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Where to release??


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So. I am working on my HTML5 MMO-RTS for 5 years and its almost ready. 

I am wondering what next?

The game is cross browser, cross device, fully responsive no matter or its 3000px x 300px  or 300px x 3000px - all possible screen sizes and im very proud of it :)

I have released my game before 2 years in Kongregate just to test, expecting like ~2000 registrations. But instead i got about 50.000 registrations. The game was poorly rated as it was like a buggy pre-alpha and people flew away.

So, now i'm prepared to launch as a normal alpha or something like pre-beta.

 

My next plan is to create a video, update tutorial and purchase like 20 unique play-testers who would give me some feedback and check how does it load to them and whats about the start. 

So, for the next ~2 months i still have what to do.  

 

And then - i want to release. To some serious publisher. Kongregate was OK, but i am unable to re-release the same game. 

Next option - ArmorGames. They want 50% cut. Thats ok for me. My game would be visible in their 1st MMO's page for like 2 years. But wondering that their site is flash-games based and probably not that popular as before.

Next option - Facebook instant games. Dont know much about it. And as i expect, i would need to put like 2000$ for marketing in Facebook to get enough attraction - and thats ok. (i already spent for the game like 13000$)

Next option - .io game publishers. As i seen somewhere, that they take no cut. Checked games there, many of them require flash or are hardware-heavy and unplayable. So my fresh smooth game would fit in there good probably. But i think not enough visitors..

Next option - android/ios APP. I can easily transform my web game into android app. But i dont know actually or it would be that easy as the game is quite complex and maybe would like to start with having it as iframe rather than an APP.

Next option - my own website publishing. So i would have to market it in FB, gogle, youtube and make an attractive website, what will prolong the release. and i want it faster. 

Next option - other HTML5 publishers similar to Kongregate/ArmorGames.

But i want probably start with 1, so the release would be faster. And one where i would have less cut and cheaper marketing. 

So, do you have any experience or opinion what should i do? Im quite confused as all these options have their cons and pros. and dont know what would be the best choice.

 

 

Screenshot_from_2021-01-02_10-07-02.png

Edited by mansimas
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sounds like you have a niche game that you want to playtest quite a bit before a wide release? 

Initially you might want to consider self-hosting and sharing with user groups (eg. on reddit/facebook/game forums) that have a specific interest in this type of game.  That way you can start to generate interest and gain feedback from your target audience with little cost.

It also sounds like a game that is suited more to longer term play sessions for desktop rather than the preference of most html5 game distributers for mobile friendly short and simple casual/arcade games (ideally with less that 1 min play times between ads to maximise revenue) so it's likely that your game might not perform well on the sites/platforms you mention.

good luck with it!

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@mansimas first give yourself a slap for spending 5 years building a game while not simultaneously building an audience ;)   But to add to @mentuat's good advice ...

Be very precise about who will play your game and why - then consider where that ideal audience already exists.  Take ArmorGames as an example, perhaps this is a wonderful fit (speculation, I don't know your game or their audience)?  Or if Kongregate served you well in the past it may be sensible to do that again rather than pin hopes on untested channels?  Where are similar games doing really well, and what are they lacking?  To explore this further requires you to ask hard but fair questions of a publisher - pitch your game, pursue a strategic plan on how they would take your game to market, exactly what will happen, when, by whom, what is the minimum revenue they will underwrite, what are the break clauses etc.  Such questions are reasonable for exclusive licenses on a sizeable investment, and a serious partner will help to facilitate answers.

But yes - to echo the good advice -  initially start building your own community (self hosted lean version) - this will create a better game through feedback, realistic developer expectations, more commercial options, and a stronger negotiation position for you.  Time spent on this may reduce commercial confusion and assist towards a focused publishing plan.  Good luck.

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Here is what I would do;
 I would go with Armor Games and not even bother self-hosting. 
They offered you all that jazz for a reason. Your game is probably a very good fit for their portal/audience. Maybe try negotiating a bit, for example, ask them to give you front-page placement for a bit? Also, ask them for more information, like how many players can you expect and if their core player-base would appreciate the game like yours (just to be sure).

If things go alright, people love the game and it's well-received - I'd contact Armor Games and ask them if they would want to partner up and build a premium sequel to the game for desktop, mobile, and other platforms. 

This way you would test the game without the need to build a whole new audience and without spending money on advertising plus you'll make some money from ad revenue.

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Thank you for the answers! :)

Im happy you did answer, I will have more opinions to think about.

My game is something like Travian, but fast-paced. Not a city builder, but a map builder instead. Like imagine in Travian world, that every grid is walkable and player can build defensive towers/walls all over that huge world. Player deploys armies in form of Chess figures which move like chess figures. And also attack NPC enemies in that world(some grinding) to collect items (like in RPG). SO its basically a Chess-theme MMO-RTS-RPG-tower defece MOBA (there is extra feature to play moba style matches for 40minutes all vs all, extra speed event every 2 hrs). SO its a extreme mix of so many genres in an MMO where thousands of players can coexist in the same world and play in real time. Testers say that its very fun and addictive.

Like,  I have few players who play for 2 years and still login almost daily, as there is still what to do. And there are few newer players who are proactive and play like crazy for 5 hours/day. But i Did not market the game, so players would not disturb me too much when im concentrated into the game. as i work with it in my spare time.

I dont think its a niche game. Its a casual game. Easy to learn. Hard to master. For real. Player logs in immediately, does daily missions and spends all available action points. and after like max 8hours/day there is absolutely nothing to do in that day. More like after 4 hours there is not much left. Like in casual mobile MMO games. Like an Idle-heroes MMO game, where player does daily routine for few hours and when nothing to do, he goes back to reality.

