We need personally-curated Indie Game Stores for lesser-known titles.Posted: 2013-07-12
If you are in the press and have questions, feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com .
This is an attempt at a movement of sorts in how we as a community approach spreading the word about other games.
There is a tendency in the indie community (i.e. the “we” in the title – defined as developers and their personal connections) – and likely other mediums’ social circles – to heavily promote your own stuff via social media, and not other peoples’ (retweets are nice, but not the same as say, an entire facebook post or tweet or blog post, and there is something stronger with the permanence of a web page than the fleeting nature of a tweet). When we do, the spread is still equally among insanely popular and less-well-known games.
If we’re in positions of even a little bit of power (as musicians, journalists, developers, or whatever), we should be also be spending a little more time talking about games that deserve to be providing more financial support for their developers, and more over, influencing more players and developers who otherwise would have not known about the game. The indie community, like most other communities, has an incredibly unbalanced power structure that roughly mirrors society as a whole. It’s arguable that this is unavoidable in any sort of social structure, but we can at least try. And it starts with: STOP. Stop promoting games that are already popular. We are just reinforcing the power structures when we do this – and trust me – we don’t need to, the majority of the public will do it naturally. Yes, our friends might have popular games and we want to support them. But the rest of the public will do this if this is the case so we should focus efforts elsewhere. As a creative medium, the more ideas that can become widely known, the better off it is for all devs as a whole.
What is better? Game X and Y are both important. X sells a million copies, Y sells 50. If something like this takes off – then perhaps Y sells 500 copies (while the will of the public still produces 1,000,000 sales for X) – and Y thus influences more developers than Y would have. Which can only be good in a creative medium like games. If you’re a developer of Game X, there isn’t much to worry about! You’re doing a public service and it probably won’t cut into your sales that much.
I’ve undoubtedly done this a lot for Anodyne (that is – self-promotion without a lot of focused giving back to friends/other devs), but I’m hoping to change that by trying to give back to the friends and devs who have supported me, or maybe even devs I don’t know but I think deserve more exposure. I do not think I have as much of a social media presence as others and this likely won’t be super effective on my own, but maybe others will follow suit.
So I made an “Indie Store”, just links to stores (or humble widgets if they exist) for games of other developers.
I also made a Twitter Account that you can tweet at with links to your own stores – I’ll RT/tweet about it/etc. An ideal situation would be that people regularly update their stores and point their “recommendation tweets” to those stores, or a centralized store composed of multiple stores made by people.
I suggest you make your own storefront, too. I also suggest if you have a popular-ish blog or facebook page, occasionally mention some less-well-known games. Maybe point people to YOUR storefront. But keep in mind:
- With the store the point isn’t to advertise all of your friends’ games (as nice as that would be). Only advertise games that could use the help – this means, if you take the time to do this, don’t bother with insanely popular games that don’t need the promotion space.
- A good rule of thumb is that if a game is on Steam and has a couple hundred “recommendations”, it probably doesn’t need to be helped any more (Anodyne falls into this category.), exception being a large dev team circumstance, etc.
- Try to include a link to the game’s website, or give a short description, or mention where the developer can be found on Twitter or whatever. Descriptions are necessary, people need to know *why* you’re recommending the game!
How YOU can help:
- Journalist: Keep some blog post somewhere that is occasionally updated with Humble widgets or links to stores of lesser-known games. Talk about it on Twitter or in articles. Maybe even write an article on one of them, if you have the time! If you already do this, great. The store would be one more good step.
-Video makers: Make a video covering a lesser-known, but released and for-sale (or free download) game, that is not covered by many other large video makers. Also do the personal store thing, tweet, etc.
-Owners of large social media pages – for games – on Twitter/Facebook, etc. Take the time to make posts on recommendations of smaller, lesser-known games. You can actually drive a few sales this way!
-Developer – Make your own store! Put it on a website or whatever. It’s really easy. Tweet about it, and add games to it occasionally, tweet a link to it, etc. If you’re a developer of a smaller game, make a streamlined way to buy your game. Widgets are the best (Humble does this well) – this is pretty good, too: http://itch.io/
-Anyone! – Do the same! Word of mouth can be powerful.
We all tweet about popular games being on sale. This is because they are often fun and we want our friends to play them. But occasionally, if we all say, decide on every other time the thought to tweet about a popular game crosses our mind, instead go and link to our store page, this will have a net benefit on the entire community, as more and more small titles are discovered.
Just to remember, while Anodyne wouldn’t have been finished if Jon and I didn’t finish it and work our asses off, a lot of Anodyne’s success also came down to friends helping us through, and plain dumb luck – the biggest two points being Jon and I even meeting in the first place, and then again in the post-release phase for Anodyne – I still think Anodyne being on Steam is due to us being in the right place at the right time with The Pirate Bay promo and Greenlight – and so I hope to spread the publicity, wealth, etc, to those who haven’t had their strokes of luck yet, while improving the medium as a whole through the discovery of smaller titles.
- This isn’t a storefront for your own game! It’s a movement that is trying to get people to lean towards curating their own stores and mentioning them more often in their tweets/posts rather than individual tweets towards a single game.