Sterling goes after (or goes after him as the case may be).

I didn’t think there would be much value in doing a shallow, surface only interview. If the questions were uninteresting, there would be no interest in Death by Game Show or Oointah. It needed balls for people to read obviously.

So with carte blanche to ask anything this is what the journalist comes back to me with…

When is the expected release date?
What is mobile gaming changing for game developers?
What is the expected price?
What platforms will it be coming out on?

What the f***!

Carte blanche. Carte blanche on the questions!!!!

My excitement was gone.

Expected release…  January 2016!  It’s been out for years.  Nice research fella.

I did want to write back slamming the lack of originality or inventiveness. Suffice to say, I didn’t and won’t. It’s bad enough I’m doing this.

My frustration comes because I know curiosity lives on Steam. I’ve had great conversations about the gaming industry with players on the platform covering everything from Early Access to Greenlight, to market saturation and mobile ports.

Why couldn’t they be journalists with interesting questions and opinions?

And here’s my point. If any journalist, big or small want to ask any REAL questions reach out to us.

Peace, as the hipsters say.

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How late is too late?

Believe it or not, even though Death by Game Show has been an unparalleled disaster we are silently trying to turn it around.

Some people say that if it crashes and burns, leave it and move on. Yet I’m a firm believer that from ashes a Phoenix can be born.

What horseh*t.

What I’m actually a believer in is, not leaving things fudged up.

Almost anything, with the right TLC and jiggery-pokery, could become “something”. What that something is, is up to the market and how you market it.

Perhaps if we add zombies, goats, a top down twin stick shooter mechanic and repeated the same sh*t everyone else does it’ll work.

“Or make it a survival game where you chop down trees, kill pigs and make weapons to fight other players doing the same thing” shouted a team member.

Yes. Death by Game Show will become a top-down twin-stick survival game about making weapons that you can gank players with as they dress up as goats and zombies. Perfect.

Sarcasm aside, there is an audience for side-scrolling strategy games. Lemmings, Worms, Swords and Soldiers, Reus and others have proven this. Death by Game Show just needs to pivot and find them.

The journey continues.

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Why are we forced to cut words to fit character limits?

We always try to reply to constructive reviews on Steam for Death by Game Show.  We find people’s feedback invaluable.

As we bundled the game last week for the first time we’ve found a host of new reviews.  Many negative sadly saying the game is too hard, too simple, too chaotic, too boring and too much text but not enough explanation.  You can imagine our heads are a little like a pinball bouncing about with the contradictions.

Yet, I focused on one review and started to write a reply. I wanted it to be a sincere response explaining why the game is chaotic and why many people who like it seem to stop playing between 1.5 and 4 hours into the game.

Several paragraphs in and it was a succinct but explanation full response to an angered and frustrated player.

I had explained that the chaos of the game is representative of how the lead character sees’s the world, full of noise and only when thinking (aka stopping time) and strategizing can they succeed. I also admitted the game gets much harder and varied after 1.5 hours. Sadly, some people get frustrated and stop playing due to the difficulty curve.

Yet each time I tried to submit I was told by Steam’s platform it had too many characters.

I shortened. Nope. Shortened again. Nope. By the end, it was a husk taking only the key points without any sentiment. Somehow my sincerity was reduced to a wedge of text that sounded more like an excuse rather than what I wanted to say. Why are these systems in place?

The only logic could be that they’re trying to cut down what people say to each other online. Turning our wonderful languages into a series of short catch phrases and abbreviations. What’s next, no words – just emoji’s?

If language allowed the human race to evolve, what does the loss of language represent? No doubt, less expensive reading glasses.

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How the market lives through thumbs

Every product that comes to market lives and dies by the simplest of measurement, the thumbs of TL: DR.

Only 30% of you got to this paragraph but if we added a giant great big thumb up and a counter saying 1,152 next to it that percentage of “giving a sh*t” hikes to 50%. Over time that’s a significant jump.

Ironically, I’ve likely lost you again already because “stuff” flashed, beeped or popped up and it’s no doubt really (un)important to you and must take focus.

Notifications, alerts and other incoming traffic is a consumers life blood. Just like a thumbs up or down is the life blood of a product. Everything is a beat, a flow, and if you’re not rapid, you cannot keep up with the pace consumers have set. Simple.

This is where today’s marketing and products live. In a marketplace so saturated with desperate attempts at buying your attention via white hot bullsh*t that if we don’t make your life better, simpler, or entertain within 0.4 hours it’s over.

This is why Early Access on Steam is so popular. The illusion of progression and pace. A product (allegedly) on the move. It’s the same with all MVP’s as they are abbreviated. A minimum viable product that just does enough to get beyond that 0.4-hour hurdle before looping back to repeat exactly what it just did.

I can hear the cries of the crowd, “Nooooo, we don’t buy into BS” but that in itself is BS. You, like I, are manipulated so heavily by marketing and products that we act in a way that deserves sectioning.

The madness isn’t forced, it flows with consumer demands. It’s our own choosing, we want more options, quicker, cheaper and most of all simpler. We don’t want to read, review, examine or research. We just want a big thumbs up and a “buy now” button.

However, sometimes a thumbs up don’t mean good and a thumbs down don’t mean bad. It’s just opinion and like *ss holes everyone has one.

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Should have made a walking simulator

Different tastes and opinions make for a more interesting life. For the most part, it’s easy to see why certain tastes and thoughts bubble up into trends but there is something which continues to boggle my noggin. Walking simulators.

It was as if the market all cried out at once and decided they loved the walking about in Skyrim, just not the NPC’s, combat, crafting, looting etc. You know, the game portion of walking around looking at the pretty scenery.

I sort of get it, walking around a lush forest environment with very well scripted VO is like TV that you can direct. I’m just not sure if it’s actually a game. “Go from A to B” and “trigger scripted event” before “moving C to D” and “triggering another scripted event”. Rinse and repeat until you wear down the rails and end credits roll.

The level of interaction is easily compared to reading a book. Holding the book is the equivalent of holding W to walk forwards. Turning a page is like left clicking on those trigger points. Yet we don’t call a book a game because you have to interact with it.

This comparison might be over the top but there is a definite minimalist approach to walking simulators. Often feeling like the developer made the world and then went “ah screw it, let’s just add some VO and release!”

Whether it’s lazy gamers unwilling to actually invest in anything more than the combo of pressing W and left click, or idle developers taking advantage of selling the illusion of games when it’s, in fact, a narrative driven experience. AKA a story, a movie, an episode.

One thing is certain, less has truly replaced more. From the time it takes to complete a game, to the mechanics and interactions entailed. The simplification to appease non-gaming media journalists and frenzied quick play crowds at conferences is beneficial to expand the market audience and to make interactive mediums more accessible.

An interactive story is fantastic, but let’s call them that and not simulators, my brain can’t cope with the contradiction.

Please follow us on Twitter, YouTube or add the game to your wishlist if it interests you. Also please check out our Steam Group for Death by Game Show.