53 A new year

Happy new year everyone!

In this blog I will give you an update of the awesome release party we had on the launch of Find the Gnome 2, and how the game did on release.

And I will share some other updates, because I do a lot more (than devving on Find the Gnome).

Updates

First on those ‘other things’ I worked on.

The past 2 weeks I coded / designed a lot of fixes for Find the Gnome 2. Especially the control scheme proved to be something worth looking at. This type of game revolves around good controls, so I did the best I could in fixing up stuff. There will be an overhaul of the controls in 3 months from here in an update specifically aimed at controls, but for now its ‘working as intended’.

Something that might interest the readers with a (software) developer background: I added DI back into the game in the past 2 weeks. I used to have this in when I made the first Find the gnome, but removed it due to order-of-things issues. However, when building Find the Gnome 2, over time I sneaked in DI by misusing ScriptableObjects… I got it almost under control and everything was stable, and I didn’t want to make a big change before releasing. With the pressure gone after the release, I could do a risky refactor. This time, I had a proper game flow in place, so I could fit the DI in perfectly and solve a few long-lasting bugs (related to using ScriptableObjects) at the same time. No order-of-things issues anymore, a cleaner workflow, more predictable object lifetimes: I am very happy with the results.

I also made a blog about iterative game development: the state of game development. I love the YouTube guy Josh Strife Hayes, he has a very keen eye for game dev and writes very good review of games and has many reviews on the state of gaming in general. I got triggered by a video of him on one of my own pet peeves: iterative game dev, and the game industry looking for a way to do sustainable game dev. Give it a read, and leave a comment if you think I am wrong (or on to something).

And, to conclude this update section, also an update on my current freelance software consultancy job I am working on. As I mentioned in blog 51 I am currently working at Thinkwise for 2 full months now. Its a fun and technically interesting project. The thing I like the most is that my social skills are really improving. Team dynamics and workflow improvements that I just learned to understand at my previous consultancy job (Findesk at Topicus), I am now already identifying and applying at this team and helping them out with it. I love this dynamic, of being able to help a team out with both technical hands-on work, but at the same time approach the same issues also through the team dynamic and workflow improvements. This massively improves my impact and efficiency, and opens new possibilities for me and the team.

The release of Find the Gnome 2

Lets move on to the release. The previous bi-weekly update blog was on the release party announcement. And on Tuesday the 13th of December 2022, I had this release and the accompanied party together with 25 other attendees.

Here are some impressions on the release party itself and the after-party in the café:

The party itself was a success. A lot of like minded people attended the launch of the game, so we had some great talks about Find the Gnome 2, but also business and life in general. I heard of at least 2 new initiatives being founded by people meeting each other here at this party. For me, releasing my 2nd game is a milestone, but being able to bring people together is for sure a milestone on another level!

From this blog I would thank all my friends, family and all people I worked together with for this wonderful experience!

After release stats

But as with all things, they tend to move on with time.

A lot of people have already asked me: how did the release go? And with this, they of course want to know how I personally felt about the game being released. But they also wanted to know some stats. How many people did buy the game? Did the game perform to my expectations?

These are the stats from 2 weeks starting from the release:

I made 26 sales in these 2 weeks and have 263 wishlists.

What to make of all of this?

Well, lets start with my expectations. Because that is what matters: what did I aim for? I did not want to do a marketing effort targeted at Steam. I wanted to focus on making a quality product that enables me to show what I am capable of (as a game dev). And I wanted to release a game that I then ‘upgraded’ to become better over time, both in product quality as in sales performance.

A good thing to benchmark this release to is my previous attempt at the same thing: the release of Find the Gnome (1) on Steam in 2018. I had the same targets in mind and also didn’t focus on Steam marketing.

The data on this game from the 2 weeks on launch (that’s around Juli 2018):

The numbers are roughly the same. Steam has had tens of thousands new games since 2018 (so more competition), as well as updated a lot of their algorithms, but also more gamers are on Steam now.

The game is better looking now (then before). But so is the competition. One thing on looks: the amount of people that go to the discovery queue to my game is with 30% a bit higher than the 25% of my previous game. That can be seen as an indication to a better looking game and a more attractive Steam page.

However the direct navigation on my new game is WAY better than the previous one. With 20% now (vs 1,5% then) this indicates that a lot of people are interested in looking up my game if they see it somewhere else or hear it from somebody.

Mind you that those stats are ‘old’ in that these are on the 2 first weeks after launch. That is like 3.5 weeks ago now. Here is a graph of the full last months, and you can see something interestingly happened yesterday:

That is a MASSIVE boost in exposure I got from somewhere. Its also direct navigation, so it must be from something external. Like a YouTube video or a Twitch stream. I did a quick search but couldn’t find it yet.

My gut feeling is telling me this game has a very good selling and marketing potential. It might be a bit short on content, but something like that can be fixed.

From that perspective this release is a massive success. I have released a good game with a good foundation. I can now to tend to and improve upon this game, exactly as I wanted it to be.

So what is next? How do I continue from here on?

Well like I said, the trick to (getting money) out of this game for me, is to keep improving and updating the game. Get more marketing on each major update release.

Also, the Steam wishlist works as follows: you get people in with exposure (like YouTube playthroughs and/or marketing efforts), and then convert them. This conversion happens at sales, and for everybody this target is different. Some people go at 10%, others at 25% and a lot at 50%. Some won’t do it if it isn’t below 90%. So when a game dev sets a price on his game, he needs to keep in mind he always will sell it ‘below 100%’.

For me its a combination of updating the game and getting exposure, and to ‘ride’ the important sale events of Steam.

And I have another trick up my sleeve: A lot of people already pointed out this game works magic with kids. And this game is a ‘typical’ game that could flourish on mobile. So for me to get even better sales, I have to make my game as good as possible on Steam and then ‘jump’ to another storefront and/or platform. And then use the exposure from all platforms to boost the sales on both.

So yeah, this was a good release.

And, to remind you: I already released an update to the game. It now plays even more fluently. Now might also be the right time to leave a Steam review of the game.

That is my last word on this after-release thing: if I get to 10 Steam reviews, I get a massive ‘baseline’ boost in Steam traffic. That is another untapped potential my game currently has.

Published by Erik_de_Roos

Erik de Roos is a Freelance software developer.

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