So i think it fits really well among other MMO-RPG and MMO-RTS games on facebook casual games list. Current average session duration of the last year is about 45minutes.  And playable well with mobile too, as it has top-down version.

Feedback - i buy by hiring many random testers, so they play game for 15 mins, give me all feedback and i pay them 5 eur. Like, a free feedback of forum users is not that good as they like to critisize without even trying, just after the first minute exit.

The game has no ads. as there is in-game monetization. The game is f2p - some are players, some are payers. Like Travian. Just here are no auto's and actually the more active ones are better than those who pay more but are not active enough.

I didnt build audience with purpose. THe game was always available. For 3 years it was open. ANd i had jsut too many suggestions and requiremets that disturbed me a lot. So i just went quiet and built what i wanted. As with kongregate. I didnt want many testers, just needed 2k. But came 50k. Without any marketing. Maybe the game icon(first impression) was good.

Who will play - i think 10~60 year people who like chess. But not necessary chess. as many players who play long didnt know chess at all and when i said its about chess they just then realized. So they learned chess movements without knowing it.

Why will play - it also has social part, chat, alliances, pvp. maybe because its a fun and easy way to learn chess. Maybe because its a totally new and newer experienced RPG type game. Or maybe tey want to pay a long-term tower defense. Its hard to say why someone would play a game. Like, a startup is built to answer that "why" - because startup builds product/service which is searched by people and help them. Game doesnt help players, it gives experience, emotions or some other feelings. Players dont ask for some kind of game. They just play what they find interesting to them personally.

The ideal audience - same players who play other MMO games. They are just random. They dont stay in a closed group waiting for some new game, like this. Cant say they are chess players. as really many chess players just hate video games. its not a niche game that i could know exact place where to search for players. This game was played by my 6 year daughter and she was able to play alone for few days. So its for anyone. Maybe ideally, i think RPG players as they would be more commited to such RPG than RTS players for such strategy game. As it has many RPG elements as main goals.

Kongregate as i said, cannot re-release released game. Btw they closed. ArmorsGames same as Kongregate - mainly flash games publisher. So i suspect they have greatly decreased player numbers when flash went away.

Similar games doing most well in APPS. With much marketing. Secondary, as like forge of empires - just website, doing also lots of marketing. So i think that for me faster would be like forge of empires - website and do much marketing. Also i seen in facebook some successful RTS city-builders. But they also spent much on marketing to be in the first page. The similar games are all the same and i didnt see some new coming. Most of them are so old and bored. I dont say they are bad.. Just that old. I dont say my game does the same. Its different, but for the same players.

I dont really want to give my revenue to publisher when i can do that by my self. So i dont plan to pitch. Also, I dont want to overcrowd the game too soon. I think for the beginning would be enough 60k registrations for 3 different servers. That may cost me of 1~6k for marketing, but if lucky, even less.  When i market my self, i can control the players amount and market more or less depending on server crowd. I aim for 10k revenue/month when spending 1-5k on marketing. Its not low nor not much. SO i dont want a serious partner as he may show the game for too big audiences too early. I want to open a alpha with not too many players, but as many as would give me enough revenue to sustain and continue this game as my main job, not as spare-time job. You can not believe i will achieve these unrealistic revenue numbers. But if i spend 5k eur on marketing, i may  have a chance to get back 10k as revenue, dont you think? even for a very bad game that would be possible.

Btw i am buying servers for 50-100eur/month for each server. Its not a problem, as i am employee full time and can afford like up to 500 eur/month game costs. Armorgames would provide me just free marketing with a cost of 50% cut. Plus a 25% cut from taxes. So what i have left is  25 eur frmo 100 eur purchase. If i would believe that armorgames would provide me 60k registrations per month for free, just for the 50% cut, i would go for it. But flash died, so they will die too, sooner or later. They may provide now like  5-10k registartions/month and that is not enough. I would need anyway to market additionally. Kongregate also made their basic marketing for my game, what gave me just like 500 registrations. SO i dont believe in their marketing ways on their own platforms as these are just bad.

 

 

 

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18 hours ago, mansimas said:

But if i spend 5k eur on marketing, i may  have a chance to get back 10k as revenue, dont you think? even for a very bad game that would be possible.

Yes you may have a chance.  But I'd wager the chance of doubling your investment is less than merely breaking even.  Otherwise everyone would do it and inflation would soar to keep up with the irrationality of the outcome (!?).

But pragmatically - the chances of scalable-success are increased by understanding precisely who, why, how.  It helps to avoid dismissing these as "random" etc, else success will also appear to be random (and therefore near impossible to scale).  A good publishing partner will have considerable expertise and experience in this field.  Worth rembering that anyone with more than 10 years experience in web games grew in the days of Flash - to dismiss partners with such heritage would be a loss.

 

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Posted (edited)

Yes. You are right. So i was considering again and i think that one of the best audience floats in Kongregate/ArmorGames - they are gamers looking for new games and want to play instant games.  

Checked ArmorGames homepage and i see that in the last 40 days only 16 new games appeared and all they are on the front page.

So, my game would stay there for 40 days. All these new games have 15-70k plays. So its possible to get like ~20k registrations in the first month. And that would be enough for a full server. Not too much, not too few. 

I have wrote a letter to ArmorGames, trying to reduce their cut of 50% to anything like 30-40 like in Kongregate. With ArmorGames i won't need to spend anything for marketing. They didn't answer yet, so i'm not yet guaranteed my game will be released there. So i'm still looking for other options. But i think i will start only with 1 option for the first year.

Edited by mansimas
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