As the gaming industry expands, the amount of developers crop up and the amount of games made increase making exposure a key focus in progressing. For a developer to rise to the top, it requires a smart and calculated approach to everything and anything related to your image, your product, and how you interact with potential consumers.
Being flexible is extremely important as an indie developer. The only time this would likely not be warranted is when you have financial incentive. However, if you do not have that be prepared to be dynamic in how you approach development through planning to post release. This normally is regarding the decisions you make as a developer and it can include early stage changes that will severely impact how your game can progress. Flexibility for release date is important, sometimes things can go awry and you may need to shift release by weeks or maybe even months. This depends on if changes are to be made, or other problems arise with your work.
If Applicable, Inquire About Getting Help
One major boost for any developer is getting help—however it is not always possible. If you have the opportunity find people with strengths to help you on your game. For example, if you only know how to program, then you will need to complete art and graphics for your game you may also need audio work completed and possibly a score. Since you only know programming as stated above then you should find people that can help you or hire them to work for you in completing your game. This will ensure you can maintain a high level of quality in your game whether it comes to assets or other features.
Staying Relevant Through Content (Excludes DLC)
Many indie developers create a game that they release and add very little in extra content post-release, aside from critical patches to fix launch issues or future bugs that end up being found. Now one very good way to make your game stand out from the rest is by treating your game with attention; that will involve adding content post launch. Many more developers have been doing this, from all the way through the indie scene and all the way up to big budget titles. Adding content, further pushes activity for your game to the top but also adds something for paying customers.
Understand Your Target Demographic
Aside from trying to create something unique understanding the type of player you are making a game for is key. If you can’t nail down who is going to play your game your final product may falter due to lack of direction.
Many will know that a game will make most of its sales within the first week of release, and I have seen too often developers who have flown under the radar of too many players. These are games that end up having extremely small user bases because the correct channels weren’t aware of the release or marketing attached to the game.
The flip side to marketing, however, is that you still need to be cautious of how you approach it. You as a developer need to be confident in your own product but also be careful of what is included in the marketing, whilst at the same time avoid accidentally misleading players on what you are offering in your final product.
This comes down to planning on what is needed for marketing. Starting too late will be a mistake, and so is starting to early. What you need is something to show consumers what your games looks like within the game but also what the game offers in content or what is confirmed to show up in the release version of it.
Various things that you should consider preparing:
- A website for your game
- Social media accounts
- Development Blog and Roadmap if applicable
- Media, Trailers and Screenshots (Screenshots of the game rather than concept/mid development)
Alternative Route as an Indie Developer
Depending on your situation and if you rely on development as your main income, you can also stand out by making a mod for a game. Lending your skills to creating mods is something that can get you noticed quickly. Many mods start out as hobby projects that turn into something much bigger and due to public reception larger development companies will notice you and will open avenues up for you as a developer.
There are many other things you can do on top of what I have listed here but the key points to remember is to be careful how you progress in the indie community, through planning to to after release. There are many pitfalls to the industry and it is getting more saturated as time goes on but making sure you put in effort into everything you do will ensure you with the best chance of succeeding—and most importantly, securing your place amongst the best.
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