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To be or not to be... commercial?

  • calunio
  • 02/07/2020 12:43 AM
  • 571 views
I want to talk about my current dilemma with this game.

Many times in the past I vowed to never make games for money. The reasons are many, but it comes down to focusing on the right motivation for making games to me. I make games to express myself. They are my artistic outlet, and that’s why I enjoy it. I could, of course express myself AND make money. But I believe it could corrupt my mindset. Another reason is free games don’t have to worry about using copyrighted stuff (and most of all, I love using commercial music). And the last reason is I want as many people as possible to have access to my game, and putting a price on it could be an obstacle.

But that exact last reason is making me rethink those vows. I recently had professional experiences that made me realize people are more likely to attend to an event to which they paid in comparison to a free event (and sadly I learned that out of frustration and disappointment). Thinking about it, it’s clear that people put more value and perceive more quality in something they have to pay for than in things that are free (and there is research to back that claim). So I wondered: is it the same for games? Wouldn’t people be more likely to play a game they find on Steam (because it looks more professional and it’s not free) than a game that’s free lying around some indie game website?

This idea made me want to make THERAPIST: Mind Manager a commercial game. Not to make money, but to reach more people. Make it look more “valuable” to the community. And that has been the plan all along. To release it on Steam once it’s finished for a very small price.

But two things made me rethink that.
First, I’m having a really hard time composing my own music. Not so much for the lack of musical talent, but for the inability to deal with music composing software.
Second, I heard someone on Discord saying this “Steam makes your game more visible” thing is a myth. And indeed it must be. From my experience, what gives visibility to a game is not really the platform, but the articles, reviews and LPs.
And all of that made me remember my vows.

But still, somehow, after deciding to make my game commercial, changing it back to free, giving up on making my own music and using commercial ones feel like I’m downgrading my game, or settling for less than I could aspire. It changed my perception of quality of my own game, and that's not a good feeling.

I'm mostly just rambling, but any thoughts to help me solve this conflict are welcome.

Posts

Pages: 1
CashmereCat
Self-proclaimed Puzzle Snob
10518
Commercial... unless???


author=calunio
Wouldn’t people be more likely to play a game they find on Steam (because it looks more professional and it’s not free) than a game that’s free lying around some indie game website?
...
From my experience, what gives visibility to a game is not really the platform, but the articles, reviews and LPs.


My strategy would be to release it on as many platforms as possible, whether it is paid or free. There are very many free games on Steam, and sometimes the free price tag makes it more visible. For instance, Doki Doki Literature Club is a free game on Steam, and perhaps its visibility is largely due to its $0 price tag. Either way, I think regardless of price, marketing is an essential ingredient to visibility. Even the setting up of a gamepage here and posting stuff on Twitter or other platforms is marketing. It's a tricky game in and of itself.

author=calunio
First, I’m having a really hard time composing my own music. Not so much for the lack of musical talent, but for the inability to deal with music composing software.


I am fairly sure that you would be able to find a talented composer who is willing to work with you. *COUGHS WILDLY AND GESTURES TO SELF* (But in all seriousness, I'm only semi-talented, you could find someone far better than me. I was just delivering a joke... unless???)

If you want to think about making your game more visible in the marketplace, I reckon the best person to talk to would be Housekeeping. He has recently shared his advice to developers marketing for the game Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass, which was very successful and visible by RPG Maker standards. I can share that advice with you, with his permission, or you could even organise a quick Discord chat or something.
One idea could be to do both. Steam is not the discoverability machine it once was so I think Cash is right that putting it out in as many places as possible is probably the best bet. And you can always make it commercial in some places and less so in other.

Let's say you put a 5€ pricetag on it on steam. Then you have it on Itch.io with a pay what you want model (with a recommended price of 5€). That could be a way to keep the "prestige" of a commercial game but the availability of a free one.

I think, though this is just speculation, that having a free game of steam is probably not too great for discoverability, since having a price tag means you can discount it and then it will show up in sales lists. While a free game will never do that.
Cap_H
DIGITAL IDENTITY CRISIS
6578
I agree that you can do both. Try to get your game featured on itch and that might help you to reach major outlets such as PC gamer and Rock Paper Shotgun. They both have a column on free games.
Both sites also have hidden gems on steam column. So, selling it on steam is a better idea than giving it there for free (I don't think you could publish it on steam with borrowed music neither for money not for free).
author=Shinan
Let's say you put a 5€ pricetag on it on steam. Then you have it on Itch.io with a pay what you want model (with a recommended price of 5€). That could be a way to keep the "prestige" of a commercial game but the availability of a free one.

Just make sure you make it very clear that the difference exists to potential buyers. You really don't want to upset people who bought the game on Steam but then later learned they could download it for free elsewhere.
I'm actually surprised you all think I should make the game commercial.

Still, I decided to keep it free. Especially now that I tried Sim City 2000's music, and it just fits so perfectly (sorry Cash).

Thanks for the marketing tips though. I'll get back to it once the game is finished, and that becomes the next step. There's still a long road ahead.
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