This is going to be a “clips episode” of the blog because… maybe I found so many interesting things that I couldn’t decide which one to turn into a long-form post, or maybe it’s because it’s good to change up the format, or maybe it’s because I spent the weekend building my new PC so that I could play Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 and do a flyby of every house I have lived in and every office I have worked at.

Here is my childhood home by the way (the one on the right.) That house on the upper left was my best friend Jon’s house. We used to play Doom deathmatch by running an extremely long Ethernet cables between our bedrooms. FS2020 is amazing by the way. I have not decided if using the Active pause to frame the perfect shot is cheating or not. Are there rules to when you can and cannot use it?

So here are some great clips I saw this week

This podcast with Mike Bithell is great

Listen to: The Five Games of Mike Bithell

The best part is where he explains how he got Thomas Was Alone onto Steam. Basically he snuck his way into a Valve Q+A event and grabbed one of the biz folks and said “Hi can you put my game on Steam?” That person had recognized his game from posting it on Twitter. On the podcast Mike laughed it off as “oh those were the days when we had gate keepers.” 

First, I appreciate the hustle. We all should learn from that hustle. You need to embody that hustle.

I almost wrote a whole post on that hustle. You see, I think there are still gate keepers they just moved upstream. Yes, anyone can upload and sell a game on Steam without talking to anyone. But! You will get almost no visibility and your game will sell nothing. If you want to really sell copies of your game, you must do what Mike did. Find partners and platforms and introduce yourself. Pitch your game to them. You need their huge platform to increase the number of wishlists! Now there are dozens of phantom gate keepers. I wrote about in this blog post. Go hustle. Talk to these people.

Speaking of Valve They did these two explainer videos on Steam

Only 354 people have watched this! I love that Valve is taking efforts to help the community and I hope they continue to do so. So please share this video and compliment them. It’s a nice effort but if I think it could have been a bit more content-rich. The basic message seemed a bit circular: “If you are wondering if your game is right for early access, ask yourself is it right for your community?” I think they were trying to say “if you have a game that is highly replayable then it MIGHT be a good candidate.” I wish they did a few more case studies or even interviewed a developer who did have success because I know a couple people who had a highly-replayable game that were not happy coming out of EA.  

This one was a bit better. But if you follow my writing you should be aware of everything they are talking about:

Side note, watch the video if only to get a peek at the home decorating decisions of the Valve staff. From Alden’s cozy wood paneling cabin-chic, to Erik’s bear?otter?cougar? painting, to Tom’s Community-College-math-lab aesthetic, it’s really great to see the homes of the people we work with. 

Speaking of Wishlist counts

The developer behind Jupiter Moons: Mecha (follow them on twitter here)  was doing some detective work on Polish Publisher Playway. He found some documents made public because of some acquisition actions they are taking which revealed the number of wishlists for their popular Simulator Series and some of their upcoming titles. Here is the list:

  • House Flipper: 783,718
  • Thief Simulator: 417,335
  • Car Mechanic Simulator 2018: 333,507
  • Cooking Simulator: 323,652
  • UBOAT: 269,841

Upcoming Games:

  • Builders of Egypt: 172887
  • Bum Simulator: 164675
  • Mr. Prepper: 148802
  • Junkyard Simulator: 122153
  • Occupy Mars: The Game: 115206

As you can see Playway is doing very well for itself despite the crassness of some of their titles. You could also look at this wishlist data and compare it to follower counts using Steam DB. For instance Builders of Egypt has 24,265 followers. So a ratio of 7.12 Wishlists per follower.

Here is the full text of the document.

Spiritfarer and their great mailing list integration

Michal Napora found this great way that the Spiritfarer devs integrated a mailing list signup right into their main menu. 

This is great for a number of reasons 

  1. They link to the mailing list instead of Discord – Mailing lists convert at a much much higher rate than Discord. Every time I see devs link to their Discord on their main menu I silently scream “you are throwing followers away that could have been better used in a mailing list.”
  2. They embedded the signup right into the game, no linking off to a web page.
  3. They call it “joining the family” such a pleasant way of describing their mailing list. That is in keeping with my mailing list talk called “build your fan club” 
  4. They have a lead magnet for a “mini-book” of the game’s characters. Your lead magnet should always compliment your games and they did a great job.

I was on the Game Dev London Podcast

The information I talked about was mostly aimed at new game developers working on getting their first game released. You can listen to it here

Have a great week everyone.

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